Avella hopes to save Whitestone lot for potential park

A 6-acre lot in Whitestone that members of the Malba Gardens Civic Association say has not been used since 1988 and would make a nice place for sports fields.
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The courts have taken the next step in foreclosure proceedings against the owners of a vacant Whitestone property, but a lawmaker hopes to intervene before the lot hits the auction block.

Northeast Queens civic leaders would rather see the 6-acre cluster of undeveloped land, along 150th Street near 5th Avenue, turned into sports fields, which is why state Sen. Tony Avella is hoping to snag the property.

“If it’s done properly, I absolutely think it is a good idea,” said Al Centola, president of the Malba Gardens Civic Association.

Centola has had his eye on the property for several years after the company known as Whitestone Jewels LLC failed to pay its mortgage.

As a result, in 2007 La Jolla Bank began foreclosure proceedings against the company. In 2010, the lender was bought by One West Bank, the institution currently foreclosing on the property.

Late last year Queens Supreme Court Judge Orin Kitzes ruled in One West Bank’s favor.

A lawyer was recently assigned by the state courts to find out exactly how much is owed on the lot.

It was not clear when he was assigned, but Friday afternoon when a call was placed to the lawyer known as a referee, he had not even been informed of his assignment to the property.

After the referee determines how much money is owed, he will submit a report to Kitzes. The bank will ask for a ruling to move ahead with an auction and the referee will put a notice in the paper, according to a court clerk.

But this is where Centola hopes Avella will intervene.

The lawmaker is hoping to work with the bank to circumvent an auction.

“We are talking with the bank,” Avella said. “I want the city to acquire that for a park.”

It was not clear whether Avella’s discussions have paid off, since the bank cannot ask for what is known as a judgment of foreclosure until after the referee’s report.

But Avella said he wished the community had been behind the plan when he first proposed it as a city councilman.

Before Whitestone Jewels, the property was owned by the Catholic Charities Diocese of Brooklyn, according to documents from the city Department of Finance.

The Catholic organization ran a youth camp on the property, but in 2006 decided to put the property up for sale.

In September 2006, the diocese sold the property to Whitestone Jewels for $23.3 million, according to Finance Department documents, but Avella said that sale never had to happen.

“I could have negotiated with Catholic Charities and would have been in a much better position,” Avella said.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Posted 6:56 pm, March 21, 2012
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Reader feedback

Edward from Malba says:
Looks like another non issue, the parcel of land in question is very valuable real estate. Senator Avella said he is talking with a bank and would like the city to acquire or "snag" the property for a park. Where is the money coming from? or is he suggesting eminent domain? never happen, and he knows it!

I am troubled by the Senators comment saying he wished the community had been behind the plan when he first proposed it as a city councilman. Could have, should have, what about now? Is the community behind the plan today and for that matter, what plan, the old plan, the new plan, where's is this plan?

I am also concerned that there are no comments from the civic groups representing this area, The Whitestone Taxpayers and Welcome To Whitestone. Did the Senator contacted them with his "plan"?.
March 22, 2012, 10:07 am
Cinthia says:
Watch this
March 22, 2012, 9:16 pm
amy from whitestone says:
a private baseball park for whitestone cool, i like it :)
March 23, 2012, 10:12 am
Renee G. from Whitestone says:
I friend told me her church the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latterday Saints may be in contact to buy property and build a huge chapel with a living complex for their parishioners in Whitestone because the Flushing deal fell through. Is this the place?
March 23, 2012, 1:13 pm
Randi from Whitestone says:
A nice big open air ball field would be great for this area maybe also having a running track surrounding the park. Get working on it guys, the cash is out there someplace.
March 24, 2012, 2:25 pm
Jeremy from Whitestone says:
The best thing for that plot of land would be to develop it into some sort of community sports/recreation area. The last thing Whitestone needs is another cluster of overbuilt homes. Whitestone needs palace for the community to congregate and rediscover itself again. However, the reality is the surrounding neighbors are highly likely to fight this hard because the traffic and other logistical concerns a park may raise. Further, the local neighbors will argue against the need for another park and point to nearby Francis Lewis Park as well as Little Bay Park as ample space for sports and recreation with little impact on surrounding homes and properties. So although the Senator's mind is in the right place, it is just unrealistic. Perhaps the best solution is to divide the plot up into smaller lots (thought not as numerous as a while development) and sell them off to perspective homeowners.
The only thing the Senator will accomplish if he's successful in "snagging" the property is locking up the land for another stretch of idle years while he fight for funding and community approval, both seemingly losing battles.
March 24, 2012, 4:31 pm
Edward from Malba says:
Jeremy, your words are Norman Rockwell nice but what you say is not true. We have sports fields, parks and recreation areas, check them out in the summer time, empty, children are at home playing with their I-phones. I can't find traffic problems in Whitestone or any over building for that matter, hope you will respond with details, maybe I am missing something.

