Tag Archives: Community Board 5

Maspeth could be getting a community athletic field near Newtown Creek


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Ridgewood Times/Photo by Anthony Giudice

The area around Newtown Creek, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognizes as one of the “nation’s most polluted waterways,” could be the site of a brand-new community athletic field in Maspeth.

During a City Council hearing, Eric Landau, associate commissioner of public affairs for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), testified before the Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses, asking for public siting approval on the construction of an aeration facility for Newtown Creek in Maspeth.

The proposed aeration facility is part of a state-mandated effort to improve water quality in Newtown Creek and would be located on 47th Street, near the water’s edge. The facility would help raise oxygen levels in the water and promote wildlife sustainability.

The initial phase of construction leaves approximately one and a half acres of open space on the property, which Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Community Board 5 have expressed interest in converting into an athletic field.

“While it is very important to build this aeration facility for Newtown Creek, it is also important our community take advantage of green space for athletics. I am grateful the DEP has agreed to work with the community to allow for public use of the land,” Crowley said. “In Maspeth, there is a high volume of trucks traveling through the streets. It also has fewer city parks. This lack of green space plus its proximity to the LIE both lead to a higher rate of obesity and asthma compared to neighboring communities.”

“Maspeth residents are disadvantaged in that they lack access to sufficient open green space,” she added. “We can promote sports and physical activity by taking advantage of all public space options, ideally by way of increased access to athletic fields.”

Landau testified to the City Council that the DEP will begin discussions with the community, as well as local athletic groups, about entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding an athletic field on the unused portion of land.

The MOU would state that the sports organizations are responsible for the capital cost of the field as well as the maintenance. Also, if the DEP should ever need the field in the future, upon reasonable notice, the sports organization would need to discontinue operations on the property until any and all construction on the site is complete. Once construction is complete, the site would be handed back over to the community again.

“Understanding that the space may be needed in the future to meet state and federal water quality requirements, DEP is committed to working with the Council and community organizations that are willing to build and maintain the space for athletic purposes, as we have with a soccer league in Manhattan near our North River Waste Water Treatment Plant,” Landau said. “As an immediate next step, we look forward to taking Council member Crowley, local leaders, and other community members on a tour of similar public amenities DEP has constructed, as well as beginning discussions with local athletic groups, identified by [Crowley].”

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Community Board 5 still wants funding for Wyckoff Avenue repaving project


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

The Ridgewood Times/Photo by Anthony Giudice

What’s the holdup with fixing Wyckoff Avenue? That’s the question members of Community Board 5’s (CB 5) Transit and Public Transportation Committees asked during their meeting Tuesday night in Glendale.

While the board discussed upcoming and ongoing capital projects, one project that has been on CB 5’s radar for several years now is the repaving and reconstruction of Wyckoff Avenue from Flushing to Cooper avenues, including several side streets along the route, which runs through parts of Bushwick and Ridgewood.

“We’d like to get it because of what’s going on in Ridgewood with our friends on the Queens side with housing and everything. We want the area to be fixed up,” said CB 5 Chairperson Vincent Arcuri.

Arcuri said that local elected officials in both Brooklyn and Ridgewood need to get on board with this project in order to get it done because the stretch of road traverses both Brooklyn and Queens.

“No one in [the Department of Transportation], in the Brooklyn borough president’s office, or any local politician is pushing for this project,” Arcuri said. “No one is pushing for it.”

One reason why this project never got off the ground is because, up to this point, there has been no funding for it, he noted.

“There is either no funding or they are waiting for federal funding for this project,” Arcuri added. “I don’t know why it never got funded. We need elected officials on both sides to ask where the funding for this project is.”

According to John Maier, member of the Transit and Public Transportation Committees, the plans for this project were in presented to the committees for review and recommendations several years back.

“We’ve reviewed [the designs] and gave feedback years ago,” Maier said.

This project would be beneficial for both neighborhoods as it would not only repave Wyckoff Avenue and the side streets, but include streetscaping projects that would improve the sidewalks, street lights and other parts of the avenue, as well as replace the water mains and sewer lines along the route.

“In today’s day and age, why would you not want to fix up their neighborhood?” Arcuri told the Ridgewood Times in a phone interview on Wednesday. “If you want to talk economics, this project will help businesses prosper. It will make the whole area better.”

