Meeting Minutes – 6/30/15

City Island Civic Association   Minutes of Meeting Held June 30, 2015

The meeting was brought to order at 7:35 by Bill Stanton, president. The reading of the May minutes was waived, and they were accepted as distributed.

If you have not paid your dues for 2015, please do so now. Use our new e-mail address (city.island.civic@gmail.com) and use Paypal; or bring cash or a check to our next meeting or send to P.O. Box 117, Bronx, NY 10464.

Treasurer’s report: There is $6,030.84 in the regular acct. The fundraiser on June 20 has so far added $6,210 to the SONE account. As a result of the fundraiser we have 30 new members.

Guest speaker for the evening was Deputy Inspector James McGeown, commanding officer of the 45th precinct, who was accompanied by officers from the precinct.

The issue of tow trucks was discussed by two representatives of the business. Dead End Towing (Peter DiNome) reported that tow trucks on City Island Avenue are allowed until 9 p.m. He complained that there were multiple complaints being filed about his business and that this was not fair; he said he had addressed and resolved all outstanding complaints. He suggested that the best way to resolve issues was to come directly to him; he had worked out a situation with a neighbor in this way.The business at Schofield Street, NY Recovery, works at night to tow vehicles. The owner claims that the business has a three-year lease; he has cleaned up the property and made it safe but he has had many complaints that have proved baseless. He agreed to pay for a mural if that is what the community wants but the razor wire has to stay.

When D.I. McGeown was asked why it took 1:45 hours to respond to the scene of an accident on City Island Avenue on June 19, resulting in the island being tied up with traffic, he explained that it was a hectic night for the Precinct and that accidents where there are no injuries are not the top priority.

Crime is down 1% for the year and 10% for June, although there was a shooting on the Avenue by customers coming from Seafood City. Regarding the shooting we will sit down with some restaurants to discuss security in the parking lots.

The issue of traffic is a very difficult one to manage, because it is often unpredictable and because the full City Island traffic contingent is not available until after the schools are closed in June. Special occasions such as Mother’s Day are well handled. Even if the precinct is short of officers, it is very helpful to have the cones in place; unfortunately traffic agents are scheduled but do not show up; nor are they always under the precinct’s control. It has been suggested that the Civic buy its own cones, but the organization is not covered by insurance for this.  The main issue is that we have a 5-month problem and 2-month solution with the coverage provided when school is are out. Fire lane speeding is a serious as any other traffic matter.

Other issues: We need to put pressure on the politicians in order to get Bomb Squad notification when they are going to do explosions. We should also request that the yield sign at the traffic circle be changed to a stop sign.

Commissioner Bratton is coming to next month’s Civic meeting.

Elvin Garcia from Bronx office of the Mayor gave highlights of the recently passed budget, such as the addition of 1,300 new police officers, $39 million for library service, plus more for elder abuse services, and crossing guards.

A new non-profit, affordable after-school program will begin in September at the community center.

There was a discussion if of problems with the MTA 29 bus to City Island; The Civic has set up a meeting with the MTA on July 30 to discuss these issues. Residents were asked to keep track of schedule problems to report at the meeting.

The question of beach access has been raised, with some streets charging for keys. Each block is a different story; some are privately owned; some are owned by the city but are fenced to prevent vandalism and accidents. We were informed years ago by the Department of Health not to make waves because the city could then block access to all publicly owned beaches or force beach associations to hire lifeguards and provide a safety plan. Access should not be withheld. It is illegal to charge for access to public property, even if it is to cover the cost of improvements; people should be asked to donate not required.

Hart Island: A recent lawsuit settled with the city will allow monthly visits by relatives to gravesites on Hart Island. As explained earlier, the Civic’s position on the transfer of the island from Corrections to the Parks Dept is not about creating a public park but also securing the land from future development. The city has proposed numerous developments for the island over the years, many fought by Islanders at great expense. Putting the island into park’s jurisdiction would grant it protection from development according to state law. Elvin Garcia acknowledged that the cost to restore the island, let alone make it an accessible park, would be astronomical, and it is not going to happen.

A petition about Hart Island opposing the Civic’s view is circulating, but several inaccuracies were noted. There are no plans to turn Potter’s Field, a sacred burial ground, into what the petition calls a “public spectacle.” Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx and Green-wood in Brooklyn both allow visitors every day, even to picnic on the grounds; neither of these has ever been accused of encouraging a public spectacle.

The petition erroneously cites the lack of a public forum on the issue. There have been at least eight Civic meeting discussions on this issue since January 2014, several meetings at the public library, as well as two Community Board 10 meetings. Additionally there have been several articles in the Island Current and The Bronx Times.

A brief discussion ensued about the Civic’s Facebook page and whether greater restrictions should be placed on those who post or comment on information. As the meeting had just hit the two hour mark, it was agreed that this issue would be tabled until the next general meeting for further discussion.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:35 pm.

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