2017-06-21 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Gateway Not Funded

To The Editor:

Recent news that the Gateway Development Corporation is now looking for private developers to help pay for the $24 billion new Hudson River Gateway Tunnel as part of a joint public/private partnership is no surprise. President Trump has included no funding for this project in his proposed new budget. It confirms that the proposed three way federal, New Jersey and New York $24 billion funding package is not real. The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey’s allocation of $2.7 billion within the approved $32 billion 2017-2026 ten year capital plan to help finance the Gateway Tunnel is just initial seed money. These dollars will be used toward debt service payments against a possible future federal Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing loan to the Gateway Development Corporation for the project. This loan has yet to be approved and will have to be paid back. Without real financial resources from not only Washington, but also from New York and New Jersey, how will the Gateway Tunnel be paid? A project can’t be financed by just borrowing alone. Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Fox, Senators Booker, Menendez and Schumer ($12 billion), Governor Cuomo ($6 billion) and Governor Christie ($6 billion), all for the most part, have failed to identify the specific source(s) for their financial contributions to the project. There are no significant dollars programmed in the federal Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST) for Gateway. It is wishful thinking that the US DOT Federal Transit Administration New Starts program, Amtrak, and Federal Rail Road Administration loans combined can come up with $12 billion or more for Washington’s share of this project. The same is true for New Jersey’s $6 billion and New York’s $6 billion. There is no guarantee that President Trump’s USDOT Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao will be able to deliver on her predecessor Fox’s promise of up to $4 billion in USDOT FTA New Starts funding for the project.

In less than two years, initial cost estimates have already grown from $20 to $24 billion. It is reminiscent of the ongoing Metropolitan Transportation Authority Long Island Rail Road Eastside Access to Grand Central Terminal project. In 2001. the initial estimated cost was $3.5 billion. In 2017, 16 years later (based upon the 2016 MTA US DOT FTA amended Full Funding Grant Agreement) currently at $10.8 billion, and it is anticipated to grow over 300% to $12 billion when completed in 2023. By 2032 or 15 years later, will Gateway do the same and end up costing $30, $40 or $50 billion?

The Gateway Development Corporation reminds me of the character Wimpy who famously said “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” Tuesday may never come for commuters and taxpayers who use NJT and Amtrak and need a new Hudson River Tunnel to be completed within their lifetime.

Larry Penner
Great Neck

United, Not Untied States

To The Editor:

Shootings are not the answer to this terrible polarization and hatred between the two major political parties in our nation. Both parties must sit down, speak civilly and remember that this is the United States, not the “Untied” States, and we must unite and disagree reasonably and maturely, and compromise. This is shameful, how guns are used to kill innocent people and children.

In London what kind of fire safety do they have, when 58 people are killed in a fire? I worry about people in nursing homes and in assisted living facilities who are mobility impaired and in wheelchairs or use walkers and live on upper floors. It will be difficult for them to evacuate in case of fire.

All nursing homes and residential facilities must have sprinkler systems installed in each room.

I am glad that a memorial will be placed in Elmhurst Park to honor the Vietnam veterans. This war was unpopular, but it was costly and the veterans who gave their lives must be honored and respected and remembered. This is true of giving veterans housing priority and medical care and to end homelessness.

I heard that there are much too many delays on the subways, overcrowding and signal trouble. The City of New York should take over and run the subways like they used to do. The MTA is too big to handle the specific problems of the entire city subway system.

I am appalled that stabbings and slashings have increased on the subways, in addition to rapes. What happened to the Guardian Angels organization that would ride the subways to protect people?

This is reminding me of the Wild West, where people have guns and shoot each other, including Congressman Scalise at baseball practice. Awful.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

Phys-Ed For All, Finally

To The Editor:

At the Women’s City Club of New York (WCC), we believe that all children and young adults deserve a quality education, one that sets them on a clear path to success. But for too long, our schools have ignored a New York State mandate that all students have access to physical education – a vital piece of all students’ health and achievement. That is why we are incredibly encouraged that Mayor de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña recently announced Universal Physical Education, which will provide all schools with a designated gym space and help close this gap by 2021.

For more than a century, WCC has advocated for improvements in the lives of all New Yorkers by seeking reforms in government, healthcare, the workplace, and in our educational system. Since 2010, we have championed efforts to hold the city public schools accountable for giving state-mandated physical education to all students. Our Task Force issued several comprehensive reports, including an analysis of data provided by the NYC Independent Budget Office (IBO) that demonstrated many schools lack adequate space for physical education, often as a result of overcrowding, and some schools are completely lack any exercise space.

Compelling evidence has strongly shown that school-based physical education leads to improved academic achievement, increased test scores, better student health outcomes, and improved cognitive ability and behavior.

We congratulate New York City leadership for committing funding for new PE resources to help ensure our children’s improved health and academic performance. While the Universal Physical Education Initiative is heartening, we urge that our officials adequately monitor progress, and ensure that sufficient numbers of qualified professional physical education teachers are employed. We cannot continue to shortchange our children any longer.

Amy Schwartz
Chair, Physical Education of NYC Public
Schools Task Force
Member, Board of Directors, Women’s
City Club of New York

MetroCard Van

The Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation will sponsor a MetroCard Van to visit Woodhaven on Friday, June 30, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Forest Parkway and Jamaica Avenue (Forest Parkway Plaza area). The MetroCard Mobile Unit sales staff will assist with the following: demonstration in use of MetroCards, turnstiles and fare boxes; purchase of a MetroCard and adding money to your MetroCard. For a reduced fare MetroCard, anyone 65 years of age or older or who has a Qualifying Disability, please bring your Medicare card, driver’s license or photo I.D. which proves your age. For additional information on the reduced fare program and applications, please call 718-330-1234.

If you have any questions, please call the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation Office at 718-805-0202.

Maria A. Thomson, Executive Director
Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation
Woodhaven Business Improvement District

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