Tag Archives: Community Board 8

BP Katz recommends against controversial Kew Gardens Hills synagogue expansion


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

A controversial plan to expand a Kew Gardens Hills synagogue suffered another major setback.

Borough president Melinda Katz recommended against the expansion of the Sephardic Congregation of Kew Gardens Hills on Wednesday, citing the possible disturbance it would cause for the community. Community Board 8 members overwhelmingly denied the variance application in June.

Leaders of the synagogue at 141-41, 72nd Ave. applied for a variance to build a third floor on its two-story building to accommodate the temple’s growing congregation and school. But community members protested against the proposed expansion because of the potential for an increase in garbage, more noise, poor building maintenance, traffic congestion and “a lack of adequate student supervision outside of the school facility.”

“There is no question as to the need for the services provided to their congregation and students,” Katz said in her decision, but added:  “An enlargement of the facility and addition of new congregants and students may make all of those negative conditions worse for the surrounding neighborhood.”

The congregation was established more than two decades ago after converting a residential two-story house into a synagogue. A school, Yeshiva Ohel Simcha, was added soon after and currently enrolls 70 students of elementary school age every weekday. Now there are two floors and a cellar in the building. The proposed third floor would be used to accommodate new students,  they currently have to turn away due to classroom-size limitations, congregation leaders said. They hope to add six additional classrooms, so they can house 185 students, doubling student enrollment and adding new teachers.

In addition to the issues raised by the community, the building has more than a dozen open Department of Buildings violations, including a broken elevator, lack of a Certificate of Occupancy and lack of fire alarms.

The congregation’s variance application for the third floor included asking for permission to work in the building despite lacking the required Certificate of Occupancy and other violations. This was necessary, according to congregation lawyer Jay Goldstein, because without it they can’t legally work on the building, since it currently doesn’t meet requirements. They pledged to amend the violations if approved for the application and to come up with solutions to the community’s issues.

Katz, however, did support the request to legalize the current building despite the violations, in order to allow the temple to continue practicing and give its owners a chance to fix violations throughout the property.

“The house of worship and school has been a part of the neighborhood for over 20 years,” Katz said. “It should be allowed to remain to continue providing services to their existing congregation and students.”

The Board of Standards and Appeals has the final say on the expansion of the synagogue.

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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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Board votes against Kew Gardens Hills synagogue expansion


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre


A Kew Gardens Hills temple with numerous building violations that wants to expand may need to turn to a higher power after Community Board 8 voted unanimously to deny its variance application, following strong opposition from neighbors.

The Sephardic Congregation, which operates in 141-41 72nd Ave., is seeking a variance from the Boards of Standards and Appeals (BSA) to build a third floor on its temple in a residentially-zoned area to ease the growth of its popular shul.

But because of 15 open Department of Buildings violations, including not having a Certificate of Occupancy, no fire alarms and a broken elevator, community board members blasted the congregation’s leadership in a meeting on Thursday and voted not to support the BSA variance application.

The ruling was cheered on by residents, who opposed to expansion because it could possibly reduce parking spots and property value while increasing garbage and noise.

“I am satisfied with [the board’s] decision,” said Denise Shore, a resident who lives next to the temple. “The system worked. It restored my faith.”

The congregation was established more than two decades ago after converting a residential house. A school, Yeshiva Ohel Simcha, was added soon after and currently enrolls 70 students of elementary school age every weekday. Currently, there are two floors and a cellar in the building. The third floor was necessary to accommodate new students, which they have had to turn away due to classroom-size limitations, congregation leaders said.

They hoped to add six additional classrooms, so they can house 185 students, doubling student enrollment and adding new teachers.

The congregation’s variance application for the third floor included asking for a pass to work in the building despite lacking the required Certificate of Occupancy and other violations. This was necessary, according to congregation lawyer Jay Goldstein, because without it they can’t legally work on the building, since it currently doesn’t meet requirements. They pledged to amend the violations if approved for the application.

However, frustrated board members split the application into two parts and denied both, the first being a variance to work in the building despite violations and the second was the variance for the third floor.

The BSA will have the final say on the application for a third floor and before that it’s expected to hit a borough president meeting. But losing the recommendation of the community board was a serious blow.

