Queens Neighbors Fight Plans for Hatzolah Ambulance Depot in Kew Garden Hills
Plans to bring a Hatzolah ambulance depot to a quiet residential block of Kew Garden Hills has stirred up the neighborhood. The Queens homeowners fear that the proposed project on 68th Road at Main Street will change the peaceful neighborhood forever and bring down property values.
As reported by the NY Post, the local Jewish ambulance service would like to add a four-story depot in the neighborhood. Hatzolah responds to approximately 7,000 emergency calls annually. The residents say they are worried the quality of life will suffer if the Hatzolah outpost comes to their peaceful block. Avi Koenigsberg is president of the 68th Road Block Association, an organization set up to oppose the building. He said he used to volunteer for Hatzolah and knows their value and service to the Jewish community. He added, however, that the community feels strongly that this is not the right place for the depot. Ambulance depots are noisy, and vehicles drive at high speeds with flashing lights and sirens at all hours of the day and night. Further, Hatzolah uses diesel engine vehicles, and often idle, adding pollution to the air. The building will also tower over the homes on the block.
“There are other places you could build that is zoned for commercial use,” said Mordecai Koenigsberg, Avi’s father. He added that there was “no consideration for the neighborhood” made, and residents were never asked for their opinion. “People are generally in favor of the operation of this Hatzolah group because they are helpful to the community,’’ Mordecai noted. In this case, however, the opposition is protesting the building in court.
Community members say that members of the opposition have been faced with threats and intimidation tactics. The plan’s backers allegedly threatened opponents saying the volunteers may not be keen to help outspoken challengers if the need arises. Most notably, protesters say that their main spokesman had a mysterious fire started in his car, which left him in the ICU for a burn. Early on the morning of March 3, a blaze started in Avi Koenigsberg’s car. Avi had to be rescued by firefighters from his smoke-filled bedroom, unconscious. “If I had been upstairs for even a few more minutes, I wouldn’t be here anymore,” Avi said. It is not clear how the fire started and the insurance is investigating along with city fire marshals. There is no proof of arson but it hasn’t been ruled out yet. “We [are being] blackmailed into being silenced,” said a resident, too scared to tell the Post his name.
Hatzolah did not respond to several requests for comments by The Post.
New York City News- Local News- New York Jewish Guide
By Benyamin Davidsons