By Daniel Massey
A controversial plan that would bring thoroughbred wagering to a Kew Gardens pub drew a step closer to the finish line Tuesday night when members of Community Board 9 voted overwhelmingly to recommend the establishment of an Off Track Betting facility inside Austin’s Ale House.
The board decided in favor of the ponies despite pleas from about 15 Kew Gardens residents, who spoke out against the OTB facility before the vote. A handful of residents voiced opinions in favor of the betting room, which would be secluded from the rest of the restaurant at 82-72 Austin St.
The final vote was 25 in favor and two against the OTB, with three abstentions.
The board’s recommendation came after members and the pub’s owners worked out certain conditions for its support at a Monday meeting of the Public Safety & Consumer Affairs Committee. The owners agreed to nine measures in exchange for the recommendation, ranging from ending band nights to promising to return to the community board for an evaluation of the venture after six months.
The board’s decision will be forwarded as a recommendation to the Off Track Betting Site Selection Board and is not a binding ruling. Final say on the addition of ponies to the menu at Austin’s Steak and Ale House lies in the hands of the selection board, which is comprised of the directors of City Planning and the Office of Management and Budget, Borough President Helen Marshall, Comptroller William Thompson and the commissioner of Citywide Administrative Services, OTB officials said.
The betting facilities could open as early as September, OTB officials said at the meeting.
In other news from Tuesday’s community board meeting, members voted unanimously to grant a use variance to Samaritan Village to construct a three-story residential treatment facility with room for 96 residents and 35 outpatients in a commercially zoned area.
The new three-story building will be built directly across the street from Samaritan Village’s current home at 130-15 89th Rd. in Richmond Hill. Howard Weiss, a lawyer for Samaritan Village said the facility is outdated and not worth redeveloping.
The board also voted unanimously to grant a city Department of Transportation request to convert 82nd Avenue between Queens Boulevard and Kew Gardens Road into a one-way street heading southbound. The DOT wanted to make the switch to accommodate Green Line buses that turn off Queens Boulevard onto 82nd Avenue.
Reach reporter Daniel Massey by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 156.