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Ridgewood woman goes on TV to change look


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of TLC

When Ridgewood resident Sarah Feldman decided to take the brave step of changing up her look to go with her growing businesses and roles in the community, she didn’t ask for advice from friends and family or stop by a local clothing store — she turned to national TV.

But the show, TLC’s “Love, Lust or Run,” had a larger impact on the 27-year-old and some of its viewers than she ever imagined.

“I was worried. I didn’t know what they would do,” Feldman said.

“I thought they would put me in a boring business suit,” she added.

Feldman had only seen the makeover show, hosted by Stacy London, formerly of the same network’s “What Not to Wear,” once before applying, and thought it would be “funny” to send her footage, but didn’t think she would be “weird enough.”

But her look made the cut, and it made quite the impression on London. When Feldman stepped into the studio with her pink hair and cat coat, London reacted by saying, “I’m confused” and “You look like a sherpa.”

Another of Feldman’s looks, which she described on the June 19 episode as “granny chic meets acid princess raver goth child from the ‘60s,” showed her sporting butterfly wings.

But  the busy entrepreneur knew it was time to stop hiding in her clothes, something she felt like she was stuck doing from her adolescence.

As a new member of Community Board 5, she wanted a more appropriate look for her new role, but to also maintain her artistic, creative side, said Feldman, who also runs Ridgewood Social and Ridgewood Market.

The premise of the show, beyond a basic makeover, is to ask people on the street to rate the person’s look and say whether it makes them feel “love,” “lust” or makes them want to “run.”

Though the comments were unflattering, including that she belonged in an “artisan enclave,” and that her look wasn’t appropriate for business, Feldman said she “felt relief” when she heard the comments because she had been hiding for a long time. She was actually more apprehensive about the makeover.

Sarah in an after look.

Feldman trying on clothes during the show.

Feldman not only ditched the pink hair, turning into a brunette (she had predicted that the hair stylist would make her blonde), but was also shown by London how to pick out better fitting clothes.

“I look so smart,” Feldman said during the reveal.

Not only did the people on the street now love what she was wearing, but her fiance Neil surprised Feldman by appearing via video to tell her that he loved her new look and to say that she was “still the beautiful girl I fell in love with.”

London also surprised Feldman with a bag — made from her cat coat.

“Everything she was doing beforehand was really about creating a distraction and now she is going to see herself as an asset,” London said.

Stacy London with Sarah in her after look.

Stacy London with Feldman in her after look.

Since the show, Feldman said she has kept the brown hair and gotten rid of her old clothes.

“I didn’t really think shows like that had an impact,” she said.

Feldman’s appearance also made an impression on some of those watching. She has received letters from girls around the country saying that they can relate to her experience and honesty, and that they “don’t feel alone anymore.” Some even told her they cried during the episode and lauded Feldman’s bravery for going on the show.

“It wasn’t my intention,” she said, “but it was a definite positive.”

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Ridgewood march against proposed MTA bus rerouting plan


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy the MTA

Members of the United We Stand Neighborhood Association, a newly formed civic group on the Ridgewood/Bushwick border, will be holding a march and rally in Ridgewood this Saturday to oppose the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) proposed plan to reroute the B26 and Q58 buses.

The MTA’s proposal would take these two buses off of Wyckoff Avenue and instead reroute them onto Ridgewood Place. The MTA cites dangerous turning conditions at the three-way intersection at Palmetto Street and Myrtle and Wyckoff avenues as well as heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic as reasons for the proposed changes.

This location has been the scene of many traffic-related injuries, several involving MTA buses, including the fatal accidents that killed Ella Kottick Bandes in 2013 and Edwin Torres in 2014.

“The whole idea of rerouting buses in the area of Myrtle and Wyckoff was due to the need to make traffic conditions safer for pedestrians,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of Community Board 5. “Unfortunately, two people were killed in vehicular accidents at that intersection. The decision on which blocks to reroute the buses to was studied by the MTA. This was done to save lives. The whole reasoning was for pedestrian safety.”

The United We Stand Neighborhood Association was formed in April of this year to combat this rerouting.

“We are a newly formed group,” said Flor Ramos, member of United We Stand Neighborhood Association, in a phone interview with the Ridgewood Times. “We got together mainly because of the situation with the bus rerouting. Nobody wants those buses around there.”

Protesters will assemble at the intersection of Putnam and Wyckoff avenues at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. They will begin their protest at noon and march along Putnam Avenue to Ridgewood Place, ending on Palmetto Street, which is the proposed new route for the buses.

