At Tuesday’s Ozone Park Civic Association meeting, several contentious issues were raised just as the group planned to break for the summer.
Residents complained about the city’s plan to widen roads along Centerville Street and the potential closure of the Ozone Park Post Office, and received a promising update on the fraudulent door-to-door activities of Brooklyn Union Maintenance.
A city plan that has been in the work for two decades—widening several blocks near Centerville Street—may finally break ground. Roughly four months ago, neighborhood residents received notice that the city would be expanding up to seven feet into properties along several streets. The street widening includes an upgrade of area sewers. Officials claim that the land doesn’t belong to the homeowners, but to the city.
Marty Schwartz, who lives on Raleigh Street and recently spent $3,000 building a cement wall on the edge of his front lawn, said the city is wrong. “I measured my property and my land goes right up to the street,” he said.
Schwartz said his yard floods every year due to the inadequate sewer system and—though it has not been as bad in recent years—he would like to see it fixed. Just not on his dime.
“I don’t mind if they need to expand the roads, but they should pay me market value,” he said.
Several other residents agreed.
Pat McCabe of State Senator Joe Addabbo’s office said anyone who is facing an acquisition—whether it’s from the city’s street work or from new construction at Aqueduct—should consult an attorney, or at the least, read their property survey.
“Call [Addabbo’s] office with your lot number,” she told Schwartz and the other residents. “If the city is taking your property, you’ll get paid for it.”
She added that there is a section of every property that is owned by the city, in case of street expansion or sidewalk construction.
The offices of Addabbo, Assemblyman Mike Miller and Councilman Eric Ulrich have all been receiving calls from concerned residents about the Ozone Park Post Office at 91-11 Liberty Avenue. The shutters were down for a few days and callers were concerned it had closed.
The post office remains open, but falling bricks made opening the roll-down gate unadvisable. According to Arlene Brown of Ulrich’s office, there are rumors that the post office’s landlord is refusing to make repairs, hoping to run the office out of the building.
Brown said that if the post office closes, it’s not certain they would open in a new location. “They could use the Howard Beach office,” she said.
Brown also updated the civic association on the State District Attorney’s investigation of Brooklyn Union Maintenance.
The DA’s office has caught two other groups posing fraudulently as maintenance crews—though not Brooklyn Union—and estimated that they robbed roughly $30,000 from targets in their con. Several members of the Brooklyn Union crew have been brought in, but “it’s a lot bigger that they expected”, Brown said. “It’s still an ongoing investigation.”
She also said the DA’s office is onto another potential big target, but couldn’t release anything at this time. She said she would update the board at their July meeting, before chairman Howie Kampf reminded her that the civic won’t meet again until September. She promised to have Kampf pass on any updates.
by David J. Harvey