Representatives of the synagogue were visually displeased following the decision.

“I have no comment, the board did their duties as a civic association,” Goldstein said.

 

 

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Kew Gardens Hills residents fight against synagogue expansion


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre


A fight between residents and a local synagogue may need a lot of prayer and reflection before it is resolved.

Kew Gardens Hills neighbors are hoping to stop the proposed expansion of the temple’s school, which they say will further diminish their quality of life by increasing noise and garbage, while decreasing available parking spots and their property values.

The synagogue, the Sephardic Congregation located on 72nd Avenue between Main and 141st streets, plans to add another floor, which leaders say is necessary to cope with the school’s population increase.

Currently, the building has two floors and a basement level and towers over the houses on the block. Since the community is zoned for family homes, the temple requires Community Board 8’s approval for a variance to the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA).

“I’m worrying about one thing. I worry about the kids in the community,” said Rabbi Asaf Haimoff, who is also the principal of the school. “As an educator, I am responsible to make sure my kids get what they need. Neighbors have a different agenda … but the school is not closing down. It’s growing. It’s been growing and growing.”

The religious organization moved into the neighborhood about 20 years ago after converting a residential home, and soon after added a school, Yeshiva Ohel Simcha. The synagogue added the second floor in the late 1990s, Department of Buildings records show.

The school now enrolls about 70 preschool and elementary-aged students. But synagogue leaders say since the temple started in the neighborhood two decades ago, the congregation has expanded to about 200 people and they have had to halt school enrollment and turn prospective students away due to classroom size limitations.

Temple officials said they plan to add six classrooms on the new floor, so the building can accommodate up to 185 persons, including additional teachers.

But more than 50 residents within a two-block radius of temple have already signed a petition to deny the variance, which they plan to deliver to Councilman Rory Lancman’s office. Longtime residents say the community has been traumatized by noise from the synagogue during school hours for years.

“It’s been 20 years so we learned to adapt,” said Trinidad Lum, who has lived across the street for 51 years. “But before this building was put there this was a very quiet street.”

During school weekday drop-off and pick-up hours (8 a.m. and 5 p.m.) residents say parents block driveways and parking spots and they expect the problem to expand with more students.

“It’s going to be unbelievable traffic here,” said Dennis Shore, who lives next to the temple. “I already can’t park in front of my house when we go shopping. Where are these teachers going to park?”

Residents said they are also worried about the safety of the children. Since the school doesn’t have a playground, residents are afraid they will run into streets or the driveway behind the building in path of cars when they go out to play. But leaders say they plan to build a playground on the roof of the building.

The organization already has approval from the Community Board 8 Zoning Committee. They are seeking approval from the full board in a vote on Wednesday night.

 

 

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Fresh Meadows residents, pols worry about sinking street


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre


Residents and politicians are complaining about a cracked and sinking street in Fresh Meadows and are calling for the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to repair it.

The middle of 179th Street between Union Turnpike and 75th Avenue has sunk a few inches after underground support for the roadway collapsed, which residents have been complaining about since last May.

Local politicians and civic leaders said the issue is getting worse and it creates a problem for pedestrians and drivers. Councilman Rory Lancman and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic will hold a press conference Monday to rally the DEP to fix it.

“DEP needs to figure out what’s going on in a timely matter, and homeowners shouldn’t be penalized,” Rozic said. “The DEP needs to take responsibility.”

Cars driving on the street avoid the noticeable dip in the road and vehicles are parked at a slanted angle, the Courier observed during a recent trip to the site.

The city agency has examined the collapse and found that its sewer line underneath the road is not the problem, but it may be a leak from a resident’s private sewer line that caused the issue, Community Board 8 District Manager Marie Adam-Ovide said at a recent meeting. The DEP is currently trying to find the source of the problem.

“DEP has not identified any issues with the city’s water or sewer infrastructure and we have also investigated a number of private water and sewer service lines,” a spokesperson for the agency said. “There are also a number of private lines we have not been able to gain access to. Once we identify the source of the cave-in we will ensure repairs are made and the street is repaired.”

