Rename Flushing streets for lost firefighters: CB7

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Community Board 7 voiced support for a landscaping plan at a new location for an automotive technical school in the College Point Corporate Park at its Monday night meeting.

The board, which covers Flushing, College Point, Whitestone and Bay Terrace, also voted to recommend renaming four sections of streets in honor of firefighters killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

The Greater New York Automobile Association has plans to move its automotive technical school at the intersection of 20th Avenue and the Whitestone Expressway to a larger location within the same corporate park at 15th Avenue and 141st Street. GNYAA runs the annual New York International Automobile Show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Midtown Manhattan.

GNYAA already owns the 15th Avenue property and has devised a landscape plan for its two-story school designed to serve 400 students.

The board was generally approving of the landscaping plan, but some members were concerned about the new school site’s impact on residents. Unlike the 20th Avenue site, homes sit across the street from the new location.

“Four hundred people going back and forth to that school is not going to make my neighborhood any better,” said board member Nick Miglino.

The board ultimately voted to approve the plan, 38-2.

After voting on the school, the board considered renaming several Flushing streets for firefighters.

It was proposed to name the triangle bounded by Parsons Boulevard and Oak and Quince avenues for Firefighter Scott M. Kopytko; 149th Street between Northern Boulevard and 35th Avenue for Firefighter Sergio Gabriel Villanueva; Kalmia Avenue between Parsons and 156th Street for Firefighter Michael Cawley; and 164th Street between 27th Avenue and Bayside Lane for Deputy Fire Commissioner William B. Feehan.

All of the firefighters had once lived in close proximity to the sites the community would like to be designated in their honor.

Before the vote, Joyce Mercer, the mother of Kopytko, told the board about her son.

“He was a great kid, a great son, a great brother,” she said, holding back tears.

The board unanimously supported the name changes. The City Council has the final say in the matter.

In other business, the board put off making a recommendation on a proposed renovation for a gas station in Whitestone.

Richard Finkelstein, the owner of the Gulf station at 17-32/46 Clintonville St., wants to erect a canopy over two concrete pump islands.

Finkelstein also hopes to extend the operating hours of his gas station. The pumps can be used from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m., and the convenience store remains open until 11 p.m. Finkelstein wants both the pumps and the convenience store open until 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and midnight during the remainder of the week.

Since the business was granted a variance when it was established in 1955, any proposed changes require a further review of the variance and approval from the city Board of Standards and Appeals.

Hiram Rothkrug, an attorney representing Finkelstein, called the station a good neighbor.

“We’re not aware that anyone in the community has ever had any problems with it,” he said.

Some board members, however, worried about the consequence of the lights underneath the canopy, which Finkelstein said would point straight downward.

The board eventually voted to table making a decision on the item because it had not been previously informed of Finkelstein’s planned changes to the business’s hours.

The board also voted to recommend extending a variance for Peter Pan Games of Bayside, located at 212-95 26th Ave. in the Bay Terrace Shopping Center. The city Board of Standards and Appeals is expected to approve the extension of the variance, which was first granted to the video game arcade in 1979.

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

Posted 7:22 pm, October 10, 2011
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