About 50 business owners and activists crowded onto the northeast corner and out onto the street near 74th Street and 37th Road in Jackson Heights Monday to lambaste the city Departments of Transportation and Consumer Affairs for allowing a newsstand to be constructed there.
“This is an outrage,” City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) yelled. “This is a complete and total outrage.”
The newsstand has been put up on a narrow corner a block away from the 74th Street-Roosevelt Avenue station, which is a connecting point for five subway lines and multiple bus routes. While the newsstand was still under construction Monday, it went up on Tuesday, Dromm’s office said.
Dromm said he is seeking an injunction against the stand because the area has a high amount of pedestrian traffic, car traffic and accidents. He said the area also has two newsstands a block away, one on 73rd Street and 37th Road and another on 37th Avenue and 74th Street.
“Everyone in this community is saying no to this newsstand,” Dromm said.
He also said he is planning to write legislation to ban newsstands that do not have community board approval and require the DOT to measure the space between the stand and the nearest storefront before they are approved.
A DCA spokeswoman said in response it cannot reject a newsstand if it meets the city’s legal requirements.
“DCA has no legal discretion to pick and choose which newsstands are located in a particular neighborhood,” she said.
The DOT did not responded to requests for comment.
Business owners from Jackson Heights also spoke against the newsstand. One of the merchants protesting was Enrico Santi, manager of Brown’s Army Navy. The newsstand is being built right in front of his store and takes up most of the sidewalk space.
“You can see that this will bottleneck all the pedestrians,” Santi said.
The community has consistently expressed opposition to newsstands being built in the area. CB 3 rejected the newsstand back in 2009, but was overruled by the DOT and DCA. A few weeks before the protest, CB 3 also voted against two other newsstands proposed for the corner of 37th Avenue and 73rd Street due to congestion problems.
“The community board is really tired,” CB 3 District Manager Giovanna Reid said. “Year after year applications come to us for the same locations.”
Shiv Daas, president of the Jackson Heights Merchants Association, said the goods that newsstands sell are also available from many sources in the area.
“Every corner there’s a candy store,” he said. “We don’t need more candy stores.”
Dromm said he believed newsstands keep getting approved despite community support because the city gets $28,000 per newsstand and the owner of the stand pays thousands of dollars in additional rent.
“It’s really the greed of the city,” Dromm said.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.
©2011 Community News Group
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