Woodside car dealers hit with fines, suspension

JF Motors of Northern Blvd agrees to $375,000 settlement

Three used car dealerships in a one-mile span on Northern Boulevard in Woodside have been stripped of their license to operate for at least two years, and are facing civil penalties for over 10,000 violations of the City’s Consumer Protection Law.

The City’s Department of Consumer and Worker Protection announced a $375,000 settlement with the Queens-based dealerships, which includes $225,000 in total restitution for customers and payment towards the city of $150,000 in civil penalties.

All three dealershipsAutomania (4309 Northern Blvd.), Luxury Automotive Club (5511 Northern Blvd.) and World Auto (6107 Northern Blvd.), are run by JF Motors and are ordered to surrender their licenses, which prevents them from operating a used car dealership for at least two years.

DCWP charged the dealerships with deceptive advertising and falsely marketing some of their cars as “Certified Pre-owned”. Despite often marketing their cars as “Certified Pre-owned” by the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association, JF Motors did not conduct the required 125-point inspection, nor did they give buyers the promised 10-year/100,000 warranty or provide a vehicle history report, says DCWP.

JF Motors unlawful conduct includes the use of illegal contracts, the overcharging out-of-state buyers for bogus fees, and failing to provide documents to consumers in Spanish, even though the deal was negotiated in Spanish.

As part of the settlement, 16 consumers are getting restitution totaling $199,600, leaving just over $25,000 available for new complainants.

“When New Yorkers buy a used car, they expect to get a fair and honest deal,” DCWP Commissioner Vilda Vera Mayuga said. “With this settlement, we are delivering thousands of dollars in restitution for the victims of JF Motors and sending a clear message to the used car industry that DCWP will hold them accountable if they choose to deceive their customers.”

JF Motors could not be reached for comment, as their business phone number was recently disconnected.

The violations leveled against the dealerships go against some of the rules put in place by the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs in 2018, put in place to combat predatory sales and financing practices in the used car industry. Since June 2018, used car dealerships in New York City are required to provide consumers with a Consumer Bill of Rights, a financing disclosure form, where applicable, and a cancellation option.

The settlement was handled by Senior Staff Counsel Bradley McCormick, under the supervision of Associate General Counsel Adem Blumenkratz of the General Counsel Division, which is led by Acting General Counsel Michael Tiger.

Mayor Eric Adams applauded the work of DCWP for delivering the settlement six months after the agency filed cases against the Queens-based dealerships.

“Preying on New Yorkers looking to buy a used car is not only unacceptable, it’s illegal,” Mayor Adams said.

DCWP currently licenses 505 used car dealerships and has received over 5,638 complaints about the industry over the past five years. In the same time frame, the agency has conducted nearly 3,000 inspections, issuing more than 1,156 violations, with a majority of them for failure to post required signs, parking or storing cars on the sidewalk, and missing price disclosures. DCWP has secured over $1.8 million in consumer restitution and over $4.6 million in fines against used car dealerships in the past five years.

“Protecting New York City consumers from scams and fraud is one of our most important responsibilities in government,” Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. “I commend the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection for holding these dealerships accountable for breaking the law and securing thousands in restitution for consumers.”

New e-bikes added to Citi Bike’s fleet debut in Astoria

Jason Subratie said he could barely sleep the night before meeting the new upgraded e-bike that he would be using as his primary mode of transportation around the city.

The young Manhattan-based entrepreneur says he discovered Citi Bike’s fleet of e-bikes last summer and has been riding ever since.

From delivering food orders to earn money, to visiting family members in Queens and Brooklyn, Subratie has even come up with a slogan for the bike-share company owned by Lyft.

“Why walk when you could use a Citi Bike?” Subratie said with a laugh. “I literally don’t believe in walking anymore, unless it’s out of the network. And I stay pretty much in the network.”

Subratie biked to Astoria last week to help welcome the new and improved line of e-bikes being added to Citi Bike’s fleet, and was one of the first New Yorkers to take the new model out for a ride.

Standing in the shadows of Astoria Houses, the debut of the new e-bikes came with celebration from community leaders and Citi Bike officials, who also noted the reduced fare program for residents of New York City Housing Authority.

Bishop Mitchell Taylor, CEO and founder of Astoria-based nonprofit Urban Upbound, led the collective remarks with some reflection on the place he’s called home for his entire life.

