July 8, 2016 By Michael Florio
Local officials are appalled that a newsstand has been constructed on 37th Avenue despite longstanding community opposition.
The newsstand was recently installed on the corner of 37th Street and 76th Street, even after Community Board 3 disapproved the owner’s application for a newsstand license.
The Board’s decision is merely a nonbinding recommendation to the City. However, CB 3 has repeatedly recommended against a newsstand at this spot due to vehicular and pedestrian congestion and the multiple existing businesses already selling the same items nearby.
“There is not a need for this newsstand in the neighborhood,” CB 3 Chair Stephen Kulhanek said. “Community Board 3 is deeply disappointed by the decision to install this here.”
Elected officials said they were also not informed before the newsstand was put up.
State Sen. Jose Peralta and Council Member Daniel Dromm gathered with residents Friday to not only speak out against this particular newsstand but also to unveil City and State bills aimed at preventing similar incidents from happening again.
The two officials will also launch a petition in an attempt to have the Department of Consumer Affairs remove this newsstand. Copies of the petition will be left at Foodtown and other neighboring businesses.
Previous applications for a newsstand at this location were filed in 2014 and 2011, and were also both rejected by CB 3, according to Kulhanek.
Peralta said he finds it “disturbing” that a newsstand can be installed without local approval.
Newsstand applications need to go before the Department of Consumer Affairs, as well as the Department of Transportation and the Public Design Commission for approvals. Unlike restaurants’ sidewalk café applications, newsstand applications do not have to go before the City Council.
“If an applicant meets all application requirements, DCA is legally required to issue the license, regardless of what the Community Board’s recommendation is,” the DCA said.
“No agency can deny an application, they can only slow down the process,” Peralta said. “This is what happened in 2011 and 2014.”
Dromm even had a bench installed on the street in an attempt to block the installation of a newsstand. The newsstand was built anyway, closer to the corner.
Peralta and Dromm have both proposed bills, on the State and City level respectively, which would make newsstand applicants get approval from the City Council before installation.
“This would give the community a voice,” Dromm asserted.
He added that the CB recommendation would be sent to City Council as well as the DCA.
Dromm stated that the newsstand was constructed in the span of just three days, and then quickly opened.
“They knew they had to get it in and get it in quick,” Dromm said. “It was a devious action.”
One of the shop owners affected by the opening of this newsstand is Jason Ferreira, owner of Foodtown. The newsstand is right outside his store.
“The newsstand is not something positive for this block,” he said. “We have a lot of congestion and this will only add to the problem.”
Many residents were in attendance to voice their opposition.
Community members held signs that read “Listen to the Community,” “Sidewalks are for Pedestrians” and “No Newsstands.”
Someone even used a permanent marker to write “Do not buy from this person” across the newsstand.
Peralta and Dromm spoke out against this act, stating that there is no place for that behavior in Jackson Heights.
The newsstand owner could not be reached for comment as of this writing. The DCA did not respond to a request for comment.