Breaking
Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

 

(East Elmhurst, NY) The recent installation of a newsstand on 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights without community approval prompted State Senator Jose Peralta to introduce legislation intended to remedy the injustices occurring under City law. Currently, if the applicant for a newsstand meets the proper requirements, the City approves the application regardless of community opposition.        

To get approval for a newsstand, if the required specifications by the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the Public Design Commission are met, the City must issue a vendor license.

Under Senator Peralta’s proposal, the newsstand application process will mirror the process sidewalk cafés comply with. If the bill is enacted, the New York City Council will have the power to approve or deny the petition following community board input for the community district where the installation of the newsstand is proposed.

“Right now, city agencies don’t have any discretion to refuse the installation of newsstands if the applicants follow the municipal criteria,” said Senator Peralta. “All we are trying to do here is allowing the City Council to have the final word on the applications following the recommendations of the community boards.”

Senator Peralta added, “In this particular case, for example, Queens Community Board 3 voted twice against the proposed location for the newsstand, but the City ignored the recommendation and approved the application. The community said no, but the City went ahead and said yes. This bill will put the necessary mechanisms in place to prevent this from happening.”

Senator Peralta noted, “This proposal will allow the City Council to rubber-stamp or turn down the applications, mimicking the approval process for sidewalk cafés.”

The Senator created a petition to demand the City to revoke the license issued by the DCA. The signatures collected will be deliver to City Hall.   

“I have been working to prevent a newsstand installation at this location since 2011 when former Mayor Bloomberg first awarded a $1 billion contract allowing for their placement anywhere the operators want,”said Councilmember Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst). “I believe that this site is totally inappropriate due to an existing problem with sidewalk congestion on 37th Avenue.  From the time an application was first submitted for this site, I have worked with Community Board 3 and others to fight against it. Our communities need to be able to have more of a voice. Unfortunately, our laws don’t currently give our communities that opportunity when it comes to deciding where newsstands can be installed. Therefore, I am introducing legislation that would require City Council approval for newsstands, just the way it is required for sidewalk cafes. I will continue to push back against any effort to install additional newsstands in my district. We already have too many.”

Steve Kulhanek, Chairperson of Community Board 3, said “Queens Community Board 3 is deeply disappointed that the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs issued a permit for the installation and operation of a newsstand in front of 76-10 37th Avenue. This permit was issued over the objections of Community Board and the proximate property owners. In denying these applications the Community Board cited the overwhelming community opposition.”

Kulhanek added, “Concerns included the general vehicular and pedestrian congestion of the location as well as the total lack of need for this sort of venture. There are many nearby businesses that sell the exact same items. The Jewish Center of Jackson Heights is deeply offended by the sitting of newsstand next to their house of worship. In view of the above, we feel it appropriate for DCA to revoke the permit, remove the structure and return the sidewalk to its previous condition.”

Len Maniace, President of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, said “It simply doesn’t make sense to install  newsstands on 37th Avenue. If you take a quick stroll on the street you’ll find plenty of stores selling the same products as the newsstand will.  The community board knows the area and twice said ‘no’ to this. The City should listen to them.”

Jason Ferreira, Owner and General Manager of Foodtown, said “We all know 37th avenue to be a high traffic area. The street is jammed with cars and trucks and the sidewalks are filled with pedestrians. Our store is right next door to PS 69. Each morning and afternoon the area in front of our store gets filled with many parents and children on their way to and from school. We don’t need more congestion than what already exists and a newsstand makes it that more crowded. Foodtown, along with a number of grocery stores across the street from us already sells newspapers, cold beverages, candy, and lotto. In a struggling economy, why do we need another vendor selling more of the same? Our stores have been servicing the community for many years and the residents in the area agree. This newsstand has been proposed in the past and each time the community board has voted against it. It’s unfair that the city and this vendor went against and around the will of the people. It defies the democratic process!”

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