CB 7 to hear women’s center plans for Totten

Photo by Rich Bockmann
By Rich Bockmann

The Center for the Women of New York has reached an important milestone in its efforts to secure a home in Fort Totten Park, according to founder and Chairwoman Ann Jawin.

Jawin said city Parks Department Commissioner Adrian Benepe and Community Board 7’s Parks Committee recently approved the center’s plans to renovate the building at 207 Totten Ave.

If the approval process goes according to plan, she said, the center will be able to move into its new home within a year’s time.

“The new building will be a wonderful resource for all the women in the whole state, but particularly those in the metro area,” she said.

CB 7 will discuss the center’s plans at its monthly meeting Monday night at 7 p.m. at the Union Plaza Care Center, at 33-23 Union St. in Flushing.

“The full board will be meeting and, assuming there will be no problem, if they approve, it goes on to the New York State Historical Commission and then on to Landmarks,” Jawin said. “We estimated that within a year we can move in, if everything goes smoothly.”

The CWNY, which offers services such as a job readiness workshops and a legal assistance clinic, among others, has been operating out of a small room at Queens Borough Hall since 2002, when the city forced the center from its former location on Murray Avenue in Fort Totten Park to make room for a city Fire Department facility.

Jawin took the city to court and was awarded Building 207, formerly the bachelor officers’ quarters. The building was occupied by military personnel up until the 1960s and was designated by the city Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1999 as part of the Fort Totten Historic District.

Funding for the renovations to the building came from state Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Little Neck), who had allocated $900,000 as a City Council member, and Jawin received an additional $600,000 from then-Assemblywoman Ann-Margaret Carrozza and about $200,000 from Borough President Helen Marshall.

Jawin said the only concern CB 7’s Parks Committee had with the plans was with the design of the lift that would provide handicapped access to the porch and its appropriateness to the historical surroundings.

She said the center, along with the city Department of Design and Construction, would reassess the design to see if something “more harmonious with the style of the porch” could be worked into the plan.

The dilapidated building, which sits next to the Officer’s Club, home to the Bayside Historical Society, consists of a basement, two floors and an attic.

Jawin said the center’s plan is to remove asbestos from the building in order to occupy the first floor.

“We hope to have a conference center and a career center for women to explore opportunities for training and improvement,” she said. “It’s a very ambitious project.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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