2017-02-01 / Front Page

A Vision Of The Future

Borough President Melinda Katz delivers her third annual State of the Borough address at York College. Photos Walter KarlingBorough President Melinda Katz delivers her third annual State of the Borough address at York College. Photos Walter KarlingQueens Borough President Melinda Katz delivered her third annual State of the Borough address on January 27 at York College, where she offered highlights of Queens milestones in recent years, some of the challenges that continue, and her vision for the borough’s future. Borough President Katz outlined recent growth in population, jobs, tourism, hospitality, trees, the airports, transportation and schools, saying, “As we continue to be the borough of growth, we can’t forget that we are, at our core, still the borough of families.”

Highlighted proposals included a new soccer and hockey stadium at Willets Point; mandating public review through ULURP for hotel permits in the city to help ensure community input and better monitoring of growth; a borough-wide plan for bike lanes; the reopening of the displaced Queens Field Office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); creating space in public parks specifically designed for seniors to stay active.


Presentation of the Colors by the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at CUNY while Victoria Labban of the Fiorello LaGaurdia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts sings the National Anthem. 
Photo Walter Karling Presentation of the Colors by the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at CUNY while Victoria Labban of the Fiorello LaGaurdia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts sings the National Anthem. Photo Walter Karling The State of the Borough was MCed by Dr. Stacie N.C. Grant, a motivational speaker, author, and southeast Queens resident. A traditional lion dance performed by the Asian United and Cultural Exchange Council from Flushing kicked off the program in celebration of the upcoming Lunar New Year, as well as brief welcoming remarks by York College President Dr. Marcia V. Keizs. Borough President Katz was then introduced by Allan Houston, two-time NBA All-Star and founder of the Allan Houston Legacy Foundation dedicated to youth mentorship and entrepreneurship.

CUNY’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) presented the Colors. Victoria Labban, an Ozone Park resident and student at the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, delivered a rendition of the National Anthem. The speech touched many other key points including the need for US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to open a field office in Queens, which has not had one since flooding forced the closure of the USCIS Field Office in Long Island City two years ago. The departure of the old Queens field office means Queens residents must either travel to Lower Manhattan or to Holtsville, Long Island, to reach the nearest USCIS Field Office to address their citizenship and green card applications and obtain other important services that have become even more vital during this time of uncertainty in Federal immigration policy. Katz and Congress Member Gregory Meeks recently announced their proposal to open a USCIS Queens Field Office in the vacant space available in the Addabbo Federal Building in Jamaica, which is optimally located near mass transit and is within easy reach of Queens’ 2.3 million residents, nearly half of whom were born abroad.

Katz considered additional options for the 62 acres of Willets Point, the urban renewal plan that the borough president first sponsored more than 10 years ago when she was a member of the City Council. With the plan in court, Katz said it is time to review additional options for the area that could include the construction of a hockey arena or soccer stadium, along with other facilities like a new school, an eco-recreation center, and more parking to accommodate the major events often take place simultaneously in the Flushing Meadows vicinity. Katz endorsed the proposed $400 million expansion of Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct Racetrack. The project calls for a 400-room hotel, a 20,000-square-foot spa and resort, and at least 140,000 square feet of convention and meeting space.

Immediately following the address, guests enjoyed a brief reception featuring music by DJ Nat of Flux Factory in Long Island City, cookies by YouCake in Long Island City, and catering by DelishNY in Corona.

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