2006-02-15 / Features

Avella Miffed At Marshall, Ticked Off At Klein, Too

BY JOHN TOSCANO

Taking sharp issue with Queens Borough President Helen Marshall for supporting a spa to be included in a new small hotel to be built in College Point, City Councilmember Tony Avella says the community will have a hard fight to defeat the proposal and Marshall’s action made the fight all the harder.

“I am absolutely flabbergasted that the borough president has chosen to ignore the concerns of residents from College Point, Malba and Whitestone by supporting the special permit application for the spa,” Avella declared.

“This proposal is a disaster waiting to happen— residents see that, the local civic association sees it and the community board saw that,” Avella added. “The traffic congestion that this facility would cause is sufficient reason by itself to reject this application.”

The applicant is proposing to open a three and a half story hotel with a spa at 11-11 131st St., College Point, Avella explained. Because the property is located in an M-1 manufacturing zone, the hotel can be built as-of-right, but the spa proposal requires a special permit from the Board of Standards and Appeals, and the owner has applied for one.

“Getting BSA to listen to the community is a tough battle by itself,” Avella complained, “but the unfortunate decision by the borough president has made the fight all the more harder.”

Avella has vowed to fight to block the proposal. No hearing has been scheduled by the BSA.

Avella also raised a fuss with Schools Chancellor Joel Klein last week over Klein’s allegedly consistently excluding the councilmember and his constituents from the decision making process in matters dealing with schools in his district. As a case in point, the Bayside lawmaker cited issues at P.S. 159 and P.S. 184.

In a letter to Klein, Avella noted that Klein had, at least temporarily, reversed the decision to remove Grade 6 classes from P.S. 159. That was fine with Avella, but further down in his letter to Klein, he noted, “Despite outlining the grade change concerns of parents in both P.S. 159 and P.S. 184 to you in a series of letters dating back to December, no response was received. My request for a meeting to discuss these issues was also met with silence from DOE [the city Department of Education].”

Avella said he was still waiting for a response from Klein for the grade change at P.S. 184 and the P.S. 159 parents’ request to keep grade 6 classes in their school permanently.

Avella chided Klein: “Despite agency rhetoric about how the educational system has improved, parental involvement and individual school initiatives in my opinion have suffered and are significantly worse than under the former Board of Education.”

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