Tag Archives: Assemblymember Ron Kim

MTA to move problematic buses away from Flushing church


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Big wheels,  keep on turning — away from a historic Flushing church. 

The MTA will redirect five city bus routes from St. George’s Episcopal Church after local leaders and parishioners complained about idling buses and its drivers who relieve themselves on the side of the church.

“What was happening to our beautiful church was devastating,” said Assemblymember Ron Kim. “It’s very sad that when their congregation meets every week, they have to walk through all that pollution and smell.”

Drivers use the streets adjacent to the landmark church at 135-32 38th Ave. as a bus depot, Kim said, contaminating the block with noise, pollution and even urine at night.

Serving Flushing since 1702, the church is the only one in the city to be surrounded on three sides by city buses, said Kim and St. George’s Reverend Wilfredo Benitez.

“These buses have been a hardship on this parish for too long,” Benitez wrote to the MTA in February.

But come September, no city bus will travel along or stop on 38th Avenue, between Main and Prince streets, the MTA said.

The heavily-used Q17 and Q27, which currently have layovers there, will instead rest on 138th Street, between 39th and 37th avenues. And the Q19, Q50 and Q66 will idle near the municipal parking lot on 39th Avenue.

“The community requested the MTA study how to decrease the number of buses stopping near the church,” said MTA spokesperson Kevin Ortiz. “This reroute of Q17 and Q27 accomplishes that with minimal inconvenience to customers.”

Local leaders praised the adjustments but said they need to come sooner. Benitez also wants the Q20A, Q20B and Q44’s stops moved away from the front of the church.

“Waiting until Septembers means another summer of bus drivers urinating on the side of our buildings and the summer heat festering the stench,” he said. “All the other hardships already enumerated to the MTA in the past will remain in effect until then.”

The change is part of Kim’s new initiative, launched last November, to clean downtown Flushing.

Residents can click here or call Kim’s office at 718-939-0195 to suggest other blighted sites.

 

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Korean seniors and Flushing McDonald’s owner reach peace


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A group of Korean seniors and the owner of an embattled Flushing McDonald’s have come to a truce, Assemblymember Ron Kim announced Monday.

The feud between the two parties was a “cultural miscommunication,” said Kim, the state’s first Korean-American elected official.

It began when a cluster of about 20 seniors made the corner eatery on Parsons and Northern Blvds. their favorite hangout, taking up seats for about eight hours every day, The Korea Times and New York Times first reported.

The extended stays have kept others from patronizing the McDonald’s, franchisee Jack Bert said.

“I’m sure you can imagine any business would find this situation to be difficult,” he said in a statement.

As part of the compromise, Bert agreed to hire Korean-speaking staff members and extend the 20-minute sitting limit to one hour, except from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“I’ve been proud to serve this community for nearly 20 years, and my restaurant has been happy to welcome these customers for years,” Bert said.

“I was confident that once we were able to sit together and talk, we would come to a positive resolution that would create an environment where all customers who wish to enjoy this restaurant would have the ability to do so.”

The seniors agreed to abide by the new sitting hours and be transported by the Korean Community Services to meet at local senior centers during the fast-food restaurant’s busy hours.

The dispute, at its peak, led to four police interventions since November, according to the Times.

David Choe, 76, one of the group’s regulars, told The Courier he was insulted to be asked to leave.

“This is my town,” he said. “I’m happy people are taking us seriously now. Before, nobody really cared about this matter.”

It even sparked a boycott last week amongst a trio of Korean activists. Outraged, they called for a worldwide boycott of McDonald’s throughout February.

“Senior citizens have been working hard their whole lives. They should be respected,” said Christine Colligan, co-chair of the Korean American Parents Association of Greater New York, who led the protest. “This is the core of Koreatown. I cannot believe this is happening here.”

Kim said the culture clash also stemmed from a lack of resources for seniors.

“What we’ve done over the last few days is make sure both parties understand where each other is coming from and have some compassion,” he said. “This was a small business owner trying to survive and a small group of seniors trying to find a social space.”

State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said the compromise represents Flushing’s tradition of respect.

“It goes back hundreds of years,” she said. “It’s a peaceful community, and it’s going to continue to be a peaceful community.”

 

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US Rep. Meng helps family bring body home


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Congressmember Grace Meng is working on getting emergency visas for the brother and the son of Junwoon Li, whose body was discovered floating in Flushing Creek on Tuesday, February 26, so they can bring her home.

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing has already approved a visitor’s visa for Li’s brother, according to Meng’s office.

“This terrible loss of life is a horrible tragedy,” said Meng. “We send our thoughts and prayers to the victim’s family and friends, and we’ll do all we can to assist them.”

Li, 46, was a Korean national of Chinese descent, and her brother and son both live in China, according to Meng’s office. Li came to the United States on February 5 for what was expected to be a three-month stay. She was last seen on Friday, February 22, however, leaving a Flushing karaoke bar. Police currently do not believe the death was a homicide, nor was any foul play involved.

Assemblymember Ron Kim was contacted by friends of Li and, because it is a federal issue, reached out to Meng for help.

“This is a terrible and sad tragedy,” he said. “I will assist Congressmember Meng and her staff with any local or state matters that can help alleviate some of the burden facing the victim’s family.”

There is no set time frame on when Li’s brother, and possibly her son, will arrive in New York to bring her body back to China.

 

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