“Now it’s totally going to affect our quality of life,” Ramos said. “There is the noise issue and the fumes. Now you will have double the noise from screeching breaks and compressed air making that horrible bus noise echoing through the streets. We won’t be able to leave our windows open. These are all residential house along this new route. Wyckoff Avenue is all commercial.”

Currently, the Q58 travels down Putnam Avenue, turns right onto Wyckoff Avenue and right again on Palmetto Street, where the Ridgewood Terminal is located. The B26 travels straight down Wyckoff Avenue to Palmetto Street to the Ridgewood Terminal.

“That intersection is the beginning of our commercial district,” said Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District, who supports the bus route changes. “Since day one, we have been working with the city for the mayor’s Vision Zero plan and have advocated for improvements in that area.”

The proposed changes would have the Q58 turn right onto Ridgewood Place, then right again on Palmetto Street, while the B26 would turn left onto Putnam Avenue, right onto Ridgewood Place and right onto Palmetto Street.

“Overall, the buses will be making five new turns with this new route,” Ramos explained. “The B26 will add three more turns and the Q58 will add two more turns. They will be taking the accidents from there and bring them to the new location. That is going to cause a lot more problems.”

Members of United We Stand Neighborhood Association believe that moving the bus routes to Ridgewood Place would put more children and elderly at risk since the streets of the proposed reroute are very narrow, which would make it difficult for a bus to turn.

“Sending out a bus through there, all they’re doing is bringing that problem to our streets,” Ramos said. “There is nothing they can do about making the streets wider.”

“You have wider streets on Wyckoff and Palmetto,” Ramos continued. “There is about a 5-foot difference in width. The sidewalks on Wyckoff are much wider, giving bus drivers a better view of pedestrians passing through there.”

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Pilot program promoting public transportation launched in CB 5 area


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy NYC DOT flickr

The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) pilot Go Smart NYC program has launched in the areas of Community Board 5 (CB 5).

Go Smart NYC is designed to increase residents’ use of public transportation, biking, carpooling, or walking in order to reduce the traffic congestion and emissions caused by single-occupancy motor vehicle trips.

The DOT chose CB 5 as the pilot area due to its population, proximity to public transportation options and bike lanes, walkability, as well as its high level of car ownership.

“The congestion and traffic in our communities can sometimes be unbearable. Go Smart NYC plans to alleviate that with the click of a button,” Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said. “Walking, biking, public transportation and carpooling are all viable urban modes of travel and I look forward to this program’s roll out and working with the DOT to make it as effective as possible for everyone.”

Residents can sign up for the program through the Go Smart NYC website. After registering, participants can order a free, personalized travel toolkit, with information about walking, biking, public transit, carpooling and Vision Zero safety and education materials.

“I am excited that Community Board 5 has been selected for the kickoff to the city’s launch of Go Smart NYC,” said Gary Giordano, district manager of CB 5. “Middle Village, Ridgewood, Maspeth and Glendale are home to a wealth of local businesses, and this program encourages residents to shop and explore these neighborhoods by foot, transit and bike. The more we can walk or use public transit, the better off we will be as a society.”

Registered participants will be able to log their trips online in order to earn discount rewards at over 20 local businesses that are partnering with the DOT to help encourage sustainable travel choices and local shopping. To further enhance residents’ experiences with walking, biking or public transit, the DOT will assist the local community board in installing city benches, city racks, and a real-time bus information sign at an area bus stop.

“The Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) and Ridgewood Local Development Corporation are delighted to be partners for DOT’s new innovative program Go Smart NYC,” said Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue BID. “This is a win-win: increase of residents’ use of public transit, biking, carpooling or just plain walking will reduce traffic congestion. At the same time, it will encourage people to shop locally and support our merchants.”

Go Smart NYC will run in the areas of Ridgewood, Glendale, Middle Village and Maspeth until November. DOT is also looking at the possibility of expanding the program to other areas of the city in 2016, if the pilot is successful.

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Maspeth’s Knockdown Center gets liquor license with limitations


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

After much debate within the community, the Knockdown Center in Maspeth finally got its liquor license Tuesday from the State Liquor Authority (SLA) — but the permit comes with several significant stipulations.

In an agreement brokered between the SLA and Knockdown Center representatives, the art venue at 52-19 Flushing Ave. will be permitted to serve alcohol to gatherings of between 1,000 and 1,800 people at up to 12 events annually. Tyler Myers of the Knockdown Center said in a phone interview Wednesday that after holding six large-scale events, the venue has the right to request that the SLA “relax” this stipulation.

