Today’s news:

Meng, Koo push for bilingual biz signs in Flushing

State Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) said last week she and City Councilman Peter Koo (R-Flushing) were encouraging business owners in the community to put up newer-looking signs on their storefronts that include English translations.

But Meng said the initiative was merely a proposal and that she did not intend to seek violations against business owners who opted out of the program nor attempt to pass any laws to require English language signs.

“A lot of stores have signs in English already, but we want to make them look neater and more uniform,” she said Friday during a news conference at her Flushing office on 38th Avenue.

Meng said the proposal equally emphasized replacing shoddy signs with newer ones as it did promoting the use of the English language at Chinese- and Korean-based stores. The project would not have a quick turnaround, but could take months or years, she said.

She is putting together an advisory board of local business owners for the project.

But some Flushing business leaders at the news conference asked why the issue was once again coming up and discouraged using state money for the new signs amid the economic downturn.

The assemblywoman said funding for the project had already been allocated. The program would likely begin with a pilot project involving a few stores and eventually could be expanded to the entire neighborhood.

It would be a volunteer project, Meng said.

“We think this will help our businesses and the economy,” she said. “We’ve received numerous complaints for years. People say they feel excluded. Whenever I go to meetings, someone always brings up this concern.”

Judy Chen, a spokeswoman for Koo, said the councilman was also behind the project.

“He has been paying attention on this issue,” she said. “He’s a businessman who has five businesses in Flushing.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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