‘The Quality of Mercy’

In Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” Portia tells the court, “The quality of mercy is not strain’d,/It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven.” Borough Hall should remember this line when it considers the appeal made last week by Bayside’s Korean Central Presbyterian Church of Queens.

The church is in hot water because construction of an addition completed in 1998 does not conform to the city building code. According to the code, one-story construction cannot be more than 23 feet above the curb line. The gym wall is 28 feet high and the walls of the chapel are 35 feet high.

A consultant representing the church said the congregation did not realize until 2009 that a certificate of occupancy was needed. Community Board 11 voted Feb. 7 to support the church’s application for a variance by a margin of 26-7.

One of those opposing the variance was Henry Euler. “What happened here was a case of neglect by the architect. It’s a case of self-certification and in the end it impacted the surrounding community,” he said. “If the person is allowed to get away with it, then other architects may feel they can do the same.”

Euler doth protest too much. In the 13 years since the addition was done, what harm has it caused? Where were the city’s building inspectors when the work was being done?

We hope Borough President Helen Marshall will side with the community board and that the city Board of Standards and Appeals will grant the church the variance.

The Pride of Queens

Last week, a young woman from Howard Beach captured the hearts of millions when one of the “American Idol” judges said her performance of “I’ll Stand by You” was “as good as it gets.” Randy Jackson noted that Pia Toscano was the first performer of the season to get a standing ovation from the judges.

Last Thursday, Toscano, a graduate of La Guardia High School, became one of five women chosen by viewers to continue in the contest. Considering more than 100,000 tried out for the show, that is a remarkable accomplishment.

Whether or not she wins, the 22-year-old has already won the hearts of Queens. She was one of the astounding moments on a show than can be as annoying as it is entertaining.

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