Residents fear sale of College Pt. wetlands

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For fifteen years, residents of Silver Point Estates have enjoyed a view of one of College Point’s last wetlands, the home of pheasants, rabbits and wild ducks.

But the community of Silver Point, at 5th Avenue and 127th Street, fears that view may soon disappear.

The city recently has expressed interest in auctioning off the parcel of land sitting across from the development along Powell’s Cove. Residents say that if the land is put up for auction, a developer most likely will buy the property and put up more housing.

The sale “is going to take away the waterfront view that people were promised,” said Meg Baricevac, treasurer of Silver Point’s board of managers.

The one-acre wetland, which is comprised of three separate parcels, is one of several pieces of properties slated to be auctioned that have College Point residents worried.

Those properties were discussed at an April meeting of Community Board 7, which includes College Point, Whitestone and Flushing.

The auction comes as a surprise to many in the community. Tony Tondo, commodore of the College Point Yacht Club, found out in April that a small parcel of the club’s land is actually city property. Residents on Boker Court discovered that a nearby lot could be sold, blocking access to their homes.

But the city is not going to auction off the properties just yet.

“The city is not in the practice of selling land off without the community’s input,” said Warner Johnston, a spokesman for the city Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

In two recent hearings, residents have voiced their disapproval of the auction plans.

At its April meeting, CB 7 voted against recommending an auction of the properties after listening to more than a dozen people speak against the possible sale.

After a similar April 25 hearing at the Queens Borough President’s office, Borough President Helen Marshall recommended the property along Powell’s Cove not be sold.

But the final say lies with the Board of Standards and Appeals, which is scheduled to hold a hearing on all eight properties May 29.

The Powell’s Cove property is technically divided into three separate parcels: Block 3931, Lots 10 and 21, and Block 3958, Lot 1. The first two lots were acquired by the city in 1975, and the third in 1970, when their owners failed to pay property taxes, Johnston said.

The city is working to get the properties back on the tax rolls, Johnston said.

Community activists are concerned about more than the view. Joan Vogt, who works with the state’s Northeastern Queens Natural and Historical Preserve Commission, said developing the land could threaten wildlife.

“We would kind of like to see it open space,” Vogt said. “There’s quite a lot of birds and animals that live there.”

Several residents said they thought part of the land should be turned into a park.

“It should be turned over to the Parks Department, if anything, so people can go into the area and enjoy the view,” said Edward Uribe, who lives in Silver Point.

Vogt said the wetland at the end of Powell’s Cove Boulevard was one of the last undeveloped pieces of waterfront property in College Point.

“They keep developing every vacant spot,” she said. “We have already hit the peak where we are getting strangled by the traffic.”

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at or call 229-0300 Ext. 141.

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