2016-07-13 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Original AirTrain Plan

To The Editor:

Initiation of construction for the new LaGuardia Airport missed current status of the accompanying train to the plane project. The original project sponsor, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and supporters continue to be overly optimistic concerning building a train to the plane for LaGuardia Airport. Success for this project is dependent upon the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Metropolitan Transportation Authority working well together. Fifteen years after 9/11, the Cortland Street World Trade Center IRT subway station on the 1 line is still several years away from being back in service. If there are no new delays, perhaps the station will reopen by December 2018. The PANYNJ and MTA fought for years over budget, funding sources, scope and schedule. Construction for the MTA portion of the project started only months ago.

Everyone has long forgotten that the successful PANYNJ AirTrain, which currently runs between the LIRR Jamaica Station and Kennedy Airport was supposed to continue proceeding north along the Van Wyck Expressway and connect with LaGuardia Airport. The PANYNJ did not have suffecient funding to complete the original full scope of the project.

This original extension to LaGuardia Airport could also have connected with the LIRR and 7 subway line at the Mets - Willets Point Station. Construction primarily within existing highway right of way would have eased any local community opposition from those who owned homes and/or businesses adjacent to the route. Too bad the PANYNJ choose instead to spend billions in non-transportation investments during this same time period instead of completing the AirTrain to LaGuardia Airport.

The estimated cost of $450 million for construction of LaGuardia AirTrain is just a concept based upon a planning feasibility study. Eighteen months have passed since Cuomo announced this project, with no known progress to date. There are no environmental documents, or any preliminary design and engineering efforts necessary to validate any actual construction costs. They will be refined as projects progress beyond the planning and environmental phases into real and final design efforts. Value engineering, which is a process used to reduce costs, will be used during the final design phase. Unfortunately, history has shown that estimated costs for construction usually trend upwards as projects mature toward 100% final design. Progression of final design refines the detailed scope of work necessary to support construction.

The anticipated final potential cost for a LaGuardia AirTrain could end up several hundred million dollars above Cuomo’s estimated figure of $450 million. Costs will be further refined by award of construction contracts, followed by any unforeseen site conditions and change orders to the base contracts during the course of construction.

There will be significant conflicts when the LaGuardia AirTrain is built and open for service with connections to both the Mets Willets Point subway and LIRR stations. Why would any LaGuardia Airport-bound travelers with luggage attempt to squeeze into already-packed AM and PM rush-hour subway and LIRR trains? Governor Cuomo apparently never considered how this issue will be resolved when contemplating this project. Cuomo, in 2014, promised that the LaGuardia AirTrain would be up and running within 5 years or by 2019. Now he has said this will occur by 2021.

To build a train to the plane from the Mets - Willets Point 7 subway and Long Island Rail Road station to LaGuardia Airport within five years for $450 million as promised by Cuomo is a planner’s dream. In reality it will be a nightmare for both taxpayers and riders. You can count on cost overruns in the hundreds of millions and multi-year delays in construction before reaching beneficial use. Perhaps the Queens Gazette can a run a contest. Readers can guess the future opening service day date. I’ll take April 1, 2025. Winner gets a free ticket to ride.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

Help Trees Help Us

To The Editor:

The thousands of newly planted trees that are lining our streets need to be watered on a regular basis during these hot summer months. These are all young trees with yet undeveloped deep root systems, and they cannot pull up large quantities of ground water like older trees that have deeper root systems, that reach down to that depth. If the city has planted a tree in front of your home, please water it at least three times per week, by either pouring three to four pailfuls of water into its base, or by allowing the hose to run long enough to soak the area where the tree is planted, also at least three times per week. These waterings will help the trees through hot, dry periods and will help their roots to continue to develop and grow deeper into the soil. Trees add beauty and serenity to the landscape, as well as giving us beneficial shade, oxygen and also preventing soil from eroding during rainstorms. Please help our newly planted trees so they can be around for many years to come. Happy Summer!

John Amato
Fresh Meadows

The Wild West

To The Editor:

I am appalled at the police shootings in various states, especially the five policemen who were assassinated in cold blood. Killing innocent officers in retaliation for two police officers killing two victims is not the answer. We must not fight fire with fire. We must get together and the police must speak to the communities and be trained how to treat all racial groups. This is absolute lawlessness in every sense of the word. We depend upon the police to protect us, not to be victims of mass murder; and at the same time the fears and prejudices towards minorities must be eased through education and sensitivity training. We do not want a long hot summer like we had during the race riots of the 1960s.

I am so pleased that Resorts World Casinos will donate funds for the families of those who were killed in the Orlando shootings. I am also glad that 9/11 heroes’ families were honored at City Field. However, honoring is just lip service. We must provide these families with the necessary counseling and financial support that is due them, although it is almost 15 years since the attack on the WTC occurred.

Also, yes, insurance for cars should be lowered for cars that have cameras on the dashboard. Also, all police officers should wear body cameras. It is appalling to hear that gun violence has risen in the 114th Precinct. This is a sad state of affairs. This reminds me of “Gunsmoke” and the Wild West – lawlessness and anarchy. I support education, sensitivity training and better community relations between the community and the police departments.

I am so glad that there will be a parade for disabled people. However, a parade is not enough. Disabled people need special counseling, acceptance by the rest of the community, help in finding affordable housing, employment and recreational activities that are meaningful to them. Everyone has some kind of disability, as you know. However not enough is being done for visually impaired senior citizens in terms of housing, activities geared for this group, more reading materials in Braille and audio format, and more caring and emotional support.

The ADA and a parade are wonderful, but the meat and potatoes of treating disabled people with respect and dignity are important.

We also must write to the VA and ask them to allow nurse practioners to treat patients at the VA hospitals. These professionals know a great deal. I heard that waiting times at VA hospitals have not decreased and allowing nurse practioncers to do their job examining patients will reduce waiting time and add to better health for our veterans.

I applaud City Comptroller Scott Stringer who audited the Department of Finance and found $75 million potential tax dollars were wasted on ineligible corporations and deceased people getting tax abatements meant for senior homeowners. This is wrong.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

Fire-Fighting Heroes

To The Editor:

I’m Grand Knight of St. Anastasia Knights of Columbus Council 5911 in Douglaston and we are a organization dedicated to works of charity and in helping the church, the community. The Knights of Columbus work for the good of the many. We have many members who are firefighters, law enforcement officers, and EMS personnel. That being said let me mention one of our own who has done well which includes other firefighters. One of our members, Robert Sweeney who is Deputy Commissioner and Chief of Staff of the FDNY is Man of the Year at the Douglaston-Little Neck Memorial Day Parade this year. We applaud our brother for a job well done. In that regard let me praise all of our firefighters as well. I would like to acknowledge the FDNY, Volunteer Firefighters, and all firefighters across this great nation of ours. These brave men and women go above and beyond to saves lives and property. I don’t think enough of us recognize what these people do and thank them enough. And that is why I am compelled to do so now. As for myself, I cannot imagine what kind of courage it takes to go into a burning building and risk one’s life and possibly leave family and friends behind to save the lives of the old, young, all of whom are strangers, and maybe animals as well. Our firefighters work as a team to secure their lives. Let’s also remember with great respect the many who have lost their lives over the years like the 343 firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11, the many in our local communities and those who have lost their lives out west putting out the many forest fires. Our heartfelt prayers go out to them and their families as well. In my opinion it takes a special person to become a firefighter and I for one feel very thankful that there are many who step up to this most challenging and dangerous job protecting all of us. For that let me say this, “May God bless you all and may God bless America for all that you all do.”

Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Glen Oaks Village

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