“The transportation burden on this community was quite great,” Taylor said. “So, to have us here today offering a transportation alternative is really historic.”

Laura Fox, the general manager of Citi Bike, outlined some of the new features of the revamped e-bikes, which include a longer-lasting battery life up to 60 miles and a reflective-paint that is highly-visible at night.

“When we thought about the design of the new bike, we tried to simplify all the features, give it double the battery length, make a larger motor so you can get up those hills a little bit faster and easier, and really create a great, simple experience,” Fox said.

The nation’s largest bike-share network was purchased by Lyft in 2018, and now has over 1,500 docking stations and 25,000 bikes across New York City and Jersey City.

The partnership of Citi Bike and Healthfirst, New York’s largest non-profit health insurer, will offer $5 monthly memberships for NYCHA residents and SNAP recipients, with e-bike fares starting at $.05 cents a minute under the reduced fare program.

As someone who was born and raised in multiple NYCHA developments, Migel Santino, vice president of Healthfirst, says he understands the challenges that many NYCHA residents face.

“Those challenges stem from unequal access to resources, which makes life more difficult,” Santino said. “I will say that it is always important to have a program like this but it is particularly important as we are still working our way through the pandemic.”

As the new e-bikes hit the streets for their inaugural rides, Subratie was still elated with joy to be one of the first New Yorkers to ride the newest addition to Citi Bike’s lineup.

“I ride e-bikes all day, everyday,” he said. “I appreciate the upgrade.”

Legislation calls for the legalization of basement apartments

Janaki Rai, an 18-year-old high school student in Queens, has been living in a basement apartment for 5 years.

She’s one of over 100,000 New Yorkers who call their cellar-style basement home, despite them being deemed illegal by the city’s Department of Buildings.

She says she lives in constant fear of the police knocking on her door and can’t afford the rising costs of rent in New York City.

“We need safety,” said Rai, speaking through a translator.

Last week, she stood alongside elected officials in Flushing’s Diversity Plaza, where lawmakers stated that the time is now to legalize basement apartments in New York City.

Legislation introduced by Assemblymember Harvey Epstein and State Senator Brian Kavanagh would pave the way for the city to enact local laws pertaining to legalizing basement apartments.

The bill, S8783/A9802, would allow for a program to be established to help bring existing basement apartments up to state safety code, without having to comply with laws that have long banned the formalization of the basement units.

Officials say that basement apartments often do not contain safety features, including proper egress, electrical systems or ventilation.

“We started working on basement apartments 15 years ago,” Assemblyman Epstein said at the rally held at Diversity Plaza. “Unfortunately, the struggles of New Yorkers haven’t changed much. We have an opportunity here.”

Epstein, the chair of the Assembly subcommittee on Retention of Homeownership, and Kavanagh, the chair of the Senate Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development, said the crisis of basement apartments became more apparent last September when 11 New Yorkers lost their lives due to Hurricane Ida.

Epstein and Kavangh were joined by New York City Chief Housing Officer Jessica Katz, City Comptroller Brad Lander, Councilman Shekar Krishnan, community housing advocates Chhaya Community Development Corporation, Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, and members of Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM).

Rai, a member of DRUM for four years, was praised for her courage to speak up about her experiences living in a basement apartment.

CHHAYA Executive Director Annetta Seecharran says the issue of legalizing basement apartments has long been ignored by city and state officials, calling it a “thorny” issue that leaves thousands of tenants vulnerable to sudden eviction, which could lead to homelessness.

“We cannot allow another Ida situation to happen,” Seecharran said. “It’s time to finally fix this problem. The city and state must work together to address this issue, and we feel that the moment is now.”

The legislation comes with the support of Mayor Eric Adams, and a coalition of housing advocacy groups throughout the city, including AARP New York, the BASE Campaign, Chhaya CDC, Citizens Housing & Planning Council, Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, Pratt Center for Community Development, the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, Housing Justice for All, and the Regional Plan Association.

The bill would specifically allow cities in the state of New York with a population of one million people or more (there’s only one) to create an amnesty program for existing basement units.

The legislation defines an “accessory dwelling unit” as an attached or detached residential dwelling unit that provides complete independent living for one or more people, and located on the same lot as a single-family or multi-family dwelling as a proposed or existing primary residence. The unit must also contain permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking, bathing and washing, and sanitation.

