2017-01-25 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Constitution’s Queens Roots

A copy of this letter was received at the Queens Gazette. Dear President-Elect Trump:

The peaceful transition of power in this country is remarkable. Since George Washington handed over the reins of government to John Adams in 1797, we have set the standard for the rest of the world. What happens tomorrow is part of a great historical trajectory that has never failed us. That’s because we have a “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” as Abraham Lincoln wrote.

It wasn’t always like this, though. Back when it was New Amsterdam in the 1600s, New York City was more of a fiefdom. Director-General Peter Stuyvesant made the rules and bucked little resistance. In 1657, he butted heads with residents of a town called “Vlissingen,” which is now known as Flushing. As you know, Queens people can be a little feisty. But even in the 17th century, they had a tolerant “live and let live” attitude. I think that’s because our predecessors weren’t impressed with heritage, religion or family connections; it’s always been about who you are as a person. So when the dear Director-General banned the practicing of all religions except that of the Dutch Reformed Church – which clearly went against the evolving trend of religious tolerance – Vlissingen residents were ticked off in a major way. And like any in-your-face Queensite, they made their thoughts known. Four hundred and nine years prior to the advent of Twitter, they got together and wrote a letter to the authorities in the Netherlands, the European country that charted New Amsterdam.

The Flushing Remonstrance was one of the first documents in which citizens articulated a right to religious freedom. The authors were taking a big risk, and looking out for the minorities in their community. They stated that the “law of love, peace and liberty in the states extending to Jews, Turks and Egyptians, as they are considered sons of Adam...” Some of the signers were arrested, but the leadership in the Netherlands eventually supported the Remonstrance, and in 1663, Director General Stuyvesant had to end religious persecution.

Talk about chutzpah! The words and actions of these Queens folks laid the foundation for religious freedom...and all the other rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments of the Constitution. For this reason, I keep a copy of the Remonstrance in my office. This ballsy little document is a constant reminder of how our country evolved for the betterment of its citizenry. More importantly, it’s a testament to the power of doing the right thing.

I’m taking the liberty of sending you a framed copy. You might wish to place it in your office. If so, I hope it serves as a reminder of your Queens roots and our country’s origins as a multicultural democracy. May it be a source of strength for you, too.

Seth Bornstein
Executive Director
Queens Economic Development Corp.
Sunnyside Yards

Sunnyside Yards

To The Editor:

The recent announcement by the New York City Economic Development Corporation that the $2.5 million study to look at potential development of Sunnyside Rail Yards scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2016 will be delayed again several more months before a final report is released in the spring of 2017 could be good news. Did the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Long Island Rail Road, Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and Metro-North Rail Road coordinate with NYCEDC on this study? Both Amtrak and NJ Transit use the existing Sunnyside Yards for midday and overnight storage, along with positioning of equipment for rush hour service. The MTA, LIRR and Metro-North have their own future potential plans to use portions of Sunnyside Yards for construction of a station. It would make sense to include MTA, LIRR, Amtrak, New Jersey Transit and Metro-North in the development of any proposed scope of work by NYCEDC for future potential development plans for Sunnyside Yards.

Few remember that in 1998, as part of the proposed MTA Long Island Rail Road Eastside Access project, construction of a passenger station was considered for Sunnyside Yards. It would provide access to the growing Long Island City business and residential district. Fast forward 19 years to today: the MTA has still not advertised and awarded a contract for the new Sunnyside Yards LIRR Station (that was to be built at Queens Blvd. and Skillman Avenue).

Any future development plans utilizing the air rights over Sunnyside Yards need to include the proposed MTA LIRR East Side Access project construction of a passenger station at Sunnyside Yards. It will provide access to both Sunnyside and adjacent growing Long Island City business and residential community, along with neighboring Astoria and Woodside. There has been incredible residential and commercial growth in neighborhoods adjacent to Sunnyside Yards. Imagine the benefits to both residents and commuters. Consider the possible travel options, including reverse commuting if a Metro-North Rail Road connection from the New Haven line via the Bronx and Hell Gate Bridge on to Grand Central Terminal reached beneficial use, along with LIRR Eastside Access and both provide service to a Sunnyside Yards station in December 2023 or some time in 2024.

Larry Penner
Great Neck, LI

Astoria Resolutions

To The Editor:

As Astoria becomes so popular, my wishes for the New Year for our community are that:

1. Storeowners stop advertising by putting stickers with business names on the Ditmars Blvd. train (Thank you to the workers funded by Costa Constantinides for keeping the train free of debris).

2. People realize parking spots are hard to find, and stop taking up two spots.

3. If you do put up a poster for an event on a pole, go back and take it down when the event is over.

Thanks to all who keep our Astoria community safe and clean. Improving our quality of life is what Astoria is all about.

Debra Lynne

Trump Forgot Seniors

To The Editor:

How elated I was to find out that the Queens Gazette is 35 years old – happy anniversary. You have grown into a wonderful newspaper; our eyes and ears in the community, telling us triumphs, sadness, and how others have improved our quality of life. You inspired me to write letters to the editor since 2000 and also had my picture appear in the Gazette in many articles over the years, being honored by politicians for my volunteer service and work. Congratulations.

I was surprised that at Trump’s inauguration there were not representatives of clergy from the Hindu, Muslim and Jewish religions. We are a diverse nation and all faiths must have a part in giving a prayer. I admire and applaud Senator Schumer from our New York for his wonderful speech. He should have been elected president. I hope that Trump does not stop deductions such as medical and charitable, and also that state and city taxes are deducted on federal tax returns. Nothing about senior citizens and disabled people were mentioned during the campaign and in Trump’s speech on January 20. The campaign was a terrible, horrible one, and I hope that this will never happen again in our history. Mud slinging is definitely uncalled for. I am proud that our nation did have a smooth transition and that no terrorism did occur. I thank all our NYPD and all other law enforcement workers for their difficult work in keeping this inauguration safe.

The hazards of the nuclear power plant, Indian Point really can cause fatalities in New York City if a situation occurs like that of Three Mile Island.

Also, it is awful that places where homeless people stay and the city pays for them to live are in such horrible condition. It is also an abomination that during the coldness of winter people do not have heat. Shelter is so important and so is heat in the cold weather.

Ignitions that close and cause cars to stop are necessary to save lives when there are drunk drivers.

I am glad that a transit strike has been averted.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

Resolve To Give

To The Editor:

The holidays have come to a close and a New Year, 2017, has begun. In 2017, most of us are in the process of making our New Year’s resolutions, some of which we will find hard to keep. But maybe there are resolutions out there that we should make every effort to keep.

There are those in need of our help even though the holidays are gone. The need remains. Our food pantries and soup kitchens need to feed the poor all year round, and when food runs out, the poor do with less, and that includes their children as well.

Let us not forget about our blood supply, which is low after the holidays. We are in desperate need of blood donations. This I know firsthand because I help run a blood drive at St. Anastasia Parish in Douglaston as Grand Knight of St. Anastasia Knights of Columbus Council 5911.

Again, this year as we make our New Year’s resolutions, let’s resolve to donate needed funds to help the poor, the needy, and the homeless by giving to religious and community groups, and government organizations. These organizations also need volunteers, and if you can spare the time please step up and help. Remember there are poor and needy people out there – not only during the holidays, but all year round. That would be a great New Year’s resolution and that is a beautiful thing to do. For it is charity that is the greatest gift we can give to others this coming year, and you will be glad that you did.

Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Glen Oaks Village

Return to top

Copyright 1999-2018 The Service Advertising Group, Inc. All rights reserved.