These large gatherings must also take place on Friday or Saturday nights, according to Community Board 5 (CB 5) Chairman Vincent Arcuri.

Additionally, the Knockdown Center will be able to serve alcohol up to 60 times a year to gatherings of between 500 and 1,000, and another 60 times annually at events drawing up to 500 guests.

For several years, CB 5 — along with local civic groups and Maspeth residents — opposed the Knockdown Center’s attempts to obtain a liquor license, citing quality-of-life concerns related to large-scale events and the fact that the facility — formerly a glass factory — was encroaching on the industrial area.

In 2014, CB 5 voted unanimously to recommend denial of the Knockdown Center’s liquor license application. The SLA denied the first application, but the venue’s representatives reapplied for a license earlier this year. At its June 10 meeting, CB 5 again recommended denial of the revised application, but 12 members voted in favor of the permit this time around.

“The ruling is the ruling,” Arcuri said in an interview Wednesday. “The only question is what [the Knockdown Center] will do for the certificate of occupancy.”

The Knockdown Center submitted an application with the city Department of Buildings for a certificate of occupancy allowing a maximum of 3,100 people on the premises at any given time. Myers said the center is moving forward with that request, but noted it will abide by the terms of the liquor license permit.

“At every step, we’ve won more and more people over,” Myers said on Wednesday. “We are going to be art-focused and be good neighbors. We are willing to take future steps to prove ourselves to the community.”

The SLA agreement also requires that the Knockdown Center, located about 3/4-mile away from the nearest subway station, must also provide supplemental transportation services for its larger gatherings.

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Community Board 5 votes against the Knockdown Center receiving a liquor license


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

The Knockdown Center in Maspeth received another thumbs-down from Community Board 5 (CB 5) in its quest for a liquor license.

At CB 5’s Wednesday meeting at Middle Village’s Christ the King Regional High School, supporters and opponents of the art venue’s request for a liquor license stated their cases during the public forum before the board took a final vote. The board’s recommendation against the liquor license was forwarded to the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA), which will hear the case on June 16.

Ted Renz, member of CB 5, spoke out against the Knockdown Center, located at 52-19 Flushing Ave., getting a liquor license on the basis that it is located within the Maspeth Industrial business zone (IBZ). By allowing the Knockdown Center to operate with a liquor license, Renz believes it will further damage the IBZ by encouraging other non-industrial institutions to move into IBZ spaces.

“Earlier this month, the Land Use Committee voted 6 to 2 to deny this request,” Renz said. “I want to urge you to vote with the Land Use Committee to not recommend this position.”

Jean Tanler, director of Industrial Business Development at the Business Outreach Center network and coordinator for Maspeth Industrial Business Association, wants to keep the Maspeth IBZ strictly for industrial use.

“New York City has a well-documented shortage of industrial land and inappropriate uses such as an entertainment venue with a liquor license, [spurring] the further loss of industrial manufacturing businesses to speculation,” Tanler said. “I respectfully urge the community board to deny the Knockdown Center’s application for a liquor license, since it would create a competing commercial use in a designated IBZ and undermine the city’s industrial policy.”

Michael Merck, co-director of the Knockdown Center, supported the center’s stance on getting a liquor license.

“Since August of 2012, we’ve hosted over 50 events, projects and exhibitions on temporary permits which in turn support the work of nearly 1,000 individuals and organizations. The reality of all this is that all of our exhibitions and many of our events are free to the public,” Merck said. “And all of our community events, fundraisers, etcetera are free to the presenting organizations, but the cost to us is a minimum of several thousand dollars, with our budgets for special projects often exceeding $10,000.”

Merck believes that a liquor license would allow the Knockdown Center to recuperate some of those funds, and allow the institution to provide even more special projects and events to be shared with the community.

Gianna Cerbone Teoli, president of the board of trustees of the Queens Council on the Arts, believes the Knockdown Center can become a hub of arts and culture in the Maspeth area.

“Understand that you have the power to make this into a positive entity for culture and arts,” Teoli told the members of the board. “The 104th Precinct, there’s no speculation upon this, they’ve actually said that they have handled the first three events amazingly with no problems whatsoever … you have a group of people here with a passion beyond belief for bringing artists from other areas and they are paying for them to come into their facility.”

In the end, the board voted 29-12 in favor of the Land Use Committee’s recommendation against the Knockdown Center’s liquor license application.

