Today’s news:

Jamaica Ave. soon to be Jericho Tpk.

The portion of Jamaica Avenue from the Cross Island Parkway to 257th Street has been the focus of controversy for eight years, said Weprin spokesman's, George Fontas. The south side of the road is named Jericho Turnpike, which has puzzled visitors to the area as well as a loss in business for store owners, he said. The councilman reintroduced the bill in the Council after learning that an ambulance arrived 20 to 30 minutes late because it had trouble finding the road. The measure was originally introduced by former Councilman Sheldon Leffler. In 1998 Community Board 13 narrowly passed the renaming proposal 15-14 and the recommendation was given to the City Council for a vote, but it was never taken, according to CB 13 Chairman Richard Hellenbrecht. In February 2004, CB 13 again voted on the issue, approving the renaming 25-10. Fontas said that during the 1800s, both sides of the street were named Jericho Turnpike. But in the 1920s, the Queens side changed its portion to Jamaica Avenue. Opponents of the measure in the past have claimed those in favor of the renaming wanted to distance themselves from the neighborhood of Jamaica, a predominantly black community. But Weprin said that is not an issue today and the bill is only about quelling confusion."Jamaica has a positive image now and this will be done to alleviate confusion," Weprin said. A vote on the issue was scheduled to take place Wednesday afternoon and Weprin said he expected the bill to be passed overwhelmingly. Once it is approved, Weprin said there will most likely be a 90-day delay before the new signage goes up.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173

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