State Senator Joe Addabbo asks, “Where Would We Be Without Our Local Small Businesses?”

It has been said the small businesses are the backbone of our communities here in Queens, and I am certainly one to reiterate that sentiment. The small businesses, many of which I frequent myself – convenient stores, delis, restaurants and more – are what keep so many of our borough’s commercial corridors going.

Small Business Saturday, starting this year on Saturday, November 29, is a time to acknowledge the services our local stores have to offer. The every-day items we may not always take the time to note, the comfort you have in being a “regular” somewhere or simply just having a convenient place to shop – are certainly reasons to appreciate our local stores. Cross Bay Boulevard, Myrtle Avenue, Metropolitan Avenue, Jamaica Avenue, Grand Avenue, Beach 116th Street and Beach 129th Street are just some of the corridors that see thousands of people every day. Where would we be without them?

Small Business Saturday falls between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, two of the busiest shopping days of the year, and two days not necessarily reserved for local shops. We should take this day as a reminder to give back to the smaller stores that really allow us to live our day-to-day lives locally. While the holiday chaos can bring us towards larger department stores or big-name brands, we mustn’t forget the mom-and-pop stores that help us all year round.

Statistics show 23 million small businesses account for 54 percent of all sales nationwide, over 50 percent of jobs and nearly 70 percent of all net new jobs since the 1970s. In New York City, those numbers shouldn’t surprise us. Thanks to our corner stores, local supermarkets and more, we know the impact our small businesses have on our communities.

In Albany, we continue to fight for the rights of small storeowners, and this upcoming 2015 session should be no different. I have sponsored a variety of bills and supported budget items relating to local businesses, including some that establish a small business tax credit for the employment of seniors, of unemployed college graduates and of unemployed veterans. Another would provide grants to small business owners to rebuild storefronts severely damaged by Sandy.

In last year’s budget discussions, we were able to adopt several measures to help our local stores financially. The budget provided new, pro-business tax cuts, hiring tax credits, reduction of costs and red tape for businesses, workforce training for job openings, a Start-Up New York Tax Free program and more.

In reducing the red tape for storeowners, the budget modernized and simplified both unemployment insurance and workers compensation, and ultimately provides employers with $1.2 billion in savings without affecting workers’ benefits.

Whether at home in the district or in Albany, I will continue to keep the needs of the small business owners in mind. Something can always be done to promote their services and remind them they are vital to our community. This Small Business Saturday, I urge you to do the same. I hope you will join me in shopping at your favorite local store and show the owners the gratitude they deserve.


City denies CB5 traffic study request at shelter site

Community Board 5 submitted a request on Sep. 25 for a traffic study at 78-16 Cooper Ave., the site for a proposed 125-family transitional housing facility.

With concerns for heavy traffic volume along a local truck at the planned development site, the board asked the New York City Department of Buildings Queens Borough Commissioner Derek Lee consider the “narrow” sidewalk in front of the property and what could potentially be “dangerous conditions for residents.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Buildings responded to the traffic study proposal;

The Commissioner understands your concerns but since the proposed project (Alt 1 #420987613) is “As Of Right” the New York City Department of Buildings cannot arbitrarily request that a traffic study be performed before reviewing the plans or add it as a required item before approval.


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Amidst legal action, Glendale civic continues push for school at shelter site

Last week, the Glendale-Middle Village Coalition initiated their first legal action against the city, filing a lawsuit claiming that the full impact of placing 125 families in a proposed homeless shelter at 78-16 Cooper Avenue was not properly taken into consideration.

In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim that the city did not take into account how the sewer system, schools and local traffic would be affected by addition of the shelter to the neighborhood. The suit also claims that the environmental assessment performed on the site was improperly performed.

Lawyer Chris Murray, who filed the suit on behalf of the coalition, said the initial facility report was so sloppy, it even counted nearby grave sites as open space.

Despite the Department of Education and School Construction Authority’s continued disinterest in the establishment of a school campus at the site of the shelter, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and Glendale Civic Association President Kathy Masi are not giving up on the idea just yet.

Last month, Crowley submitted 3,000 signatures gathered by the Glendale Civic Association to Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina calling on her to consider the dire need of the district for more classrooms to accommodate the ever-increasing number of local students.

