2017-01-25 / Front Page

Sunnyside Chamber Of Commerce Holds January Luncheon

By Thomas Cogan
A new member was introduced, an old one returned after long absence and the guest speaker was the chairwoman of Community Board 2, as the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce held its first meeting in eight months.  The meeting, with customary luncheon, was held at Soleluna restaurant, 40-01 Queens Blvd., where a luncheon meeting was to have occurred this past December 20, before it was decided that any such activities after the middle of December should be put off until after the Christmas crush.  The January meeting was brief but the food was fine and, best of all, the cycle of SCC luncheons had been resumed, with a Valentine’s Day event on schedule for February.

SCC President Patricia Dorfman introduced CB 2 Chairwoman Denise Keehan-Smith, her introduction including a warning that anyone in the room or the neighborhood who might be looking to install outdoor seating at a bar or restaurant had better be friendly with the head of the local community board.  Though that was meant lightly, it happens that Soleluna is planning to have outdoor seating for the warmer weather, as indicated in a Department of Consumer Affairs notice pasted in the window, publicizing the restaurant’s application for an unenclosed sidewalk café license. 

Keehan-Smith has been a CB 2 member for five years and became chairwoman (the first woman leader of the board) in September.  She had been board secretary and still participates in monthly or special meetings of the land use committee, as she did in late September when there was one such meeting in Woodside, dealing with the Universal Church’s application to build a larger headquarters on the Roosevelt Avenue site where the current one stands.  That has aroused much local protest, and both proponents and opponents met at CB 2’s December meeting.  A vote for or against the building proposal is expected at the board’s next meeting.

Keehan-Smith spoke neutrally about the Universal Church, no doubt mindful of the forthcoming vote.  She said she believes environmental issues are of great importance, even in a community board district of Queens.  She’s become an advocate for reducing the number of parking meters in the local commercial zones, Queens Boulevard especially, to ease the burden on merchants trying to run businesses while dealing with traffic matters related to parking and deliveries.  That means dealing with the Department of Transportation, a tough task much of the time, she said.  She added that nevertheless it’s imperative to keep pressure on the DOT if that agency is to remain attentive and if any results are to be achieved. 

When Shawn Slevin, a frequent attendee at SCC luncheons, expressed concern that too many bar-restaurants and liquor stores are located near children’s schools, Keehan-Smith said that Patrick O’Brien, head of the board’s city services committee, and her predecessor as CB 2 chairman, is constantly heading off attempts of operators who would do that—but since they seem relentless, their opponents must be too.  She praised District Manager Debra Markell-Kleinert of the board, also present at the luncheon, and her staff, “who really get the work done” for CB 2.  Dorfman added to the praise by implying, after surveying Keehan-Smith’s agenda, that being a leader of the community board would be entirely too much work for her.

Also speaking at the meeting, promoting a local cause, was Regina Shanley, who said that the United Forties’ sock drive for homeless persons is a good charity for the cold months, or even in warmer weather.  She said it began as a pursuit of one woman to bring socks to homeless folks living outdoors, providing some warmth for at least one part of their bodies.  Now, it has been adopted by United Forties head Don McCallion.  Contributed socks can be brought to the CB2 office at 43-22 50th St., 2nd floor or to City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s office, 47-01 Queens Blvd., Suite 205.  Shanley said that McCallion and United Forties are looking to expand the number of drop-off points by getting local churches to volunteer their availability.

A new member of Sunnyside Chamber was introduced:  Osman Chowdhury of the United Taxi Drivers Association, an organization he has worked for since 2012.  An old member, Debra Guthrie M.D., an ophthalmologist with an office at 45-58 43rd St., near 47th Avenue (and also a Manhattan office at 185 Madison Ave., 2nd f the board’s loor), said that various reasons kept her away from meetings for some time, but now she was glad to be back.

Dorfman said that the next meeting, Valentine’s Day, Thursday, February 14, is tentatively scheduled to be at Ariyoshi, a Japanese restaurant not far from Soleluna, at 41-13 Queens Blvd.









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