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Totten catering hall plan on hold for city traffic study

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The city Parks Department will hold off on signing a contract for a catering hall at Fort Totten until a City Planning traffic study of the area is completed, said City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside).

Parks planning chief Joshua Laird made the announcement Tuesday at a Borough Hall meeting with local politicians and community activists concerned about the impact a large restaurant would have on traffic conditions in Bay Terrace, which borders on Fort Totten.

“We’re happy that it’s been put on hold,” said Warren Schreiber, first vice president of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance. “We’d like to find out more about the plans before anything goes through.”

Dominick Bruccoleri, owner of Papazzio restaurant on Bell Boulevard, has plans to open a catering hall on the former military base, currently being transferred to the city from the federal government. Under a concessionaire agreement, the city will receive revenue from the restaurant on Totten land.

Avella, who requested the traffic study along with community residents, said the City Planning analysis of local traffic patterns began about a year ago and was scheduled for completion in about two months.

Bruccoleri said he did not know about Tuesday’s meeting, and although he had not been notified that finalization of the agreement was being delayed pending results of the traffic study, he did not seem surprised.

“Like anything else you do in a magnitude such as this, it requires quite a few organizations getting involved and finding out where the problems are and fixing them,” said Bruccoleri. “That was all Parks’ original plan.”

Avella said the Parks Department estimated the catering hall would draw about 430 people at a time, a figure lower than what was originally envisioned.

The councilman was heartened by indications the catering hall would draw fewer customers per event than first projected.

At a January hearing before the city’s Franchise and Concession Review Committee, community residents expressed fears that parking overflow from the catering hall would wind up on neighborhood streets, especially in the area of 212th Street and Bell Boulevard near the entrance to the fort.

Laird promised Tuesday that valet parking for the catering hall would not overflow onto city streets and that a provision against such a practice could be put into the restaurant’s lease, said Schreiber.

Members of Community Board 7, under whose jurisdiction Fort Totten lies, Avella and members of the Bay Terrace Community Alliance, among other concerned parties, had also asked at the January hearing that the catering hall plan receive further public review.

“They listened to what was said at the meeting,” said Community Board 7 Chairman Eugene Kelty.

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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