By Howard Koplowitz
Community Board 8 overwhelmingly voted in support of Mary Louis Academy’s plans to build a new athletic center during its monthly meeting last week.
The Jamaica Estates school, at 86-50 Edgerton Blvd., claimed its old gym is insufficient to host regulation tournaments and cannot hold physical education classes in the space, forcing the academy to put the classes in hallways and classrooms, according to CB 8 Zoning Chairman Steve Konigsberg.
Mary Louis needs variances to build the center because its plans do not meet height, setback, yard and sign requirements for the property.
CB 8 voted 38-1 in favor of the plans.
Dr. Alan Bennett, CB 8’s first vice chairman, said he voted for the plans because he went to schools where there was no adequate physical education space.
“Our children are our future and this is what it’s all about,” he said.
CB 8 member Bob Harris was the lone no vote and said variances gradually change the neighborhood’s character.
“As these variances take place, our quality of life changes,” he said.
An aide to City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) said he supported Mary Louis Academy’s plans.
“He feels this will be very beneficial to the community,” she said.
Sister Kathleen McKinney, principal of the Jamaica Estates school, said Mary Louis will work with CB 8 on any concerns the board has over the plans and noted the school has been in the community for about 75 years.
“We look forward to remaining in this community in years to come,” she said.
The board also heard from state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), who updated CB 8 on his legislative agenda during his first term in Albany.
Avella said he introduced a bill that would cap term limits for state legislators at four four-year terms.
State lawmakers currently serve two-year terms, but there is no limit to how many times they can be elected.
“Assemblymen and senators are constantly running for office,” Avella said, arguing that the current structure is responsible for dysfunction in Albany.
Avella also introduced legislation to stop so-called “double dipping,” where some lawmakers retire for one day Dec. 31 before they begin their next term and then unretire so they can collect a pension along with their government salary.
“I think it’s inappropriate for elected officials and there are 26 [legislators] doing this in Albany,” Avella said. “You want your pension, fine. Retire.”
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.