CB 2 approves cable TV expansion

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Although some of the 150 or so people who attended the monthly meeting at the Sunnyside Senior Community Center at 43-31 39th St. expressed concern, many supported the board's decision to give the go-ahead to RCN, an Internet and multimedia connection company in competition with Time Warner. RCN is based in Long Island City.

Stephen Cooper, the first vice chairman of CB 2 and head of the Land Use Committee, said many residents are leery of further projects because of past experiences with Time Warner. CB 2 covers Sunnyside, Woodside and parts of Long Island City.

"Sunnyside Gardens has special preservation status," Cooper said. "We start out with the concept that they were going to come in no matter what and they probably should come. But it's a question of preserving the community.

"In order to make the gardens stay the way it is, there should be minimal destruction and a minimal amount of construction."

Sunnyside Gardens is often referred to as "the garden community" and covers 77 acres and 16 blocks, according to the Encyclopedia of New York City. It was built between 1924 and 1929 for low- and middle-income families and has about 1,500 houses and a private park. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Cooper said many in the community want to keep the distinguishing characteristics of Sunnyside Gardens intact.

Among the provisions that CB 2 agreed to are:

*      RCN officials must meet with individual homeowners to discuss construction that may affect their land

*      Trenching only to protect tree roots

*      The repaving of entire streets, not just areas where construction occurs

*      Work will only be allowed during 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

*      Homeowners will be given a 30-days' notice before construction begins

Susan Latham, who has lived in Sunnyside Gardens for 11 years and belongs to the Harrison Court Homeowners Association, said she moved to the neighborhood because of its beauty. She is worried the company will further destroy some sidewalks and trees.

"I think it is good for business, but I'm not thrilled about it," said Latham, who talked at the meeting about an old tree in front of her house which later died because its roots were cut.

"Time Warner came in and destroyed the trees and gardens. Now we are going to have RCN do the same, and three years from now [they're] going to be back with another company. It's distressing. Where do they draw the line?" Latham asked.

Time Warner officials could not be reached for comment.

Cooper said some of the residents' fears are justified because of the way Sunnyside and the surrounding communities have been treated.

"It's always been the fear of the community and that's not just limited to Sunnyside Gardens," Cooper said. "There's a terrible problem with what we call enforcement. The city is very poor at enforcing those rules. I think there's considerable opposition because the people feel it will jeopardize the integrity of the historic area."

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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