A successful rally, but will it lead to action?
by Ed Wendell
Mar 05, 2014 | 412 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
District leader and longtime Woodhaven resident Eleanor Errante talks about getting the senior home back.
District leader and longtime Woodhaven resident Eleanor Errante talks about getting the senior home back.
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The cold weather, the imminent snowstorm (which ended up fizzling) and news that the building’s owner had shown up in court and had been given a fresh deadline sometime in April didn’t discourage the residents of Woodhaven who came out to call on the city to take faster and immediate action on the partially collapsed building on 79th and Jamaica.

As it stands now, if something is not done soon it will doom the nearly 50-year-old Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps that sits next door. Besides being a danger to the residents of this community, the partially collapsed building is damaging the WRHVAC’s building every day.

The senior center that was housed within was forced to move denying WRHVAC the rent it so sorely needs to survive, and now per the Department of Buildings, the Ambulance Corps is asked not to even enter their own building.

Each and every day that the city fails to take emergency action, it becomes more and more complicit in the destruction of Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps.

“This building is a disaster waiting to happen,” Maria Thomson, executive director of the Woodhaven Business Improvement District, told the residents who assembled on Jamaica Avenue for Sunday’s rally. “Tear it down, let’s get rid of it!”

Martin Colberg, president of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association called it “a perfect trifecta” of what we don’t want in our community. Pointing up to the partially collapsed building, he said “It’s a magnet for graffiti, it’s ready to collapse and it’s threatening to take away an institution. It’s something we will not stand for and the Department of Buildings needs to step up.”

“We’re tired of hearing about the delays,” State Senator Joseph Addabbo said. “We’re tired of hearing about what the owner might do. We’ve given the owner enough chances to do something and he’s proven to us that he really doesn’t care about this building.

“We want action now,” he said, bringing cheers from the residents. “We want the volunteer ambulance corps back. We want the seniors back in their home,”

Assemblyman Mike Miller, holding a sign that read “Ambulance Corps Needs Action By The City – Not Promises!” said “We’ve been waiting 10 months, which is nine months too long to take care of this building.”

Following up on that, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley pointed to the partially collapsed building and, referring to the owner, said “This person is irresponsible and careless. He’s taken advantage of this situation, he’s infringed on the rights of the Ambulance Corps, and displaced a senior center.”

“This could not be more of an immediate cause,” said Kathy Sexton Dalby, president of the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps. “This has done so much damage to our building. Everyone thought that the damage before was bad, we have now sustained even more. Walls need to be removed, floors need to be taken out. It’s just unbelievable.”

JoAnn Bartos of the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Senior Center said “This is our home, we want to come back. Please help us any way you can. We don’t want a disaster to happen on 79th Street or Jamaica Avenue, such as a brick falling down and killing someone. Please, come and rescue us.”

“This is our home away from home, and without this we would all grow old,” longtime resident Eleanor Errante said. “Please, do something to help get us back.”

It was a great rally and we appreciate everyone who took the time to come out and support both our ambulance corps and our seniors. Special thanks to the volunteer ambulance squads from Glendale, Forest Hills and Jamaica who came out to support their comrades in the corps.

We hope and pray that our words reach the right ears and that the city does the right thing and takes action before it is too late, before we find ourselves mourning the loss of one of our residents or sadly reporting that our Volunteer Ambulance Corps is gone forever.

The reason it is called a partially collapsed building is because the rest of it hasn’t collapsed yet. As Maria Thomson said throughout the rally, tear it down. The solution is really that simple.

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