BY JOE MARVILLI
Community Board 7 wrapped up for the summer by covering a variety of topics.
From application approvals to resolutions, presentations to citations, the last CB7 meeting until September was filled with discussions on items that affect Flushing as a whole or the community board itself.
The biggest item the board looked at was an application for a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure from the City Dept. of Transportation. The DOT laid out its plan for the rehabilitation of the Roosevelt Avenue Bridge, which runs over the Flushing River and the Van Wyck Expressway. The bridge, which opened in 1927, supports foot and vehicle traffic on one level, with the 7 train running on the level above it. It runs between Willets Point Blvd. and College Point Blvd.
The reason for the construction is that the bridge’s age puts it in need for repair, to prevent further deterioration. The roadway and bridge deck are in poor condition, the welds between the decks and the steel beams are overstressed, the abutment walls and piers need restoration and existing stringers that support the deck roadway need to be replaced. Additionally, the operator houses that were used to open or close the bridge for river transportation need to be removed, as they are no longer in use.
Three phases of the project will focus on different lanes for the restoration, with each phase taking 12 months to complete. One lane of traffic in each direction will be maintained during construction. While there will be no impact on the 7 train, the work will create additional vehicle traffic in the surrounding area.
The ULURP’s purpose is to give the DOT permission to have temporary staging areas and temporary construction easements, taking up some street room near the bridge. The board passed the motion after some discussion.
CB7 also adopted a resolution against basement apartments or other affordable housing ideas that violate zoning laws, such as adapting garages into living spaces for extra tenants. The board adopted the resolution in agreement with Community Board 11, which passed something similar during its April meeting.
The resolutions came out of a comment made by Mayor Bill de Blasio that a potential solution to the affordable housing problem could be to convert illegal basement apartments in houses and make them legal units.
The meeting was also bittersweet for CB7, as it said goodbye to longtime member Dr. Lynda Spielman, who is leaving the board after more than 30 years. The former board chair received a citation from Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside), who worked with her during his time on the board.
“We should be very proud that this community has worked on the behalf of economic development. We should be proud of the traditions that we held,” Spielman said, offering some words of advice. “Cherish the opportunity to learn. There are very few places in life where you can learn and use exactly what you’re learning right away.”
Spielman added that the board has had a personal impact on her life as well.
“My experience on this board really changed my life. I was a single woman at the time I joined the board. A couple of years later, I did get a special phone call and it was from a gentleman who knew me when we were in high school,” she said. “He saw my name in the newspaper as chairperson of the community board and I married him one year later.”
In closing, the leaving board member reflected on how much Flushing has changed in the past 30 years, saying that it has greatly improved and that she hopes it will continue to do so.
“Times have changed and they have changed for the better,” Spielman said. “I will miss you all.”
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @JoeMarvilli.