Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Woodhaven Residents' Block Association Brings Successful Year to Close

The Woodhaven Residents' Block Association concluded an extremely successful year by providing information that led to the arrests of two Franklin K. Lane High School students who had vandalized the freshly painted elevated subway over Jamaica Avenue.

The announcement, which was made at the Block Association's December town hall, was just the latest in a long series of accomplishments this year.  Another high point was the addition of two new members to the organization's Board of Directors: Martin Colberg and Steve Forte, both longtime Woodhaven residents.

"I'm very pleased to be part of an organization that is accomplishing so much for our neighborhood," said Colberg.  "The Block Association has done a great deal to make it a better place to live.  I encourage all Woodhaven residents to join and get involved with the WRBA."

Forte expressed a similar sentiment, saying, "This has been a busy year for the organization, but there's still a lot to be done.  We might be just volunteers, but we're working hard to tackle the challenges facing the neighborhood.  I'm confident that 2012 will be an even busier and more exciting year for us."

The WRBA's first town hall of the new year will occur Jan. 21 at 1 p.m., at the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps., located at 78-15 Jamaica Ave.

Here is a chronology of some of the organization's other highlights from a very active 2011:

  • In January, in the wake of a blizzard that left much of New York City crippled, the WRBA restarted its Block Captain program, to provide a network of contacts throughout Woodhaven to help centralize information about which blocks need attention from city services.  The Block Captain now covers nearly half of the neighborhood and has proven very effective in getting the help that residents need -- including a diabetic girl in Woodhaven who needed dialysis but couldn't get to her appointment until her family's street was plowed.  The WRBA worked with Assemblyman Mike Miller to ensure the street was clear and the girl could receive her treatment.
  • In March, the Block Association rallied for the CCNS Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Senior Center, which was on the chopping block because New York State budget cuts would have eliminated its funding.  Dozens of residents turned out to express their support for the senior center and to object to the cuts.  The senior center was ultimately saved.
  • Also in March, the Block Association hosted a free art show at Emanuel Church of Christ.  About a dozen artists displayed their work.  The show was an outgrowth of the Block Association's Writers & Pints nights, which brought Queens Poet Laureate Javier Paolo to Woodhaven in 2010.
  • In April, the WRBA was joined by Assemblyman Miller and well over a dozen volunteers for a successful graffiti clean-up in the neighborhood
  • In June, the WRBA worked with the Richmond Hill Block Association to organize a rally to save Engine Company 294, which was threatened with closure by a plan proposed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  Over 200 people showed up at the rally, and the fire company was spared -- a huge victory for a community that have seen more than their fair share of dangerous fires in recent years.
  • Also in June, the WRBA submitted written testimony to a New York City Council committee, supporting proposed legislation to increase fines for residential noise while also urging the City Council to consider other options for tackling this problem.  The testimony drew upon dozens of residents' responses to a Block Association questionnaire.  Overwhelmingly, Woodhaven residents said that noise conditions have adversely affected their quality of life, that not enough is done to handle noise complaints, and that noise conditions have worsened in recent years.  Numerous excerpts from these responses were included in the testimony, which was over 10 pages long.
  • In September, the WRBA gathered at Joe Abbracciamento Restaurant with residents, elected officials, and civic leaders for a fundraiser to celebrate the Block Association's 40th anniversary.  The evening was a great success, as everyone had a good time and some attendees walked away with terrific prizes.  It was a terrific opportunity to recognize our honorees: the Man of the Year, Assemblyman Mike Miller; the Woman of the Year, Eleanor Errante; the Business of the Year, the Leader-Observer; and the Hall of Fame inductee, the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps.  The fundraiser also brought in over $4,000 for the WRBA, which struggled with very limited funding this year.
  • In its ongoing fight against illegally posted signs, the WRBA asked two of its elected officials in November to support changes to the law. The changes would allow private citizens' testimony to be used in prosecuting those who visually pollute our neighborhoods by posting unsightly advertisements on telephone poles, lampposts, and other public property.
  • Also in November, the Block Association announced the launch of a committee to advocate landmarking the Forest Park Carousel, which has been closed and behind locked gates for far too long.  The carousel is a true historical specimen that has brought joy to generations of Woodhavenites, and the Block Association is determined to see it reopened.
  • In December, the WRBA hosted a well-attended Christmas Parade Watching Party, which cheered on the marchers on Jamaica Avenue.

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WRBA office: (718) 296-3735