Tag Archives: Paul Kerzner

Ridgewood residents tackle housing, other matters at forum


| editorial@ridgewoodtimes.com

TIMES NEWSWEEKLY/Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO

Residents, community leaders and local activists revisited various issues and concerns affecting Ridgewood during the Ridgewood Tenants and Neighborhood Association‘s (RTNA) public forum, “Ridgewood: Your Voices, Your Issues,” on Monday at the Ridgewood Library.

“This is a way of starting a conversation and a way to bring together a lot of different people in the neighborhood,” RTNA co-founder and moderator Glenn Dyer said.

The group broke up into four different sections, each representing a specific topic or issue facing Ridgewood: housing, economic development, transportation and the environment.

Paul Kerzner, former Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) president, chaired the housing group. He expounded on his idea of forming tenant co-ops set forth in the first forum back in February, using the analogy of geese flying together in a “V” formation to illustrate the need for Ridgewood’s many tenants to band together in their pursuit of affordable housing.

“Individual tenants in Ridgewood cannot get to their destination by themselves,” he said. “If they fly in formation and work together in a building, they can accomplish their end.”

According to Kerzner’s plan, tenants living in buildings with four to six units could feasibly purchase each unit for roughly $200,000 each, becoming co-owners of the building itself. By qualifying for mortgages and available federal loans, he estimated monthly out-of-pocket costs to be roughly $1,340, much less than the average rent in Ridgewood.

Ted Renz, executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID), moderated the Local Economy group. Many residents voiced concerns regarding overdevelopment of Ridgewood and the sale of large retail properties to outside brokers and entities.

“We need to preserve Myrtle Avenue for the mom-and-pop shops and smaller entrepreneurs,” Renz said. “Our goal is to have input into getting a better store mix for our community.”

Many residents spoke in favor of a proposed six-to-nine-month moratorium on liquor licenses due to the sharp uptick in bars and nightlife venues in Ridgewood. “It’s oversaturation,” Renz said.

RTNA co-founder Matt Peterson agreed: “There are already a number of bars in Ridgewood. It’s not just a business. It attracts a whole culture.”

John Maier, co-chair of the Community Board 5 Public Transit Committee, led the transportation group. According to Maier, the biggest issue facing local transit is the loss of funding on a federal level.

“Our transportation fund has run out and is operating on a month-to-month basis,” he said. “We need to figure out how to get the money for better service.”

Professor Stephanie Wakefield managed the local environment group. Topics and ideas generated from this group included replacing the trash cans on Fresh Pond Road, community field trips to the Ridgewood Reservoir, poor air quality at the Fresh Pond Road bus depot and the need for additional green spaces in the neighborhood.

“People would really like to find a way to create more green space that is not a playground,” Wakefield said.

CB 5 member Henry Cross proposed holding a legislative forum in which area elected officials could address these topics.

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Ridgewood group presses City Council members for more street trees


| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Landmark Preservation Commission

Hoping to make Ridgewood greener, the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) submitted to the neighborhood’s City Council members formal requests for additional street tree funding.

The requests came in the form of “capital budget street tree lists” that RPOCA members compiled through block-by-block surveys of the neighborhood. In all, the group found more than 3,000 potential locations for street trees, the majority of which are located in Councilman Antonio Reynoso’s district.

The Williamsburg-based lawmaker’s jurisdiction includes the area of Ridgewood generally south and west of Myrtle and Forest avenues. City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, based in neighboring Glendale, represents Ridgewood’s eastern half.

But according to former RPOCA President Paul Kerzner, neither of the last two budgets included funding for street trees in the community. Street trees were planted in the area through the city’s MillionTreesNYC public/private partnership initiative.

Kerzner said Reynoso previously told civic members he would secure funding to plant 300 trees in Ridgewood. He hopes the legislator will follow through on his promise, and that Crowley would also make a similar commitment.

To that end, Kerzner said, the RPOCA is urging Ridgewood residents to call or write Crowley and Reynoso informing them of the importance of street trees in beautifying the neighborhood and thank them in advance for their support.

However, sources familiar with the situation stated the city’s Parks Department received a $172,000 allocation from Crowley for street trees in Ridgewood. The Parks Department has already planted 112 trees in the Ridgewood area and plans to plant another 29 this spring.

“We need to make sure Queens remains a beautiful and healthy place for all New Yorkers to live and enjoy. That is why I am proud to have allocated funding for over 125 new street trees in Ridgewood,” Crowley said. “I will continue to work with the community and the Parks Department to ensure we continue to add street trees to our neighborhoods.”

This is the latest effort in the RPOCA’s ongoing campaign of adding more green to the community’s streetscapes.

“In 1971, less than 5 percent of the streets were tree-lined,” Kerzner recalled. “Forty-four years later, about 70 percent are now tree-lined, and some years, we don’t get any new trees. In other years, we get about a couple of hundred. We’re making steady progress.”

Kerzner, who himself participated in the RPOCA street tree survey, thanked other RPOCA members for their participation, including President Charles Ober, Peter Comber, Domingo Santos, Luis Rodriguez, John Maier, Carlos Ortiz, Simon Orr and Maryellen Borello.

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Historic Rudy’s Pastry Shop celebrates grand reopening


| brennison@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

For around 70 years, Rudy’s Pastry Shop in Ridgewood has displayed the German word “Konditorei” on its awning, which roughly translates to “pastry shop with a place to sit and eat.” But for much of those seven decades dining was difficult — Rudy’s only had room for a single table.

Now, with bakery owner Toni Binanti recently redesigning the famed bakery, expanding the shop to include a dining area and espresso bar, this is a problem no more.

The historic bakery celebrated its grand reopening on Saturday, March 10, drawing crowds of residents and politicians who came out to commemorate the Seneca Avenue pastry shop’s return — and to dine on some confectionaries.

Councilmembers Diana Reyna and Elizabeth Crowley, Assemblymember Mike Miller, Congressmember Nydia Velazquez and State Senator Joe Addabbo were in attendance. They, along with Binanti, eschewed the standard reopening ceremony for a more appetizing alternative.

“Everyone has a ribbon cutting, but not everyone has a pastry store like this,” said Paul Kerzner, president of the Ridgewood Local Development Corporation.

Instead of yielding oversized scissors, officials dined on fresh, homemade apple turnovers to mark the bakery’s grand reopening.

A neighborhood mainstay since the 1940s, Rudy’s harkens to a time when the area was the heart of the city’s German community and featured Deutsch establishments Zum Stammtisch, Niederstein’s, Gebhardt’s, Von Westernhagen and Gottscheer Hall, among others. Only Rudy’s, Zum Stammtisch and Gottscheer Hall remain.

Planting its roots in the community for the better part of a century, the bakery has established personal connections with many of the area’s residents, including Miller, whose father worked as a baker at Rudy’s more than three decades ago.

“It was a big part of our community then, it still is now,” the assemblymember said. “We look forward to [it] being here forever.”

“When I celebrated my inauguration, I went to the greatest bakery in town,” said Crowley. “And that was Rudy’s Bakery.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who was unable to attend, sent a letter of congratulations to Binanti who also received a city council citation from Reyna and a certificate of special congressional recognition from Velazquez.