The bill currently sits in the State Senate’s Judiciary Committee, with just a little under a month left in the legislative session, which ends Tuesday, June 2.

“It’s long past time we legalize Accessory Dwelling Units to protect residents from deadly disasters and contribute to solving the affordable housing crisis,” Comptroller Brad Lander said. “This critical bill will protect 100,000 vulnerable New Yorkers living in basement apartments and ensure the tragedies of Hurricane Ida are not repeated.”

Community greenhouse celebrated at Astoria Houses

A community greenhouse lab in Astoria Houses is being celebrated as a first-of-its-kind facility which offers students a hands-on opportunity to learn about urban agriculture and environmental science.

Emani Smith, 9, was eager to show off the sprouting cucumbers, heads of lettuce and even watermelons growing in the hydroponic garden inside the community room of the western Queens NYCHA development building.

“I can’t wait to eat the watermelon,” said Smith. “It’s my favorite.”

The green classroom will be operated under the auspices of the New York Power Authority as part of its Environmental Justice program, which provides educational resources to students from underserved communities.

HANAC, a citywide nonprofit, will host and maintain the lab for its afterschool programs.

Community members and elected officials gathered at the greenhouse lab for a ribbon-cutting event, as well as inspiring students like Smith to engage in STEM learning and sustainability programming.

Council member Tiffany Caban spoke to students about the importance of feeding our own communities, especially in the face of a climate crisis.

“You’re at the forefront,” Caban said. “We are bearing the brunt of the challenges we’re facing from the climate and this is part of the solution.”

New York Sun Works, a nonprofit organization that builds hydroponic classrooms, helped to set up and organize the garden that has seen two harvests already in the past few months.

Over the past three years, 18 classrooms and two green community laboratories have been developed in New York City, with its average hydroponic classroom producing more than 500 pounds of vegetables per school year.

NYPA and New York Sun Works will offer programs available to both students and adults, eventually expanding to intergenerational programming.

“The Astoria Houses garden is a learning lab that integrates science and sustainability into a fun program that everyone will enjoy,” said Lisa Payne Wansley, NYPA’s vice president of Environmental Justice. “Families will learn about cutting-edge technology through sustainable urban farming and be inspired to ask questions, investigate systems, and design solutions. Learning about STEM concepts will open up opportunities for young people and others who want to benefit from being part of New York State’s emerging clean energy economy.”

Former City Council member Costa Constantinides said that learning about energy efficiency and how a garden works could spark an interest in science in the city’s youth. He said the room used to be used for senior programming, but a recent transformation project now turns the room back over to the kids.

“We are looking forward to many more years of great things happening at Astoria Houses,” said Constantinides. “It was long overdue.”

Queens BP endorses Juan Ardila for Queens Assembly seat

State Assembly candidate Juan Ardila has earned the endorsement of Queens Borough President Donovan Richards.

The Borough President’s endorsement is the latest for Ardila’s campaign, which also holds the endorsements of State Senator Jessica Ramos, State Assemblymember Catalina Cruz, City Council members Tiffany Caban and Jennifer Gutiérrez, as well as former Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Ardila, a progressive running for the 37th Assembly District in Queens, is looking to replace Cathy Nolan, who announced her retirement after 36 years earlier this year.

Juan Ardila has always been a passionate advocate for the community,” said Borough President Donovan Richards. “He is a leader who understands the need for protecting tenants, expanding healthcare access, and fixing the climate crisis here in Queens. I’m excited to support Juan for Assembly because I know he will be a strong champion for progress in Albany.”

The 37th State Assembly district includes the diverse neighborhoods of Long Island City, Maspeth, Ridgewood, Sunnyside and Woodside.

Ardila’s campaign also has the support of the Working Families Party, DC37, New York Immigration Action, Make the Road Action, Open New York, Community Voices Heard (CVH), Churches United For Fair Housing Action (CUFFH) and local Democratic leaders including Emilia Decaudin, Jesse Laymon, and Derek Evers.

I’m honored to have the support of a dedicated public servant like Borough President Richards. He works hard every day to help educate our kids, keep our community safe, and he has a plan for addressing climate change,” Ardila said. “It is wonderful to have the backing of the people who understand the needs of our community and the challenges we face.”

Ardila announced the launch of his campaign earlier this year, as the Maspeth native is looking to garner enough votes in a crowded field of candidates including Johanna Carmona, Jim Magee and Brent O’Leary. Last year, Ardila fell in a tight race against City Council member Robert Holden in the 30th Council District, garnering 45 percent of the vote.