Elections for executive committee positions on the board were also held during the meeting. All members of the executive committee retained their positions. Patricia Grayson, Fred Haller, John Maier and Ted Renz were all elected as members-at-large for the board.

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Improvements coming to dangerous Myrtle Avenue intersection


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Image via Google Maps

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is about to begin scheduled improvements for the intersection at Forest Avenue, Myrtle Avenue and George Street in Ridgewood.

The plans were originally presented to Community Board 5’s Transportation Services and Public Transportation Committees during a meeting in April.

The upcoming improvements include installing a concrete curb extension on the south side of the intersection on George Street, realigning and shortening the skewed south crosswalk in order to shorten pedestrian crossing distances, installing high visibility crosswalks at all crossings to increase visibility of pedestrians and adding markings to clarify direction of travel for vehicles on Forest Avenue.

The improvements are slated to begin within the first week of June.

This intersection was brought to the DOT’s attention because it is located within the Myrtle Avenue priority corridor and has seen a number of vehicle and pedestrian crashes since it is such a high-traffic area.

“Judging from the frequency and severity of crashes that occurred here between 2009 and 2013, the intersection has been designated a high pedestrian crash location,” said Arban Vigni, project manager with the DOT, at the April meeting.

During that five-year period, there were a total of 18 crashes, six of them involving pedestrians. Two of those crashes led to severe injuries.

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Four-day Ridgewood street festival back on the calendar


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

RIDGEWOOD TIMES/file photo

Despite Community Board 5’s disapproval, the four-day Fresh Pond Road Street Festival will happen this September.

Lucy Dolce of the Federazione Italo-Americana di Brooklyn and Queens, which sponsors the annual fair, said Thursday that the Street Activity Permits Office (SAPO) granted approval of its application.

The festival will occur on four consecutive nights, Sept. 3 to 6, along a five-block stretch of Fresh Pond Road between Menahan and Woodbine streets. Back in March, Board 5 voted to recommend denial of a street fair permit for the festival over concerns regarding traffic and various quality-of-life issues.

Following the board’s vote, the organizers appealed their case to the SAPO, which makes the final determination on all street permits citywide. The Fresh Pond Road festival has been a late summer fixture in the neighborhood for more than 20 years, featuring a variety of games, rides, vendors and other attractions.

But the festival’s presence garnered stiff opposition from residents for myriad reasons, from traffic congestion and lost parking spots related to the road’s closure, to reports of disorderly behavior among patrons and refuse left behind on the roadway.

Board 5 District Manager Gary Giordano confirmed the SAPO approval, noting that the office indicated the reasons the board gave for the license’s denial weren’t enough to shelve a festival that has occurred regularly since the mid-1990s.

Dolce charged that the allegations of unruly behavior at the fair were exaggerated and that the organizers worked to make sure Fresh Pond Road was swept clean immediately after each night’s festivities.

“We didn’t want any problems with the festival,” Dolce said. “But no matter what we did, it wasn’t right. No matter what I said or what we did to prove ourselves, it was never enough.”

As for parking and traffic concerns, Dolce sympathized with the situation but remarked that the four-day inconvenience was a small price to pay for a festival that helps support the community.

“They should be proud that in our community we can put together a four-day festival without any major incidents happening,” she said. “Do you think the police department would let us go forward if they thought something would go wrong?”

Giordano said the festival itself “has been a benefit in some ways, but members of the Ridgewood community who live near there have difficulties with the fair.”

“The fair, while it is enjoyable for many people, does — in the opinion of many community board members — put strains on the community” with regard to traffic, Giordano said. He noted that Fresh Pond Road, as one of the area’s main north-south arteries, is “a tougher block” to close than most other locations where street fairs are held, such as Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood and Metropolitan Avenue in Middle Village.

“At the same time, the federazione, to my knowledge, has used the funds they have earned for some good purposes,” he added.

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Go Smart NYC program to launch in Community Board 5


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

The Department of Transportation (DOT) is set to launch a pilot program called Go Smart NYC in the confines of Community Board 5 this June.

Go Smart NYC is a federally funded, optional education and encouragement program that aims to improve travel outcomes for drivers, cyclists, mass transit users and pedestrians by providing information about all available transit options to all residents of the area. It also encourages and incentivizes travel by walking, carpooling, transit and cycling.

