Thursday, March 10, 2011

Proposed School, Rezoning at Board 9 Meeting

By David Harvey

Many of the area’s elected officials were conspicuously absent from Tuesday’s Community Board 9 meeting on Tuesday, but it was politely excused—nearly all were in Albany pushing back against the Governor’s budget proposal that would force the closure of senior centers throughout the city.

Though he said he understood, the absence made it difficult for CB 9 Chairman Ivan Mrakovic to gauge politicians’ sentiments on U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner’s proposal—announced during a press conference on March 4—to sell the iconic Civic Virtue statue now standing outside Queens Borough Hall.

“Few things are more important than senior centers and building schools,” Mrakovic said. “But this is an irksome issue.” Each elected officials’ representative promised to bring a statement on Weiner’s proposal to next month’s meeting.

Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer’s representative announced the delay of the renovated Aqueduct Race Track’s casino opening, from spring to summer, and Nick Roloson said his boss, Assemblyman Mike Miller, is working with the attorney general to combat the recent string of deception robberies involving a fraudulent gas company.

NYPD officer John McCoy from the 102nd Precinct said several graffiti vandals have been arrested over the last month—including one who was over the age of 40 and driving a Jaguar. Board members asked McCoy about regulations for the motorized bicycles that have become popular among deliverymen and he plans to have firm answers next month.

Director of the Queens Office of City Planning John Young gave a presentation on the proposed rezoning of several blocks in Woodhaven and Richmond Hill, which consists of “surgical” changes to match the code with current development. “We want to make the zoning simple,” he said. City planners will present their proposal to the board again after conducting an environmental assessment.

School Construction Authority officials gave a presentation on a new school they plan to open at the site of a former parochial school at the corner of 101st Avenue and 90th Street in Ozone Park. Father Paul, who is connected to the former school built in 1923, said important relics would be collected and enshrined at the nearby church. “We can’t maintain the school,” he said, adding that it was great to see another educational facility take its place.

According to SCA representative Chris Persheff, the Department of Education does not yet own the property—the department needs City Council approval for the purchase—but that the school will be K-5 with roughly 400 students, and the site will include a sizable school yard. Details as to the type of school and whether it is locally zoned will be decided later.

While voting on support for liquor license renewals—the State Liquor Authority makes the final decision—the board voted against renewing a license for The Link, a bar at 110-12 Jamaica Avenue in Richmond Hill, which has a reputation among residents for hosting unruly patrons and “has not been a good neighbor.”

Nick Comaianni, President of Community Education Council for District 24, brought a letter opposing the DOE’s plan to take the “rainy day funds” from principals who spent less than they were budgeted. The DOE had originally proposed taking 50 percent of the funds back from individual schools, but has since proposed taking back only 30 percent. “We are unequivocally opposed to roll-over budget cuts,” he said.

Comaianni said he would bring a similar statement to the board addressing teacher layoffs next month.

The board also had it’s annual vote for executive postitions, and chairman Mrakovic said he would not run again, as he was joining the Richmond Hills Historic Society. Andrea Crawford was named the new chair. Her nomination went uncontested.

Near the close of the meeting Mrakovic mocked Weiner’s press conference, in which Weiner suggested selling the Civic Virtue statue on “Isn’t that an adult service site?” he joked. “I don’t think any of our politicians should be talking about selling city property online.”

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