The Democratic primary for the open seat will be held on Tuesday, June 28th.

Gianaris recognized for work to shut down puppy mill pipeline

Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris received the prestigious “Champion for Animals” award from The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, in recognition of his work to end the puppy mill-to-pet store pipeline in New York State. He received the award alongside the bill’s Assembly sponsor, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal of Manhattan.

The Puppy Mill Pipeline Bill would end the retail sale of dogs, cats, and rabbits in New York pet stores. Senator Gianaris’ legislation to better protect consumers, public health and animal welfare passed the State Senate in 2020 and 2021. It is currently awaiting a vote in the State Assembly.

The legislation comes with the support of the ASPCA, the Humane Society of New York State, New York State Animal Protection Federation, Voters for Animal Rights, and the New York City Bar Association Animal Welfare section.

“With so many good animals in need of rescue, there is no need for puppy mills that abuse animals to supply pet stores. Our four-legged companions should be treated with respect, not like commodities,” Gianaris said. “I thank the ASPCA for this award and their ongoing support in passing this important law.”

The term, puppy mills, is used for out-of-state and often inhumane commercial breeding facilities that supply New York pet stores with different breeds of pets. Offspring of mill animals often have congenital issues resulting from poor breeding and can cost families thousands of dollars in veterinary care.

Pet breeders and stores are loosely regulated under the Animal Welfare Act by the United States Department of Agriculture.

In Iowa, Daniel Gingerich was licensed by the USDA in 2019, however, the agency didn’t inspect the facility until 2021. Upon inspection, the agency found dead and dying dogs, dogs hidden from inspectors, ongoing disease outbreaks, heat distress, lack of water, and food –– totaling up to 190 violations.

Based on veterinarian inspection documents filed with New York State, dogs were sold to over 25 locations in New York, including to Astoria Pets in Astoria and to HeyPets Inc in Flushing. Different breeds of dogs were also sold to a number of locations in Brooklyn and the Bronx.

According to the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the state agency tasked with regulating pet dealers, there are approximately 80 pet stores registered throughout the state.

Also receiving ‘Champion for Animals’ awards were Robyn Dobernecker, Joe Stafford, Tina Updegrove, and Megan Wiedmann with the Animal Rescue League of Iowa. The group was recognized for its role in the removal of 500 dogs living in horrific conditions in a USDA-breeding facility in Iowa.

ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker praised the work being done by legislators and animal advocates on the frontline.

“This year’s ASPCA ‘Champion for Animals’ Award recipients share a deep commitment to helping and protecting victims of animal cruelty through on-the-ground rescue work and effective state legislation,” Bershadker said. “We honor their dedication and accomplishments, and hope these efforts inspire even more acts of compassion to support animals in need.”

Spree of hate attacks target Sikh Community in Queens

A Brooklyn man is facing charges related to a string of hate crimes against the Sikh community in Richmond Hill.

Vernon Douglas, 19, has been hit with first and second degree robbery charges as hate crimes, as well as a slew of assault and aggravated harassment charges. If convicted, he could face up to 25 years in prison.

A second man, Hezekiah Coleman, 20, has also been charged with Douglas in connection with one of the attacks. The Queens resident could face up to 25 years in prison

The first attack took place In the early hours of Sunday, April 3, near the the intersection of 95th Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

The victim, 70-year-old Nirmal Singh, was punched several times in the face and head, leaving his turban and clothes soaked in his own blood.

Elected officials initially denounced the attack at a community peace rally, held at the corner renamed for the thriving Indian community in the surrounding Southeast Queens neighborhoods, “Little Punjab.”

Just nine days later, on the same block, a second 45-year-old Sikh man was attacked with a stick and robbed of $300.

Minutes later, a third 58-year-old Sikh man was also assaulted and robbed of $200 by the same shirtless Brooklyn teenager.

Douglas was arraigned on Saturday, April 16, before Queens Criminal Court Judge Anthony Battisti on a 13-count criminal complaint. Coleman was arraigned on Wednesday, April 13 before Judge Marty Lentz on a five-count complaint.

