2017-04-26 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Hope For The Future

Dear Friend,

Have you ever been a part of something that felt bigger than you ever imagined it could be? Today, I feel that way. And an article on the cover of the April 17 New York Times will explain why (“Girl Scout Troop Fosters Pride at Queens Shelter,” by Nikita Stewart).

You see, last November I joined a group of Girls Scouts to serve Thanksgiving dinner to the residents of Pam’s Place, a homeless shelter for women in my district. It was then that I and others dreamed of a Girl Scout troop for homeless girls.

Well, that dream became a reality.

I’m proud that our district has made history by chartering the first Girl Scout troop for homeless girls: Troop 6000. All of the girls in Troop 6000 live in a shelter in Long Island City, where it can be difficult to make new friends and set up play dates. Troop 6000 gives these girls a place to find lifelong friends and discover the beauty, power, and strength they have inside.

This is among the best things I’ve ever been a part of, and this article brings tears to my eyes. You can really see the power of this troop and the courage of these girls.

But right now, Girl Scout Troop 6000 is a pilot program, and to expand this program further the Girl Scouts need funds. Please contribute by visiting www.girlscoutsnyc.org/donate so that we can expand the Girl Scouts in NYC Shelters program to help more girls find a home in Troop 6000.

With so much wrong in our world, let’s all get behind something so very right.

Sincerely,
Jimmy Van Bramer
Majority Leader, New York City Council

Tragic Loss

To The Editor:

I am heartbroken over the death of firefighter William Tolley. As one of New York’s Bravest, firefighter Tolley constantly put his life on the line to protect our city, and died in the line of duty while keeping our community safe. We can never thank our first responders enough for the brave and courageous sacrifices they make each and every day, and this tragedy once again illustrates the dangers that they continuously face. I ask all New Yorkers to join me in sending thoughts and prayers to firefighter Tolley’s loved ones, his colleagues at Ladder 135/Engine 286, and the entire FDNY. U.S. Rep. Grace Meng

   To The Editor:

Another member of New York’s Bravest has died in the line of duty. FDNY veteran William Tolley fell five stories while trying to put out a fire in Queens. He left behind a wife named Marie and daughter, Isabella who is 8 years old. This I find most sad, and leaves many with a profound sense of loss of a good man who sought only to save lives and to protect property. My heartfelt prayers go out to the Tolley family, friends and fellow firefighters who are grieving over the loss of a good man. William Tolley was dedicated to the FDNY and to the City of New York and will be greatly missed. God bless you William Tolley, you died much too young at 42. Frederick R. Bedell Jr. Glen Oaks Village

   To The Editor:

The death of firefighter William Tolley is indeed a tragic loss for the FDNY, as well as his family and the entire city. He was a brave man, doing what he loved – working to protect the people of this city – and he will truly be missed. We all join his wife Marie, daughter Bella, and the rest of his family, as well as his FDNY brothers and sisters in mourning this tragic loss. May he rest in peace.

John Amato
Fresh Meadows

N. Korean Economy

To The Editor:

President Trump has pointed out the strong linkage between China and North Korea, and he correctly assumes China can influence North Korea’s weapons development program. We must work with China on resolving this situation, and also on the Chinese encroachment in the South China Sea and the trade deficit imbalance.

At this juncture, the North Korean nuclear missile program is of primary concern. China can bring pressure on North Korea to stop its development of these weapons systems by reducing its trade with North Korea.

One area of trade that comes to mind is the large quantity of coal China imports from North Korea. It is estimated this amounts to 22 million tons per year, which is 40% of North Korea’s coal exports. A reduction in the importation of North Korean coal would significantly impact the North Korean economy, and could force it to change its position on arms development.

The U.S. has large quantities of coal available for mining which could be sold to China, if cost effective, to fill its coal importation needs. This would help our trade imbalance with China, boost our coal mining industry, and put our coal miners back to work.

