Redistricting and a new 311 alert program were among the hot topics that were discussed at the Woodhaven Residents Block Association (WRBA) meeting March 17.
State Assemblyman Mike Miller discussed the recently approved second draft of the controversial redistricting proposal, passed by both the State Assembly and State Senate and signed by Gov. Cuomo last week.
The approved district boundaries were part of a deal that also contained an agreement to enact a constitutional amendment that would modify the redistricting process after the 2020 census.
However, those lines are still pending approval from the Justice Department; a federal panel of judges imposed a court-drawn revision of the state’s Congressional lines Monday.
Miller, who voted in favor of the second draft of the proposal, said that his decision was based on thinking about the best interest of his district.
The legislature’s approved plan, he explained, would avoid Woodhaven’s lines being merged into Cypress Hills, and Ridgewood from being merged into Bushwick.
“[The plan] protects the people that I represent better than this idea of [the lines] being flawed and a commission being set up [to redraw the lines],” Miller said.
While adding that he felt the state Senate lines were ‘not the best’ and looked ‘gerrymandered to the max,’ the current proposal, Miller said, was still a preferred alternative to having the lines redrawn by a court-appointed Special Master–in this case, magistrate Judge Roanne Mann.
Still, WRBA board members such as Maria Thomson were left unsatisfied with the entire process; Thomson called the plan “awful” and was concerned about the plan weakening Woodhaven’s representation in Albany.
“It splits us all apart,” she said.
In other news, when’s there’s something loud in the neighborhood, who’re you gonna call? Woodhaven Noise Busters, of course.
In order to combat noise complaints around the community, the WRBA is launching a new program called the Woodhaven Noise Busters to blow the whistle on noise producers around their community.
Last year, WRBA submitted testimony to the city advocating changes to the city’s current noise regulations. However, Ed Wendell, president of the WRBA, doesn’t hold out much hope that changes to those laws will occur anytime soon.
“Year to year, one of the problems that we are absolutely sick to death of is noise in our community in the summertime,” he said at the meeting.
WRBA members have spoken to officers at the 102nd Precinct regarding the problem, and were told that officers often visit noise offenders afterwards to warn them to keep the noise down. However, Wendell noted, loud noise is not only a problem that affects Woodhaven, but many other neighborhoods in and around Queens.
Thomson, also president of the 102nd Precinct Community Council, added that in a recent meeting with South Queens police precinct council presidents, noise complaints were the most frequent complaint that came before them.
This led to the creation of the Noise Busters program, which will be run by volunteers around Woodhaven. Volunteers who sign up will be connected to a network of cell phones, with the goal being to have dozens of residents call 311 simultaneously and report noise offenders.
The way the program would work is simple: when a volunteer hears of someone creating noise, they send a special text message out that would go to the other ‘Noise Busters,’ at which point they can all call 311 at once with the address and location of the incident.
By doing this, Wendell explains, it is hoped that the city will be able to pin down where the loudest areas of noise are in order to take action.
“That address is going to be reported 20, 25 times,” he said, “so when the report is given to the 102…they’re going to look at this and go ‘What the heck happened here?’”
Noting that 311 would likely get annoyed at a large number of complaints into their system, Wendell expressed hope that the more complaints were submitted, the more likely the city would step in to curb loud noise around their community.
“We’re tired of hearing about noise issues, we’re tired of hearing the complaints and we’re tired of nothing being done about it,” Wendell said. “So, if nothing is being done and the problem is going to continue, then we are going to take it into our own hands and we’re going to try to do something that will spur some action along.”
Thomson added that 311 has often been lax in responding to noise complaints, often taking as long as eight hours to respond to such grievances.
The group is looking for between 20 and 25 volunteers. For more information, visit the group’s web site at http://woodhaven-nyc.org/.
By Jean-Paul Salamanca