Monday, January 7, 2013

Woodhaven Residents' Block Association Looks Back on Successful 2012

The Woodhaven Residents' Block Association capped off an exceptionally successful year by recruiting dozens of residents to join the NYPD's Block Watcher program, a Police Department initiative that trains residents to serve as supplementary eyes and ears for the local precinct.

The announcement of the recruiting effort, which came at the WRBA's December Town Hall, was just one of the organization's many accomplishments last year.

"The WRBA had a banner year in 2012, just as we did the year before, but we know that 2013 will be even bigger and better," said WRBA President Edward K. Wendell. "The Block Association has experienced a renaissance the past few years, growing into an organization of volunteers who have accomplished great things for their community.  With such dedicated members and a wonderful neighborhood supporting us, I'm certain the best is still ahead."

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 in 2012:

  • In January, the WRBA made its voice heard for the first time on the issue of redistricting, praising its redrawn Assembly district but vigorously opposing its State Senate lines.  The WRBA staked out a clear and forceful position: We are a unified community and we will fight attempts to carve up our neighborhood.  Though the State Senate lines ended up unfavorable to Woodhaven, our Assembly borders ultimately united all of Woodhaven for the first time in years.  Just as importantly, the WRBA's work on state redistricting in early 2012 served as useful preparation for the battle we're now waging almost a year later: ensuring that Woodhaven's City Council representation is united.
  • In February, the Block Association enjoyed one of its most resounding victories when it defeated the Department of Transportation's attempt to change the direction of traffic on two streets: 89th Avenue and 84th Street.  The WRBA called for a public meeting on the street changes, drawing well over 100 impassioned residents whose arguments made clear that there was no good reason for the changes.  Community Board 9 agreed, unanimously rejecting the street changes the next month at a meeting packed with WRBA members who showed up in force to express their opposition.
  • In March, the WRBA launched two initiatives to improve quality of life in the neighborhood.  First, it began its Noise Busters program—a network of volunteers who would all call 311 to report each noise complaint brought to the WRBA's attention.  The program increased the attention that Woodhaven noise complaints received from local authorities.  Second, the Block Association held a "311 Day," a challenge to residents to report as many issues as possible to 311.  Over 80 requests were logged with 311, and with generous donors agreeing to sponsor each call, the WRBA used the event to raise $550 for the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps.
  • In April, we cheered on the WORKS Little League team we sponsored—the WRBA Devil Rays—as they began the season.  Residents from across Woodhaven chipped in to sponsor the team, which made it possible for over a dozen children to play a season of baseball.
  • In May, we received word that the Forest Park Carousel would reopen—a thrilling development for the WRBA, which had fought for three years to get the carousel up and running again.
  • Throughout the summer, the Block Association pursued an ambitious goal: eradicating graffiti on mailboxes and fire call boxes throughout the neighborhood.  With a sustained series of clean-ups, the effort met with success, dramatically reducing the amount of graffiti on public property in Woodhaven and even leading to additional charges against one known vandal.
  • In August, the WRBA publicized a theft suffered by a Woodhaven resident at the hand of a one-armed bandit.  A security camera recorded the thief stealing a package from the victim's porch, and revealed that the culprit was missing a limb.  The WRBA disseminated the footage and the thief was soon caught.
  • In September, the Block Association organized an extremely well-attended forum to consider the future of the defunct Rockaway Branch rail line, which runs along 98th Street in Woodhaven.  At the forum, a speaker for each of the leading proposals—returning the tracks to use for an active train line, or converting the route into a walkway and bike path dubbed The QueensWay—made their case, and residents had the opportunity to speak their minds.  After carefully considering a multitude of viewpoints expressed by residents, the WRBA decided not to support either of the proposals at this time.  The organization also called on New York City, which owns the property, to step up and take responsibility for maintaining it after years of neglect.
  • That same month, the Block Association called attention to an abandoned house on 90th Street that was being occupied by squatters.  In 2011, the house had been the location of a party that resulted in the beating death of an innocent teenager.  Due to the WRBA's calls to address this "house of horrors," the city finally took action and sealed the house, to the relief of neighbors on that block.
  • In the final months of the year, the WRBA rallied to provide relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy.  The generosity of Woodhaven's residents and friends enabled the Block Association to raise thousands of dollars and dozens of carloads of clothes, food, water, and other supplies.  Numerous volunteers contributed many hours sorting, packing, and transporting the donations, which went to Howard Beach, Broad Channel, Breezy Point, and other neighborhoods south of Woodhaven that were hit hard by Sandy.  The WRBA also ran a toy drive that benefited children impacted by the hurricane.
  • Woodhaven closed out the year with another generous gesture, donating $500 to purchase gifts for the developmentally challenged adults of the Forest Park Aktion Club.  This was the third year the WRBA has donated to the Aktion Club, which is affiliated with Glendale Kiwanis.

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WRBA office: (718) 296-3735