Tag Archives: petition

Petition started to save Bayside Barnes & Noble

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

A local woman is hoping that through an online petition aimed to keep the Barnes & Noble in Bayside open, the voices of an outraged community will be heard.

Vasiliki Gliagias has been living in Bayside for 15 years and lives only a couple of blocks away from the Bay Terrace shopping center, which is home to one of the last remaining Barnes & Noble locations in Queens.

Gliagias, along with many other book lovers, was shocked and upset when she heard that the Bayside site would meet the same fate as the Barnes & Noble in Forest Hills — which will become a Target by July 2016 — leaving Queens without the retailer.

“I have so many memories of going to Barnes & Noble and browsing through books I could read over the summer, choosing books for school from a reading list, even just getting magazines with friends,” Gliagias said. “I knew that I could not be the only one upset about such a thing. I thought about other families I see with kids in the children’s section of the store.”

Out of this anger, Gliagias launched the Facebook page “Keep Barnes & Noble Open in Queens” as a way to inform fellow Queens residents about the closings. In just the first day the page garnered 400 likes, and the following day shot up to 1,000 likes and just kept growing.

Through this page, a commenter made Gliagias aware of a similar situation in the Bronx where a Barnes & Noble location was slated to close because the company had not renewed the lease. After the community started a petition, elected officials hopped onto the issue and in the end helped the store stay at the location.

After hearing this and seeing all the comments and people’s shared frustrations, Gliagias started on a petition on Change.org – which has garnered 744 supporters in less than 24 hours — with hopes that they will gain support from local elected officials and ultimately save the bookstore.

“The Queens community is not kidding around. It’s easy to shut down retail stores who are not able to pay their lease, but a special consideration should be made for educational centers like Barnes & Noble that are so important to foster a well-rounded community. Those with families insist that actual books are better learning tools for children,” Gliagias said.

The petition, which has a goal of 1,000 signatures, will be sent to property owner Cord Meyer Development calling on them to keep the Bayside Barnes & Noble open.

According to a representative from Cord Meyer Development, a HomeGoods store will take over the Bayside Barnes & Noble. The representative said that the property owner made repeated attempts at securing a long-term contract with the bookstore, but that Barnes & Noble decided not to exercise the option to renew the lease.

“Cord Meyer has not closed the book on B&N, and would welcome the bookstore back as a tenant in Bay Terrace, once they develop a business plan that would work in our shopping center,” the representative said.

Along with the Forest Hills and Bayside locations, a Barnes & Noble in Fresh Meadows, near St. John’s University, closed its doors at the end of last year after failing to negotiate a lease extension, and a T.J. Maxx will take over the site.


Community rallies to stop closing of Astoria Catholic school

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angy Altamirano

An Astoria community is speaking out after finding out that one of its Catholic schools, which has served the community since 1957, will be shutting its doors this June.

Parents and students at Most Precious Blood School, located at 35-32 37th St., found out Friday, through a letter written by Reverend William Krlis, pastor at Most Precious Blood Church, that the 58-year-old school would be closing due to drops in enrollment and the need for costly structural repairs.

Over the past five years enrollment has dropped “precipitously,” Krlis said in the letter, adding that enrollment from kindergarten through eighth grade this year is 191 students, compared to 303 students in September 2008 and 20 students less than last year.

Krlis also said that an estimated $5.5 million in structural repairs are needed for both the school and church. The school building needs about $2.55 million in repairs and work cannot be done at the site while being used full time.

“These essential building repairs, combined with declining enrollment, will not allow us to continue,” Krlis said. “This decision was not made easily. After much dialogue with all relevant parties, including officials from the Diocese of Brooklyn and local Catholic schools, as well as consulting with engineering firms regarding the state of these necessary repairs, I presented these facts to the Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of Brooklyn. With his support, I made this painful decision in the best interest of the parish community.”

However, for parents, who started an online petition Saturday against the closing, the reasons that lead to the decision aren’t enough to close the doors at the school.

“We do not want our children and beloved teachers and staff displaced! Quality Catholic Education is almost nonexistent and we cannot afford to close yet another school,” wrote Jennifer Masterson, who started the petition. “Schools in this area are already overcrowded, this will only add to the problem.”

Parents signing the petition also said the timing of the announcement did not leave them enough time to find another school for their children or give them an opportunity to attempt to raise the money needed for repairs.

Since Tuesday, the petition, which has a goal of 2,500 signatures, has garnered 2,104 supporters, including parents, residents and alumni.