The DEP has made quick fixes to the sinking street in the past, but residents are upset that they have had to deal with the problem for so long. During the press conference elected officials are expected to urge the DEP to find a long-term solution.

“We want things to happen sooner [rather] than later, and it took a long time for it to [get] to this point,” Adam-Ovide said.

 

 

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Rowdy college bar ‘behaves’ as awaits license decision


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The sobering news of its last call has at least temporarily tamed a problematic college bar in Queens.

Cheap Shots, at 149-05 Union Tpke. passed a recent multi-agency checkup with “flying colors” and received no summonses, police and local leaders said.

“They have been behaving,” said Carolann Foley, president of the 107th Precinct Community Council.

The once-rowdy bar near St. John’s University has been under fire since it opened in March 2010. Residents said unruly customers constantly break out in fights outside. Some have even been spotted urinating and vomiting on the street.

Community Board 8’s Liquor License Committee unanimously rejected the bar’s liquor license renewal application in January.

But the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) has not cut the bar off yet.

It fined Cheap Shots $15,000 on March 25 for numerous complaints and at least 10 violations, mostly for disorderly conduct and alleged underage drinking, officials said, but has not reviewed its liquor license application yet, a spokesman said.

Bar owner Louis Abreu, who has hired more security detail to hush up weekend commotions, said a decision will likely not be made until a court date in two weeks.

Foley said she’s skeptical the state agency would close the tab on Cheap Shots.

“I don’t know what to think,” she said. “The SLA is just so hot and cold.”

 

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Cheap Shots on the rocks: SLA to vote on liquor license


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) will vote next Tuesday to either cut off a problematic college bar in Queens or let the drinks keep flowing.

Cheap Shots, at 149-05 Union Tpke., has racked up numerous noise complaints and at least 10 violations since it opened in March 2010, mostly for disorderly conduct and alleged underage drinking, SLA records show.

Rowdy customers constantly break out in fights outside, and some have even been spotted urinating and vomiting on the street, 107th Precinct Community Council President Carolann Foley said.

The SLA’s licensing bureau will decide the bar’s fate on March 11 — either approving or rejecting Cheap Shots’ request for a license renewal — after a full board meeting, an authority spokesperson said. Its current liquor license expired Feb. 28.

“I fully expect the SLA to protect our community and revoke Cheap Shots’ liquor license,” said Councilmember Rory Lancman, who called the site near St. John’s University a “magnet for criminal activity.”

In January, Community Board 8’s Liquor License Committee unanimously shut down Cheap Shots’ renewal application during a heated meeting with bar owners. The advisory vote was meant to urge the SLA to follow suit.

Bar boss Louis Abreu said he has since hired another security guard to keep a handle on commotions on weekends, bumping the total detail to five.

“I’m a small business owner trying to do the best I can,” he said. “We’ve been keeping the noise down. I’m still willing to work with the neighborhood.”

 

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Support grows for farmers’ market to sprout in Fresh Meadows


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A budding plan to grow a farmers’ market in Fresh Meadows is getting the green thumbs up from neighborhood residents. 

Community support is sprouting for a green market to open at Cunningham Park this summer, local leaders said.

“It’s up for a lot more discussion, and we’re really in the tentative, beginning stages,” said Martha Taylor, who chairs Community Board 8’s Parks Committee. “But we’re excited about it at this point.”

Local vendors would sell fresh produce — and possibly baked goods, jams and juices — near the tennis courts, in the corner of the main parking lot on Union Tpke. and 196th Pl.

Officials hope to open the market in late June, after the Big Apple Circus leaves town, and run it for at least one afternoon a week until October.

“People from this community go to other green markets in other parts of Queens,” Assemblymember Nily Rozic said. “I think this is really something the community has been craving.”

The Parks Committee held a meeting Jan. 30 to gauge public interest, since a proposed plan was met with some opposition about eight years ago.

Some residents had feared the market would decrease parking spots, increase traffic, and take away business from a newly opened supermarket nearby, Taylor said.

But reception for the plan has increased over the years, said Taylor and Fresh Meadows Homeowners Civic Association President Jim Gallagher Jr.

“We were pleasantly surprised at all the people who were there in favor of it, including some who had been opposed to it the first time,” Taylor said.

