We were joined by State Senator Joe Addabbo, Assemblyman Mike Miller, and Council members Eric Ulrich and Elizabeth Crowley – all of them presenting proclamations and citations to this year’s honorees. And it was a terrific slate of honorees; the crème de la crème of Woodhaven.
Our Man of the Year, Bill Johnert, was joined by friends and family, including his lovely daughter Lauren and her fiancé Brian. Our Women of the Year, the School Sisters of Notre Dame, had many supporters and, as they always do, inspired us with their work.
Our Business of the Year, New York Carousel Entertainment, received cheers every time the Forest Park Carousel was mentioned (which was frequently). And everyone was happy to celebrate with our good friends of Emanuel United Church of Christ, as they were inducted into Woodhaven’s Hall of Fame.
And I was also happy to hand out a well-deserved award to my wife, Josephine Wendell, for all of her hard work in supporting our community over the past few years.
We were also gathered to celebrate a successful year for the WRBA, one that has seen the organization grow and flourish and get a lot accomplished. It started last Christmas as our members generously donated gifts to the developmentally challenged men and women of the Forest Park Aktion Club. We also held our very first Christmas Parade Watching Party in which we stood in the street and cheered the parade marchers.
The first few months of 2012 were spent fighting hard against proposed street changes and for the Rezoning of Woodhaven (both fights were successful). Our members showed their generosity again as they contributed amounts large and small in order to sponsor a team in WORKS Little League.
The WRBA took to the streets en masse in March, reporting graffiti and other issues that needed to be addressed during our 311 Weekend Fundraiser. A number of our members were sponsoring this event by pledging small amounts, anywhere from a dime to a dollar for each 311 call we made.
Over three-dozen houses had their graffiti removed by the city and the WRBA managed to raise $550 for the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corps. It was a classic case of win-win!
Come May, we heard the great news that our beloved Forest Park Carousel was reopening. The WRBA had worked hard to keep the carousel’s plight on everyone’s radar and we were very happy with the city’s choice for a caretaker.
As summer approached, the WRBA introduced a program known as Noisebusters, which was designed to target chronic noise abusers and feed information to our local precinct about the troublemakers. We believe it must be working, because at a recent meeting our Community Affairs Officers said that noise complaints had decreased over the course of the summer.
The WRBA next took to the streets to combat graffiti, not settling for once-a-year cleanups, but instead hitting the streets every weekend to paint mailboxes, fireboxes and light poles. The WRBA also closely documented the tags and reported them to the police, which led to further charges being filed against one arrested vandal.
And most recently, the WRBA got involved in bringing attention to a dangerous squatter-filled abandoned house on 90th Street, which is in the process of being sealed.
And this is just the public face of the WRBA. We have managed to help and assist residents on problems big and small throughout the year behind the scenes. We might not resolve everyone’s problems, but we try extremely hard to resolve as many as we can. And for an all-volunteer non-profit organization, we’re very proud of our record of achievement.
Preparing for last Friday’s celebration was a lot of work, but our rest will be short-lived as we are having a big meeting this coming Saturday, September 29, at 1 p.m at the Queens Tabernacle (86-03 96th Street) to discuss the future of the land where the old Rockaway Beach LIRR line used to run (along 98th Street throughout Woodhaven).
This meeting will feature presentations by a speaker supporting each of the two 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. Visit us at woodhaven-nyc.org for more information. We hope to see you there.