Tag Archives: Councilman peter koo

Conservancy group pushes local pols to fund meditation garden in Kissena Corridor Park


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Illustrations courtesy of the Kissena Corridor Park Conservancy

The Kissena Corridor Park Conservancy  is trying to turn a section of the Flushing park that’s overgrown with weeds into a meditation garden. But a lack of money is keeping the group from attaining tranquility.

The conservancy group is turning to local politicians like Councilman Peter Koo to help fund the project, which could cost up to $1 million to complete. In 2009, the group received $6,000 from Congressmember Grace Meng. Koo allocated $100,000 this year from the council’s budget. So far, they’ve collected $160,000.

“We we want to get something in there that’s meaningful to everybody,” said Roland Wade, president of the Kissena Corridor Park Conservancy.

Wade came up with the idea and in 2009 his group proposed it to the Parks Department. The department accepted the idea but they refused to fund it. The Parks Department told the conservancy that the proposed garden would need at least $1 million, according to former conservancy president Dorothy Woo.

“We’re happy to work with the Kissena Corridor Park Conservancy on designing and constructing the garden, once funding is in place,” a Parks Department spokeswoman said. “Anyone who would like to see capital improvements made to their park should reach out to their local elected officials to seek funding.”

The plans for the garden call for cedar of Lebanon trees, lighting, a water feature and various flowers and bushes. The garden would be across the street from the New York Hospital Queens on 56th Avenue. Wade said that the plans for the garden are completely done and once they receive the money, work can begin.

“We thought, why not a memorial garden where people from the hospital can come and meditate,” Wade said. “That they could enter a garden of tranquility where there could be beauty quiet, nature, flowers.”


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Leaders pushing to save Flushing row houses


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

Flushing leaders don’t want developers to make themselves at home in some parts of the neighborhood.

Politicians and civic representatives are still pushing for a way to save row houses, after yet another residence on 56th Road was gobbled up by a developer, who has already begun to expand it from a single-family residence to a multi-family home.

While it’s not illegal or a violation of zoning regulations, neighbors are worried that the expansions will put an end to the classic single-family row houses, which have shaped the neighborhood since the 1930s. They also believe that expanding the row houses will create overdevelopment in the middle class community and lead to quality of life issues, such as traffic congestion.

“We understand that houses get bigger, but we have to balance that with some respect for the people who live in these homes,” said Don Capalbi, president of the Queensboro Hill Flushing Civic Association. “If we allow this, there are row houses all over the borough and all over the city that are going to expand. Once developers see what they can do and the money that can be made, they are going to be swarming all over the borough looking for these homes.”

Richard Hellenbrecht, president of the community umbrella organization the Queens Civic Congress, urged the Department of City Planning in a letter earlier this year to create a new zoning classification that would help protect single-family row houses. Community Board 7, which oversees Flushing, sent a letter to the city agency as well, and received a response that suggests future discussions, but no promises.

“An examination of zoning uses pertaining to single-family row houses raises citywide policy concerns, and to date no consensus has been reached regarding the specific nature and locational appropriateness of such a potential new designation,” said City Planning Director Carl Weisbrod in a letter the board received on July 11. “We would certainly be open to discussing this issue with you in the future.”

Councilman Peter Koo, who represents Flushing, has requested a meeting for the end of August with City Planning to figure out a solution that could help save the row houses.

“My constituents deserve the best possible protections against overdevelopment in their neighborhoods, and I want to make sure no block is left behind,” Koo said. “I look forward to working with City Planning and all community stakeholders as this process moves forward.”

 

 

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Officials break ground on $1B Flushing Commons development


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy TDC Development International


Flushing’s nearly $1 billion project finally got off the ground. 

Officials broke ground Monday on Flushing Commons, a massive mixed-use residential and commercial development that will transform more than five acres of land in downtown Flushing.

The project will offer new retail opportunities, community facilities, 1,600 parking spaces, a large public plaza and a 62,000-square-foot YMCA with two pools, a full-size gym and an indoor running track.

“Today is a good day for the Flushing community. After much delay, we are finally breaking ground on a project that promises to create jobs, housing and economic activity,” Councilman Peter Koo said. “Once this project is completed, it could play a significant role in cementing Flushing’s transformation into an economic powerhouse.”

Flushing Commons will be built in two phases, which developers said will reduce the level of construction and traffic congestion in the area.

THE COURIER/Photo by Mike DiBartolomeo

Phase 1, which is expected to be completed in 2017, includes approximately 219,000 square feet of office and retail space, 150 units of housing and a 982-space parking lot.

The second phase will comprise about 242,000 square feet of office and retail space, 450 residential units, 618 additional parking spaces, the YMCA, and a 1.5 acre public plaza called The Green at Flushing Commons. Phase 2 is expected to be completed by 2021.

 

 

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