BY LYNN EDMONDS
Community Board 7 voted 19-9 to allow a gym at 10-24 154th Street to continue operating without significantly expanding their parking lot. The gym, Life Health Fitness, is slated to have 28 parking spots and is expected to accommodate up to 40 with valet parking during peak hours. It has about 1,000 members, owner Sophocles Tsouros said, with around 125 check-ins over the course of a day.
Several board members and residents who came to testify said that they appreciated the gym and thought it contributed to the neighborhood.
“I’ve been a Whitestone girl 59 years. This is something that was so well needed,” nearby resident and member Jody Ertrachter said. “Parking has never been an issue for either myself or my daughter.”
But some also said that they feared that gym’s lot was not big enough and that too many gym goers were parking out on the residential street. They also mentioned frustration with garbage and snow removal at the lot and wanted to the owner to step up their efforts on those matters. The property is owned by Joe Franco, who previously operated the White House restaurant there.
Dave Randic, who lived on the street next to the gym, said that gymgoers would block his driveway. He said that even if the members lived close by, they still tended to drive.
“Even though they’re going to the gym they tend to be lazy,” he said.
CB 7 Chairman Eugene Kelty and Vice Chairman Chuck Apelian said that while they felt the gym was an asset to the community, they would vote against the application because the previous owner had hoodwinked the community out of the parking spots that the zoning required of them, based on a technicality.
“This was done as what they call an alteration,” Apelian said of the new construction, “by leaving one wall up.”
“The parking requirement was skirted, and that’s upsetting,” he stressed. “We’re tired of having developments bite us in the butt.”
“It wasn’t what we were promised, so I’m voting no,” Apelian concluded. He said that the lot should have had underground parking and 90 spots, if the spirit of the regulations have been followed rather than just the letter of the law.
Reach Lynn Edmonds at (718) 357-7400 x127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Ellinoamerikana