The Parks Committee plans to interview market vendors next month, while the full board is slated to vote on the proposal in late spring.

Residents looking to weigh in can call Rozic’s office at 718-820-0241.

“I think we’re going to have a process that is very neighborhood-driven, and one that has everyone’s input,” Rozic said. “Fresh Meadows foodies are in for a treat.”

 

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Cheap Shots bar near St. John’s University may soon go dry


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A problematic bar near St. John’s University is facing its last call after a local community board voted against renewing its liquor license.

Community Board 8’s Liquor License Committee rejected Cheap Shots’ renewal application Monday, citing numerous complaints the 149-05 Union Tpke. bar has racked up since it opened in March 2010.

“This is the most I’ve heard about any establishment,” Committee Chair Michael Hannibal said. “There’s a concern.”

Rowdy customers break out in fights, repeatedly robbing neighbors in a residential area of a good night’s sleep, board members said.

Some have also been spotted urinating and vomiting in front of the bar, according to 107th Precinct Community Council President Carolann Foley.

“It appears to me your business is a cancer to the community,” said board member Marc Haken. “It is decaying the community. You have to be cut out of the community.”

Bar representatives have had multiple meetings with local civic leaders, but to no avail, the board said.

“It’s pretty serious,” said Councilmember Rory Lancman, calling the bar a “magnet for criminal activity” and the site of four arrests in the last year.

“Cheap Shots has failed to clean up its act and has instead remained a blight on our community,” he said.

The committee unanimously voted to shut down the renewal and urged the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA) to follow suit.

The sobering news means Cheap Shots could be forced to close if it loses its ability to serve alcohol.

Its current liquor license expires Feb. 28. SLA officials did not immediately comment.

“Right now, we don’t know what this means for us. It’s basically in jeopardy,” said Louis Abreu, the bar’s owner. “I’m trying my best to fit in. It’s not easy, but I’m not throwing in the towel.”

The bar boss said he shells out at least $800 on security detail on weekends to keep a handle on commotions and often calls the police himself when fights erupt.

“What happened at the meeting was a lynch mob,” Abreu said.

 

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Star of Queens: Edward Chung, board member, Community Board 8; member, Board of Directors of the Jamaica Estates Association


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Edward Chung

Community Service: Edward Chung says he is a strong believer in doing everything he can to keep civic organizations in touch with homeowners. Chung is on the Board of Directors of the Jamaica Estates Association and was inducted this year as a board member of Community Board 8.

He said he is the go-to man for neighborhood problems, like cleaning parking lots, removing damaged trees, having abandoned cars towed away or fixing knocked down telephone poles.

Background: “I take pride in my neighborhood,” Chung said.

His celebration of diversity in various events, like JEA’s International Night, shows the emphasis he places on embracing diversity in a community. This has led him to accept many leading civic positions.

Favorite Memory:  One of Chung’s favorite memories from civic leading is the Annual Jamaica Estates Association’s International Night that brings together the community and celebrates its diversity. It is a night full of local merchants’ food, great entertainment, culture and fun.

“It promotes diversity to show that we are all together, living together,” he said.

Biggest Challenge: One of Chung’s most memorable challenges was dealing with the high number of car accidents on Dalny Road in Jamaica Estates. He decided to take action with Barry Weinberg, the late president of Jamaica Estates Association.

With the support of Weinberg, who encouraged him to begin this project, Chung and his neighbors worked on organizing facts and collecting police reports on the countless accidents that had occurred on the narrow, two-way street.

Both Weinberg and JEA President Evan Gorin led Chung to a meeting with the now retired Borough President Claire Shulman. Chung’s neighbors pitched a presentation, suggesting a change in the road. As a result, Chung helped decrease the number of accidents that occur on Dalny Road. His neighbors’ issues were resolved and the Department of Traffic set new rules in place to create a safer environment.

Inspiration: Many years back, Weinberg sparked Chung’s interest in civic leading and community involvement. He had once told Chung that he “should get involved in the neighborhood because he is a homeowner and everyone has a stake in the neighborhood.”

He then assisted him in his Dalny Road challenges.

