A local civic gave its blessing last week to an Orthodox congregation looking to build a shul on E. Second Street between Avenue P and Quentin Road, after logging just a couple complaints that the synagogue would change the character of the residential block.
“We’re extremely pleased,” said congregation member Joey Esses, one of more than three-dozen people who attended the Community Board 15 meeting on Feb. 22 at Kingsborough Community College to show support for the planned shul.
Community Board 15 approved the Quentin Road Synagogue Corporation’s proposal for the three-story building 26–5, citing the growing congregation’s need for more space. The Synagogue Corporation already operates a house of prayer on E. Third Street, around the corner from the proposed site. However, the building has become a tight-squeeze for the 200-family congregation, so operators want to construct and move into a larger building with more amenities, including a lecture hall and dining room.
“The need for this building really outweighs any downsides,” said board member Ed Eisenberg.
The corporation will now bring its request for a final judgement with the city Board of Standards and Appeals, which will issue its decision in the coming weeks.
Two E. Second Street residents spoke out against the synagogue, insisting that it would make parking on the block more difficult and cause too much traffic.
“Parking and traffic are already bad, so I don’t think this project is in the best interest of the residential block,” said Rosemarie Colombo.
But the Synagogue Corporation’s lawyer insists that the residents’ claims are unwarranted, as Orthodox congregation members don’t drive to shul on Saturdays and the synagogue they currently use has not posed any traffic problems.
“This congregation is already in the neighborhood without any of those problems, but they truly need this new building to grow,” said attorney Lyra Altman.
Not all houses of worship on residential streets are so readily accepted. A firestorm of protest greeted plans to build a mosque on Voorhies Avenue between E. 28th and 29th streets in Sheepshead Bay. That project never went before Community Board 15 because it did not require a zoning change, but neighbors have held repeated protests claiming that the mosque would create traffic and that its backers had links to terrorism.