The first of several battles in CB 5, which covers Glendale, Ridgewood, Maspeth and Middle Village, began early in the year when the Juniper Park Civic Association fought to save the 159-year-old St. Savior's Church in Maspeth, where a developer planned to build apartments. The civic filed a lawsuit against the developer, arguing that an 1878 deed for the property limits the site's usage for church or community use. This followed several failed attempts to get the property landmarked. A temporary restraining order was issued at the site in May, but the State Supreme Court overturned it in August.The civic was involved in another high-profile fight in April when it sued the Parks Department for allowing dogs to run free in parks without dog runs during specific hours. The group argued that unleashed dogs endangered city residents, citing two 2006 attacks against people walking their dogs in Maspeth.But the State Supreme Court ruled against the suit in December and the city Health Department voted unanimously to allow the Parks commissioner to allow dogs to run off-leash between 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. In April, a feud between the civic and Councilman Dennis Gallagher (R-Middle Village) began brewing after civic leader Tony Nunziato was voted off the Maspeth Town Hall's board of directors and the councilman chose not to reappoint him to CB 5. Civic leaders alleged Nunziato's removal was political, following his suggestions that he might run for the state Assembly as a Republican against Margaret Markey (D-Maspeth). Robert Holden, the civic's president, said he believed Queens County Democrats and Republicans agree not to run candidates in certain districts so an incumbent can run unopposed.Tensions exploded at a September meeting as civic leaders lashed out at Gallagher, who walked out of the meeting after he was denied a chance to speak. Holden accused Gallagher of forming the new Maspeth Middle Village Civic Association in September, but the councilman denied the charges.In November, the Glendale Civic Association also sued the city, arguing that the Buildings Department continually failed to enforce its own rules against developers.Elected officials and residents slammed the department at a June forum, criticizing the department for its self-certification process for developers and for overdevelopment. The civic cited the construction of a controversial yeshiva on 88th Street in Glendale as an example in their suit. One of the year's biggest battles took place on Election Day as Guyanese-born Ozone Park attorney Albert Baldeo lost his bid for District 15's state Senate seat to incumbent Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale).Maltese, who was first elected to Albany in 1988, defeated Baldeo, who was the senator's first Democratic challenger in more than 10 years, by just 900 votes in the city's closest race. Baldeo called for a recount and the two candidates accused each other of smear tactics. One of the region's biggest non-contentious events was the long-awaited opening of the Shops at Atlas Park in late April. The 400,000-square-foot center, located at the old Atlas Terminals site on Cooper Avenue in Glendale, features 55 shops, including high-end clothing retailers, a movie theater, restaurants and gourmet food shops.
©2007 Community News Group
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