Today’s news:

Editorial: Catering to hysteria

The Holocaust was horrific.

The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was horrific.

The Civil War was horrific.

But the feared traffic that could be generated by a catering hall at Fort Totten - whether or not it’ s a good idea - is not horrific. But that is the word used by Bay Terrace civic leader Warren Schreiber at a hearing on the issue held last week before the city’s Franchise and Concession Review Committee.

Once again we are reminded that it doesn’t take much of a spark to get temperatures up and the hyperbole flowing in Bayside. Building 604 at the decommissioned fort is slated to become a catering hall called The View when the property comes under control of the Parks Department. The concession would be run by Dominick Bruccoleri, the owner of the Papazzio restaurant on Bell Boulevard. Bruccoleri has demonstrated his ability to run a successful business and his commitment to the community.

The civic leaders who oppose the catering hall say it will create even more traffic in the already congested Bay Terrace area and that parking will spill over into the residential streets near the fort. The Parks Department responded that there is an existing parking lot outside the fort that could be expanded and that valet parking on the streets of the fort could be available for up to an additional 150 cars.

City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) asked the Parks Department to pull the RFP submitted by Bruccoleri. “A catering hall is just not appropriate for the location,” he said. And then he said “we shouldn’t rush to judgment …”

Schreiber was miffed that the hearing was held at City Hall and not at the fort or at Borough Hall. But this committee holds all of it hearings at City Hall.

As we see it, the fort is a treasure to be enjoyed by everyone. If this concession will bring in funds, that will help to ensure that the historic areas of the fort will be preserved for generations and if concerns about traffic flow can be addressed, then the catering may be a very good idea.

Editorial: Enough already

No community in Queens has seen more dramatic change in the last 20 years than College Point. This was once a working-class town barely connected to the rest of the city by 20th Avenue, a two-lane road that ran through marshland and the underdeveloped industrial park.

Today that same avenue, still only two lanes wide, is home to bustling shopping centers that draw customers from all parts of Queens. Hundreds of luxury town homes have been built on the Point’s waterfront with its spectacular views. Property values have skyrocketed.

In many ways, the growth has been inevitable and in many ways it has been good for Queens and for College Point. But enough is enough. Community Board 7 has wisely turned thumbs down on a request for a zoning variance that would allow Walgreens pharmacy to open a store on College Point Boulevard with parking for 38 cars. The drugstore and parking lot would replace two mom-and-pop stores and a vacant lot.

The board is right to strike a balance between the encouragement of free enterprise and the preservation of quality of life. A store like Walgreens gets large deliveries on a nearly daily basis. That means more large trucks on a road that is already bursting at the seams.

Although we most often fall on the side of new business and growth, we believe the board has made the correct decision.

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