Donald Moskowitz
Londonderry, NH
Former AG2 and LT, U.S. Navy

Citi Bike Ill-Conceived

To The Editor:

I am writing on behalf of the over 2,000 residents of the Queensview Cooperative. We have been astonished at the lack of support from our local elected and appointed officials regarding the placement of Citi Bike stations in Astoria and Long Island City.

They have positioned eight Citi Bike Stations on the stretch of Crescent Street, between Hoyt and 38th Avenues. This is completely excessive and most importantly it does not serve the transportation needs of the community.

One bike station is positioned on the west side of Crescent St., between Broadway and 33rd Ave. This is directly in front of the very popular Dellamonica-Steinway Senior Center. Not sure that a population with mobility impairment issues needs a Citi Bike station to trip over. Nor do they need a bumbling cyclist running into them on the sidewalk. Additionally, this is a heavily used sidewalk for the thousands of residents living in Queensview and Ravenswood.

The second station is positioned in front of Walgreens, on the sidewalk of Crescent St. and 34th Ave. Once again, this is a pharmacy that serves the densely populated communities of Queensview, Ravenswood and North Queensview and which all have large, elderly populations.

The positioning of these two stations in such close proximity demonstrates a complete disregard for our neighborhood residents.

Queens Community Board 1 has told us that all complaints and concerns regarding the placement of Citi Bike stations should be directed via 311 to DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia.

No one has any explained what studies or data support the placement of so many bikes in our area. I am told that the bikes are coming and they can either be on the sidewalk or the road (parking spaces).

We were told that Citi Bike’s expansion into the outer boroughs would probably require public funding. Well, the City Council just proposed allocating $12 million for 2,000 bikes in the outer boroughs and Upper Manhattan. That means that these bikes would cost taxpayers $6,000 each! All the while, Citi Bike and its parent company keep all the money generated and pay nothing for the space they utilize. How does this benefit the taxpayers?

This program might be a viable transportation alternative, but it should not disrupt the most utilized and green transportation method – walking – and it certainly should not be given scarce public money to serve a slim minority of the population.

Just think, one 40-station bike rack would cost $240,000. How about an elevator or escalator at one of the elevated subway stations in Astoria?

Also, did you know that Related Companies, a major real estate investor, is one of the main investors in Citi Bike? The bike stations are an amenity they use to attract young, affluent renters and buyers. Why should taxpayers pay for a marketing tool for a giant developer?

We are urging the Western Queens Gazette to educate area residents about the usurping of tax dollars for what many will deem to be non-essential services. Please help us prevent the community from being bamboozled.

Alicia Fernandez
Queensview Board of Directors

Jackie Robinson Day

To The Editor:

I am glad that devices such as computers and cell phones can be disposed of by having someone pick them up.

April 15 was Jackie Robinson Day, and every team member in the major leagues honored his number (42). He was a civil rights leader who broke the color line and was a hero in every sense of the word. We must not forget what he did by showing nonviolence and winning games and opening the way for so many others. Also in 1865 Abraham Lincoln was killed, and we must remember that he was also a hero and an extraordinary man.

I am fearful that this nation will get into a war and we must try not to do so, and I am appalled and ashamed at United Airlines after they bodily removed an innocent passenger from their plane. This is an abomination and it is going to cost United Airlines a loss in ridership.

I also must restate that too many derailments are occurring and something must be done to remedy this situation.

I am also appalled at the shooting in a California school. We are not safe, and children and adults of any age are innocent victims of those who do not need to have guns.

I am glad that the governor has a budget now.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

BQX Off The Rails?

To The Editor:

