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Avella at odds with CB 7

A rift has emerged between City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and Community Board 7 after years of working side-by-side with little squabbling.

Avella and the board, which he served on for several years, have not seen eye-to-eye on a number of key projects in the last year and the mayoral candidate lashed out at the group last week after it voted to approve Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to build a $1 billion police academy in College Point.

“How can the board talk about traffic issues in College Point and then turn around and approve a project that’s going to bring in 2,000 people every day?” Avella said. “I’m at a loss for words. I’m just shocked, not just disappointed. They’re supposed to be the representatives of the community, but apparently they’re representatives of the Bloomberg administration.”

Avella did not appear at the board’s meeting June 29 when it voted on the proposal and has not been to any of the more than a half a dozen committee meetings the board held on the topic with the NYPD during the last several months.

When an aide for Avella spoke on his behalf at the June 29 hearing asking the board to turn down the proposal, CB 7 Vice Chairman Chuck Apelian and several other board members scoffed.

“We’re two weeks away from the deadline to vote on this, so I’m failing to understand why, when he’s been invited to all the meetings, Councilman Avella could ask us to turn down the project now without an explanation,” Apelian said.

The police academy was just the latest high-profile city project on which Avella has differed with the board.Avella has criticized the board on Last year Avella criticized the board for approving Bloomberg’s $3 billion plan to redevelop Willets Point and earlier this year he blasted it for approving a new special zoning district at the College Point Corporate Park without asking for a stipulation barring adult establishments.

The special district is basically when he started to deviate with us,” Apelian said. “But we got everything we asked for. He made an issue about the adult establishments, but we declined to take it up because it’s a citywide issue, it’s a legal issue and it wasn’t there to begin with. It wasn’t our place to change the citywide law. Everything else we asked for, we got. So how bad was that?”

Avella believes the board, which covers Flushing, College Point, Whitestone and Bay Terrace, has given too much to the Bloomberg administration by approving the projects against what he calls the cries of the community.

“It seems to be CB 7 has taken to being a lapdog for the Bloomberg administration. And they were not appointed to do that,” he said.

Apelian said he believes Avella’s aggressive mayoral campaign against Bloomberg could play a role in the councilman’s recent divergence from the board, but said CB 7 is by no means shutting out the councilman.

“He doesn’t return calls. What more can I say?" he said.

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

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