Today’s news:

CB 11 OKs change in Bell Blvd meters

Community Board 11 approved a plan to expand parking meters along Bell Boulevard last week despite vocal opposition from some of the board’s members.

The board voted in favor of changing the meters from one- to two-hour time limits, which some CB 11 members said would prevent visitors to the strip’s restaurants from having to hurry through their meals.

“It’s better for restaurants and for patrons,” CB 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece said. “An hour is pretty tight. It’s not long enough.”

But Iannece, who supported the plan to change the time limits, said two-hour meters could also enable merchants to feed them for hours at a time.

The Bayside Business Improvement District first pitched the parking meter plan.

Several board members said they opposed the change.

“I like to go shopping and to be able to park,” board member Melvyn Meer said. “If some people can park longer, then others will not be able to find a place to park. The BID does not own Bell Boulevard. We own Bell Boulevard.”

Board members also disagreed about a St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children project currently underway in Bayside.

A group known as the Weeks Woodlands Civic Association has filed a lawsuit against the hospital on the grounds that the $114 million expansion would subject neighbors to excessive noise, truck traffic, dust and other forms of pollution.

CB 11 members said they were not involved in the suit and that the civic could not be reached´╗┐, but some members said they were upset with St. Mary’s over the project.´╗┐

“There has to be a mid-point here,” board member Andy Rothman said. “They brought in their trailers in the middle of the night. It’s a residential area. You have to be considerate to the neighbors. These are dead-end streets. That’s why we are upset. They broke their word.”

Rothman said the hospital, at 29-01 216th St. in Bayside, had previously vowed it would not place trailers along 28th Road at 217th Street, but the trailers were put along the street two weeks ago.

The project will move the hospital’s patients into more modern quarters at a new five-story building on the site and cut down on their hospital stays.

It will also add new parking spaces at the site, but there will be no increase to its 97 beds.

The facility treats post-acute care children with special needs. It provides rehabilitation, medical care and education to youngsters with serious illness, severe injury and complications of premature birth.

Iannece said the project was “as-of-right” and that the board had no indication that a suit would be filed against St. Mary’s.

“We were not apprised of the lawsuit and were not consulted about it,” he said. “We found out about it with everyone else.”

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

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