The recent release of a February 2017 internal City Hall memo reveals that the proposed financing of the Brooklyn Queens Street Car (known as BQX) by capturing a piece of rising property values that would be a result of construction will not work. This financing model, known as “value capture,” was supposed to have paid for 100% of the project. This follows a past release by the NYC Economic Development Corporation of a paper concerning construction of a waterfront street car to connect various neighborhoods between Astoria and Sunset Park, Brooklyn at a cost of $2.5 billion which now leaves new questions needing answers. There are several other Queens-based transportation projects competing for funding against both the Woodhaven Blvd. Select Bus Service and Long Island Rail Road Rockaway Beach Service Restoration projects. In 2015, The Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector released a study claiming it could be built for $1.7 billion. Mayor Bill de Blasio later in 2016 said $2.5 billion. In less than one year, the price tag went up by $800 million. Imagine how many more billions it might cost to complete. It takes more than a simple planning feasibility study to turn into a viable capital transportation improvement project. There have been no environmental documents or preliminary design and engineering efforts necessary to validate any basic estimates for $2.5 billion construction costs of the Brooklyn-Queens Waterfront Streetcar Connector. What is the cost and funding source for several hundred million more above a $2.5 billion base line price tag to pay for two new bridges over the Gowanus Canal and Newtown Creek as part of the project scope?

Claims that construction would start in 2019 and service begin by 2024 are now just wishful thinking. This memo also reveals that the completion date could slip until 2025 or later. The environmental review process will just start in 2017. Final design and engineering, which could take several years, would not proceed beyond 30% until the appropriate city, state or federal funding agency made an environmental finding in 2018 or 2019. History shows that construction of most major new transportation system expansion projects take decades. There are many narrow streets along the proposed corridor. Any streetcar system will have to compete with existing bus, auto, commercial vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. At an estimated speed of 12 miles per hour, how many people would actually take advantage of a streetcar versus other existing options? No neighborhoods have come forward to accept the two multi-acre operations, maintenance and storage facilities necessary to accommodate 52 or more street cars. Resolution of this issue alone could take years. Bus stops are normally every one to two blocks. Proposed spacing of street car stops every 1/2 mile will make it more difficult to attract riders. Utility relocation costs were originally estimated to be $427 million. Will New York City, like the MTA, ask utility companies to pick up the tab? It has now been revealed that these costs, along with relocation of water mains and sewer lines may be even higher.

Mayor de Blasio’s plan to finance this project by taking a percentage of property taxes (value capture) on new development was always robbing Peter to pay Paul. This would reduce the amount of money available for police, fire, sanitation and other essential municipal services. Both the NYC Department of Transportation and Economic Development Corporation have no experience in design, construction or operations of street car systems. Mayor de Blasio will now have to ask the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to serve as a project sponsor and future system operator. The MTA, not wanting to use its own funding, would have to enter the project into United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration New Starts program. MTA, NYCDOT, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, New Jersey Transit and Amtrak are all attempting to qualify many other projects for the same federal New Starts program.

Dozens of other potential New Starts projects are being championed by many other senators and Congress members. The requests far exceed any available New Starts funding. There will be few winners and many losers.

Mayor de Blasio promised riders would pay the same $2.75 fare as those using NYC Transit subway, bus or MTA bus. This would also include a free transfer to connect with existing NYCT subway, bus and MTA bus services. He has failed for over two years to identify how New York City will provide the MTA with tens of millions in additional operating subsidies on a yearly basis to cover the cost of lost revenues.

Completion of a planning study is just the first step of any potential capital transportation project improvement. The journey for a project of this scope can easily take 10 to 20 years before becoming a reality. Given the increasing uncertainties of project financing and growing costs for utility, sewer lines and water main relocation, it appears that a new limited stop bus route along this corridor would make more sense.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

Peralta For Mayor

To The Editor:

I am in favor of term limits – not just on politicians, but on abortions.

I am in favor of cutting funding for Planned Parenthood.

I am in favor of having voter IDs.

I think New York state should clean up the corruption by cleaning up this “voting in a party bloc.”

I voted for Jose Peralta, not in a primary, but in a general election to represent the people of his district, whether they were Republicans, Democrats, Independents, etc.

You wouldn’t feel the same way if the roles were reversed! eg., if the Republicans were in power and you had to form an independent coalition to stop them.

Sen. Peralta is my State Senator as a result of reapportionment (gerrymandering) a portion of my former State Senate district into his. The area was made up of “Reagan Democrats.”

It is obvious that you so-called “real Democrats” are seeking more power, election to higher office, more seniority, etc., so is Sen. Peralta! How about Peralta for mayor! Frances Luhmann McDonald

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