2015-09-16 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Address Noise Effects

A copy of this letter was received at the
Queens Gazette.
September 9, 2015
Patrick Foye
Executive Director
The Port Authority of New York and New
Corporate Offices
4 World Trade Center
150 Greenwich Street
New York, N.Y. 10007

Dear Executive Director Foye:

We write to urge you to consider and address any noise effects that may result from lifting the 1,500-mile perimeter rule at New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

Governor Andrew Cuomo recently laid out a bold plan for redeveloping LaGuardia Airport. We commend this plan and support the economic development and improved services it will bring. New York deserves a world-class airport-however, with infrastructure improvements, will also come logistical changes. As the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) studies these changes, specifically the 1,500-mile perimeter rule, we ask that it takes into account noise effects from lifting the rule.

Our offices have been in touch with PANYNJ over the years on this issue, and you know it is a priority to us. PANYNJ must ensure that airplane noise is adequately addressed in the plan to expand the areas served by LaGuardia Airport – this means that not only do we expect noise to not increase with different routes, but we hope that our efforts to decrease noise substantially are continued. There may be winners and losers from this, but it must absolutely not come at the expense of our constituents’ quality of life.

We look forward to working with you as LaGuardia Airport undergoes these transformative improvements.

Joseph Crowley, Steve Israel, Grace Meng,
Members of Congress

College Promise

Dear Friends:

I had the privilege of joining President Obama and Dr. Jill Biden in Michigan yesterday to unveil and promote the White House’s College Promise campaign for free community college education. The President understands the unique and fundamental role community colleges play in building America’s middle class.

College Promise, first announced during the State of the Union speech in January, is a truly bipartisan effort to assist states, cities and colleges in implementing policies and practices that help students succeed. I am especially honored to be serving on the College Promise’s national advisory board with distinguished academic and business leaders, and public officials.

Listening to the President make the case for supporting community college students as a smart investment in America’s future, I was struck by what an enormous opportunity we have at hand to fulfill the promise of so many LaGuardia students and millions of low-income, new-immigrant, and first-generation college students around the country.

This is a very special moment in time for community colleges. A national conversation is now taking place. A movement is being fueled by dynamic public and private sector partnerships, and by the power of visionary philanthropy, which recognizes that community colleges are the gateway to the middle class in America.

I thank you for your encouragement, advocacy and support of our students. Warmest regards,

Dr. Gail O. Mellow
President, LaGCC

Clinton Lacks Openness

To The Editor:

Like or dislike Trump he earns support by speaking without regard to anything other than what he believes. He is truly refreshing by leaving no question as to his beliefs and thoughts. He is an open book.

Supporters of Hillary Clinton are gnashing their teeth over the manner that she speaks. Her lawyerly defenses to questions about using a personal email account can drive a listener to tears.

In 2008 Clinton finally came to be the candidate that demanded respect after losing in Iowa by tearing up when answering why she was a candidate for the presidency. Bernie Sanders who is the democratic equivalent of Trump continues to strip Clinton of support by plain speaking.

Politics is not for the mild hearted. It is primal warfare fought harshly with only one winner taking the White House. It is an all or nothing contest. Some have won the prize by playing it safe. Some have lost their quest by wild outbursts or a slip of the lips. Walter Mondale stood no chance when he stated “I will raise your taxes.” Howard Dean’s yell doomed his candidacy. Clinton lost in 2008 to the upstart Obama by being the “inevitable.”

Destiny may have a hold on winners and losers. The current frustration and anger evident throughout America will not reward any contestant who acts slick, pre-canned and not outspoken. Trump may surprise many by capturing voters who have had it with spin masters and meek presentations. Clinton better get some “true grit” if she hopes to win.

Ed Horn
Baldwin, NY

Manufacturing Threat

To The Editor:

My company, Lynda Transportation Services, works with other manufacturers that make advanced components to reduce auto emissions. We care about air quality, and we do not oppose reasonable federal standards to improve it. We do oppose standards that cost far more than they are worth by creating a drag on the economy while generating little to no benefit, such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to lower the existing ozone standard.