The Senator is not fighting for this because the plan he speaks of does not exist. Funny you support him when you read his words blaming the community for not supporting his plan when he was the councilman, I am sure that old plan doesn't exist either.

You say, "Perhaps the best solution is to divide the plot up into smaller lots (thought not as numerous as a while development) and sell them off to perspective homeowners", you are all over the place on this one, park, no park, over building, build. It's not you call, someone someday will by it and then decide what to do with it. That is America, my friend. Don't get sucked into this election year, photo op BS, this is a non-issue, we know because there is not one legitimate Whitestone community group even talking about this.

Assuming you live in a house, I am glad know one listened to someone like you when a builder proposed to build the cluster of homes you live in. Try living in the present you will discover Whitestine is just fine.
March 25, 2012, 9:07 am
Jeremey from Whitestone says:
My comments on this issue were meant to examine both sides of the issue and eventually arrive at, what I feel at least, was a happy medium. I agree that Whitestone does have ample sports/recreation sites and therefore turning the site at issue into another park would not add anything Whitestone is in need of or missing. I also stand by my comments on potential traffic issues a potential park may present for that specific area. As to your comments about the absence of any traffic issues in Whitestone, one does not need to walk any further than 150th Street & 14th Avenue and the immediate radius. The area experiences significant congestion. To be clear, I am in no way against the robust economic benefit the recent development of the "Whitestone Village", however with all that development came the inescapable fact that the streets that serve the area are just ill suited to meet the demand of the retail spaces. The effect that this has is an erosion of the quaint community of Whitestone and a progression to a look and feel that resembles the likes of Astoria or Middle Village. I feel that Whitestone's quaintness set it apart from more urbanized neighborhoods but that distinction is getting blurred. My call for a subdivision of that lot is a proposition to a less aggressive building paradigm as distinguished from the more modern "two-house" on one plot approach that has dominated the residential development trend in Whitestone, thus leading to more congestion. All this said, if members of the community are comfortable with path Whitestone seems to be taking, then there is nothing more really to say.

In sum, that space should be designated for residential use and not park space. Its location, surrounded by homes, is simply not suited for a park and any effort to create a park is likely to draw a fierce fight from surrounding homeowners. The end result of which will only be the space being tied up and vacant for another stretch of years.
March 25, 2012, 10:31 am
Ed from Whitestone says:
this is a non-issue, we know because there is not one legitimate Whitestone community group even talking about this.

So, Dwarfe Giraffe, Auburdale CYO, St. Lukes soccer, Whitestone Lions, are not considered "legitimated community groups"?

These groups have all written letters on support to the Senator.
March 25, 2012, 11:17 am
Edward from Malba says:
Jeremey, again this is a real estate issue but your comment are out of the ball park. The property we are discussing is not located on 150th Street and 14th avenue or in anyway near Astoria or Middle Village. Try to same on topic.If this is Tony's plan, again it's not a plan, you guys need a little more work.

Ed, no one said the groups in your comment are not legitimate community groups, you are starting to sound like Centola. THERE IS NO PLAN ,so how can any one or legitimate Whitestone community group, including the groups on your list, support it?
March 25, 2012, 2:02 pm
Lisa from Whitestone says:
Sounds like Jeremy? is an Avella pundit and not a very good one at that.

Senator Avella is doing a good job, he really doesn't need a-holes like Jeremy, who can't even spell his own name, speaking for him. And Edward, who is banking your comments?

We all know who Ed is, right Alfredo! You have a good heart but your head is a little twisted--Where is Carmine today?
March 25, 2012, 2:53 pm
Lisa from Whitestone says:
Cinthia, watching?
March 25, 2012, 2:57 pm
Edward from Malba says:
Lisa, I will not discuss banking with you unless you send me a resent photo, then we can talk price.
March 25, 2012, 3:41 pm
Lisa from Whitestone says:
Ha, ha. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, mine may be in the millions and what wonderful words they would be! Keep dreaming Eddyg.
March 25, 2012, 3:58 pm
Jeremy from Whitestone says:
Edward, I realize that the property under discussion is not located at 150th & 14th. I referred to that location as an example of an area of Whitestone that experiences significant traffic congestion. Those comments were directed at the posting asking me for a specific example of an area experiencing traffic issues.

The reason I brought up traffic is because of the potential of increased traffic in the area where the land is locate for the proposed park.

