Our residents mobilized, wrote letters and emails, made phone calls, and eventually a public hearing with the DOT was held. Our residents showed up in force, some of them bringing along their own maps and diagrams to make their case.
The community board hearing to vote on the proposal was postponed twice and moved to Woodhaven—and what a crowd we had! CB9 listened to both sides and ultimately decided —unanimously — to reject the proposal. At the same meeting, the long-fought-for rezoning of Woodhaven was approved by the community board, and it would be final approved by the City Council later in the year.
The generosity of the members of the WRBA was on display in the spring as they contributed amounts large and small in order to sponsor a team in WORKS Little League. Our team, the WRBA Devil Rays, played hard and we know they will try even harder next season.
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 fantastic news that our beloved Forest Park Carousel was reopening under the stewardship of New York Carousel Entertainment. 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 designed to target chronic noise abusers and feed information to our local precinct about the troublemakers. The 102nd Precinct reported that noise complaints had decreased over the course of the summer and we believe that WRBA’s Noisebusters program played a part in that.
The WRBA next took to the streets to combat graffiti, not settling for once-a-year cleanups, but instead hitting the streets on consecutive weekends all summer long 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.
Speaking of arrests, the WRBA helped publicize video footage of a one-armed bandit who struck in Woodhaven back in July. We’re happy to report that the man was apprehended a few weeks later.
The WRBA held its annual celebration in September, and we were very honored to be joined by our Man of the Year Bill Johnert, Women of the Year the School Sisters of Notre Dame Educational Center, Business of the Year NY Carousel Entertainment, and our inductee into the Woodhaven Hall of Fame Emanuel United Church of Christ, which marked its 135th anniversary in 2012.
That same month the WRBA hosted a well-attended meeting at which two competing proposals for developing the long inactive Rockaway Branch rail line were presented. Proposals for reactivating the railway and developing a QueensWay were presented, but ultimately the WRBA decided to pass on both plans, asking the city instead to properly maintain their property. If any of our residents let our property go the way the city has, we’d be paying fines out the kazoo.
As the year ended, we were subject to the wrath of Hurricane Sandy, but while we suffered a large number of downed power lines and trees (including our award-winning Christmas Tree on Forest Parkway), we were fortunate compared to others. Due to the selflessness of Woodhaven's residents and friends, the Block Association was able to raise thousands of dollars, as well as nearly 50 carloads of clothes, food, water, and other supplies.
In addition, dozens of volunteers contributed numerous hours to sort, pack, and transport the donations, all of which went to Howard Beach, Broad Channel, Breezy Point, and other neighborhoods south of Woodhaven that were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy.
The WRBA also held a successful Toy Drive for those children impacted by the hurricane and continued a yearly tradition of raising funds to purchase gifts for the developmentally challenged adults of the Forest Park Aktion Club.
And as the year ends, we find ourselves right back where we started, mobilizing residents to fight against planned redistricting that would divide, rather than unite, Woodhaven. They can draw the lines however they want, but the activities over the last 12 months show that our residents are united, caring and generous.
I am happy and proud to be a resident of Woodhaven. Happy New Year, and see you all in 2013.