Today’s news:

Qns. Botanical Garden to close for two weeks

Amid a statewide wave of belt−tightening, the Queens Botanical Garden announced Tuesday it will close for a two−week period during the holidays due to budget cuts.

Queens Botanical Garden Executive Director Susan Lacerte issued a statement announcing that the cultural institution will close its doors to the public between Dec. 22 and Jan. 5, after losing more than $400,000 in city funding, or about 12 percent of its budget, for the coming year.

“In light of recent funding reductions, QBG executives and the board of trustees have decided to use this traditionally slow period of visitation at the garden to our advantage,” Lacerete said. “Closing QBG for this two−week period will save the garden much needed funds as we move into 2009 and continue to explore ways to tighten our budget while minimizing the impact to the public.”

QBG spokeswoman Tara Rogers said that while one winter composting class had to be canceled, the bulk of the savings from closing the garden will come in the form of not having to pay staff members approximately $60,000 in salary during the two−week period.

QBG Chairman Frank Mirovsky said that while the board regrets having to make the decision, it hopes it will ultimately benefit the public in the long run.

“We hope the public will understand our need to close for this short window of time,” Mirovksy said. “We feel that closing during the holidays is one of several ways in which we can save funds, enabling us to use the dollars saved to better serve the public during the warmer, more popular seasons of the year.”

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.

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