Tuesday, February 9, 2010

With Friends Like These . . . .

Have you been following the 13th Avenue Saga?  That's the story of an
entire block of residents who can't get any sleep at night due to the noise being generated by their immediate neighbor, Verizon.  Doubly vexing is the fact that the building in question is actually located on a little triangular piece of land on the north side of Old Country Road
that is part of the Incorporated Village of Garden City. 

BTW: who drew the boundaries for these villages way back in the day?  Ray Charles?
So Verizon embarked on a construction project some months ago with the approval of Garden City.  Depending on who tells the story, hearings were held but the 13th Avenue residents weren't notified since they live in Mineola.  OR, hearings weren't held because they didn't need to be held because everything Verizon planned was within code.  At least that's what GC's Building Superintendent Michael Filipon claims.


Apart from the inconvenience any construction causes and the eyesore these folks have to look at, is the racket.  These people are used to noise between the traffic on Old Country Road and the LIRR trains zipping by numerous times a day.  But this is a new din being generated in the middle of the night by air handlers needed to cool the equipment inside the building.  For some reason that has yet to be logically explained, these compressors MUST go into full operational mode at 1 a.m. - sleeping neighbors be damned!  Got a child who has to go to school the next day?  Let him sleep at his desk.  Terminally ill and in need of some peace and quiet as you hopefully try to recover?  Verizon feels your pain but they've got a job to do.  After all, this building "is a key telecommunications site needed by the Department of Homeland Security" and therefore it can NEVER be closed.

Say what ????  First, how thrilled do you suppose DHS is to have this little nugget of information bouncing around the radio waves? Thumbs up to the Garden City rep who let that cat out of the bag.  Second, nobody is asking that the building come down - it's been there for years.  What they want is for you all to apply a little bit of common sense and lower the freakin' volume !  Better yet, there should be NO volume emanating from that location at 1, 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning !!  

Adding insult to injury is the way their concerns have been blown off not only by the tribal elders who run the Village of Garden City (because that's to be expected) - but by the Village of Mineola as well.  Numerous calls to VOM's building department were handled with "That's Garden City - we have no jurisdiction."  Then, when they started complaining at the December public hearings in Mineola, the mayor said they should have come to him first.  Ay carumba !!!

Now it's two months later and the midnight jamboree continues.

To the mayor's credit - and MNYT is not a big fan of Jack Martins - he did give his cell phone number to the residents so they could call him to come out and hear this cacaphony in the middle of the night.  And he did go.  And no doubt he has reached out to Garden City for help.  But who did he speak to?  And what kind of spin are they giving him?

At Mineola's February 3 public meeting, Legal Eagle John Spellman stated that the two temporary air handlers have been taken off line and one has been removed from the site.  The other is permanently affixed to the building but it is enclosed with insulation and baffling.  It will remain unconnected unless an emergency arises and it must be reconnected, but that reconnection will require a permit from Garden City.


That's why when 13th Avenue resident Alicia Rodriguez got up and very nicely told Mr. Spellman that somebody is lying, he just kept his head down and scribbled away.  He didn't look up even one time.  Scribble, scribble, scribble.  He scribbled through John the Bird Man's complaints and he didn't stop when Ida Ferriera followed.

Let's not forget where Attorney Spellman resides.  Garden City.  Far from the Verizon building.

Mr. and Mrs. Ferriera and Ms. Rodriguez asked the members of the Mineola Board to attend the Garden City public meeting the next night so they might lend support to the residents of 13th Avenue.  Not an unreasonable request.

So who showed up to defend these taxpayers on Thursday, February 4th?  Only one trustee and that was Paul Cusato.  Jack Martins may have still been in Albany.  Larry Werther apparently could not rearrange his schedule to attend.  Paul Perriera was probably boning up for his 2011 mayoral campaign and Tom Kennedy was likely occupied waiting for the ice in his newly legalized illegal pool to thaw.

Paul Cusato - the most unfairly maligned of our trustees - the one who gets shot down every time he dares to swim against the tide and irritates the mayor.  Paul was the only VOM official to stand with the residents of 13th Avenue as they voiced their anger and frustration against Verizon and Garden City.  As a matter of fact, he was the first to speak. 

Several other village residents - who are in no way affected by this noise - also ventured out on a cold, dark, winter night to provide moral support.  Kudos to all of them.  BUT - and this in no way diminishes the importance of neighborly support - why was only one Mineola trustee present?  The one person who has been in contact with the GC trustees wasn't there to put their feet to the fire.  And his deputy - who should be fully informed and ready to step into the fray in the mayor's absence - wasn't.

Talk about disappointing!  Lest you forget, these are the same individuals who gave themselves a 64% salary increase last year without any warning or public hearings on the matter.  Remember?  And isn't it telling that the only trustee who voted against the raise (and was publicly chastised by the mayor for it) is also the only trustee who made it to Garden City's Village Hall on the night of the 4th?  Just the night before, the "other Paul" (Paul Perriera) assured Alicia Rodriguez that the Trustees had her back, and that she and the other 13th Avenue residents shouldn't feel abandoned.  He said "We will support you and if that means going down to a meeting tomorrow that will be it.  If it means calling Garden City again then we will do that as well . . . We're here to protect you."  (Sounds like a mayoral candidate to this blogger!)

Thanks.  Thanks alot.  With friends like these, who needs any enemies?  Certainly not the taxpayers of 13th Avenue.  Certainly not the rest of us. 

Election Day is coming up in March, so remember who your friends are.  Or aren't.  Just because two candidates are running doesn't mean you are required to cast a vote for each of them.  You can vote for one and not cast any vote for the other.  Send a message.  Think about it.

(For an "in-print" article about the Garden City public hearing click on http://wcbstv.com/localbusiness/verizon.verizon.noise.2.1471296.html )