Community Board 5 unanimously approved its list of capital budget priorities for Fiscal Year 2019, with a $43 million project to reconstruct the sewer lines on 77th Avenue from 81st to 88th streets its top priority.
Reconstructing deteriorated catch basins, improving pedestrian and vehicle safety on Grand Avenue near the Long Island Expressway, evaluating the structural conditions of the elevated M train line, and new tree plantings rounded out the top five.
Speaking before CB5, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley reported that five of the top 10 capital priorities have already been funded, including the Glendale sewer project.
“I warn you it will be disruptive while the construction happens, but it’s better than getting flooded,” she said. “That’s what’s been happening to a lot of homeowners and residents who live in that section of Glendale.”
Similar sewer reconstruction projects on Calamus Avenue in Maspeth and Penelope Avenue in Middle Village have caused many problems for residents.
Crowley said the design phase for the sewer line, which flows into Flushing Bay rather than Newtown Creek like the other projects, is expected to be complete by 2019.
The councilwoman noted that other projects on the list have been fully funded, including rehabilitating the Glendale Library, renovating the Ridgewood Reservoir and portions of Highland Park, replacing the synthetic turf field and running track at Juniper Valley Park, and new tree tree plantings.
Construction for the the Glendale Library is expected to begin in January, while meetings about the Ridgewood Reservoir have already taken place for the $9 million project. The Juniper Valley Park project won’t begin until construction begins for Maspeth’s Frank Principe Park.
“All in all, it’s a huge win for Community Board 5,” Crowley said.
Of the expense budget priorities, the top five include assigning additional personnel for the 104th Precinct, providing field workers to repair catch basins, hiring inspectors to cope with illegal uses of property, providing sanitation workers to clean illegal dumping, and funding for educational and recreational programs for kids.
“These are the everyday services in the community,” said district manager Gary Giordano. “I consider these to be very important.”
Later in the meeting, the board debated a proposal to downzone a part of Ridgewood, which Land Use chair Walter Sanchez called a “really hot” neighborhood. The purpose of the zoning change is to ensure new developments don’t look out of place, he said.
“Zoning is really about the character of the community, how the building in that zone fits in the character,” he said, adding that the Department of City Planning is willing to consider the proposal.
Crowley expressed support for the proposal earlier in the night. City Council representatives have the ultimate say in many land use decisions.
“I support what the community board will support, which I think will be something to protect from overdevelopment and give other opportunities there for increasing manufacturing and job production,” she said.
Though board members seemed to agree with the intention, some were confused by the technical language of the proposal. Board members motioned to table the vote until the Land Use Committee spelled out the meaning of the downzoning.
“Maybe you should take it back and rewrite it,” said CB5 Chair Vincent Arcuri. “There’s insufficient clarity in this proposal.”
The motion failed, with 18 voting against it and only 15 voting in favor.
The proposal ultimately passed, with 25 board members voting for downzoning.
CB5 also passed a recommendation to make Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood into a “special purpose district.” Sanchez said the zone would “preserve, protect and promote special character of Myrtle Avenue as a regional shopping district.”
“This is to get the ball rolling,” he said. “We really want to cover the area so we don’t feel we’re under attack.”