For manufacturers in New York City and around the country, lowering the already stringent ozone standard would kill jobs and reduce invest- ment. Manufacturers are working hard to revive manufacturing in New York City, and this proposal would undermine our efforts.

Many regions of the country are still struggling to meet the existing ozone standard. Instead of rewarding all the hard work manufacturers and others have done to reach compliance, the administration wants to move the goalposts. The resources manufacturers will have to devote to meeting the new, too strict standard will not be available for hiring, expanding or investing in the future of our companies.

The administration needs to rescind this rule and stop getting in the way of the US manufacturing recovery.

Sylvio Morales
Teamsters Local 807
Lynda Transportation Services
Middle Village

Use Your Judgment

To The Editor:

“If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck” (unless it’s a principal).

As the new school year is in its infancy, be reminded that parents don’t need to be told what to look for when judging their child’s school. In fact, it’s better not to listen to the jargon and the public relations talking points originating from or relayed through the chancellor’s or principal’s office. Parents: just keep your eyes open and get the buds out of your ears. Follow your heart. You’ll know the quality of the school at least as reliably as could be conveyed by any data report or survey.

A poor school could conceivably have a lower dropout rate and a higher graduation rate. A fine school could possibly have a higher suspension rate and less cutting-edge classroom gadgetry. Every school has a mixture of gifted and mediocre teachers. That’s also true of doctors on staffs of hospitals. And every school has a blend of motivated and apathetic students.

Don’t simplistically praise or criticize. In the real world beyond school, we all experienced, had to cope with – and survived – the full range of people in all kinds of situations. Let your kids do the same. If a teacher is not perfect, don’t go hunting to shoot down that teacher’s career. Support your children and their school by the right balance of conscientious aloofness and hands-on engagement. And keep your prescriptions for sedatives current.

Ron Isaac
Fresh Meadows

Landmarking Issues

To The Editor:

In its effort to obtain NYC Landmark status, the Broadway-Flushing Homeowners’ Association (BFHA) is again asking the homeowners to express their support in favor of landmark designation. This request disingenuously implies that homeowners have input and can participate in the landmarking process. According to the law, landmark designation is not the subject of a vote by the community or homeowners and notification to homeowners is not required.

In a response to my concerns regarding landmark designation, the Law Department of New York City apprised me that “A formal application process does not exist. The commission considers eligible buildings and districts for designation in response to suggestions from many sources, including groups and individuals, as well as the observations of Commission members and staff. While the Landmarks Commission seeks and encourages community and property owners’ participation and support when considering proposed landmark designations, neither is a required condition for the designation of a landmark.”

The letter continues, “the determination as to whether a building or a district is to be landmarked is not the subject of a referendum or vote by the community or property owners.” It is clear the wishes and desires of the homeowners are superfluous.

Designation requires homeowners to apply for and receive permits for most work: to paint wood, masonry, handrails a different color, install exterior light fixtures, install new window sash or frames, paint doors and door frames a different color, replace roofing material, install yard lighting, etc.

Invoking Landmark Laws to resolve problems resulting from unenforced building codes is neither the intent nor spirit of the Landmark Laws. The focus should be on improving, updating and enforcing zoning and building codes and not on limiting the rights of the homeowners and creating fertile ground for more bureaucratic corruption. Restricting and regulating homeowners’ property rights may stifle their proclivity to enhance and enrich the “gracious sense of place” they created in the first place.

The character and sense of place the association cites that distinguishes our neighborhood consists of many elements. Among them are the increasing number of local storefront signs, ads, and posters that are indecipherable to many residents. In the interest of preserving our neighborhood, perhaps BFHA should instead seek landmarking of the English language.

