BY JOE MARVILLI
Having helped to resolve a conflict between a Flushing McDonald’s and a group of Korean senior citizens, Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) is prepping a bill that should help prevent such problems in the future.
Kim said he intends to introduce the Community Corner Cafe Fund in the Assembly sometime in the next couple of weeks. The bill would create tax credits for local businesses that allow older citizens to sit and congregate in their establishment for as long as they please.
This issue was brought to the forefront by a battle between the management of the McDonald’s at Northern and Parsons boulevards and Korean senior citizens who would buy a cup of coffee and then linger at the establishment for several hours. The situation escalated when the fast-food joint’s owner called the police on the seniors.
“We set up a meeting with the owner and a dozen or more seniors over that weekend, just to let the seniors vent and just to figure out why they were upset,” Kim said. “When the seniors saw the face of the store, the owner, they realized this is a guy who is sympathetic and actually wants to have those seniors to continue to go to that store.”
While the two groups came to an agreement, Kim sees this incident as part of a larger trend throughout the City that needs to be resolved. With more than one million older Americans throughout the five boroughs, there are only a limited amount of senior centers or similar spaces where they can go. Kim said that the older adults also want to keep the freedom they have had throughout their lives, rather than being confined.
“People of any age group want to feel empowered. They want to be part of the neighborhood and stay connected with their peers,” he said. “Instead of us trying to persuade this population to go someplace else, why not try to accommodate the seniors while the businesses can stay afloat.”
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Joey788.