The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

burned out

with 2 comments

Hey, what’s with all this Northern Blvd. stuff?

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I know what is to come. In recent years, the NYC Dept. of City Planning was working on something they called “LIC Core,” a planning document centering around Northern Blvd. between 31st street and Woodside Avenue. My understanding is that the planning document has been abandoned, and that the Real Estate Industrial Complex will just be allowed to do whatever they want under the proviso that a politically viable number of “affordable” apartments are a part of their plan. The whole “affordable” thing, and the arithmetic by which the concept of affordability is determined, is a bugbear of political deception which I don’t want to get into.

As mentioned in the past, I’m now a member of Community Board 1 here in Astoria, and before the summer break, a humble narrator was obliged to vote for or against a couple of these projects. Now, when you’re on a community board – and I seem to be the only person in Queens who adheres to this – it’s meant to be like serving on a jury. The petitioner presents their facts, you make inquiries, and then you vote. In the case of two large projects just a few blocks from my own home, I voted yes. Here’s why…

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Close to transit, shopping, and City services? Check. Best use of the land? Well, I don’t think used car lots are the best use of the land within one to two miles of the East River. How densely populated is the area already? Well…. let’s just say that when the kids want to experiment with cannabinoids well outside the purview of their parents or just see how loud their car stereos are, the side streets along Northern Blvd. are where they go, as it’s a ghost town at night after all the car lots and mechanics shutter their doors. People sleep in their cars along these blocks, or on cardboard boxes piled up against the walls.

Just like when you’re on a jury, your CB vote is supposed to be based not on personal prejudices or preconceived notions, rather it’s meant to be guided by the presented facts and informed by your personal knowledge of the area. Saying that, my queries and comments to the various entities seeking to develop residential properties in the neighborhood revolved around topics that longtime Newtown Pentacle readers will find familiar – green roofs, truly public space, stormwater capture, hospital beds, school desks, and transit. Also, what are you going to plug the building into, since our electrical power system hereabouts… frankly… sucks.

Also – since this has come up a few times during the summer when I was talking to the press about unrelated Newtown Creek business – I in no way speak for CB1, and if you want an official opinion of the group on anything, talk to the Chair or call the office and ask for one. I’m still new to the Community Board, and getting to know not just my fellow members but also the procedural norms under which it operates. My plan for the next set of sessions, which begin again in September, is to show up and observe the way things work and then vote my conscience on the various issues presented. What you read here is from my personal POV, and all opinions are my own. If I’m speaking “officially” on behalf of any of the groups which I work with, I’ll state that. Otherwise, it’s just some schmuck with a camera mouthing off again.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Saying all that, and I’m still startled at the number of people who have willingly made their homes in Queens Plaza, living along Northern Blvd. seems like a poor choice. You do have fairly regular bus service, but the closest subway stops (other than the 36th street R/M) are all several blocks to the north – in Astoria proper – along Broadway. I’ve long called this stretch of Northern Blvd. the “Carridor” as it’s a super wide primary automobile and truck route that offers some of the scariest street crossings in all of Queens. Really, Steinway at Northern… brrrr…

At the moment, I’m spending some effort on recording what’s found on the Carridor right now, in order to create some kind of record before it all gets swept away by the forces of modernity and the rapacious hunger of the Real Estate Industrial Complex. The history of NYC is a story of wrenching, and quite sudden, change. Take a picture when something catches your interest, as it might not be there tomorrow.


“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle


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Written by Mitch Waxman

August 27, 2019 at 11:00 am

2 Responses

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  1. Kudos for taking the position seriously and approaching the responsibility in entails with a civic and city-minded framework. All that said, given your experience and what I assume should be a much-better-than-average familiarity with the history of the borough and how it grew, this statement you wrote:

    “𝘐’𝘮 𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘭𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘯𝘶𝘮𝘣𝘦𝘳 𝘰𝘧 𝘱𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘩𝘢𝘷𝘦 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘭𝘺 𝘮𝘢𝘥𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘩𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘘𝘶𝘦𝘦𝘯𝘴 𝘗𝘭𝘢𝘻𝘢, 𝘭𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘭𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘕𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘯 𝘉𝘭𝘷𝘥. 𝘴𝘦𝘦𝘮𝘴 𝘭𝘪𝘬𝘦 𝘢 𝘱𝘰𝘰𝘳 𝘤𝘩𝘰𝘪𝘤𝘦.”

    seems naïve at best and just willfully ignorant in a regular, non-Waxman-knowledge-having schmuck and reflects far worse coming from the humble narrator hisself!

    You really didn’t think that there were homes and houses that were put down before Northern became such as it is? Case in point, look up M. Sendek vs Macy’s along Queens boulevard…

    https://placesnomore.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/sendeksandmacys/

    There still exists along Queens boulevard, at least two single family homes, right on the boulevard as it stretches towards Hillside, one nearly directly across from Sendek’s long gone home, and another on the stretch between Sunnyside and Elm (Woodside).

    Tsk, tsk.

    Tommy Efreeti

    September 4, 2019 at 11:17 am

  2. That other Woodsidian home of which I spake: https://goo.gl/maps/w9CoDZcCtfXuwhYk7

    Tommy Efreeti

    September 4, 2019 at 11:19 am


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