An old-fashioned Woodhaven block party
by Ed Wendell
Jun 26, 2012 | 1287 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Pictured from left to right are Oskar and Kendra Kuszai, Monica Varona, Ria Concolino and Michael Concolino, winners of the WRBA's 2012 Community Service Awards.
Pictured from left to right are Oskar and Kendra Kuszai, Monica Varona, Ria Concolino and Michael Concolino, winners of the WRBA's 2012 Community Service Awards.
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Vance Barbour and Martin Colberg of the WRBA cook up hot dogs and burgers.
Vance Barbour and Martin Colberg of the WRBA cook up hot dogs and burgers.
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The residents of Woodhaven gathered at the picnic area in Forest Park on Saturday for the first annual Woodhaven Block Party.

We began planning this event back in January and, simply put, nothing at all went as planned. (Does it ever?) But the weather was beautiful and the event was successful enough that we've already decided to give it another try next year. This, we hope, will be the start of an annual Woodhaven tradition.

We never quite got around to playing all the games we had planned to, but the kids had no problem entertaining themselves. And they all loved getting decorated by Tammy the face painter. Many thanks to Maria Thompson and the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation for providing Tammy's services to the party, she was a huge hit.

We took a few minutes out in the middle of the day to hand out some awards to residents who have been working with us on various issues, particularly graffiti clean up. Last week, when temperatures were close to 100 degrees, while most of us remained indoors praying our air conditioners would not fail, we had residents outside painting over graffiti-scarred mailboxes.

Saturday gave us an opportunity to acknowledge and thank those who work hard to keep our community clean.

The Woodhaven Residents' Block Association has received a lot of attention over the past few years fighting on behalf of Woodhaven. Fighting against the closure of firehouses, fighting against cutting of library or transit services, fighting for the return of our carousel, fighting against noise, fighting against graffiti.

Those are "big" examples, but we also take care of smaller issues, as well. For example, some construction workers dumped over 1,000 pounds of concrete in front of the garage of a 90-year-old widow.

Because of where the garage was situated, the Department of Sanitation said they could not remove it (their truck would not fit down the alleyway). A private company was called and said they could do it, but it would cost around $750, money that the widow simply did not have.

One of our members heard about this woman's problem. He did not know her, he had never met her, but with the help of a few of his friends and a wheelbarrow, they moved the concrete to a location where DSNY could reach it. And the problem was solved.

It might not have been big news, but it was very important to this woman. It meant that she didn't have to face this issue alone. It meant that people cared. And in this era, where people have become just a little bit more cynical and selfish, it was good to see that spirit alive and well in Woodhaven.

Close to 100 such "trouble tickets" were taken care of in 2011, from helping to remove an abandoned car to getting graffiti removed from homes to making sure potholes got fixed. We'll easily surpass that amount this year, and the issues that we find impossible to resolve (tree trimming, for example) get bumped up to our elected officials.

But we don't want you to think that all we do is fight and worry about problems. Part of what WRBA does is promote community spirit and provide opportunities for residents to meet their neighbors and become friends. In other words, we share concerns and worries, but we also share good times like last Saturday.

The Woodhaven Residents' Block Association is only as strong as its membership. As much as we've accomplished already, we still need to get stronger. Visit our website at woodhaven-nyc.org. Reach out to us and help us become stronger by becoming part of the Woodhaven family.

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