Photo by Rebecca Henely
By Rebecca Henely

Right after Community Board 4 said the Pledge of Allegiance before its monthly meeting in Corona last week, a longtime member announced he would be stepping down because two other members would not salute the flag.

Nicolas Pennachio, who said he had been on the board for 24 years, prefaced his announcement by describing watching U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who was shot in the head by a would-be assassin Jan. 8 last year and has since undergone extensive speech therapy, lead the Pledge of Allegiance with the help of her husband Mark Kelly.

After that he said he was resigning due to other members declining to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

“How can they in fairness vote for the issues brought before our democratic, American board if they feel uncomfortable and doubt whether the pledge is warranted?” Pennachio asked.

The decision took some of Pennachio’s fellow board members by surprise. Many wished him well at the end of the meeting and a man who was planning to join the board ended up withdrawing his application due to Pennachio’s resignation.

“That was a surprise even to me,” said CB 4 Chairman Anthony Moreno of Pennachio’s resignation.

Turning to business, the board voted in favor of converting Lamont Avenue from a two-way street to a one-way street between Gleane Street and 41st Avenue. The change was suggested by resident Rahul Bhatia, who said traffic problems on the five-block stretch have led to a lot of honking and noise.

“It’s been six months and I haven’t slept,” Bhatia said.

CB 4 members said the avenue was narrow with many blind spots. The end of the road at 94th Street is not far away from the end of 41st Avenue and Benham Street. The board said it would consider traffic-calming devices for the avenue in the form of traffic lights or stop signs in the future.

The board also rejected an application for a newsstand on the southwest corner of the intersection of Roosevelt Avenue and 75th Street. The decision echoed neighboring CB 3’s ruling against two newsstands on 37th Avenue and 73rd Street in Jackson Heights in September. Both boards rejected the newsstands, saying the area was too congested.

Carolyn Tran, who works in City Councilman Daniel Dromm’s (D-Jackson Heights) office, said Dromm was not in favor of the newsstands.

“He believes that it goes against community wishes, it’s bad for the businesses and it impedes community safety,” Tran said.

CB 3 encompasses the north side of Roosevelt Avenue and CB 4 encompasses the south side.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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