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Minutes of the General Membership Meeting of the Westmoreland Association
May 20, 2013
President – Walter Mugdan
Vice President -- Sheldon Rosenblum
Treasurer – Gary Savage.
Board Members Present
President Walter Mugdan called the meeting to order at 8:05 P.M. A motion was made, seconded and unanimously adopted to waive reading of the minutes. (Mr. Mugdan noted that the minutes were available for review on the Westmoreland website.) Gary Savage gave the Treasurer’s Report indicating that the balance-on-hand was $18,883.03 as of May 20, 2013. A motion was made to accept the Treasurer’s report. The motion was seconded and the report was unanimously approved.
• Steve Masillo – from Senator Braunstein’s office
• Susan Seinfeld -- District Manager, Community Board 11
• Captain Jason Huerta, Commanding Officer, 111th Precinct, NYPD
• Officer Gary Poggiali, Community Affairs Officer, 111th Precinct, NYPD
Captain Huerta and Officer Poggiali addressed the membership, discussing local crime statistics and providing crime prevention suggestions. Burglary remains the predominant criminal concern in our area. Major crimes were down 7% last year in the precinct; all categories saw a reduction except burglaries and grand larceny/auto. In the Westmoreland area there were no burglaries last year (there was one just a week or two prior to this meeting). In a neighboring community, homeowners walked in on a burglary in progress; two burglars were present and showed what appeared to be a handgun (which is unusual for burglars -- most are unarmed). The officers recommended good lighting around homes; be attentive to your surroundings; and phone 911 if you see any suspicious individuals. Burglars come from all over the city to this area, because it is an affluent area. Most burglaries are in the daytime, when homeowners may be away at work or shopping; but in this area is common for burglars to watch a house in the evenings until the residents leave (e.g., for dinner or a movie). In another part of the precinct there were an astounding 21 evening burglaries in one week between November-December that followed this MO, presumably all by the same individual(s). Burglars typically enter through a side or back door or window, breaking in. Sometimes when there is a ladder in the garage or backyard, the burglars may use it to access an upper story. The burglary problem is by no means severe or out of control, but the police rely on residents' help in monitoring suspicious activity. If you area away traveling, make sure your mail is taken in, the lawn is mowed, and use timers on interior lights. Alarms deter casual or random burglaries, not usually targeted burglaries. The main objectives are jewelry, cash, TVs and computers. Bedrooms are an obvious target for the burglars. Home safes are effective if sufficiently heavy and/or bolted down. Captain Huerta described the precincts crime prevention and detection efforts, including a Crime Prevention Officer (Luigi Gallano) who will come to your house upon request to advise on safety improvements. Among other things, the NYPD offers property etching, so your valuable property can be discreetly marked with identifying information.
Audience questions asked what can be done about rising prostitution operating from what are ostensibly massage parlors. Captain Huerta explained that these are difficult busts to make. Undercover police must get proof of three infractions before the business can be closed down (not just arrests of the prostitutes made). Officer Poggiali called Mr. Mugdan later in the week to report that he flagged the issue for the Vice Squad. Concern was expressed about the recent advent of scantily clothed manikins in the window of the X-rated video store on Northern Boulevard. Officer Poggiali subsequently reported to Mr. Mugdan that Community Affairs Officer Conway visited the video store later in the week. While the manikins are not illegal, Officer Conway asked that they be removed (or more appropriately clothed) at least during the upcoming Memorial Day Parade.
Audience members expressed concern about automobiles using the neighborhood as a throughfare when seeking to avoid Northern Boulevard traffic, including speeding on the area streets (see below for more on this). Audience members asked about the construction at PS-94, and the potentially dangerous condition at the intersection of 41st Drive and Little Neck Parkway with a construction trailer behind curtained fencing obstructing the view of cars turning either way. The suggestion was made to move the trailer further south. Officer Poggiali later reported to Mr. Mugdan that he had spoken about this to a School Construction Authority official suggested by Susan Seinfeld of CB-11.
