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Community Board 5 to meet virtually on Wednesday

Community Board 5 will hold a virtual meeting on November 10 at 7:30 p.m. Members of the public can view the meeting on YouTube.
The meeting will include the review of applications to the Department of City Planning to allow development at 1718 Decatur Street and 1112 Wyckoff Avenue, both of which are located in a M1-4D district.
The agenda will also include the chairperson’s report, district manager’s report, committee reports, and the review of applications for liquor licenses and building demolitions.
Anyone wishing to speak during the Public Forum portion of the meeting is asked to submit a typed statement at [email protected] no later than 2 p.m. on November 10 so that it can be read into the record.

Queens resident shares the joy of reading through community library

“No child should be without a book” believes Kay Menashe, who has been making a difference for people of all ages with a donation-based library service.
The 44-year-old Howard Beach resident and former EMT owns and operates the Free Community Library of Ozone Park.
“During the height of the pandemic when all libraries were shut down, my goal was to make sure every child had a book to read,” said Menashe. “My free library originated when I placed a few of my own books out, and the community began taking them.
“Then we were asked by other community members if they could leave their books as well,” she added. “All of our books come from a different home with a tale to tell.”
The library is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, weather permitting, since the library operates outdoors at locations announced on social media. The books come from community donations.
“We accept all books, as the Queens public libraries no longer take donated books since the pandemic,” Menashe said. “The only supplies we need are books, which we know most of you have at home just sitting around collecting dust.”
Menashe was recently named runner-up of the second annual Sparkling Ice’s “Cheers to Heroes” contest to honor America’s everyday heroes.
The contest received 1,000 nominations from 905 American cities with three finalists. Menashe received $7,500.
“We received such support from the community and from the parties and events we ran,” she said. “We won because the community voted for us and since our library makes a difference.”
Menashe hope to further develop her initiative, hoping the Queens community can help her find a small permanent space in an office or retail establishment.
“The books need to be displayed and stored and stay dry when it rains,” she explained. “We would also like to see a mom-and-pop coffeehouse go into business with us. My vision is to see my community members sitting down with coffee and maybe a slice of pie while reading free books they can take home.”
Menashe believes reading a physical copy is the best way to enjoy a book.
“I feel that e-reading takes away from the magic, including the new book smell,” she said. “As you hold books, it lets you relax. An e-reader is just a computer screen where you feel nothing.”
With titles spanning every genre in the community library, every day becomes a journey filled with surprises. She explained her personal inspiration is not just one person.
“The kids are why I do this mostly,” Menashe said. “Books are expensive for families to buy when you walk into a store, but when you walk into our café, that would never be an issue as your son or daughter would always leave with a free book.”

To donate books or to help the library secure a space, email [email protected] To keep up with the library, follow @communityozpl on Instagram.

CB7 votes overwhelmingly to remove Choe

John Choe is no longer a member of Community Board 7.
Board members voted 39-3 with one abstention on Monday night in favor of removing him from the board over five separate allegations that board leadership said were unethical and, in some cases, violated the City Charter.
“What’s typical and what we are finding here is a defiance, an arrogance,” said board vice chair Chuck Apelian. “Someone who doesn’t want to go with the rules just for the sake of having it his way.”
Choe has been critical of board leadership in the past, especially Apelian, who also chairs the Land Use Committee, for hiring himself out as a consultant to developers with business before the board. Most recently, Apelian recused himself from the full board vote on the Special Flushing Waterfront District because he had worked for the developers behind the project.
Board chair Gene Kelty appointed member Frank Macchio to head a special committee to look into the allegations against Choe and make a recommendation to the board, but at Monday night’s hearing in the basement of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Whitestone, Apelian did most of the talking, outlining for board members why Choe should be removed.
Choe was appointed to a new two-year term by Borough President Donovan Richards earlier this year. Following his appointment, board leadership started the proceedings to have him removed, a highly unusual move for a community board.
The most serious charge against Choe was that he solicited campaign contributions from board members for his City Council run earlier this year. Twenty-three of the 50 board members received the email.
Choe contends that those email addresses were in his 4,000-person contact list because he dealt with them outside of official board business. Indeed, one board member who received the email is Choe’s pastor, another said they had an exchange with him about bike lanes, and another served in a civic association with Choe.
Board leadership filed a complaint with the Conflict of Interests Board (COIB). That letter was rpvided to board members during Monday night’s meeting, but when pressed about a response from COIB, Kelty replied that the board never heard back.
For his part, Choe said that he also reached out to the COIB and did receive a response. He was told the charter provision about soliciting public servants for campaign contributions only applies to people with influence over policy.
“I have not had substantive policy-making decisions on this board,” Choe told board members. “Trust me, I would love to have policy discretion on this board.”
But Apelian noted that community board recommendations to the borough president are made by the local City Council member.
“Ask yourself, ‘gee, what if he won, would he kick me off the board?” he said. “Maybe I should contribute to him.”
Choe, it should be noted, was reappointed to Community Board 7 despite Councilman Peter Koo refusing to give him a recommendation.
Other allegations against Choe are that he had a poor attendance record, that he made a joke about taking a bribe during a hearing, and his criticisms of Apelian amounted to defamation.
But perhaps the charge that resonated most with the board is that Choe created a Community Board 7 Facebook page without the approval of board leadership.
When asked by Kelty if he created the page, Choe initially denied it, but later admitted that he was the administrator. Kelty said they referred the matter to the Department of Investigations (DOI), and when pressed by the board to provide DOI’s response, Kelty said the department told him over the phone that it was illegal for Choe to use the CB7 logo and misrepresent the board.
Kelty and Apelian said Choe used the page to promote the Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce, of which Choe is the executive director.
“You can not represent the board on behalf of your own opinion,” said Apelian. “If you don’t like what the chair says, you don’t just go ahead and do it anyway.”
Several Choe supporters attended the meeting, which was held far from the downtown Flushing location where the board usually meets and was not broadcast over the Internet, as has been done during the pandemic.
“COVID-isolated individuals” were instead asked to travel to Korean Community Services in Bayside.
Over 100 people signed a petition urging Richards to stop the proceeding and instead investigate Apelian.
Richards has made it a priority during his time in office to diversify the borough’s community boards to more adequately reflect the communities they represent. He said that is why he reappointed Choe to CB7, but acknowledged that the board has the authority to remove him.
“I reappointed John Choe to Community Board 7 because I truly believe our community boards should be diverse, both in identity and thought,” he said in a statement following the vote. “Under the City Charter, however, a community board has the ability to remove a member for cause with a majority vote, and Community Board 7 has decided to exercise this authority.”

CB5 to hold virtual meeting on Wednesday

Community Board 5 will hold a virtual meeting on Wednesday, May 12, at 7:30 p.m.
On the agenda is a public hearing regarding a proposed zoning text change is intended to allow the Metropolitan Transportation to leverage private developments to help create more accessible subway stations.
There will also be a public hearing on a proposed zoning text change requiring City Planning Commission approval for new and enlarged hotels and motels, tourist cabins and boatels in commercial, mixed-use and paired M1/R zoning districts. This proposed special permit requirement would override existing hotel special permit requirements.
There will also be a public forum to review applications for the sale of alcoholic beverages and building demolition notices, and committee reports.
Members of the public can view the meeting at youtu.be/583V8yNxTIg or nyc.gov/qnscb5.
Anyone wishing to offer a statement at the public hearing or during the public forum is asked to submit a typed statement to [email protected] by 2 p.m. on May 12, so that it can be read into the record.
For additional information, call the Board 5 office at (718) 366-1834.

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