Big win for Bensonhurst in Calko debate

It’s a victory for Bensonhurst residents.

The Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) decided that the CalkoMedical Center, currently being erected at the corner of BayParkway and 60th Street, must provide 177 parking spots, not the116 that the developer was asking for.

I feel proud that we are able to come together as a communityand fight together, said resident Anna Cali, who has beenattending BSA hearings on this issue since the fall. Overall, I amhappy it’s 65 more spots than we would have received if we didn’tfight for it.

The nine-story building not only looms over the residentialneighborhood, it’s in a high traffic area. According to theDepartment of Buildings, a structure of that size should provide231 parking spots. The Marcal Group, which is developing the site,was trying to seek approval to get the number cut almost inhalf.

Residents said that with three schools and a church within afive-block radius of Calko, parking would be nearly impossible ifthe building only provided 116 spots.

Mark Caller, chief executive of the Marcal Group and Dr. RobertKodsi, his business partner at the Calko Medical Center, issued ajoint statement. We are glad that we were able to increase theparking to an amount that serves the community’s needs, theystated. We are glad to put this behind us and can now focus all ofour efforts on opening up a state-of-the-art medical facility thatwill provide exceptional care to the community.

City Councilmember David Greenfield, who has supported residentsfrom the beginning, praised them for their efforts. I am proud tohave led the fight with dozens of community members to force thedeveloper to increase on-site parking. The agreement to increaseparking by over 50 percent on this facility is a major victory forthe entire community, he said.

Assemblymember Bill Colton, who has also been to every hearing,agreed.

The community was hoping to get closer to 200 [spots] but Ithink by standing together people showed that they could make adifference, he told this newspaper, adding that the fight is notover yet.

The community needs to be vigilant to make sure the 177 spotsare created and that management of the building tries to reduce thedemand for parking by carpooling, Colton added. We all have aninterest that parking is not a problem or burden for the rest ofthe neighborhood.

However, not everyone was satisfied. Bensonhurst residentNatalie DeNicola said she has a lot of unanswered questionsregarding the occupancy of the building. They never came forwardto give answers to questions presented to them by CouncilmanGreenfield, our lawyer Leo Weinberger, or us, she said. Theycompletely disregarded our questions.

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