A member suggested that during the Memorial Day Parade, officers should be posted at the Little Neck LIRR crossing and west on Sandhill Road to direct traffic along that one-lane, two-way street. Many drivers use the Douglaston/Little Neck back road to bypass Northern Boulevard when it is closed for the parade. Captain Huerta explained that he did not have the manpower to do this, because of the demands for strong police presence at the parade route. Officer Poggiali subsequently advised Mr. Mugdan that he had contacted CERT (Community Emergency Response Team, a volunteer organization) about doing the traffic control on Sandhill Road.
A member expressed concern about excessive noise from dance parties at the Armenian American Hall just north of the LIRR station. The officers explained that he should call 311 when this happens. The precinct will send a car and ask that the noise be reduced. Only if a second call comes in will the officers issue a summons.
A member expressed concern about the intended new use for the former OTB parlor on Little Neck Parkway and Northern Boulevard. It is to be a drop-off daycare center. It is likely this will create traffic congestion by double parking while parents drop off their children. The NYPD will pay attention to it when it opens.
At the end of this session Mr. Mugdan thanked the officers for coming, and the membership gave them a good round of applause.
Old Business –
Mr. Mugdan reported that, as authorized at the March 18 meeting, he had submitted an application to the NYC Department of Transportation to make the Westmoreland area a "Slow Zone" in which the speed limit would be 20 mph. Susan Seinfeld indicated that the application might be denied because the area in question is smaller than NYC DOT would prefer.
New Business –
Glenwood Road Speed Bumps: On May 6 Susan Seinfeld emailed Walter Mugdan to advise that CB-11 had received approval from NYC DOT for installation of speed humps on Glenwood Road between Northern Blvd. and 41st Drive. CB-11 polled by mail the 31 residents on the street, receiving 13 replies -- 10 in favor, 3 against. CB-11 requested Westmoreland Association's reaction before it takes a position. The matter was discussed. A motion was made and seconded to endorse the proposed speed humps; the motion passed with only one vote opposed. Mr. Mugdan later emailed Ms. Seinfeld advising of this outcome.
Scobee Diner Property: Sheldon Rosenblum attended a CB-11 Zoning Committee meeting at which the developer's initial proposal was discussed. Mr. Rosenblum secured copies of the plans and some supporting information including a summary of the required economic analysis. The plan is for a bank on the first floor, with a drive through window; ingress to the drivethrough and the 17-car parking lot would be from Little Neck Parkway; egress to Northern Boulevard. On the second floor would be a "community facility," most likely a doctor's office. The plans were displayed and discussed by the membership, with input from Directors Victor Dadras and Phil Toscano, both architects. Concerns about the plans were discussed at some length. A motion was made, a friendly amendment was made, and the amended motion was seconded. The motion called on the Association to express concerns about the plan as proposed, primarily with respect to traffic-related safety concerns about the drivethrough and egress onto Northern Blvd., but also concern about the use of the property as a bank. This would create "dead" evenings on this major intersection, with two banks, a child day care center, and a funeral home on the four corners. It would be preferable to have a restaurant or some other more active use for the Scobee property. In due course the motion was voted on and passed, with two votes in opposition.
Memorial Day Parade: Mr. Mugdan invited all members and friends to join Westmoreland Association as we march in the parade again. The parade steps off at 2 PM on May 27. Westmoreland marchers should meet around 1:45 at the parking lot of the Starbucks coffee shop just east of the City line on the north side of Northern Boulevard. This is a way to honor our service men and women, and those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Unauthorized Cutting of Trees on Westmoreland Association Property: Mr. Mugdan reported on this at the March, 2013 meeting. There was nothing to update during the May meeting. After the May meeting, however, Mr. Mugdan spoke with the newly appointed manager of the Westmoreland Coop Apartments. He was unfamiliar with the issue. Mr. Mugdan gave him the background information and said that we were still awaiting a response to our settlement proposal.
The schedule for our remaining meetings in 2013 is: September 16 and November 18. Please mark your calendars.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:00 PM.
Walter Mugdan, President