Tag Archives: Borough Hall

Kew Gardens Hills synagogues experience growing pains


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Nicholas Strini/PropertyShark

The large and expanding Jewish community in Kew Gardens Hills has fueled the need for synagogue expansions, according to religious leaders, but some projects hinge on special permits which aren’t always easy to obtain.

In the latest batch of synagogues seeking variances, Community Board 8 will host a public hearing on Monday, Oct. 27, regarding a structural expansion of one place of worship and special operational permits for another. This comes after the board denied an application in June for expansion of a third synagogue, which is still hoping to get approval from the Board of Standards and Appeals in an upcoming vote.

The congregation of Torath Haim Ohel Sara at 144-11 77th Ave. is hoping the community board approves changes to an extant variance to allow it to operate without the lawfully required amount of space in its front, side and rear yards. They also request an extension of time to operate without a certificate of occupancy.

But this property, which is also undergoing construction, has Buildings Department violations for ignoring a stop-work order, according to city records, and has accrued penalties totaling nearly $100,000. Calls for comment from the synagogue were not returned.

A synagogue Just a block away, in a two-story building at 147-02 76th Rd., will also come before the board, hoping to get approval to add a floor to make room for a school and an office for the rabbi.

Isak Ambramov of Sharey Tefilah Synagogue initially applied for a brand-new three-story building in 2010 on the site and architectural firm Gerald Caliendo was slated to design it. However, the Buildings Department disapproved the plans, city records show.

And there hasn’t been any movement on the expansion application of Sephardic Congregation at 141-41 72nd Ave.

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

The community board denied its appeal for a variance to expand to three floors in June, after community residents strongly opposed it due to the potential increase of noise and garbage along with 15 existing Building Department violations. The application then went to Borough President Melinda Katz for a public hearing later in the month.

Community Board 8 District Manager Marie Adam-Ovide told The Courier she has not heard from Borough Hall as yet on that variance.

The borough president’s “recommendation is still being worked on,” according to a spokesman from Katz’s office, who said it would not be coming out Thursday, but did not have a definitive time frame beyond that point.

The Board of Standards and Appeals has the final say on all the applications.

The community board hearing will be held at Parsons Junior High School, 158-40 76th Rd., at 7:30 p.m.

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Longtime Queens borough president aide to retire


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy Dominick Totino Photography

The right-hand woman to the last two Queens borough presidents is retiring after 30 years in Borough Hall.

Alexandra Rosa, chief of staff to Borough Presidents Claire Shulman and Helen Marshall, will leave at year’s end. She plans to transition into the nonprofit sector.

“I feel that it’s time to move to the next stage of my life, and I’m happy to do that,” she said. “I’m grateful and honored to have had the opportunity to serve the borough of Queens.”

Rosa, 59, helped Marshall develop strategies for investing more than $650 million in capital budget items over a decade. She also played a key role in strengthening the public library system and expanding the borough’s cultural centers.

“So much of the borough has changed,” Rosa said. “We’ve gone through tremendous struggles. On the other hand, we’ve seen tremendous triumph.”

The top aide said Queens, like the rest of the city, was rocked by Sept.11, Superstorm Sandy, a recession and foreclosures.

But the borough came out swinging, with more senior housing, the renaissance of downtown Jamaica and new economic potential unleashed “through the power of zoning,” Rosa said, pointing to newly approved developments in Willets Point and western Queens.

On a smaller platform, the newly opened Children’s Library Discovery Center, a 14,000-square-foot hands-on science and technology-focused exhibit in Jamaica, was one of the most memorable for the outgoing aide.

“It’s something I was able to participate in from its earliest stage of an idea to opening and seeing children engage in exploring the exhibits that were there,” Rosa said. “That was a real beginning-to-end experience.”

Marshall is term-limited and will give up the seat she held since 2001 to Melinda Katz.

Earlier this month, Katz tapped Councilmember Leroy Comrie to be her deputy borough president and Jay Bond, a former longtime aide, as chief of staff.

Rosa said the new administration under Katz will take the borough to the next level and continue the path of progress.

“I’m going to miss working for some really great people. We’ve done some tremendous things together,” Rosa said. “Life is about change, and this is a new phase that I’m embracing.”

 

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Katz campaign raises over $280,000 in quest for Borough Presidency


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

Melinda Katz is taking a lead in campaign finances for the borough presidency as her campaign announced the former politician has raised more than $280,000 in the last four months.

“I am so appreciative to our hundreds of donors and their support for my candidacy,” Katz said in a statement. “Our fundraising success is a reflection of how well our message is being received among Queens residents.   The campaign, based on improving the lives of all Queens residents by increasing economic opportunities, and striking the proper balance with the needs of a community is resonating.”

The campaign has roughly $250,000 on hand; $40,000 of which can be matched by the city’s match fund, adding an extra $240,000 to her war chest, according to a campaign statement.

Katz, who hasn’t been in office since 2009, nabbed an endorsement from former Mayor Ed Koch last month in the hotly-contested race for Borough Hall.

She faces off against Councilmembers Peter Vallone and Leroy Comrie; State Senators Jose Peralta and Tony Avella; and former Deputy Borough President Barry Grodenchik – who stepped down from his position last month to run.

Vallone is reported to still lead on the fundraising front, having capped out how much he could raise some time ago.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Heat Brings Outages, Voltage Reductions To Some; Fun To Others

The second day of near-triple-digit temperatures brought power outages and voltage reductions to thousands across the city. As of 10 p.m. Thursday evening, Con Edison is reporting more than 2,500 outages across the five boroughs. 1,019 of those outages are in Brooklyn, while 906 are in Queens. Read more: [NY1]

Cuffs for big bro, 23, who ‘lost’ li’l bro, 5

A Queens boy learned the hard way he can’t count on his big brother. Zackary Nazario, 5, was missing for more than eight hours after he was frightened out of his South Ozone Park home by a cockroach — while his baby-sitting 23-year-old brother was out buying a beer. Read more: [New York Post]

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall launches gun buy-back program 

The all-too-frequent sound of gunfire in one Queens precinct has been heard in Borough Hall. Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, responding to an alarming number of shootings in Jamaica’s 113th Precinct, has come up with $50,000 for a gun buy-back program on Saturday. Read more: [New York Daily News]

Queens Residents Complain Horse Manure From Riding School Leaving A Stinky Mess.

In the midst of oppressive heat, a Queens neighborhood with aquaint view of horses has become overwhelmed by the smell of them. Lynne’s Riding School in Forest Hills is a little stable tucked into a corner of the big city. They have been offering lessons for 65 years, but, lately, the old stable has been the subject of complaints from newer neighbors.Read more: [1010wins]

 U.S. Open Holds Ball Person Tryouts

Hundreds of hopefuls tried out to be ballboys and ballgirls at the U.S. Open Thursday. Battling sweltering temperatures, contestants from all over the city lined up outside the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for a shot at one of the 80 available positions. United States Tennis Association officials evaluated the competition on their running, throwing and catching skills. Read more: [NY1]

Queens high school violinist seeks to play his way from an F-train platform to a concert stage 

 

At a time when high school students are struggling to find part-time gigs in the tough economy, a 19-year-old Queens violinist is tapping into his pursuit of virtuosity to create a college fund. Yut Chia, who is graduating from Bayside High School this month, has been filling subway platforms with his bitter-sweet classical renditions since he was a junior and hopes to raise funds to keep up his musical pursuit. Read more: [New York Daily News]