Ed Konecnik

7 Train To Secaucus, NJ

To The Editor:

Extending the 7 train into New Jersey may be the most cost effective bi-state project for improving transportation connections between New York and New Jersey, even if it takes 20 years to complete. The existing 42nd Street Port Authority Bus Terminal is antiquated, lacking sufficient capacity to deal with current and future needs. The PA of New York and New Jersey announced earlier this year that $9 billion may be needed to build a new facility at the same or new location on the west side in Midtown Manhattan.

Amtrak is looking for $19 billion to fund Amtrak’s proposed “Gateway” project for construction of a new tunnel providing additional access to Penn Station from New Jersey for Amtrak shared with New Jersey Transit.

Based upon past history, it is doubtful either agency will ever obtain these dollars.

A better solution might be to extend the MTA New York City Transit 7 subway extension from the Javits Convention Center on the west side of Manhattan to NJ Transit’s Secaucus Junction station by Exit 15X on the NJ Turnpike. Build a new bus terminal at Secaucus. This could divert thousands of riders from both the 42nd Street Bus Terminal and Penn Station.

Imagine providing a direct connection linking New Jersey, Penn Station, Grand Central Terminal and Queens under a one-seat ride. This could assist thousands of reverse commuters to employment centers along with sporting events such as Giants and Jets at the Meadowlands, NY Mets games, others at Citi Field, the US Open at Arthur Ashe stadium, along with Flushing Meadows Park and Queens Zoo. Thousands of NJ residents would have easier access to Manhattan’s East Side’s. Metro-North commuters via Grand Central Terminal would have a new option to NJ.

This could afford PANYNJ the ability to renovate the existing 42nd Street Bus Terminal in phases. Amtrak could shut down one Hudson River tunnel at a time for critical repairs. Both could remain in transit service with necessary work accomplished at far less cost.

The existing Corona, Queens subway yard is already operating at capacity. This facility is adjacent to wetlands and has little opportunity for expansion. A second storage yard might have to be built at a site in NJ, close to any new bus terminal adjacent to the existing NJ Transit Secaucus Transfer Station. It would be difficult to deadhead all the equipment from the current Corona Storage Yard to Secaucus to provide service prior to any AM or PM rush hours. If NYC Transit wanted to maintain existing headway between trains during rush hour, additional subway cars would need to be purchased. At $2 million per car, 100 additional cars would equal 10 trains for $200 million. A new storage yard could cost several hundred million. These costs are in addition to a new tunnel under the Hudson River, track, signal, power and substations. A new intermodal bus terminal would need to be constructed at Secaucus. This would be needed to accommodate hundreds of rush hour buses. Diverting many of these buses from the existing overcrowded Manhattan PA Bus Terminal could free up scarce space there. This could provide new capacity for service from other Metropolitan area communities. It would eliminate the need to deadhead several hundred buses to midday temporary storage facilities in NJ. A multi-story parking garage to accommodate several thousand cars would also be needed. This would free up valuable space in the already overcrowded Lincoln and Holland Tunnels during rush hours.

Extending the 7 subway line to Secaucus could easily cost $10 billion or more. There is no money included in the MTA’s proposed 2015- 2019 $32 billion capital plan for any work to support construction of the deleted 41st Street and 10th Avenue Station or future expansion of the 7 subway line. Ask the MTA to partner with the PA of New York and New Jersey, NJ Transit, the states of New York and New Jersey along with NYC to come up with a joint long-term financial plan. Imagine if each would agree to contribute $100 million per year or $2 billion each over 20 years, that would raise $12 billion. Riders and taxpayers from both states would benefit. You could also enter the federal Department of Transportation’s New Starts program. By providing local share, you could if successful enter into a future Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) with Uncle Sam. Sponsoring agencies’ local commitment could potentially leverage financial assistance from Washington spread out over years to help defray significant project costs.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

Larry Penner is a transportation historian and advocate who previously worked in the transportation field for 31 years

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