BY LUIS GRONDA
In its first meeting since long-time District Manager Mary Ann Carey retired, Community Board 9’s monthly meeting touched on a number of topics affecting the area, including the collapsed building in Woodhaven and the Ozone Park pedestrian plaza.
The pedestrian plaza was a big topic during the public forum portion of the meeting.
The plaza has been a source of controversy for those near the City Line section of Ozone Park. Businesses near it want the City to move it to another location because, they say, it has taken away needed parking in the area and decreased foot traffic in their stores. Supporters of the plaza argue the open space gives the community a place to gather and socialize and provides children with a safe area to play in.
The discussion began with a Dept. of Transportation representative, Andrew Ronan, announcing that the agency is looking at reducing the area of the plaza near 101st Avenue to create about eight parking spots. Ronan said the plaza took away about 11 parking spaces when it was originally built.
Monjurul Sami, a 15-year-old Ozone Park resident, argued in favor of keeping the plaza in its current form because it is used for outdoor activities after school.
“We all have family, friends, cousins, even grandparents who go to the plaza and we all have fun,” Sami said.
One business owner, Hasib Ali, argued the contrary, saying the plaza is killing businesses like his own.
“Many have seen more than 50 percent decrease in sales,” Ali said in a letter given to CB9. “This has led to some of us having to lay people off.”
Regarding the Woodhaven building, three representatives from the Buildings Dept, including Anthony Iuliano, the Director of Intergovernmental Affairs attended the meeting. Ken Lazar, another Buildings Dept. representative, declared the building as “no longer a problem” because the owner has met the deadlines set by the court to repair the facility. Lazar said he is ahead of schedule.
Regarding the Woodhaven-Richmond Hill Volunteer Ambulance Corp., Lazar said they did a joint inspection with their engineers and the company can reoccupy the building once they clean the inside of the property, including mold that has built up in the time since they left.
The Ambulance Corp vacated the property after the collapse because of debris created by the event and uncertainty over the property’s safety.
The CB9 search committee for its new District Manager will have its first meeting on Nov. 13 to go over résumés for Carey’s replacement.
One committee member, Dr. Vincent Evangelista, said they hope to move quickly in selecting the new DM because it will be difficult to schedule more meetings in the future due to the upcoming winter holidays.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @luisgronda.