Today’s news:

Union Tpk. businesses elect chiefs

New officers elected to the Fresh Meadows Merchants Association last week will breathe new life into the organization, it is hoped.

New President Wendy Marsh, who co-owns Marsh Optical at 180-12 Union Turnpike with her husband Robert, replaces Jerry Cola of Ben Rick Furs. Elections, which used to be held annually, are now held every two years, Marsh said.

The other elected officers are: vice President — Rafael Ho of the Hallmark Card Store; secretary — Roy Pick of Carol’s School Supply; treasurer — Carol Harper of Citibank; advertising committee chairman — Ernie Rude of Turnpike Comfort Shoes.

The merchants group, which covers the length of Union Turnpike from St. John’s University in the west to Cunningham Park, has seen membership drop 40 percent in the past few years.

“We’ve had 100 members in the past, and we’re hoping to get 40 more,” Marsh said.

“We also work hand-in-hand with St. John's University,” Marsh said. “The university attends all our meetings and we have a very good rapport with the civic groups and the community.”

Marsh, who was president five years ago, said the association has good political pull and was able to get property taxes for area merchants lowered by 10 percent.

Membership in the association also enables the merchants to get group discounts in newspaper ads.

Future plans call for getting a traffic light installed at the intersection of 180th Street and Union Turnpike where pedestrians have been hit by cars. Members also would like to revive the street fair that used to be held annually with a portion of the turnpike closed to traffic.

“We’re hoping to apply for grants, like more lighting so people can shop at night,” Marsh said. To that end, she said the association has already met with Jeff Gottlieb, chief of staff for Councilman Morton Povman’s (D-Forest Hills) office, and state Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Bayside).

Reach reporter Daniel Arimborgo by e-mail at timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300 Ext. 141.

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