Tag Archives: Community Board 4

Families at Pan American homeless shelter reportedly bused to movies during third protest


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

Residents of the controversial Pan American Hotel homeless shelter were kept away from protestors during another rally against the opening of the site, according to a published report.

About 550 residents gathered Tuesday to hold another protest in front of the hotel located on Queens Boulevard and prior to the rally, the Department of Homeless Services arranged to have 230 children and adults from the shelter bused to the movies, DNAinfo reported.

The residents were taken to see “How to Train Your Dragon 2” paid for by the agency at a theater in Jamaica in order to remove the children from any hatred that “potentially could be exhibited” during the July 22 rally, according to DNAinfo.

Last night’s rally is the third held by residents opposing the shelter which currently houses more than 180 families. The community has said that the hotel was turned into the shelter, by nonprofit Samaritan Village, without residents and elected officials being given prior notice.

The last protest, which coincided with Community Board 4’s meeting with the DHS and residents, was filled with hundreds of protestors shouting criticisms back and forth with shelter residents.

Two weeks ago, just a neighborhood away, DHS approved the conversion of the 121-room Westway Motor Inn in East Elmhurst into a permanent homeless shelter as well.

Community members and elected officials in that area also say they were not told or asked about the decision.

The hotel previously was used as an emergency overnight site for homeless families, but two years ago the DHS has said it would not turn the motel into a permanent homeless shelter.

An emergency town hall meeting and public protest against the East Elmhurst homeless shelter is scheduled for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria.

 

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Community boards OK rezoning for East Elmhurst, Corona


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

locator_map

Proposed rezoning of parts of East Elmhurst and Corona seems to be on track, with approvals from both Community Boards (CB) 3 and 4.

The Department of City Planning received the go-ahead from the boards — a first step since Commissioner Amanda Burden’s June 3 announcement of the beginning of the official public review process of a 127-block rezoning of East Elmhurst and 14 block fronts along Roosevelt Avenue in Corona.

The objective of the rezoning is to protect the current character of East Elmhurst’s residential blocks, which are made up of one- and two-family detached, semi-detached and attached homes.

“This rezoning, which was developed in close consultation with the community and local elected officials, will protect the cherished one- and two-family composition of this neighborhood,” said Burden.

The proposal also looks to update commercial overlays in order to reinforce the main commercial corridors, better reflect current land use trends and constrain commercial incursions onto residential streets. The rezoning will aim to strengthen the character of Astoria Boulevard and help it stand out from residential streets.

The 14 block fronts along Roosevelt Avenue that are included in the rezoning proposal will also help increase development in the area. For example it will allow the 82nd Street Partnership’s Jackson Heights-Corona Business Improvement District to provide services for the merchants and community on the busy strip.

“Though currently zoned for residential use, we’re seeing increased commercial activity along the stretch of Roosevelt Avenue from Elmhurst Avenue to 114th Street,” said Seth Taylor, executive director of the 82nd Street Partnership.

“The rezoning pairs nicely with the proposed Jackson Heights- Corona BID, which would promote local economic growth and be a positive force for the entire commercial corridor.”

The rezoning proposal will now be reviewed by the Borough Board, Borough President, the City Planning Commission and then the City Council.

 

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Votes split on USTA expansion


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of USTA

The votes are in on the much-debated expansions to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, and the results are mixed.

Half of the six voting Community Boards are in favor of the US Tennis Association (USTA) moving 0.68 acres out of its current property — so long as the organization meets certain conditions set by each board.

Board 6 voted 21-6 and Board 8 26-8 in favor on Wednesday, March 13; Communty Board 3 voted 33-1 against the next night. The six advisory decisions will now go to Borough President Helen Marshall, who has 60 days to decide on the expansions. Marshall’s decision then goes to the City Council and the City Planning Commission.

Marshall will hold a forum on the plan April 4 at Borough Hall. The Borough Board, led by Marshall, will vote on the plan April 8.

Two boards voted against the proposal last week, one of which could switch to yes if USTA meets nine regulations — similar to those set by other boards — including setting up a conservancy for the park. Community Board 7 voted yes, but with eight conditions, on March 11.

Each board has recommended USTA discount court prices for seniors and children, and invest in the park’s crumbling facilities.

“Community Board review was the first step in a multi-layered governmental review process that also includes the borough president, City Planning, City Council and State Legislature,” said Tennis Center Chief Operating Officer Danny Zausner. “We look forward to continuing our dialogue as we move through the different phases.”

