2009-05-15 / Top Stories

New Councilmember Ulrich Updates CB 14

By Nicholas Briano

Newly elected New York City Councilmember Eric Ulrich stopped by Community Board 14 this week to discuss a wide range of topics affecting the district.

The board, which holds monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of the month at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Rockaway Beach, got some well deserved news from Ulrich when it was announced that the City Council has restored $295,000 to community boards across the city, which will prevent drastic staff and service cuts. "Unfortunately the ax fell last year on the community boards," Ulrich said. "As part of a budget modification vote we did restore $295,000 to the 59 community boards, which is an amazing feat." Capital projects were also discussed and Ulrich announced that money had been allocated for repairs to the fascia boards along the boardwalk, from Beach 73 Street to Beach 109 Street.

"Not only are the boards dilapidated, not only are they disgraceful, but in some places they are just not there," he said. "It is a safety hazard. It drives down property values and who knows what goes in and out of there at night."

As a result, Ulrich says, Parks asked him to secure $500,000 so that the boards could be completely repaired. The boards are expected to be replaced next year. In so-called "bad news" Ulrich said that the city is planning on raising water and sewer rates by 14 percent, which would increase the average water bills by more than $100 dollars a year. "It may not seem like a lot to the mayor and some of my colleagues in the council," Ulrich said. "But you are harming the people who are hurting the most. Time and time again the city comes to pick your pockets. Me and several colleagues plan on voting against the budget if it includes the 14 percent water hike."

In the area of legislature affairs, a cell phone antennae bill is also being considered that would require the Department of Buildings commissioner to set forth general rules as to how and where cell phone antennas and towers are erected. In addition, cell companies would have to send written notice before they apply for the permit to the community board and city council members, in order Ulrich says, to give communities more input on where the towers would go.

The bill, he says encourages the providers to install the antennas in non residential areas.

One of the last topics he covered briefly was the ongoing lifeguard issue, in which he suggested that Parks should be able to hire foreign students studying in the New York City area. The problem now, however, is that foreign student attend school on temporary visas that expire as soon as the semester ends. "If we can recruit these students and have them earn college credits either through an internship or some form of independent study, they could still earn the wages of a lifeguard during the summer and be able stay and work here," he said. "My position on the lifeguard situation is, I have an obligation to have as many beaches in Rockaway open as possible. Whatever I could do to alleviate this situation I am doing it."

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