“Broadly speaking, the goal of this program, the way we will judge our success, is by getting as much information about all of the travel options in the area out to as many of the residents as possible,” said Alex Keating, project manager of Go Smart NYC. “And if a resident is interested, if a household is interested in more information they’ll be able to opt in and we’ll have a program there that [will] encourage and incentivize trips that are made locally or to work, any kind of trip.”

Residents within the CB 5 area will receive a Go Smart NYC mailer from the DOT which will include an introduction to the program and prompt residents to register on the program’s website. From the website, participants will be able to order a customized travel information kit with walking, biking, bus, subway and carpooling information provided by the DOT; safety and educational materials; as well as a free tote bag, pedometer, Frisbee and bike light.

Once registered, members will be able to log their trips on the Go Smart NYC website, from their desktop or mobile device, to track their progress. They can then receive data on their travel spending, physical activity and environmental upkeep, as well as earn points redeemable for coupons to local stores.

“We wanted a program that had really good community organizations on the ground, local shopping options, all of the transit options including levels of car ownership…and we thought that this area would be a great fit,” Keating said. “We hope it will be successful, and if it is successful we will continue to explore additional federal funds to continue doing it in other areas and neighborhoods is the city.”

There will be a public launch event for the pilot program on June 16, and the mailers will be delivered on that same day. The DOT hopes to expand the program to three or four more neighborhoods if the pilot goes well.

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Knockdown Center continues push for liquor license


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of The Knockdown Center/Ariana Page Russell

Continuing their quest for a liquor license, representatives of the Knockdown Center in Maspeth made their case directly to Community Board 5 (CB 5) during the advisory body’s Wednesday meeting in Middle Village.

Last year, the Knockdown Center was denied an application for a liquor license by the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA). Since that time, the Knockdown Center has been working hard to adjust their request and gain community support, even as local elected officials and civic leaders remain opposed.

“In the year since that denial, we’ve been able to audition our operational strategy and received much more support as a result,” said Tyler Myers, co-director of the Knockdown Center.

That support came in the form of a letter, dated Jan. 6, to the SLA by the 104th Precinct’s former commanding officer, Capt. Christopher Manson. In the letter, Manson noted that the Knockdown Center has been in regular contact with the 104th Precinct and “has repeatedly proven their ability to host several thousand guests with minimal impact to the precinct and the community.”

“We have performed overt and covert surveillance of the events held at Knockdown Center and have not observed any unlawful or inappropriate activity,” Manson wrote.

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Photo by Anthony Giudice

The letter also mentions that security at the center has kept contraband from entering the facility, owner of the Knockdown Center, David Sklar, monitoring noise levels during events, as well as maintaining a smooth traffic flow of vehicles and pedestrians outside of the facility.

“Throughout 2014, the Knockdown Center has proven their ability to successfully and safely host large events and have proven genuine desire to maintain the quality of life of area residents,” Manson wrote. “There is now a strong, working relationship between Knockdown Center and the 104th Precinct which could be used as a model for all licensed premises, and I have no opposition to their application to the Authority for a liquor license.”

The new commander of the 104th Precinct, Capt. Mark Wachter, reportedly echoed Manson’s “no opposition” stance after speaking with Myers and Sklar.

Rosemarie Daraio, president of Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET); Robert Holden, president of Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA); and Christina Wilkinson, president of Citizens for a Better Maspeth, also wrote a letter to the SLA asking for certain stipulations to be included if they decide to grant the Knockdown Center a liquor license.

They ask that civics, CB 5, the 104th Precinct and neighbors on 54th Street be notified of all events that will take place at the center with the number of people expected to attend; that security be present for all events with 600 or more attendees; that a shuttle bus be available for events with an expected attendance of 200 or more; and that for events numbering 800 or more guests, additional shuttle buses will be hired to make stops at L and M train stations, as well as several others.

“We are here tonight to ask the board to reconsider your original opposition in light of our record over the last year and the new stipulations we agreed to operate under,” Myers said. “We do not take the responsibility we ask for lightly and we do not take the community it is in for granted.”

Vincent Arcui, CB 5 chairperson, said the board would take the presentation as a formal request and will hand it over to the Land Use Services Committee to discuss and report back to the Executive Committee with their recommendation after their meeting. The Executive Committee will then take action.

The next SLA meeting for the Knockdown Center’s liquor license application is slated for June 2.

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CB 5 committee considers stricter liquor license rules


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Bar and club owners seeking liquor licenses in Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village may soon need to show Community Board 5 more than just their business credentials.

