2000-01-26 / Front Page

Can Street Fair Raise Funds For Bd.1?

ByRichard Gentilviso

After CommunityBoard 1 re-elected their executive officers, Vinicio Donato, chairperson, Joseph Guarino, first vice chair, George Stamatiades, second vice chair, Norma Nieves-Blas, third vice chair and John Scourakis, secretary for another one-year term at the January calendar meeting held at Astoria World Manor, questions were raised concerning a street fair sponsored by Friends of Community Board 1 to be held next July 23rd on 30th Avenue between 29th and 42nd Streets from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The fair, which was approved along with several other applications by local business, civic and religious organizations for street activity permits at the Dec. 21st meeting, is expected to raise additional funds for the board.

"The city hasn’t increased our budget," explained Donato, "and we have no money for equipment."

However, Michael Gianaris, a board member who was absent for the December vote, had reservations about the fund raising and introduced a motion to reconsider the matter.

But Donato said the "Friends of Community Board 1" has been studied and is a legal way for the board to raise expense money.A committee of five members, on which sitting board members are ineligible to serve, can open a bank account in the name of Friends of Community Board 1 and any money made from the street fair, or from other contributions, can be deposited in it.The committee of five can then review expense requests submitted by the board for legitimate items, such as copiers, fax machines and paper.

Donato made it clear any contributions are not for favors.

However, Gianaris told Donato, "We don’t even know who the five people are" (on the committee for Friends of Community Board 1) couldn’t be made to the board directly.

Regarding the street fair, he said, "Can’t we hold back on approval?" to which Donato replied, "It’s approved by the board already."

Finally, he said, "I guess I’m questioning the need for a Friends of Community Board 1 at all."

"Then we can’t raise money," replied Donato.

Another board member, Anna Kril, noting the number of community problems handled by the board, called Board 1 very active and in need of equipment that works.

Donato said that even intervention by the borough president’s office to the mayor had failed to bring any increase in the board’s budget.

Street fairs are staples of fund raising for many area groups that typically hire an outside company to stage the event and use food, beer or wine, and vendors, along with musical entertainment and rides, to attract people.

"Is it unethical to solicit for the board?"asked a member before the vote on the motion to reconsider. "no" answered Donato, after which the board voted down the motion.

In other business, a public hearing was held concerning a Board of Standards and Appeals application to reinstate an expired variance and obtain a change in use from a factory to a plumbing contracting establishment at 12-26 30th Ave., on the south side of 30th Avenue between 12th and 14th Streets.

Joseph Morsellino, representing the applicant, said the original variance dating back to 1921 was for a parking facility that in 1962 made a BSAapplication to change part of the parking garage into a factory.

The current owner took over the property in foreclosure two years ago and discovered that the variance expired in 1982. The applicant sought to reinstate the original variance and obtain a change in use permitting the parking garage to be moved from the first level to the cellar level and the first level to be used for a contracting business that will store supplies and house trucks that will carry supplies to jobs.There will be no work done on premises, just offices and storage.

Gerald Caliendo, chair of the zoning committee, said recommendation was made with the stipulation that the application be amended to specifically note it was for only a plumbing contracting establishment, which the applicant stated at the hearing, and not the more general designation, "contractor’s yard."The board voted unanimous approval.

Donato announced that Caliendo would be stepping down as chair of the zoning committee due to increased business obligations and thanked him for his service as chairperson.John Carusone will be taking over.

Also on the agenda was a consumer affairs application by the Plaza Patisserie, 29-20 29th St., to establish an unenclosed café with 15 tables and 48 seats.The owner said he intends to have tables on both the 29th and 30th Street sides of the café.

Joe Risi, chair of the committee, recommended approval and the board voted unanimously in favor of the application.

In his report, District Manager George Delis provided lists of street resurfacing that have been completed and work that will begin this spring.The board will collect a new list of locations for street resurfacing that will be submitted by July 1 to the Highway Department for a final decision.

Delis also reported on a Jan. 4th meeting at the borough president’s office with New YorkState Department of Transportation Commissioner Peter King.

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