For The Budget Greens:
They Wish For Queens
By NICK BUGLIONE
The first signs of a long, hot summer are
just starting to fill Queens sidewalks with young people breaking from school, while the
last hope for 60 youth alliance projects rests in the balance during this season of city
budget dreams and nightmares.
Members of the Forest Hills Community House (from
l. to r.) Assistant Executive Director Theresa Greenberg, Rickey Carmona, Myriam Gehy,
Mike Zevan, Rich Schneiderman and Shawn Johnson.
Tribune Photo By Ira Cohen
For 15 years, the Hot Spots Street
Outreach Program has provided Queens teenagers with a place to get off the streets, but
this year could be different. According to Forest Hills Community House Assistant
Executive Director Theresa Greenberg, funding for the program and others like it were cut
from the mayors recently released executive budget.
"Were devastated with this
possibility," Greenberg said, adding that while the project survived its first nine
years through allocations from the borough president and the New York City Council, it has
depended greatly on city funding for the past six.
"Without restoration in street
outreach funding, we will experience severe reduction in the number of outreach workers we
will be able to employ," said Greenberg, noting elimination from the budget will
force the Community House to almost cut its program in half.
The Forest Hills Community House created
"Hot Spots" in 1984 in response to growing community complaints of youth
loitering on neighborhood streets. The program derives its name from a police term used to
describe places where teens congregate.
"Sometimes kids just need to talk
about school, home or other things to somebody who is not a parent or teacher," said
15-year-old Juan Izarra, Rego Park resident and peer counselor in the program.
"Im another kid experiencing the same things they are and it helps them and
Queens By The Boards Community Board Map
Though the budget is in it final stage, its is not too late
for entering community members to offer comments on it. Heres a breakdown of Queens
according to its 14 community boards.
Since its inception, the
program has served over 13,000 teens, and over 1,500 this year alone. "With only
enough money left to operate until June 30, Greenberg projects that $50,000 in funding is
needed for the Community Houses program to fully continue. According to Greenberg,
without that funding the program has little chance to effectively offer further youth
Such financial problems are not uncommon in
Queens. Even in times of economic prosperity, civic organizations and community boards are
now lobbying their local elected officials for next years funding that will shape
the needs and services of the borough. At a hearing last week before the Queens Delegation
of the City Council, the boroughs Community Boards thanked the council members for
their generosity last year, and told them what their wishes are for 2001.
Community Board 1Extra
funding for the Parks Department to improve inadequate tree pruning services is among the
communitys top priorities. "Its one of our biggest concerns,"
District Manager George Delis said, noting that responses to neighborhood requests for
tree maintenance can take years.
Community Board 2The 108th
precinct that serves the community is in desperate need of a new station house, said
District Manager Delores Rizzoto. In addition to being inconveniently located, the current
station is so short on space that its garage and locker rooms are being used as offices.
Community Board 3More funding
for community cleanup and beautification programs is needed.
Community Board 4The community
boards office lacks the funds to sufficiently operate. "We should be able to
lift up the phone and say we need a copy machine," District Manager Rose
Rothschild said. She went on to note the board has had to use money from its own budget to
buy office equipment, leading to financial difficulties.
Community Board 5Members of
Community Board 5 are primarily concerned with the hiring of extra police officers for the
104th precinct. "While many types of crime
have decreased in recent years, new
police officers need to be trained and hired," said District Manager Gary Giordano,
citing that the precinct needs at least 30 new officers.
Community Board 6Extensive
repairs and renovations for Woodhaven Boulevard are among the primary concerns of
Community Board 6. "I cant think of the last time they did work on Woodhaven
Boulevard," District Manager Kathleen Riley said, adding that new traffic signs and
signals are needed.
Community Board 7With the
development of the College Point Corporate Park, members of Community Board 7 are worried
how the extra business will affect the volume of neighborhood traffic. That is why they
are searching for additional funding for a traffic study that will examine and attempt to
mitigate the impending problem.
Community Board 8Along with
the Kew Gardens Civic Association, Community Board 8 is lobbying for the funding of a $2.5
million project to rebuild the neighborhood library, which is too small to adequately
accommodate its large membership.
Community Board 9Overcrowding in
schools has left the community in need of a new elementary school.
Community Board 10Congestion
in elementary and secondary schools has gotten so bad that its difficult for
brothers and sisters to attend the same institution, according to District Manager Rose
Pepe. "Lets say you live across the street from a school, theres no
guarantee that youll get into the school," she said, adding that more schools
need to be built.
Community Board 11More funding
is needed for the upcoming Oakland Ravine Storm Water Project, a plan that will attempt to
stifle the ongoing flooding that occurs on 56th Avenue and Springfield Boulevard.
Community Board 12Despite the
fact that nearly every elementary school within this community board is severely
overcrowded, no new schools are proposed to be built in the area, said District Manager
Yvonne Reddick. Community Board 12 has been pushing for the construction of new schools
for some time.
Community Board 13Because much
of the neighborhood relies on surface transportation, the community is calling for more
funding for street reconstruction and maintenance.
Community Board 14Due to the
neighborhoods geographic isolation from the rest of the borough, the community is lobbying
for the expansion of public transportation to and from the area.
WORK BY THE NUMBERS
First: The mayor and
the Office of Management and Budget his primary advisory group on fiscal matters
submits a preliminary budget to the New York City Council, no later than January
Step 2: The Council has until March
25 to hold public hearings on the fiscal implications of the preliminary budget. These
hearings are usually held during a two-week period in which representatives from private
organizations, city agencies, community boards and borough boards are able to attend and
Step 3: After deliberation, the
Council issues to the mayor its recommendations, along with a summary of all public
hearings held in the individual communities.
Step 4: The mayor must then submit a
proposed executive budget by no later than April 26. This year the mayor released his
budget on April 18.
Were Here Step 5: Just
as with the preliminary phase, the council holds public hearings to gain additional
feedback from the community on the updated version of the budget. In the next two weeks
the Council will be holding a final round of budget hearings with each individual city
agency. These hearings are open to the public, and Queens residents can attend and offer
feedback on behalf of their neighborhoods.
Step 6: The council and the Office
of Management and Budget go into negotiations to draft a finalized budget. The Council has
the authority to increase, decrease, add or omit any fund allocations they feel are
important. Then the mayor has the power to veto any increases or additions made. The
Council can override the veto by a two-thirds vote.
A final agreement was
reached on the State Budget for the 2000-2001 fiscal year on May 2, according to reports
Governor George Pataki announced, "the
process of drafting the necessary statutory and appropriation bills required for enactment
of the budget" will begin immediately.
"Overall the State Budget is going to
have a positive impact on the City of New York," said Joe Conway, a representative
from the governors press office. Conway added that education and transportation will
be affected the most, as the state plans to pump millions of dollars into those areas
Exact regional breakdowns regarding how much Queens will
receive will not be known until the budget is passed. The legislatures ratification
process will begin on May 4 and may be completed as early as May 5, Conway said.