Parkland advocates against the plan, however, say they’re going to continue informing residents of the downside of the plans. “I think the community boards’ vote will have no impact whatsoever on the BP’s vote or the City Council members,” said NYC Park Advocates president Geoffrey Croft. “They seem perfectly willing to give away additional parkland to this private business for concessions.”

 

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Local boards mixed on National Tennis Center expansion


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of USTA

BY TERENCE M. CULLEN AND MELISSA CHAN

Six community boards are lobbing back and forth on approving the proposed expansion of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The boards surrounding the park are required to vote on the .68 acres lost in the U.S. Tennis Association’s (USTA) plan to expand in the park. Their recommendations, which are solely advisory, then go to the Borough President, the City Council and the Department of City Planning.

So far, two community boards have voted against the expansion, and one has opted in favor of it.

Community Board 9 voted 22-20 against the plan, with one abstention, after a lengthy debate at its March 13 meeting. Board member Alex Blenkinsopp said he thought many voted against it to send a message that parkland should not be given up for expansion.

“I believe the majority of Community Board 9 voted the way we did because we’re concerned about the future of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park,” he said. “This would have set a worrying precedent. That land, once surrendered, will never come back. And I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want the National Tennis Center to live within its current footprint.”

Community Board 4 also voted down the expansion. However, it said it would approve it if the USTA meets nine requests, according to District Manager Christian Cassagnol. Some of the resolutions call for better park security, a $15 million trust fund exclusively for the park, and a $500,000 per year maintenance fund that would be overseen by members of different community boards.

Community Board 7 voted 30-6 in favor of the expansion, but members also had nine conditions. The board asked the USTA to establish a $15 million capital endowment fund and an annual $300,000 expense fund for sole Flushing Meadows-Corona Park maintenance.

All damaged trees, they said, must also be replaced within the park, and there must be substantial discount programs for seniors and children living nearby.

Community Board 7 also insisted National Anthem tryouts should be held in Queens. The USTA must also work with the Department of Parks to clean and maintain the property and mitigate traffic concerns.

“The reason why we voted [yes with conditions] is because we found out that even if they didn’t want to take our conditions, they came back to the table to talk to us,” said Community Board 7 Chair Eugene Kelty. “They had a meeting in our office. They asked us if they could come in and explain what was happening after the fact. They didn’t have to, but they did.”

Community Boards 3, 6 and 8 were scheduled to vote after The Courier went to press.

 

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Corona school plans halted over street closure


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of DOE

Concerned over congestion, a Community Board slammed on the brakes when construction plans for a Corona school involved a temporary street closing.

According to Community Board 4 District Manager Christian Cassagnol, the board voted down the motion 14 to 10 when the Department of Education (DOE) and the School Construction Authority (SCA) requested 44th Avenue between 97th Place and Junction Boulevard be closed for the duration of the P.S. 315’s construction, adding that the proposal also included 97th Place be turned into a northbound one-way street.

Expected to be completed by 2015, P.S. 315 will cost $40 million and house 1,100 students. According to a DOE spokesperson, Community Board 4’s vote against the street closing does not stop SCA from continuing with the project. The spokesperson added that the DOE has submitted a request for street closure with the Department of Transportation (DOT), which has not yet approved.

Recognizing the desperate need for a new school in the neighborhood, fraught with severe overcrowding, Cassagnol said it’s not the school itself the board is against, but the street closure that the SCA feels is a necessary part of its construction.

Cassagnol alleged that several community board members were displeased with the design of the school, stating that while the design was beautiful, it did not conform to the aesthetic of the surrounding neighborhood. The school’s location had also formerly been disputed over. According to Cassagnol, Community Board 4’s former District Manager Richard Italiano proposed several alternate locations for the school that were all turned down by city officials.

Representatives from the SCA could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Former chair and district manager of Community Board 4, Richard Italiano, dies


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Richard Italiano, former chair and district manager of Community Board 4, passed away last week.

“Mr. Italiano’s passing leaves a great void in the heart of our community,” said Councilmember Julissa Ferreras. “He was a dedicated public servant who worked diligently and tirelessly in the community; this was truly his life work.”

“For decades, he served Queens with the utmost concern and passion, and with the belief that working together would always be the way to improve our community,” she continued. “To me, Richard was a close ally, friend, and constant advisor. Richard’s work will not go unrecognized and will live on in the work we all continue to do on matters in the neighborhoods close to his heart.”

Arrangements were handled by the Guida Funeral Home in Corona; funeral was held at St. Leo Parish.

“A tireless servant of our community, Richard was open and accessible,” said Senator Jose Peralta. “His spirit, leadership and friendship will be sorely missed.  I extend my heartfelt condolences to his loved ones and the many people whose lives he touched.”