Queens Community House Takes Back Meals On Wheels
Community Board 6 Chairman Joseph Hennessy welcomed members and other attendees to the September board meeting on the second floor of 80-02 Kew Gardens Rd. The agenda included an election, a committee report and a presentation about the latest phase of a Cord Meyer building project whose advocates have been trying for years to break ground. Some license applications were reviewed, in less than an hour and a half.
A report from the head of Queens Community House about the restoration to that organization of the Meals on Wheels service it had surrendered to the Visiting Nurse Service three years ago headed the agenda. Hennessy introduced QCH Executive Director Irma Rodriguez, who last addressed a meeting two years ago. In those two years, she told the gathering, QCH, which is based in Forest Hills and operates 11 centers in the borough, has been “hammered” by a cutback in funding of at least $2 million. But though strained by operating with considerably less, QCH is glad to take back responsibility for Meals on Wheels, even if it entails operating in a much wider territory than before. Where MoW once serviced 70,000 clients, it now services 170,000. She said that three years ago the city Department for the Aging expanded MoW and gave responsibility for the program to the Visiting Nurse Service. Removing the task from QCH left her “heartbroken”, Rodriguez said. VNS surrendered the responsibility as of December 2010, she said. “We could have told them where it belongs back then,” declared Councilmember Karen Koslowitz. Referring to the deliveries, Hennessy said, “Meals on Wheels is valuable, not only for the food, but for human contact.” Rodriguez recalled that when she began QCH some three decades ago, MoW deliveries were made by whatever station wagon was at hand. Deliveries are currently made to MoW by vans. She is always in need of volunteers, and asked for them before she left.
When first brought before Board 6 several years ago, a plan by real estate firm Cord Meyer to assume air rights and build over a low-level row of stores on Queens Boulevard drew murmurs of disapproval, particularly in relation to the uncertain fate of the Key Food supermarket at one end of the row. Plans have been altered since then: Sterling National Bank and Key Food still bookend the row but eight stores in between are closed and due to come down. Board of Standards and Appeals and other delays have prevented Cord Meyer from beginning the project, which would have a side street address, 108-20 71st Ave. Cord Meyer representatives and their attorney, Eric Palatnik, came before the board to request “a variance to seek extension of time to complete construction and an amendment to permit an increase in open space”. Palatnik emphasized the latter part of the request, saying it was a rare move calling for reduction of building space. Cord Meyer is seeking “extension of time to complete construction” even before building started, owing to a soft economy that hinders the effort to raise funding, though Palatnik was confident funds could be raised soon enough to begin construction and have the project, at one time expected to be completed by 2011, completed in 2015. A CVS pharmacy is to be added, he said. One woman in the audience expressed concern for the preservation of a newsstand in front of the row of buildings on Queens Boulevard. The newsstand had previously gone largely unnoticed, but everyone agreed it didn’t seem threatened. The roll call vote to recommend approval was unanimous.
Another application, coming from the Walden Terrace apartment complex, comprising 12 buildings on three streets in Rego Park, was to extend the term of a previously granted variance that permits transient parking in Walden Terrace underground garages at 98-09/25/41 64th Rd.; 98-10/19/26/33/40/51 64th Ave. and 98-22/34/50 63rd Dr. It too drew a unanimous approving vote.
Board 6 Transportation Committee Chair John Dereszewski said the Department of Transportation has picked 62nd Drive and 63rd Road for street reconfiguration, purportedly in the interest of pedestrian safety. He noted that the DOT study is two years old now and may be outdated, especially with the opening of a mall in the vicinity. The transportation committee is nettled by certain DOT decisions on one-way traffic flow. Altogether, Dereszewski said, there are “too many open questions”, and thus there are no recommendations from the board to DOT at present, though the situation will be monitored and he will request an appearance before the board by a DOT representative. Another board member commented that a DOT plan for Junction Boulevard called for angle parking and shrinking two lanes to one, which could have a bad impact on the nearby Queens Boulevard service road. Dereszewski said he had asked the department if it realized this likelihood, and an official replied that the Queens Boulevard service road was not part of the plan and needn’t be considered at all.
An application by Moca Asian Bistro, 107-18 70th Rd., for an unenclosed sidewalk café with seven tables and 14 seats, was recommended for approval, as were applications for alcoholic beverage licenses at Sake Suchi, 95-34 Queens Blvd.; Brine, 104-04 Metropolitan Ave.; Haveli, 116-29 Queens Blvd.; Agora Taverna, 70-09 Austin St., and Chikurin Japanese Restaurant, 97-11 Queens Blvd.
The following alcoholic beverage license renewals were passed without protest: Cho-Sen Garden, 64-43 108th St.; Petani Inc., 111-10 Queens Blvd.; 5-Burro Café, 72-05 Austin St.; Tako Sushi, 70-11 and 70-13 Austin St.; Sushi Koi Inc., 116-37 Queens Blvd.; Chikurin, 110-72 Queens Blvd.; Sato Japanese Cuisine, 98-12 Queens Blvd.; Sichuan Restaurant, 98-108 Queens Blvd.; Eat Steak Forest Hills, 107-18 70th Rd.; Wine House Liquors & Wines, 96-70 Queens Blvd.; Gourmet Deli, 96-18 Metropolitan Ave.; Nick’s Bistro, 105-20 Metropolitan Ave., and Manor Oktoberfest F.H., 73-11 Yellowstone Blvd.
The current slate of Community Board 6 officers was renominated and reelected unanimously. Joseph C. Hennessy remains chairman; Gail M. Gordon is first vice chair; Steven Goldberg is second vice chair; Elizabeth Anderson is vice chair and secretary; Todd Reisman is vice chair –finance; Norman Tepper, P.E. is vice chair –land use, and Lynn C. Schulman is vice chair –scoping.