BY LYNN EDMONDS
Korean Community Services is in contract with the Bayside Jewish Center at 203-05 32nd Avenue to take over the property, the organization confirmed on Tuesday.
The site nearly became a high school late last year, but the School Construction Authority did not move forward with a contract in the face of strong community opposition.
KCS is an owner that many in the community will be happier with, as the organization, which primarily serves seniors, will likely generate far less traffic than a school, though some are still concerned that the organization will bring more congestion to the community.
The non-profit provides job training, programming and care for seniors, help with insurance, immigration status, language classes and mental health services. They have six sites between Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan. The new site in Bayside will replace two of those sites, the administrative headquarters and the Flushing senior center.
The senior center would be open during standard business hours.
Kwang Kim from KCS said that with the move they hope to provide seniors a more pleasant space, as the current facility in Flushing is in a basement. She also said that the new space will be able to accommodate more seniors.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who was active in opposing a school for that site, is getting involved to advocate on behalf of the Bayside residents who would like to see the quality of life in their neighborhood remain high. Their concerns are over possible construction and congestion and making sure that some programming will be open to non-Koreans as well as Koreans.
“It’s obviously better than the school,” Avella said of the new senior center, but added that he wanted to hold a meeting with KCS to discuss how the programming could be open to the entire community, as well as finding out how many people would be using the building on a daily basis and whether any construction was planned.
In an email, KCS said that they had no plans to do construction. The non-profit also said they served non-Koreans and would continue to do so.
“Programs will be developed to include the neighbors, and space will be open to the community,” Kim said. “We named the organization as Korean Community Services in order to help the Korean American immigrants, but [it] actually serves everyone coming to our programs.”
Kim added that some of their programs actually already attracted more non-Koreans than Koreans.
As for the traffic, Kim said that many of their seniors would come via the Q 28 or Q31 bus.
Avella said he was cautiously optimistic about the match and the possibilities of programming meeting the needs of the broader Bayside community.
“It’s a reputable group, they do wonderful work within the community,” he said. “Can we expand their mission so that they include everybody?”
He had more critical words for the board of the Bayside Jewish Center, which he said had not been responsive to his office or to the community in general.
“It’s just a shame, that whoever is in charge, [the Center] having been a wonderful community asset, has turned itsback on the community,” Avella said.
Reach Lynn Edmonds at (718) 357-7400 x127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Ellinoamerikana