“Because of him, I became more involved and I see the benefits of joining a civic group and being an active member,” Chung said.

NIKKI DJOKOVICH

 

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Community board OKs rezone for part of Union Turnpike


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Renderings courtesy of Richard Lobel

A split community board narrowly approved a proposal last week to rezone a portion of Union Turnpike.

The controversial rezoning plan would allow developer Sam Zirkiev build a four-story residential and retail structure at 158-15 Union Turnpike. It barely cleared Community Board 8 last Wednesday, with a nail-biting 17-14 vote.

“It was definitely nerve-wracking,” Zirkiev said. “In the end, I’m happy with the outcome. Hopefully, it’ll get some more business and shopping in the area and more tax revenue. I’m hoping it’ll be an asset to the community.”

The now vacant land near Parsons Boulevard was once part of St. Joseph’s Hospital, which shuttered in 2004. Zirkiev bought the plot in October 2009, according to Zirkiev’s attorney, Richard Lobel.

A rezoning would allow Zirkiev to build a 68,850-square-foot building as tall as 40 feet, the attorney said. The developer’s plans include three floors for residential units, ground floor commercial use and roughly 80 underground parking spaces.

Under current zoning rules, developers can build a 10-story community facility building, shaped like a pyramid, within 70,500 square feet of the site. However, its height would be capped at 35 feet if residential units are planned, Lobel said.

Zirkiev reiterated his lack of interest in building the pyramid-like structure that would likely house medical offices — but he said he could, if rezoning plans are rejected.

Board member Kevin Forrestal said this was a “scare tactic” used to sway the board.

“We’re making more and more problems for ourselves, and we’re not addressing the infrastructure,” Forrestal said.

Attorney Richard Lobel shows Community Board 8 two renderings of proposed buildings. (THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan)

Many board members said rezoning is a better deal.

“That lot needs development. It’s been ugly for years and years and years,” said board member Martha Taylor. “There’s no green there. It is a brown lot. I think this is the best deal we can get.”

The community board’s advisory vote now goes to Borough President Helen Marshall for approval. It then needs to be passed by City Planning and the City Council.

Marshall, who has 30 days to make her determination, held a public hearing last Thursday. According to her spokesperson, she had not made a decision as of press time.

 

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Star of Queens: Maria DeInnocentiis, Utopia State Civic Association, Order Sons of Italy in America, Community Board 8


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Maria DeInnocentiis

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Maria DeInnocentiis has dedicated her life to the service of others. She is the chair of the Utopia State Civic Association, the treasurer of the Order Sons of Italy in America and the chair and treasurer of Community Board 8, among other posts.

“I work hard to support my community,” she said. “I try to keep up the quality of life for my neighbors, and make sure they have a place to file complaints when they need to.”

BACKGROUND: DeInnocentiis was born in Brooklyn and moved to Queens when she was a teenager. She attended St. John’s University, where she acquired her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education and counseling.

DeInnocentiis’s volunteering efforts began at her church. When she had children later on, she knew she wanted them to have a good life. She thought that getting involved in the community would help her better understand its problems and issues.

“I see a need to give back, and people always ask me to help out,” she said. “I guess I just don’t know how to say no. It’s what I really enjoy doing, and I learned in my 30s that this is what I want to do with my life.”

FAVORITE MEMORY: “I remember when I was at a rally with my one-year-old daughter,” she said. “That’s when Mayor Ed Koch walked up to me and told me that it was people like me that made a difference. He was a great man, and those words still stick with me.”

BIGGEST CHALLENEGE: DeInnocentiis says that her biggest today is getting people away from mass media to focus on becoming involved.

“Finding young people willing to persevere is harder than it was 30 years ago,” she said. “Twitter and Facebook are great for getting a message out, but they can’t solve problems. People have to get out and make sure your voice is heard.”

INSPIRATION: “I have many people I look to for inspiration,” DeInnocentiis said. “But my true lifelong inspiration is Tami Hirsch, my best friend. She’s the president of the Utopia State Civic Association and she’s been my best friend and supporter for many years.”

