In an unusual show of discord, a Community Board 5 vote came down to the wire.
Members weren’t voting on a headline issue like a homeless shelter or an arts center looking for a liquor license. Instead, a longtime Italian-American street fair was the subject of debate.
During its Feb. 12 meeting, CB 5 voted 18-15, with one abstention, in favor of allowing the Federazione Italo-Americana di Brooklyn and Queens to host its 22nd annual street festival along Fresh Pond Road between Woodbine and Menahan streets from Thursday, Sept. 4 to Sunday, Sept. 7.
The contentious poll came during a series of seven votes on approving community group-organized street fairs throughout the spring and summer.
The six other festivals are scheduled to take place for just a few hours during one day, while the celebration along Fresh Pond Road will occur during the evenings of two weekdays and Labor Day weekend, potentially interrupting the flow of rush-hour traffic along a normally bustling thoroughfare.
That worry influenced many board members to speak out against the proposed festival and nearly defeat the measure when it came time for a vote.
“What I object to is the obstruction of traffic for four days where all the other civics take one day,” one board member said. “Maybe we can have it for two days or just the weekend?”
CB 5 Chairman Vincent Arcuri responded by saying shortening the festival is not possible under city law.
“Under the current rules and regulations of the City of New York, there are no new street festivals being approved,” Arcuri said. “Any change to a street festival constitutes a new application and the city would not accept it.”
None of the other six street fairs, including the Ridgewood Local Development Corp.’s April 13 event, the Kiwanis Club of Glendale’s Aug. 17 celebration or the Boy Scouts of America’s Oct. 5 gathering, was opposed by board members.
Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D-Brooklyn, Queens) spoke to the board as well, as he reaffirmed his support of bike lanes throughout the district [see separate story] as well as his interest in the recent study of subpar bus service by the Regional Plan Association.
“If I get letters on the bus issues, I will pay attention,” Reynoso said. “I am on the Transit Committee in the City Council and I would love to discuss bus and transit issues here at Community Board 5.”
The proposed homeless shelter in an old factory at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale was brought up by a speaker during the public forum, and Arcuri informed the board that there has been little activity occurring with the site.
He did, however, say he has sent a letter against the plan to the mayor and the Department of Homeless Services, following up on letters of opposition from Borough President Melinda Katz and other elected officials sent last month.
“Community Board 5 Queens is against warehousing unfortunate families in such inhumane facilities,” Arcuri’s letter reads. “We urge the disapproval of this proposal.”