“School District 24 – which stretches from Ridgewood, to Woodside, to Corona – is by far the most overcrowded school district in the entire City of New York,” Crowley wrote in her October 6th letter to the chancellor. “Despite this persistent overcrowding, families continue to move into our district for its excellent public schools. But the dire lack of additional seats is taking a serious toll on our community.”

While Masi said she is hopeful that the idea of a school is not completely off the table, she is realistic about the proposal’s “long shot” prospects, given the multiple issues unique to the shelter site and its nearby neighbors.

“If each of those properties was presently available, I believe SCA would take advantage,” Masi said. “Since each one of those proprieties has an issue, whether it’s environmental, or in contract with DHS, the prospect of getting any information regarding a school within the next days is not even feasible.” [GR]



Retro Fitness opens new, safer accessibility ramp

The owners of a local Retro Fitness franchise in Glendale last week completed construction on a ramp they hope will make their gym more accessible to injured veterans.

After realizing that some of their members were having difficulty navigating the gym’s existing ramp, co-owner Warren DeStefano said he and his three partners together made the choice to withhold their own pay for a year in order to save up for a safer and more accessible ramp.

“It was a tough hit, but we saw the demand,” DeStefano said. “It was unsafe with the existing ramp because of the cars coming in and out, and it was something we felt we needed to do.”

In total, DeStefano reported that the new concrete ramp that connects the gym’s parking lot to a quiet section of the sidewalk on Otto Street cost them about $180,000 to complete.

State Senator Joseph Addabbo visited the gym on the day the ramp was opened to the public last week.

“I really think Retro Fitness becomes a model on what we should do to acknowledge our veterans,” Addabbo said. “They’re showing that Veterans Day is every day.”

As a further extension of their gratitude, DeStefano said the gym offers free lifetime memberships complete with complimentary personal training sessions to all their injured veteran members.

“We are giving something back to the people who fight for our freedom,” DeStefano said “If it wasn’t for their sacrifice, we wouldn’t even have this gym.”



Atlas Park donates $2,500 bounty to Glendale Food Pantry


Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 1.28.07 PMToday Atlas Park delivered $2500 worth of food to the Glendale Food Pantry to distribute for the Thanksgiving season.

Items included stuffing, biscuits, corn, cranberry sauce, green beans, mashed potatoes, yams, turkey gravy, cake mix, peas & carrots, rice, chocolate pudding, jello, mac & cheese and soup.

Peter DeLucia, marketing manager for The Shops at Atlas Park, said that he and his colleagues believe it is their responsibility as members of the local community to give back to those who are in need, which is why they participate in charitable activities such as the food drive.

“Atlas Park is proud to be able to give back to the community in which we serve,” said DeLucia. “At the heart of every community are its people. Atlas Park has been a part of the Glendale community for over eight years. The center is so much more than a collection of stores and restaurants, we are a community gathering spot.”


DOE still not interested in Cooper Avenue shelter site

homelessshelter_blogOpposition to the proposed 125-family transitional housing facility on Cooper Avenue in Glendale remains a diligent force during Community Board 5 meetings.

Last week, Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley stopped by the board’s monthly meeting at Christ the King High School to assure that she has not yet given up the fight.

Following a clean environmental assessment statement of the property earlier this year, Crowley began pushing for support from her fellow elected officials to override the homeless shelter plans for a nine-acre school campus.

“I believe that this is the best use for this property, and I believe that if we continue to work together we will see that site becomes a school,” Crowley said at the meeting last week.

Despite consistent refusal from the Department of Education (DOE) to consider the site for a new school campus, Crowley said she will continue to fight for what she says is necessary to combat an overcrowding crisis in the district.

See full story at the Queens Ledger


Community Board 5 monthly meeting tonight at Christ the King HS

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 2.02.50 PMCommunity Board 5 meeting will hold their monthly meeting tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Christ the King High School, located at 68-02 Metropolitan Ave., in Middle Village.

On the agenda;

1) Public hearing regarding an application with the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals for a special permit to have a physical cultural establishment for Lucille Roberts Women’s Gym at 55-05 Myrtle Ave. in Ridgewood.

2) There is also a public hearing for a cultural establishment permit for Massage Envy Spa, located at 89-44 Metropolitan Ave. in Glendale.

These public hearings will be followed by the public forum, a review of applications for the local sale of alcoholic beverages, a review of demolition notices and committee reports. For additional information, or to register to speak in advance, please call Board 5 at (718) 366-1834.