JOHANN HAMILTON

 

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Star of Queens: Jackie Forrestal, Hillcrest Estates Civic Association


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

IMG_1377

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Jackie Forrestal has been active in the Queens community for years. She is a board member of the Central Queens Historical Association. She also served on the St. Joseph’s Advisory Board until the facility closed in 2004.

Forrestal is the corresponding secretary for the Hillcrest Estates Civic Association, while her husband Kevin is president.

BACKGROUND: A lifelong resident of Queens, Forrestal graduated from Martin Van Buren High School and studied at Queens College.

For decades, Forrestal and her husband have volunteered their time and efforts to help countless organizations.

Last year, she was honored by the Queens Civic Congress with the Queens Civic Award for Outstanding Community Service.

She has also been the recipient of a Woman of Distinction Award from Community Board 8 and was one of 29 women to receive the City Council’s Pacesetter Award in 2006.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Forrestal remembers the day she and her husband moved to Hillcrest Estates.

“In 1974, we moved into our first home on 164th Place as homeowners and were invited by the neighbors to square dance,” she said.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: “Honestly, my biggest challenge has to be saving Jamaica High School from closure,” she said. “This historic and renowned school should not be closed. The phase-out of Jamaica High School is incredibly unjust and unfair to students.”

INSPIRATION: Out of her love for the Queens community, Forrestal has spent decades fighting to preserve programs and institutions to improve the standard of living for residents.

“I love people and I find serving them to be very satisfying and fulfilling,” she said. “Hillcrest Estates is a very special place, my civic work is a nurturing pastime.”

BY LUKE TABET

 

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Martha Taylor withdraws City Council bid


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo

An ailing Jamaica Estates lawyer has rescinded her bid for City Council.

Martha Taylor, 72, announced late Monday she will no longer run for a vacant council seat in the 24th District due to “recent health concerns” that would disrupt campaigning.

“I am stepping out of this race, but my fight for our community is far from over,” she said. “It was a hard decision. Hopefully I’ll be perfectly fine, but I can’t take the chance.”

Taylor would not comment further on the illness, but told The Courier she is going through “exploratory” medical testing. Doctors advised her not to run.

“I really wanted to win this thing, but when you run for an election like this, you really have to do a lot of doorbell ringing and walking around the whole district,” Taylor said. “It’s not fair for me to start out and not finish.”

Taylor is the Democratic District Leader in the 24th Assembly District, president of the Jamaica Estates Association and vice chair of Community Board 8. She expects a full recovery, an aide said.

Former assemblymember Rory Lancman and retired scientist Isaac Sasson are still in the running for the seat. Other candidates are expected to enter the primary.

 

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Briarwood deli hit with violation for selling “loosie” cigarettes


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

A city investigation pinned a previously problematic deli grocery store in Briarwood with only one violation after multiple residents complained the store was selling “loosie” cigarettes and packs of smokes to minors.

Community Board 8 filed a complaint against the 84th Deli Grocery to the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) this April, according to District Manager Marie Adam-Ovide. The store, located at 84th Drive and Manton Street, was formerly Stop & Go before new owners took over in late 2008.

According to a spokesperson for the DCA, the city agency issued one violation for selling loosie cigarettes to an adult during inspections this May, but the store was not found to be selling tobacco to minors.

However, numerous violations for selling alcohol to minors — accumulated since 2006 under previous owners — did cause the New York State Liquor Authority to revoke the deli’s liquor license in November 2009, records showed.

The store — which no longer sells alcohol — has stayed out of trouble for the most part since then, said manager Mohammed Ahmed.

Ahmed, who worked for a couple of months under the former owners, said he makes sure his employees always ask for proper identification to avoid repeating problems of the past.

“You have to do that,” he said. “How much profit could you make on one pack of cigarettes if you get a ticket?”

Deli employee Sharif Sagar, 36, said he IDs unfamiliar faces who are seeking smokes, but leaves the store’s regulars alone.

“We always ask for ID,” he said. “But if I’ve known you for a long time, I’m not going to ask you again because I checked already.”

The store’s new owners were barred from applying for a new liquor license for two years after it was terminated, but they are now eligible for one, Ahmed said.

The NYPD did not return calls for comment, but Adam-Ovide said police have not seen any illegal sales so far.