More than a year ago, engaged residents of Southeast Queens were presented with a plan to fix the traffic problems in Downtown Jamaica. The plan was a complete flop.
Residents quickly and vociferously pointed out the flaws in the plans and presented alternative ideas. The city’s Department of Transportation, to its credit, listened to the feedback, went back to the drawing board and, this week, came back with a revised plan that calls for implementation of many of the ideas put forth by the people a year ago.
While we at the PRESS of Southeast Queens applaud the DOT’s actions, we have to ask why this takes so long. Why do the people of Southeast Queens have to wait a year just to get validations for their ideas?
Also this week, the borough started to take a closer look at the boom in hotel construction around Queens, which is an issue on the forefront of the minds of many in Southeast Queens. By and large, the meeting was a successful baby step towards giving community boards a say in where hotel construction can take place, compared to the current zoning laws that let developers run rampant over the borough, occupying underused light manufacturing space.
It is estimated that the number of hotels in Queens has doubled since 2010. We don’t want to suggest that lawmakers and city officials didn’t notice the boom, but it is clear that they have been slow to react to the inevitable problems that come with any surge in development.
What’s clear in both of these issues is that government is slow. It always has been. City agencies and elected officials rarely move quickly to stem a potential problem, instead reacting to something when it starts to have a clear impact on people’s lives. A more cautious and thorough approach has its advantages in some instances. There are many times that politicians have gotten ahead of their skis on an issue and bad laws or policies have been the result.
We have hit an imbalance, though. Our world is changing too quickly for lawmakers to be reticent. It is time they are more bold and proactive. It is time they pick up the pace.