Members of the Community Board 5 (CB 5) Public Safety Committee met Monday and considered a proposal that would require new applicants to complete a written form stating their intentions with regard to their businesses.

Christina Wilkinson, an active member of the COMET (Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together) and the Juniper Park Civic (JPCA) associations, proposed the idea to the committee. This measure was introduced in response to the recent influx of bars, pubs and nightspots to Ridgewood and Bushwick.

According to Wilkinson, community boards 1 and 4 in Brooklyn have already adopted this practice in response to the rapid growth and popularity of their respective neighborhoods.

“At one point, Greenpoint was in the same boat that we’re in. They didn’t think it was going to be all that bad, and it got bad,” Wilkinson said. “I think we should be better prepared. Let’s learn from them. It’s working for them.”

Public Safety Committee Chair Robert Holden expressed support for the idea and asked District Manager Gary Giordano to discuss the issue with the Executive Committee. “We’re just trying to get more information,” he explained.

Newly appointed board member Alex Maureau agreed. “It’s also a good way for the local owners to get to know us, and vice versa,” he said.

Giordano voiced support for a shorter version of the written form. “I think it has a lot of merit,” he said. “We could certainly work out something.”

According to Giordano, the board can grant recommendations for or against liquor licenses. The board also notifies the 104th Precinct and Lt. George Hellmer, the precinct’s special operations coordinator, of establishments with a prior history of problems. The precinct, in turn, will notify the board of any prior arrests, summonses or felonies committed at establishments seeking licensing.

“I never want to be in a position to be okaying liquor licenses,” Giordano said. “In some cases, we have taken votes at community board meetings related to certain establishments that have been a problem. But we comment to the negative and I would prefer it that way.”

Under the current policy, prospective bar owners seeking liquor licenses must notify CB 5 30 days prior to applying for licensing from the State Liquor Authority.

Holden proposed that the extra form, if approved of by the Executive Board, be made available to bar owners as a PDF document on the board’s website. The agreement would be signed and submitted to the community board prior to seeking State Liquor Authority licensing.

P.O. Charles Sadler of the 104th Precinct Community Affairs Unit explained that he has adopted a “proactive instead of reactive” approach to new nightlife in the area. He said that he had personally visited five of Ridgewood’s newest bars, including The Monk and Onderdonk and Sons, in an effort to reach out to local bar owners.

Owners of each of the five establishments met with Sadler and other officers at a recent nightlife meeting hosted by the precinct. According to Sadler, all of the new bar owners and managers were made aware of the precinct’s regulations and guidelines, and all pledged respect and compliance.

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Ridgewood civic focuses on bike lanes and local businesses


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Transit, tenants and trees took center stage during a three-part presentation hosted by the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) on Thursday at the Ridgewood Older Adult Center.

Community Board 5 Public Transit Committee Co-Chair John Maier explained plans for new bike routes connecting Ridgewood and Glendale with other parts of Queens, including Rego Park. The RPOCA first requested the bicycle routes back in 2011. The Department of Transportation and Community Board 5 created a forum in 2013 to gather community input and feedback regarding preferred routes.

The first option for the proposed bike route plan would connect Ridgewood to Rego Park via various roadways in Middle Village. According to Maier, special road markings would be installed along Metropolitan Avenue and 69th Street. Eliot Avenue, however, is slated to receive actual designated bike lanes.

Option two would connect Glendale to Rego Park via 80th Street. Maier voiced safety concerns over the use of Dry Harbor Road for part of the proposed route and cited the narrowness of the roadway as being potentially problematic.

New pedestrian and bike passageways are also part of the Kosciusko Bridge Project, which began in 2014. Improvements also include the installation of a double suspension bridge aimed at increasing traffic flow.

Maier also announced that work may begin within the next one and a half years on long-awaited progress on the reconstruction of the bridge carrying Metropolitan Avenue and Fresh Pond Road over Long Island Rail Road tracks on the Ridgewood/Middle Village border. Originally planned in 2005 but delayed repeatedly, he told residents the project has been fully funded and is in the final design phase.

Maier also pleaded for help from the community in getting the stalled Wyckoff Avenue reconstruction moving. The project would implement much-needed street repairs and sewer/water line replacement along Wyckoff Avenue between Flushing and Cooper Avenues.  He asked community members to act as advocates for the project and request sponsorship from local elected officials.

Ted Renz, Community Board 5 member and executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), also spoke about changes and initiatives in Ridgewood’s busiest commercial district. According to Renz, the BID is experiencing an influx of new tenants and residential construction.

