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Korean Community Service looks to Bayside

By Mark Hallum

After the plan to turn the Bayside Jewish Center into a high school was scrapped over traffic issues, the building attracted attention from the Korean Community Services.

According to KCS President Kwang Kim, the non-profit organization has already put a down payment on the property where the former Jewish center sits.

Back in November, School Construction Authority President Lorraine Grillo announced that while the agency would still be working to address the issue of overcrowding in Bayside high schools, it would be looking for other options that are more space-efficient.

The senior center would focus on elderly Korean immigrants who would otherwise struggle with language barriers from English-speaking care providers.

The Korean Community Services has nine locations in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan. It offers a wide variety of services that go beyond the needs of just the elderly, such as mental health, community and immigration assistance.

The Korean population of Bayside hardly compares to that of Flushing where the majority of the organization’s work is centered, but KCS plans to offer a facility for the entire community. Kim believes that the majority of people who will use the facility will have the ability to reach them by bus, making any residual traffic concerns obsolete.

City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) was part of the discussion at the time that the SCA was considering buying the property. Vallone told the TimesLedger he believes that whatever happens with the property, it should be done with the involvement of the community.

“I know when we worked with Mr. Kim and Linda Lee, their executive directors, the best advice we could give them was to include the community and get their thoughts, and I’m proud of them for doing that,” Vallone said. “They’ve stated from the beginning it’s going to be open to everybody.”

He added that the transaction between the Bayside Jewish Center and the KCS is a private purchase,a deal the City Council has no ability to get involved in.

In November, Bayside residents turned out in force for a Community Board 11 meeting to voice their objection to the school proposal. Only three out of 30 speakers were in favor of the project.

State Sen.Tony Avella (D-Bayside) was one of the most forceful speakers at the heated meeting and pulled no punches against those not doing their part to block the project. The CB 11 board voted unanimously against the school site.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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