Tag Archives: proposal

City Council rejects Whitestone sidewalk cafe bid


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

The City Council unanimously struck down a controversial bid for a Whitestone sidewalk café Wednesday.

Owners of Nonna’s Pizzeria & Trattoria wanted to wrap an outdoor sitting area around their 22-30 154th St. Italian restaurant.

But a handful of neighbors said the proposal would bring excessive noise and take away parking spaces.

Lawmakers said the sidewalk is also not wide enough and too close to residential homes.

“The impact of this victory should ensure all future applicants make every effort to address the concerns of the community board and neighboring residents,” Councilman Paul Vallone said.

Restaurant manager Joe Lobue recently told The Courier the outdoor area would have let customers kick back and enjoy a meal in the sunshine.

The restaurant’s lawyer, who was in court Wednesday, did not immediately reply to a call for comment.

 

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Voters say yes to five out of six proposed amendments to NY State Constitution


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com


Together with casting their ballots for a new mayor, voters gave the go-ahead to a proposal that could allow up to seven casinos to be brought into New York State, along with four other amendments.

On the back of the official ballot for the general election, voters were given the option to vote for six proposals that would each be an amendment to the Constitution.

The first proposal on the ballot was an amendment that would allow the government to authorize up to seven casinos in New York State. These casinos would be constructed in order to stimulate job growth, increase aid to schools, and allow local governments to decrease property taxes through gained revenues from the sites. This proposal was approved through 1,309,187 voters or 57 percent of the votes, according to unofficial results.

New Yorkers also gave the thumbs up to the four other amendments that followed it on the ballot.

The second proposal, which took in 84 percent of votes in approval, was the proposed change that would allow disabled veterans to received additional civil service credit. Proposal number three, receiving 62 percent of yes votes, would allow the exclusion of indebtedness contracted for the construction or reconstruction of sewage facilities. Proposal number four, gaining 72 percent of votes, introduces a settlement in a dispute between the state and private entities over who owns certain land within the Adirondacks. The final proposal, getting 53 percent of yes votes, also dealt with the Adirondacks, allowing the state to transfer the title of an amount of land of Adirondack Park to a private mining company, which would then transfer the same amount of land to the forest preserve.

Of the six proposals, the only one to be voted no was the amendment looking to increase the maximum age to which certain state judges may serve. According to unofficial results, 1,258, 283 voters, or 61 percent, were against the change.

Bayside residents oppose school in place of Keil Bros Garden Center


| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Melissa Chan

Build a school, say Bayside residents, just not in our backyards.

Community Board (CB) 11 voted against a controversial proposal to build an elementary school in the place of a popular garden center after enraged residents who live near the 210-11 48th Avenue site vehemently opposed it.

“This area is saturated with schools, and we can’t stand it anymore,” said resident Mandingo Tshaka. “Hell, no. That’s all I’m going to say.”

The owners of Keil Bros Garden Center and Nursery have struck a deal with the city to sell their entire Bayside property, including a home next to the store, for an undisclosed amount.

Ronald Keil, vice president of the family-run business, cited “the changing nature of the retail world” and “increasing costs of doing business” as reasons for the sale.

“Basically, it’s an uncertain economy,” he said.

Residents said the 416-seat school would destroy their quality of life, worsen parking and traffic congestion and lead to dangerous crossing conditions for students.

“It’s really a disaster in the making,” said Toby Pagano, 64, of Bayside. “I would be horrified, but not surprised, if there was an accident.”

There are 21 elementary schools in the district and 12 within CB 11’s jurisdiction, according to Susan Seinfeld, district manager of Community Board 11.

Local educators said the majority of them are heavily congested, with registration growing every year.

At least three schools have had to put classrooms in space originally meant for libraries or music, Seinfeld said.

“There’s an opportunity for a school to be built,” P.S. 41 Principal Sari Latto said. “We’re hoping that will alleviate some of that overcrowding.”

No designs for a new school have been laid out yet, according to School Construction Authority officials. The site selection process began in 2008 and honed in on the disputed site last month.

According to Keil, the city approached his 83-year-old business within the last two years. He said he and his brother are exploring options to continue the store in another part of Queens.

The garden center will be open for regular business for the rest of the year.

CB 11’s advisory vote now heads to the City Council for a final ruling.

“I do get the need for new schools,” said resident Carol Shriver, 55. “I understand that. But this is wrong. This is just the wrong place to build a school. They’re just asking for trouble.”

 

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City plans to put new schools inside Flushing, Newtown high schools


| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

Students in two overcrowded Queens schools could soon learn a lesson in sharing.

The city plans to place two new schools inside a scaled-down Flushing High School and an international school in Newtown High School, education officials said.

The existing Flushing High School building would house a small district high school and another Chinese bilingual school. A school to serve English language learners, preparing recently arrived immigrant students for college, would be added to Newtown in Elmhurst.

“Our goal is to create a system of great schools that prepare all students for college,” said Devon Puglia, spokesperson for the Department of Education (DOE). “Designed to meet the needs of individual communities, our new, small schools have delivered resounding results.”

Enrollment is expected to fall in both congested schools by 2016, education officials said, as fewer incoming ninth graders are taken in. Under the plan, Flushing High School students will drop from 3,000 to 2,150 and Newtown High School will see a decline from 2,250 to 1,910.

The proposals will not affect current students, according to the DOE, but State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said the struggling schools need time to improve. The change could also reduce the amount of financial aid each institution receives, she said.

“In this case, more is not better,” Stavisky said. “I think Flushing High School desperately needs the proper resources. Reducing the enrollment is not going to help because then fewer resources will be available.”

The senator said the schools would get 13 percent less “Fair Student Funding” from the city.

“Money isn’t everything, but the absence of money hurts,” she said. “They have to be given the opportunity to succeed.”
Flushing and Newtown were among seven high schools in Queens the city tried to close last year before the attempts were blocked by a court order.

The Panel for Educational Policy will vote on the proposals on March 11. Panel members supported the city’s plans to shutter the schools last April.

Newtown improved from a “C” to a “B” on its last DOE progress report. Flushing received a “D” in the last two years, recently failing both student progress and performance.

 

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