Renz cited ongoing residential development, including the 135-unit building slated for St. Nicholas Avenue, as well as two fully occupied 45-unit buildings on Putnam and Myrtle Avenues, as evidence of the commercial district’s popularity among a new wave of younger tenants.

“We want a balanced community,” he said. “If you don’t have young people, then you’re a dying community. Living over a store, which nobody wanted years ago, is now becoming chic and popular.”

In addition to attracting new residents to the BID, Renz also hopes to apply for a grant from the New York Main Street Program, a state-sponsored revitalization effort, in the future. Renz hopes to pursue the program once he receives a strong commitment from local retail owners.

Finally, RPOCA Director Maryellen Borello sounded the call for volunteers to help with the Parks Department tree count in a 200-block radius in Ridgewood. According to Borello, the Ridgewood tree count will take place from June through August. Those interested in volunteering can visit www.rpoca.org for details.

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Local pol opposes liquor license for Maspeth’s Knockdown Center


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo courtesy of The Knockdown Center/Ariana Page Russell

The Knockdown Center in Maspeth again seeks a full liquor license — and again faces strong opposition from a local politician and Community Board 5.

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan wrote a letter to State Liquor Authority (SLA) Commissioners Jeanique Greene and Kevin Kim asking them to deny the new liquor license application from the arts venue at 52-19 Flushing Ave. during a recertification hearing held on Tuesday.

The SLA did not make a decision on the matter at the hearing; it will be considered again at its June session.

In the letter, Nolan wrote, “The community board and the Maspeth community have very serious concerns that their quality of life will be seriously diminished if this establishment is granted a liquor license. I support and strongly endorse their concerns and would ask that your agency once again reject the application at the recertification hearing.”

During their March 12, 2014, monthly meeting, Community Board 5 (CB 5) unanimously voted in opposition to granting the Knockdown Center a liquor license.

“Our position has not changed since we made our recommendation last year,” said CB 5 District Manager Gary Giordano in an interview Wednesday.

Nolan went on to explain why she feels the Knockdown Center should not be granted a liquor license.

She noted that the center is currently located in the Maspeth Industrial Business Zone (IBZ), making the area better suited for a manufacturing or industrial business. The zoning was created to provide financial incentives to businesses that went into manufacturing. The Knockdown Center was previously a door factory.

“A study by the New York Industrial Retention Center supports this reasoning and claims that commercial businesses like the Knockdown Center can disrupt and ultimately lead to a breakdown of the zones,” Nolan wrote. “As a supporter of the IBZ, I would be very concerned by this proposed outcome.”

Nolan also mentioned that the center has repeatedly applied for a place of assembly permit to have as many as 5,000 people at their events, which could lead to hundreds, and possibly thousands, of visitors traveling through the community.

“With only three bus lines and a considerable distance from the train, the added volume of people will further strain the already limited transportation options residents have in Maspeth and the surrounding communities in Queens,” she said.

Nolan cited the Knockdown Center’s previous events where large groups of people gathered in the area, which has several residential homes and apartments. One such event took place on Nov. 11, 2014, when the Knockdown Center held a concert.

“Throughout the night, there were both large crowds present, customers sitting on stoops of nearby homes and allegedly public urination in the streets,” Nolan said. “Several residents called in noise complaints that were filed with the city’s 311 system.”

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Assemblywoman supports Ridgewood Reservoir wetland push


| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

File photo

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan is leading the way in the fight for the Ridgewood Reservoir to receive wetland status.

As reported previously, Community Board 5 learned that Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials were questioning whether much of the 55-acre reservoir on the Brooklyn/Queens border met the requirements for wetland status.

The DEC claimed that Basin 3 of the reservoir did not meet wetland status criteria and that Basin 2 did not meet the acreage requirements. The agency could not check Basin 1 due to heavy vegetation surrounding the basin walls.

In an April 17 letter to Joseph Martens, commissioner of the DEC, Nolan expressed her concern over the fact that the Ridgewood Reservoir has yet to be fully inspected, and its future if it is not granted wetland status.

“I am very concerned that if the reservoir is not designated for wetland status then the space could be opened to development. The Ridgewood Reservoir is truly a unique site which consists of natural and largely undisturbed habitats for many species of animals,” she wrote. “I am against any development on this site and believe that it should be designated as a wetland. Both the state and city should have a strong interest in preserving this site for future generations.”

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