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Queens Chronicle

MTA readying bus plan for church

Historic St. George’s Episcopal in Flushing tired of drivers’ behavior

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Posted: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:11 am, Thu Dec 5, 2013.

After months of pleas for help, it looks like St. George’s Episcopal Church in Flushing will be getting some assistance soon from the MTA.

The historic church on Main Street has been complaining since last spring that bus drivers, primarily on 38th and 39th avenues, have been urinating on the walls of the facility and leaving garbage from their meals on its sidewalks.

In addition, because of a bus stop in front of the church on Main Street, elderly or physically challenged parishioners are unable to be dropped off there.

The pastor, the Rev. Wilfredo Benitez, wrote to the MTA last May seeking relief from the situation. He noted that since 2002 buses on three sides of the church property have surrounded the parish.

“The bus stops were placed there in total disregard of our needs as a religious institution that has the right to worship unencumbered by government agencies,” Benitez wrote. “Can you imagine something like this in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan?”

At a Community Board 7 district cabinet meeting on Friday at the Queens Botanical Garden in Flushing, MTA spokesman Joe Raskin, said relief is on the way, although he would not go into specifics.

“We have come up with a plan to take the buses away from the church on the side streets,” Raskin said. “The bus operators’ behavior is intolerable to us and the church.”

He did specify that the Main Street bus stop for the Q44 and Q20 would remain: “There is no place to move them since other buses have stops elsewhere on Main.”

Raskin plans to walk elected and church officials through the proposal for the side streets in early December to get their feedback.

Earlier this month, Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) initiated a downtown cleanup program, which began with streets and sidewalks around St. George’s. Using two pressure washers donated by Home Depot, volunteers cleaned up the area and promised to maintain it.

He, as well as state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) and City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing), have complained to the MTA about the bus drivers’ behavior.

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