BY JON CRONIN
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said that she is trying to create a borough in which everyone can afford to live, play and raise their children during the Queens Economic Development Corporation’s annual networking breakfast on Tuesday.
Katz boasted of her accomplishments over the past four years and discussed Queens’ direction for the future. She noted that the city’s Department of Education has taken away 50 of the 150 trailers that students were using for classrooms across the borough.
The borough president’s office has garnered a $153 million investment in Downtown Jamaica as part of the Jamaica Now program, with a $10 million investment from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“Jamaica had been neglected for years,” Katz said.
She noted that she went to Jamaica to figure out what Jamaica needed. Jamaica Now is currently in the third year of its five-year action plan.
Katz said that Jamaica Now has 20 LinkNYC kiosks in the area that provide free internet, and $2.5 million has been allocated to revitalize King Manor Park.
“Jamaica is an amazing place,” she said.
Katz attributed part of the revitalization of the Rockaways to the NYC Ferry plan, which is expanding. She said that the ferry system aids in the planning of business ventures in the borough and across the city. She reiterated that no matter who is elected mayor in the future, the ferry system is integral to the city’s infrastructure—and it would be difficult to remove even one leg of it.
Katz stated that all of the checks to homeowners in the Rockaways who were impacted by Hurricane Sandy more than five years ago have been signed.
“All 3,600 people [affected by the hurricane] should be back in their homes by June,” Katz stated.
She noted that Cuomo’s plan to redesign the borough’s two airports, which are the second largest employer in Queens, is currently underway and will have a one-seat ride to John F. Kennedy International Airport from Manhattan as well as an AirTrain from Willets Point to LaGuardia Airport.
“This is the greatest city in the world,” Katz said, “And we should get where we need to by train.”
Katz also mentioned the development boom in western Queens.
“You can’t even recognize the skyline in Long Island City from 10 years ago,” Katz said.
She added that development is bringing money to education, helping to provide new seats in schools, a new park, new ferry docks and a library.
“It is one of the reasons Amazon is considering its headquarters in Queens,” Katz said, “We have what they need, and they should come here.”
Carl Achille, a board member of the Parkhurst Civic Association of Elmont, asked Katz to discuss how the Islanders’ new home at Belmont would impact the surrounding areas. Katz said that she was hoping the Islanders would come to Willets Point. Since they have now moved across the border, she is willing to become part of the conversation once the project is further along.
Katz was also asked about how the BQX light rail will from Sunset Park in Brooklyn to Astoria would be accommodated in Queens. The borough president said that the route in Astoria has yet to be decided. Currently, she is trying to decide whether the streetcar can go two ways on one street or take separate streets in each direction.
Reach reporter Jon Cronin via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 357-7400, ext. 125.