“This defendant is accused of targeting three men, all members of the Sikh community who wore turbans at the time of the attacks,” District Attorney Katz said. “We will not tolerate beatings motivated by hate in the borough of Queens – the most diverse county in the world. Our diversity is our strength and no acts of violence will undermine who we are. This defendant, along with his co-defendant, will be held to account for the charges of which they are accused.”

Elected officials were outspoken and condemned the attacks, including Councilwoman Joann Ariola who called on Mayor Eric Adams to “empower the NYPD and our justice system”, as well as calling on fellow City Council members to “wake up”.

New York State Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar condemned the first of what would be a trio of attacks, saying “As the first Punjabi American ever elected to New York State office, I want Nirmal Singh and all members of our community to know that I am here for you. An attack on any Sikh-American is an attack on all Americans.”

New COVID-19 testing, vaccine site opens at Astoria Houses

Residents of Western Queens and Astoria Houses now have a new and closer COVID-19 vaccination and testing site made out of repurposed shipping containers.

The temporary medical care unit located just steps from the Astoria Houses Community Center will be operated by NYC-based charity hospital, The Floating Hospital, and will provide free vaccines and tests. The site will be open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

NYS Gov. Hochul shakes hands with residents of the Astoria Houses

With only a single permanent vaccination site located within a half-mile of Astoria Houses, and just two permanent vaccination sites in the 11102 area code, the lack of access to vaccines has shown higher case and death rates in the area compared to other parts of Queens and New York City.

In the area code 11102, there is a case rate of 30,300 per 100,000 individuals, compared to 13,350 and 12,600 in Queens and New York City, respectively. The death rate within the same zip code is approximately 616 per 100,000, compared to 448 and 408 to the borough and city, respectively.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney was joined by NYS Governor Kathy Hochul, NYC Deputy Mayor Lorraine Grillo, and other community leaders to unveil the new 40-foot-long medical care center in the courtyard of the housing complex.

“We learned during COVID that there are great inequities in health care, there are great needs, and that we have to do a better job to support and provide health care, equally, to all people,” Maloney said.

The temporary medical care unit was designed by a research and development consortium composed of the New Jersey Institute of Technology and The Tuchman Foundation. Maloney worked with the aforementioned agencies, as well as the New York City Housing Authority, to secure the placement for the temporary healthcare unit.

Hochul praised the leadership of Maloney, as well as echoing similar sentiments about unequal access to healthcare.

“Today, we begin to right the wrongs of the past. If anything, this pandemic demonstrates that there are systemic disparities in healthcare access and therefore healthcare outcomes,” Hochul said. “Nowhere do we see that more intensely than in this neighborhood and in this community.”

Claudia Coger, the former Astoria Houses Tenants Association President, said that a high number of unvaccinated individuals live in the neighborhood. She says access is key when it comes to providing knowledge to the place she has called home for her entire life.

“Let’s get rid of some of the excuses,” Coger said.

Ground breaks on affordable housing development in Corona

New supportive and affordable housing options will soon be made available to seniors and New Yorkers recovering from substance use or mental health issues, along Northern Boulevard in Corona.

Elmcor Youth and Adult Activities, Inc., along with the city’s department of Housing Preservation and Development, the Community Preservation Corporation and elected officials celebrated the groundbreaking of the project, located at 104-10 Northern Boulevard.

The mixed-use housing project will bring 30 affordable homes to Corona, made up of 21 supportive homes and nine homes for low-income senior households.

The Queens-based nonprofit, Elmcor, will serve as the developer and supportive service provider. Monica Lopez Uran is the project’s architect, and Queens-based Penta Restoration Corp. is the general contractor.

Saeeda Dunston, executive director at Elmcor, says the initiative addresses needs of the community, and thanked the late Honorable Helen Marshall in her remarks.

“This building will be a home that is consistent with who we are; a community that doesn’t separate people but integrates groups to support the healing and recovery that happens when we see each other as one community,” Dunston said. “We will provide supportive housing both for individuals in recovery and affordable housing for older adults. We know the impact that the lack of affordable housing has on the physical and mental health of people.”

Financial support for the project comes partly from CPC with a $1.7 million construction loan, and a $2.5 million permanent loan through its funding partnership with the New York City Retirement Systems. An additional $2.9 million in subsidy is provided by HPD through its Supportive Housing Loan Program.

The office of the Queens Borough President is also providing $5.4 million in ResoA funding, along with the City Council providing an additional $2.5 million for the same purpose. The project will utilize the NYC 15/15 Supportive Housing Initiative, which provides rental assistance and supportive services.

