Thursday, July 29, 2010

Warehouse Plans Unveiled for St. Savior's but Fight Continues for Parkland

By Tamara Best

A plan to build warehouses on the former St. Saviour’s property suffered a temporary setback this week when the city rejected site plans, leaving the future of the Maspeth site up in the air.

Property owner Maspeth Development LLC recently unveiled plans and applied to the city for permits needed to construct four one-story units on the 1.5-acre property at 57th Road and 58th Street.

According to city Department of Building records, a plan exam for the property was rejected on Monday. A department representative said a rejection of plans generally results in a series of meetings between the applicant and examiner’s office so that necessary changes can be made.

Area civic leaders and elected officials were hoping the land would be converted into much-needed greenspace for area residents.

“Maspeth has about 12 acres of parkland in total for about 40,000 residents and that is really not adequate,” said local activist Christina Wilkinson. “And the ones we do have are more geared toward active recreation, where the Maspeth site could be passive. I think this would be a good opportunity for the city to plan a park for the site. We don’t need anymore warehouses, we have plenty.”

Wilkinson said she hopes that the owner will consider “coming to the table” to talk with the city about selling the property.
“I'm willing to work with anyone, but we're moving forward,” property owner Scott Kushnick, recently told the New York Daily News. “The city cannot come up with the money, and I have my back against the wall.”

Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) allocated $500,000 towards acquisition of the land, in addition to more than $1 million from Borough President Helen Marshall.

“Maspeth has been under served when it comes to park space and we need to seize on this opportunity to invest in open space for the residents of Maspeth,” said Crowley. “I hope the owners of the property see this commit- ment and begin negotiations to sell the prop- erty to the city as soon as possible.”

Dan Andrews, spokesman Marshall, said the borough president is committed to trying to acquire the land for park use.
“It’s an ongoing process, it’s been give and take,” he said on Wednesday in reference to attempts to acquire the land from the current developer.

It is unclear how much Kushnick would ask for the property and attempts to reach him were unsuccessful this week.

The Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) previously rallied to save the church from being demolished, securing funding from the offices of Marshall and Crowley. The church was dis- mantled and is currently in storage until it can be rebuilt, either at land in Middle Village donated by All-Faiths Cemetery, or back at its original home in Maspeth.

At a July 2009 civic meeting, JPCA President Bob Holden, told members, “St. Saviour’s was just minutes – literally minutes – from demolition... We were all out there preparing for the worst, and then the miracle happened.”

And civic leaders like Wilkinson said they are once again hopeful that another miracle occurs and the land will be saved.

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