Community Board's Budget Requests Rejected By City Agencies
By Skye Holly
"You know what? We can't make this stuff up" exasperated Chairperson Saul Needle, said while trying to explain the denial of several requests made to the city by Community Board 18 at the monthly hearing last week.
The Board proposed a capital and expense budget for the Fiscal Year 2009 to the Department of Transportation and other city agencies outlining what it feels are its most urgent needs and priorities. Requests included improved lighting for major roads and intersections, like Avenue L and Rockaway Parkway, and fencing around pedestrian crossings.
In a letter received by the Canarsie Courier, District Manager Dorothy Turano wrote, "(We) voted unanimously to reject the city agencies responses to our FY '09 requests because they do not reflect an earnest effort to address (our) 'bare bones' Statement of Needs and Priorities."
For most of the requests, particularly those for the DOT, the Community Board was told "No," without much explanation.
Regarding a request for the construction of a fenced-in, elevated overpass across Flatbush Avenue at Avenue U in the heavily trafficked area outside of Kings Plaza, no answer has yet been received and the Board said its calls have not been returned.
After District Manager Dorothy Turano spoke with a DOT representative, she said they told her that "they have no funds or plans for this request."
Turano added that the representative also told her, "We don't put up that kind of fencing."
State Senator Carl Kruger noted that he requested funds for the fencing, but the DOT's response was that they could not accept it.
The DOT has told Community Board 18 to direct their concerns and complaints to their local elected officials and the mayor.
In a letter to the city's Office of Management and Budget, Turano noted that although CB 18 recognizes the fiscal constraints under which the city functions and the dire state of the budget, "the process requires a far reaching picture into the future if we are to advance projects designed to protect and maintain our aging infrastructure" not to enhance them.
"We were dismayed," she continued, "to see the lack of interest that the responding agencies demonstrated to our budget requests…It appears as if everyone is 'hiding' behind the budget 'short-fall' rather than stepping up to the plate and advancing our community's need for improvement."
In another matter, dozens of members of Congregation Tifereth Torna Eliezer, at 1912 New York Avenue in East Flatbush, filled the Kings Plaza Community Room to capacity on February 20. They were there to learn the status of an application for a variance they filed that would allow them to alter the structure of their synagogue, between New York Avenue and Avenue K, to accommodate needed extra space along with a rabbi's quarters. The building cannot be expanded without such a permit. The congregation, as well as neighborhood residents, previously indicated they would not mind the change or temporary inconveniences during the proposed construction.
The Community Board said it was still waiting a response for the application.
Neil S. Friedman contributed to this article.