“Elmcor has diligently and effectively served the families of Queens for decades, a mission that continues with Thursday’s critically important groundbreaking,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “By providing those recovering from substance abuse and mental health issues, as well as our older residents, with supportive, affordable housing right here in our community, we are creating a model of human justice through housing for the rest of the city to follow.”

Councilman Francisco Moya, representing District 21 which includes East Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, LeFrak City, and Corona, added that he’s grateful to have this initiative in one of the neighborhoods most impacted by the pandemic.

“A lot of the issues that our city is facing stems from the lack of affordable housing, which is why when I set foot in the City Council, creating a true path has been a priority,” Moya said. “The construction of these new supportive and affordable housing units means less people struggling to put a roof over their head.”

Business Districts to merge in Downtown Jamaica

The bustling business district of downtown Jamaica could soon be overseen by a single business improvement district, or “BID,” as consolidation efforts are underway.

Support has been shown for the merger of the Sutphin Boulevard BID, the 165th Street Mall Special Assessment District and the Jamaica Center Special Assessment District, with many elected officials giving their blessing to the concept at a Committee of Finance meeting last week.

The bill itself, Int. No. 103, would alter how the district is assessed by expanding the boundaries of the existing Sutphin Boulevard BID.

Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, also the former co-chair of the Jamaica Now Leadership Council, offered her full support of the legislation to create a unified business improvement district. It was during her time as co-chair of the Jamaica Now Leadership Council when the merger was first proposed.

“Our downtown area will have a singular brand and voice, which will facilitate more opportunities for investments and large-scale transformative projects,” Adams said. “It will reduce any overlap in responsibilities among the current BIDS, and will more strategically position Jamaica to meet the ever growing needs and challenges of our small businesses, residents and visitors.”

Adams, a Southeast Queens native, says that a unified effort will mean consistent programming and services, as well as greater input for the concerns of businesses in downtown Jamaica.

“I’m excited about the future of this area that I’ve called home for so long, and the potential for positive change this proposal will bring,” Adams said.

As it currently stands, the Sutphin Boulevard BID encompasses Sutphin Boulevard and properties south of Archer Avenue. The Jamaica Center BID, which is technically a special assessment district, includes businesses along Jamaica Avenue starting at Sutphin Boulevard and ending at 169th Street. The 165th Street Mall Special Assessment District includes businesses extending along 16th Street from Jamaica Avenue to 89th Avenue, with over 160 stores in its current footprint.

Councilmember Nantasha Williams, representing the 28th district, said that the merger will be beneficial to all parties involved, and that the move could reduce some administrative costs, such as rent and insurance. Although the conversations about merging predate her time in City Council, she said she is proud to carry the efforts of former Councilman I. Daneek Miller.

“The pandemic has decimated our commercial districts and if the unification means our businesses will be paying less and receiving more services, then this is a no-brainer,” Williams said. “I am in full support and I look forward to working with the BID on future projects.”

Alix Duroseau Jr., the board chairman of the Sutphin Boulevard BID, told the Ledger that he is “cautiously optimistic” about the merger, and he is looking forward to what the endeavor could bring to downtown Jamaica.

Jennifer Furioli, the executive director of the Jamaica Center BID, spoke on behalf of President Michael Hirschhorn during the Finance Committee meeting.

“We want to nurture a thriving downtown, and by partnering with our peers on 165th Street, I believe we can,” Furioli said.

Speaking for Hirschhorn, Furioli added that the Jamaica Center BID has been extremely limited in what it can accomplish due to rising administrative expenses. This year, over a quarter of the organization’s operating budget is allocated to liability insurance expenses,

In the 2022 fiscal year, the Jamaica Center BID says they expect to pay $222,905 for their insurance policy, not including nearly $40,000 for deductables and possibly more depending on legal outcomes.

The Downtown Alliance, the largest BID in the city with a $20 million budget, only paid about $113,000 for their yearly insurance.

“By unifying under Sutphin’s legal structure, as is proposed, the liability would be eliminated and the new BID would not have any legal exposure that the Jamaica Center now contends with,” Furioli said.

Property owners within the new expanded district will be mailed a survey, with at least 51 percent of property owners needed to be in approval of the merger. A City Council vote could come in May or June, which would make the merger official as of January 1, 2023.

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