BY JASMINE PALMA
Two lawmakers proposed legislation this week to protect the character of the Lefferts Boulevard Bridge in Kew Gardens as the structural integrity of the bridge comes under question.
The bill champions the right of first refusal to small businesses operating on the bridge and aims to preserve the neighborhood landmark’s present structure.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) announced that capital investments will be necessary to address the weakened structural integrity of the storefronts on the nearly century-old bridge. The MTA intends to issue a request-for-proposal for a new property-manager later in the year, though short of provisions for current tenants.
Spearheaded by Assemblymember Daniel Rosenthal and State Senator Leroy Comrie, the bill contends that the damage of the businesses are not to the fault of the businessowners, a consideration not heeded in the MTA’s plans, the lawmakers said.
“The Lefferts Boulevard bridge is not only a cultural landmark, but serves as a community hub for Kew Gardens,” said Rosenthal. “After years of neglect by the MTA, it would be unconscionable to destroy the livelihoods of these small businesses owners who have become family and neighbors to thousands. I am thankful to Senator Comrie for his partnership and commitment to fighting for our community.”
Comrie and Rosenthal’s proposed legislation comes after elected officials pushed a bill to protect the bridge from demolition in 2018.
“The Lefferts Boulevard bridge is a one-of-a-kind architectural gem in the heart of Queens, but more importantly, it is the centerpiece of a community and the foundation for many folks’ livelihoods,” Comrie said. “Assembly Member Rosenthal and I have been in lockstep on this issue for the past several years, so I thank him for his partnership and commitment to the community.”
“The Kew Gardens Lefferts Boulevard bridge of stores, our Ponte Vecchio, the heart of our community, has moved a step closer to restoration,” said Sylvia Hack of the Kew Gardens Civic Association. “Thanks to the legislative process set in motion by State Senator Leroy Comrie and Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal, our historic community has the chance to continue into the 21st century, while preserving our past.”