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Co-ops, seniors top Weprin seat debate

The three candidates running for the City Council seat currently held by Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis) took their campaign pitches to North Shore Towers for a candidates’ forum where most of the attention was focused on co-op and senior issues.

State Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Little Neck) said his 15 years of experience in the state Legislature would be an asset to the Council if elected.

“For 15 years, I’ve worked hard for the people of this community,” he said.

Weprin cited his work on senior issues, co-ops and condos, noting he had represented co-ops and condos, both management and residents, as an attorney for five years. He said co-op owners “should be treated like homeowners,” but that is not always the case, giving the example of different tax property formulas for co-ops.

“I know the importance of living in a condo and a co-op and how that is their home,” he said.

North Shore Towers, in Floral Park, is a co-op comprised of three buildings.

Council hopeful Bob Friedrich noted he is president of Glen Oaks Village, which like neighboring North Shore Towers is a co-op.

“There is no one better for co-ops than myself,” he told the July 22 forum , explaining he created the President’s Co-op Council. Friedrich said the council is comprised of the heads of the borough’s co-ops and acts as a “think tank.”

Friedrich is running on the argument that Weprin is an effective assemblyman who has 15 years of seniority that would be beneficial to the district and that Weprin’s time is better spent in Albany than on the Council.

To wit, Weprin responded by saying Friedrich was equally as effective as president of Glen Oaks Village and he should remain there.

“I believe he should stay as the full-time president of the co-op. He’s doing such a great job,” he quipped.

Community Board 13 member Swaranjit Singh, who is also running for the Council seat, said if elected he would introduce a co-op reform bill to the Council after saying there is no transparency in co-op management.

Singh said the rationale for his candidacy is rooted in his belief that a change of representation is needed in the district. He claimed Weprin’s Assembly seat and his brother David Weprin’s eight years in the Council constituted a political dynasty.

A hot issue affecting the co-op is a permit renewal under consideration for communications antennas on the rooftops of the three Towers’ buildings.

CB 13 unanimously disapproved of the permit extension in June.

North Shore Towers resident Barbara Leonardi asked the candidates what their position was on strengthening laws regulating antennas.

Friedrich said if the facts showed Towers residents were exposed to environmental threats, he would not like to see antennas at the Towers. He also said CB 13 should have contacted the co-op’s board so it could have presented its view at CB 13’s meeting.

Engineers for both the company which leases rooftop space to operate the antennas and North Shore Towers said radiation levels emitting from the devices were well below federal standards.

Singh noted he was one of 39 members of CB 13 who voted against the permit extension.

“I will stand with you for any services that you want for my office,” he told the crowd.

Weprin said he did not believe the Council should be involved in such an issue.

“I don’t think government should be sticking it’s nose in a co-op’s business,” he said.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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