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Queens Chronicle

More funds allocated for St. Saviour’s park?

Warehouse construction halted, but sale talks for site have stalled

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Posted: Thursday, July 7, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 1:26 pm, Thu Jul 14, 2011.

Though there have been several developments over the last three weeks on different fronts surrounding the St. Saviour’s site in Maspeth, the future of the land is still unclear.

Since June 17, five stop-work orders have been issued by the Department of Buildings to the owner, Maspeth Development, LLC. However, several neighbors have snapped photos and sent emails detailing sporadic construction work on a small part of the 2.5-acre parcel. Maspeth Development is trying to move forward with a plan to build warehouses on a quarter of the site.

A DOB spokeswoman said on Wednesday that the stop-work orders had been “partially rescinded to allow for corrective work.”

Scott Kushnick, president of Maspeth Development, indicated in a brief exchange on Wednesday that negotiations for the land between the company and the city have stalled, but he did not return a phone call prior to deadline to elaborate.

The Department of Citywide Administrative Services cannot pay above fair-market value for any piece of property. The administration has appraised the site at $5.1 million. It is believed that the sides still are millions of dollars apart.

Newtown Historical Society President Christina Wilkinson, who has spearheaded the effort to secure a park there, said last week that an additional $1.1 million was allocated for St. Saviour’s in this year’s city budget through the office of City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), though the funds apparently were mistakenly listed under “Middle Village Library.” Crowley’s office did not return calls seeking clarification.

If that’s the case, Wilkinson said it would bring the total amount of available funds — including $1 million secured through the office of Queens Borough President Helen Marshall — to $4.5 million.

Still she feels that city agencies are not on the same page, and that is detrimental to the cause.

“Sometimes I feel like we’re taking one step forward and two steps back,” Wilkinson said, adding that eminent domain should be an option.

“This is for the common good,” she asserted. “[The site] is definitely blighted.”

A spokeswoman for the Parks Department said the agency remains committed to the vision for a green space in the area.

“The Parks Department is working with local organizations, residents and elected officials in securing appropriate funds to acquire the St. Saviour’s site on acceptable terms. The agency believes the property has excellent potential for a community park,” she said in a prepared statement.

State Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) said that while he continues to be “optimistic” about getting the situation resolved for all parties involved, he acknowledged that there are “a lot of moving parts to this one issue.”

“It’s not about wanting a park there — it’s about needing a park there,” he said.

Addabbo also said that his office has reached out to DOB to ensure the stop-work orders are enforced on the site, and to Parks to try to work it out so it can build a green space on at least a portion of the site.

“Right now the target is the city agencies,” he noted. “The worst thing that can happen is everyone moving in different directions. It’s a concerted effort; it’s all about working together.”

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