Community leaders ask BSA to deny development to Indian cultural group

By Juan Soto

Now that another city Board of Standards and Appeals hearing is nearing, opposition is mounting again against plans by the Indian Cultural and Community Center to break ground in Bellerose to construct a four-story building on the site of the Creedmoor Psychiatric facility campus.

The group originally convinced lawmakers to sell the parcel to build a community center.

It soon changed plans, proposing to build two nine-story buildings instead of the original one-story community center and athletic field.

The new development plans irked the community, and the ICCC again changed its mind and argued in favor of building the two structures, but keeping them to only six stories..

The fourth and latest idea shrank to the one-building with a recreational center on the roof.

“We are not against the ICCC if they build what they said they would,” said Jerry Wind, president of the Bellerose Hillside Civic Association. “The latest incarnation of the plan is this one building.”

Community leaders, in collaboration with state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), are asking the city Board of Standards and Appeals to deny the variance needed for the ICCC to develop the site at 82nd Avenue and 242ns Street.

“We don’t want this here,” said Frank Toner, president of the Rocky Hills Civic Association, pointing at the site. “Even a four-story building would overshadow the low-rise homes in this area.”

A 2013 report by the state inspector general found that the group was able to revise its original proposal because of a loophole in the legislation authorizing the real estate deal.

The southeast Asian group bought the state-owned land for about $1.8 million. The city assessed the property at $7.3 million, but the inspector general’s report considered the price tag to be fair market value for the 4.5 acres parcel because of the community use.

“It would be a travesty of justice if anything other than the one-story community center that was originally proposed is built on this site,” Avella said at a news conference. “In all my years of involvement with civics and government, I have never seen a group so consistently misrepresent their intentions and outright lie.”

An ICCC representative was at the news conference but declined to comment on the controversy.

Other community leaders also had concerns about the financial soundness of the group.

“The last thing we need in this community is a rusted hulk of a building with no financial backing to be completed,” said Robert Friedrich, president of the Glenn Oaks Village Owners. “It will degrade this community. The ICCC has no history of construction, development or managing buildings.”

To others, size also matters.

Last year, the City Council approved the downzoning of Bellerose, Floral Park and Glen Oaks. The idea was to keep the area residential.

“This is just too big for this neighborhood,” said Mike O’Keeffe, president of the Creedmoor Civic Association. “Last year, the city recognized that the area was getting crowded.”

The BSA was scheduled to hold a hearing on the fourth revised proposal Nov. 25.

“I hope the board reviews the latest proposal and looks at how they got here,” Avella said. The ICCC “didn’t get here with unclean hands.”

Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at jsoto‌@cngl‌ocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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