According to the Diocese of Brooklyn, help will be provided for parents, and the neighboring Catholic schools will have seats to accommodate Most Precious Blood students and provide information on upcoming open houses.

Local politicians have also decided to speak out against the school closing. State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, and Councilman Costa Constantinides have written a letter to the Diocese expressing their concern and asking to reconsider the decision and explore all possible options to keep the school open.

“The outpouring of support from the community and the fear parents are now experiencing over the planned closure of the Most Precious Blood School demonstrate just how much this institution means to our neighbors,” Gianaris said. “I sincerely hope that the Diocese listens to the voices of our community and recommits itself to trying to find a way to keep this beloved school open.”

A meeting with parents has been scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the school’s auditorium to review what led to the decision to close the school.


Whitestone resident petitions again for Metro-North stops in western Queens

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Patrick Cashin

The wheels are turning once again for one Queens resident who hopes to bring more transportation options to the borough.

Ali Fadil, a Whitestone resident who previously lived in Astoria and Jackson Heights, has started an online petition calling on the MTA to bring Metro-North Railroad access into western Queens as part of its plan to expand the line to Penn Station.

In the MTA’s 2015-2019 $32 billion Capital Program, the agency plans a project that would take the Metro-North’s New Haven line directly to Penn Station, adding four new stations in the Bronx. As part of expansion, the line would use existing track, owned by Amtrak, to go directly into Manhattan.

In doing this, the line would go into Queens but without making any stops in the borough.

“Metro-North wants to run trains through Queens but has no interest in serving Queens, especially since western Queens has seen a lot of growth in the past years,” Fadil said.

This is Fadil’s second petition regarding the expanding of Metro-North stops into the borough. In 2012, when he was only 18, Fadil began his initial petition which gathered 263 signatures. He said the support he got the first time around helped him make his plan more specific on what needs to be done.

“I am here to make sure that our communities get what we deserve and Queens shouldn’t be left out in the cold,” said Fadil, who is a senior studying political science and sociology at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. “When it comes to public transportation, it’s Queens that’s the forgotten borough, not Staten Island.”

The 20-year-old’s petition, which started on Monday and as of Tuesday has 44 signatures, calls on the transportation agency to bring the New Haven line to western Queens and also study two locations along the Amtrak line to be considered for stations. The locations are Astoria Boulevard between 41st and 44th streets, and Northern Boulevard at Broadway, which is close to the M and R trains and two local buses.

The petition also calls on Amtrak to make “necessary structural repairs” to the tracks which go over the Hell Gate Bridge in Astoria and would be used during the expansion of the Metro-North New Haven line.

According to Fadil, the existing Amtrak line is “falling apart” and in need of repair.

In the capital program, the MTA said the Metro-North expansion would include upgrades to power and signal systems, installing of new track and realigning existing tracks, and replacing railroad bridges to accommodate more trains.

According to an MTA spokesperson, there are no plans to construct a Metro-North station in Queens because it is too costly to build an elevated station for a low ridership.

“If I see something that isn’t being done right, I want to see it done right for people,” Fadil said. “That’s why I do what I do.”

Fadil said he now hopes to get support from local elected officials and leaders to help make his ideas a reality.

To check out the petition, click here.


Petition: turn proposed Glendale homeless shelter site into a school

| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo by Jeff Stone

A petition has been started to turn the proposed homeless shelter site on Cooper Avenue into an educational facility to better accommodate the overcrowded School District 24.

“We are not happy about the shelter,” Kathy Masi, president of the Glendale Civic Association, said at a Community Education Council meeting on Tuesday. “We are asking the DOE to take a look at the location of Cooper Avenue and the two adjoining properties [for a possible school].”

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

All residents at the meeting were urged to sign the petition, which was started by residents of Glendale and Middle Village, with the help of the Glendale Civic Association, asking for a school in the already over-saturated district. Residents believe that turning the site into a specialized school that runs from pre-K to high school would be the optimal usage for the site, whereas if it were turned into a homeless shelter, the child-to-school ratio in the district would grow even more.

“I just cannot comprehend the logistics,” said Nick Comaianni, president of the Community Education Council for District 24. “Doesn’t the city take a look at this?”

A “green light” was given for human habitation of the land after concerns were voiced about a former chemical complex on the site, according to the petition.

The petition urges the the city instead to acquire the site and build an educational complex there, citing a “dire need of school seats for children of District 24, the most overcrowded school district in NYC.”

“The location would serve as a good site to alleviate problems already present in District 24,” Masi said. “Building a school would be a great alternative for that site.”