By Mandingo Tshaka
One single block.
From the Clearview Expressway to Oceania Street; from Northern Blvd. to 45th Road. … five auto dealerships, an auto repair/body shop, a transmission business. Do you have that on your block or near your block? Nowhere else in northeast Queens do you have such a saturation of auto-related businesses. Look across Northern Boulevard or up and down 45th Road past this block. Look in Bayside Gables or Douglas Manor or Little Neck. You don’t see this type of saturation that brings property values down.
No resident should have to put up with the injustice of looking out their window and seeing this blight. The fumes from all of the automobiles running around on a daily basis are noxious and irritating. The danger of so many vehicles in motion threatens pedestrians, especially our children. Parking on 45th Road is near impossible for the residents.
The commercial creep has penetrated to 45th Road right on this block. Where there used to be houses, you now have businesses extending their buildings in some cases right to the sidewalk along 45th Road. Parking lots galore full of vehicles for sale or awaiting service. All this is in the residential part of the block, in my opinion, illegally.
How did this happen? Who allowed this to happen to my community?
Most of the people living in this section of Bayside are African-American and other people of color. What else could it be but blatant racism? Look around the rest of Queens. You only see this type of business blight in neighborhoods predominantly made up of people of color like in south Jamaica. I blame some of the city agencies for this problem. The worst offender is the Department of Buildings.
On the block that I mentioned, Star Nissan has an expired certificate of occupancy. They are only supposed to park 20 vehicles on their back lot. Go look at that lot. Seventy-five or more vehicles parked there constantly. Numerous complaints have been filed about them at 311 and online. Very little if anything seems to happen to them in terms of consequences for these violations. They also frequently park vehicles on the adjacent sidewalks, causing pedestrians to have to walk in the congested streets in order to get by.
It only will be a matter of time before there is a tragedy. This business should be padlocked for this behavior. They don’t care about the neighborhood they operate in or the residents.
Then there is Helms Brothers further down the block. How did they build that garage building on the northwest corner of Oceania Street and 45th Road without needing a variance to build in a residential zone? Tell me that! Never heard anything about this at the community board. Helms Brothers just seems to do whatever they want. Community doesn’t matter.
Now they are running to the Board of Standards and Appeals to operate their Volvo dealership on the block. Even before the change in use is granted, they are operating the business on the site.
I am elderly. I am handicapped. But I will continue to fight with every ounce of strength that I have to see that justice prevails on this block. It will be my legacy to my community where I was born to ensure that the residents are treated with respect and consideration and that all zoning and building rules of the City of New York are followed to the letter.
Mandingo Osceola Tshaka