As to Lisa's comments, I feel that the name calling and tone of her comments are unnecessary. I simply commented on a proposed park and what I felt might be issues that would arise in bringing one to the area of 150th & 3rd ave.
For the record, I don't even know Senator Avella, nor am I supporter of his. Belligerent attacks on this board without adding anything to the discussion don't really do anything for your credibility.

Again, the land is likely best used for some form of residential development given the surrounding area.
March 25, 2012, 5:48 pm
Carmine F says:
Hanging with Cindy and Lizzie down by the UPS warehous HAHA
March 25, 2012, 7:44 pm
Alfredo C says:
Lisa, why all the anger and hostility? Are you for or against the proposal? Do the children of the community need these fields or not? According to all the local leagues, the answer is yes. It did belong to the children at one point. If done properly, would it not be beneficial to all the young families moving in? Would it not be beneficial to everyone in the community? If done with caution , planing, and consideration?

Put aside whatever it is that makes you so hostile and think about it. Is it not a good thing?

Focus on the issue and let not your anger blind you.
March 25, 2012, 8:01 pm
Alfredo C says:
Barbara, I can only be responsible for comments I make. You and I both know I have no problem putting my name on anything I say or post.
March 25, 2012, 8:04 pm
Lisa from Whitestone says:
Carmine, not me sorry but now we know were you spend your time when your not feeding the blogs mis-information as a member of, well, you know!

Alfredo, have you read the comments from your cronies, talk about hostile but putting that aside, I do focus on the issues and have worked with city officials to resolve problems, unlike you who just act as a commentator to promote your own self interest. And believe me, I am not the one with credibility issues.
March 25, 2012, 8:31 pm
Alfredo C says:
So now you pretend to know what I have and have not done? Again, I can not speak for my "cronies", but it appears you can. Either way, is it a good idea or not?
March 25, 2012, 9:12 pm
Lisa from Whitestone says:
Alfredo, Stop trying to sell it because no one is buying it anymore. There is no record of your group doing anything community oriented other then their on-line negative attacks of every elected and civic leader in this community.

I know you have said, "I can only be responsible for comments I make", while responding to others questioning your groups or cronies as you now call them, harassing nature but as the President of this group and talking about what you have done to remedy your problems, you proudly say, "we as a group".

I know its never you and when it gets a little toasty you just claim you or they never said it, do to in-line imposters, imitaters or whatever. It all just smells a little funny, don't you think?

But putting that aside answering your question and also quoting Edward, "THERE IS NO PLAN".
March 26, 2012, 10:14 am
Alfredo says:
This land, including the 110 or so houses built along the water and inside the Cresthaven development was once CYO(Catholic Youth Org.) and was all devoted to the youth of Whitestone. What's wrong with trying to preserve a very small portion of that area for our young people and the community. Also, this is not contaminated property, it has never been used as toxic waste site and is not designated as brownfield. I hope Mr. Avella is sincere and is able to successfully obtain this for Whitestone as a sportsfield.
March 26, 2012, 3:03 pm
Jeremy from Whitestone says:
The thought is a good one, however the logistical concerns of having that idea realized in that area specifically will make it difficult to achieve.
March 26, 2012, 5:02 pm
Carmine F says:

The thought is a good one, however the logistical concerns of having that idea realized in that area specifically will make it difficult to achieve.

Starting up again, I don't see you out there everyday working hard trying to achieve this for the young people. Only Al Centola from our organization is working with Tony Avella getting this done, Were are you people?
March 27, 2012, 8:13 am
TJ from Whitestone says:
Alfredo and Carmine the Laurel and Hardy team of Whitestone, sorry!, Malba Gardens
March 27, 2012, 10:01 am
TJ from Whitestone says:
Alfredo and Carmine the Laurel and Hardy team of Whitestone, sorry!, Malba Gardens
March 27, 2012, 10:01 am
Jeremy from Whitestone says:
I wish you good luck in your efforts to put a park there, but I simply foresee challenges from local homeowners that may prove to be too much to overcome.

The fact that this patch of land is located in the midst of homes should not be overlooked. traffic & crowd control during the hypothetical little league game days will present nuisance problems to the predominantly residential area.

Even if no sporting function is planned for the park in the end, and it's just a leisure park, how do you justify it when the community has Francis Lewis park a mere several blocks away.
March 27, 2012, 1 pm
TJ from Whitestone says:
so Al, as Jeremy, now you have changed your minds?
March 27, 2012, 1:14 pm
Lisa from Whitestone says:
Edward, very funny... Thank you!
March 27, 2012, 5:11 pm
Maria says:
Hey "it is what it is" right?
March 27, 2012, 9:21 pm
MaryAnn from Merrick says:
you know...people like you nut jobs are the reason I moved out of the Whitestone community and never looked back.
Oct. 3, 2013, 11:49 am

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