By Mandingo Tshaka
(Re: Helms Brothers’ application to allow a Volvo dealership to operated at 207-22 Northern Blvd.)
My name is Mandingo Osceola Tshaka and I am a Bayside community advocate and president of the Bayside Clear Spring Council, the civic organization covering the site in the application. I regret that I cannot appear in person at the Dec. 13 hearing. I am sending in testimony again to voice my opposition over this application. My concerns include the following:
1) The block where the Volvo dealership is operating is already saturated with auto-related businesses. How can the BSA expect this community to deal with yet another auto dealership? Aren’t four other auto dealerships, a transmission repair business and a body shop and repair business enough to handle on one block?
2) Why is this auto dealership operating before the variance under consideration has even been approved?
3) It is my understanding that vehicles from this Volvo dealership may be allowed to be test driven along 45th Road, in the residential area, as part of the route to be followed. This is unacceptable. All vehicles should exit and enter from Northern Blvd. if an auto-related business is allowed to operate at this site. A monitor from the auto business should be stationed when vehicles are accessing the front of the building to ensure that they can safely access Northern Boulevard. Test drives should be conducted only along major thoroughfares, not through residential streets. Let them go east on Northern, then south on Bell Boulevard, then west on Rocky Hill Road, then north on Francis Lewis Boulevard, and then back east on Northern Boulevard to the business. That would affect the least number of residents in my community.
4) As I stated in my submitted testimony of Aug. 23rd, 2016, “nowhere else do we find such a saturation of auto-related businesses in northeast Queens. The people living here are constantly bombarded with auto fumes and congested traffic. Quality of life is negatively impacted. Home values in this area suffer.
5) The problem is compounded because many of the businesses on this block are breaking the law. Some have encroached into the residential zoned area of 45th Road. The many homes that used to line the north side of 45th Road have all been demolished and in their place, parking lots, extended buildings and the like have crept in. I have reported these violations many times. However, the Department of Buildings has failed to act to enforce the zoning regulations.
6) I truly feel that this type of illegal practice that is condoned by the city of New York is blatant racism. The people living in my neighborhood are predominantly African American and other people of color. This intolerable situation is not found in any other part of Bayside or northeast Queens. It would not be allowed by the people living there and it should not be allowed in my neighborhood either. I see the same kind of commercial development blight in other Queens neighborhoods where people of color reside, including in South Jamaica.
Before you render your decision, I hope that the BSA will take these concerns and comments into serious consideration. I truly believe that the future of my community is at stake.
Mandingo Osceola Tshaka