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Community Board #10

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In past articles, the Board commented on the proposal of an organization known Community Action for Human Services (CAHS) to construct a group home for six developmentally disabled adults, at 3407 Bruckner Boulevard, within the Waterbury Estates complex.  The houses within the complex sell for approximately $800.000 If the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities were either to advance the funds to the sponsor (CAHS) or reimburse CAHS for their expenses, the taxpayers will be advancing close to a million dollars for the purchase and renovation of this property as a group home.

The majority of the board members voted down this proposal at the November 20 meeting.  The negative vote was predicated upon the huge cost of this property and the attitude displayed by the sponsor towards the neighborhood.  The sponsor cavalierly dismissed the concerns of the community and has asserted that if the board turned down the proposal, that this matter would be appealed to the Commissioner of the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, and that this State agency would approve the purchase. 

In past articles, the board explained the provisions of the Padavan Law, which allows for community input from host neighborho­ods.  However, the law allows the sponsor of a group home the option of appealing the community board’s opinion, through the use of a Commissioner’s Hearing. It should be noted that that this community board is home to over 30 such programs.   This community board is not opposed to providing quality housing to the developmentally challenged.  Its opposition was based on the constant assertion that the matter would be appealed to a State agency, and that this agency would approve the home, in spite of community concerns. This factor coupled with the high price of the property within Waterbury Estates caused the Board to oppose this project. The board communicated its concerns to the Commissioner of the Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities on these matters.

On Thanksgiving Eve, word came to the board from Councilmember Jimmy Vacca that the MTA was considering the elimination of BX 14 bus which serves the Country Club and Pelham Bay areas in CB 10, along with other communities in boards 9 and 11. We also learned that the agency was considering the elimination of Express Bus Service on City Island. In selecting these routes for elimination, the MTA has effectively cut or severely limited public transportation access for these communities.  There are no other buses traversing the BX 14’s route, so there are no connecting buses to other routes or the IRT #6 train at Pelham Bay.  Commuters would be forced to walk to Bruckner Boulevard for bus service.  In the case of City Island, commuters would lose express bus service completely, and have to rely on the BX 29 for connections to the IRT #6 Train at Pelham Bay.  These proposals are short sighted and ill-conceived.  The agency offered no alternatives such as smaller bus or van services to replace the BX 14 or increasing the frequency of the BX 29 on City Island.  It is just another example of poor planning. 

Several members of CB 10 and its district manager joined the Council member, Assemblyman Benedetto and Senator Klein in opposing these cuts. The board has communicated its opposition to these cuts to the leadership of the MTA. The board urges all the residents of Pelham Bay and City Island to write to the Executive Offices of the MTA at 347 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017 to voice your opinions on these matters.

The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs is offering a package of free financial education tools. Through its Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE), a web site offers hints on how to mange your finances with topics covering banking, credit cards and budgeting.  Through its Financial Education Network (FEN), viewers can obtain information on financial education classes, and one to one counseling.  Additional information is provided on consumer protection issues.  All of this information can beobtained by contacting the www.nyc.gov/ofe or via 311.

The New York State Comptroller’s Office has established the Open Book New York program, which allows New Yorkers to track public expenditures. Information concerning this innovative program can be obtained by contacting the Comptroller’s office at (866) 370-4672 or at helpdesk@osc.state.ny.us. and at www.openbooknewyork.com.

With the heating season upon us, New York State, through its Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance offers Home Energy Assistance Program or HEAP aid.  HEAP assists low-income consumers with grants that will help them pay their home heating bills. Additional information can be obtained by contacting 1-800-342-3009 or visit www.otda.state.ny.us. The New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) would like all New Yorkers to know about the Food Stamp Program. This federally funded and locally administered program, assists people in securing nutritious and healthy meals for themselves and their families.  Additional information concerning eligibility can be obtained by contacting HRA’s Infoline at 1-877-472-8411 or HRA’s Website www.nyc.gov/hra or Access NYC at www.nyc.gov/accessnyc or 311. 

With the holidays approaching, the Fire Department advises holiday celebrants to test their Christmas tree for freshness, by gently pulling the tree towards you and grasping a branch between your thumb and forefinger. Few needles should come off.  Buy your tree early and bounce it, a fresh tree will not have an excessive amount of needles fall. Keep the water level in the container that the tree is stored above the cut level. Other tips include not placing the tree near a heating source, support the tree with a sturdy stand that will not tip over, do not have the tree block any exists in your home, only use lights that Underwriter Laboratories (UL) Approved, do not use lights on metallic trees, do not cover cords under carpets, do not use lighted candles near the tree, and use only flame retardant decorations. Always unplug the tree when leaving the room.  The FDNY also offers tips on candle use.

Additional information can be obtained by contacting www.nyc.gov/fdny or www.fdnyfirezone.org.

The Office of Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, Jr. is accepting applications from interested parties to join the Community Board 10.  All those interested, can obtain applications from the Borough President’s Community Board Board’s Office at (718) 590-3914 or by contacting bronxboropres.nyc.gov.    

The New York City Department of Homeless Services is seeking volunteers to participate in its annual Homeless Outreach Estimate (HOPE). This is the annual survey in which the City gains valuable information on the homeless population. This information will be used to design programs to assist this segment of our citizenry. This year’s survey is planned for January 26, 2009 from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.  For additional information on how to become a volunteer for this vital effort, contact (212) 607-5365 or visit www.nyc.gov/dhs.

The board office is ready to assist you with any problem or concern that you may be having with a city agency.  Our office is opened from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Our phone number is (718) 892-1161, fax number is (718) 863-6860 and our e-mail is BX10@CB.nyc.gov.

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