2018-01-31 / Front Page

A Vision Of The Future

BY THOMAS COGAN


Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’ fourth State of the Borough address, delivered January 26 at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria, was full of recent and future accomplishments and culminated with a wish list of things she would like to see in 2030, a year she ordained as a significant destination point in the life of this city. 
Photo Office of the Queens Borough President Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’ fourth State of the Borough address, delivered January 26 at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria, was full of recent and future accomplishments and culminated with a wish list of things she would like to see in 2030, a year she ordained as a significant destination point in the life of this city. Photo Office of the Queens Borough President Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’ fourth State of the Borough address, delivered January 26 at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria, was full of recent and future accomplishments and culminated with a wish list of things she would like to see in 2030, a year she ordained as a significant destination point in the life of this city.

Introduced by US Senator Charles Schumer, the borough president began by saying that 2017 was a rough one, marked by “increasingly authoritarian policies,” starting with the attempt to restrict travel by Muslims by President Trump. She contended that the state population was undercounted in the 2010 census, so she intends to form the Queens Complete Count Committee to restore a proper count in the 2020 census.


Queens Borough President Melinda Katz delivers her fourth State of the Borough at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria. 
Photos Walter Karling Queens Borough President Melinda Katz delivers her fourth State of the Borough at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Astoria. Photos Walter Karling Katz enumerated successes, counting among them continuing recovery from the damage done by Superstorm Sandy more than five years ago. Next was the citywide ferry service, which has four stops in Queens; the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, construction of which will soon begin in Elmhurst Park and projected to be finished in 2020; and enrollment of 20,000 pre-kindergarten children in borough schools. The trailers that were meant to provide emergency classrooms have been steadily disappearing from schoolyards, Katz said, replaced by real and permanent school buildings.


Guest Speaker US Senator Charles Schumer. Guest Speaker US Senator Charles Schumer. She also hailed another educational tool, Know Your Rights workshops, which have been set up in Queens to prepare immigrants and others to handle occasions of bias and intimidation.

“The 21,000 DACA-eligible individuals in Queens grew up as American as my own kids, and they ask for nothing more than to be law-abiding citizens in the only country they know to be their home,” said Borough President Katz.

Turning to film and television production at Kaufman and Silvercup Studios, Katz called it a “huge driver of tourism,” and again expressed gratitude that the New York State Pavilion, from the World’s Fair of 1964-65, has been restored to its original color.

Revealing her vision for the future, Katz said, “By 2030, the New York State Pavilion is an illuminated, fully restored structure, featuring an open-air performance space under the Tent of Tomorrow. When lit up every night, the brilliance from the Observation Towers is visible from miles away, and in 2030 is emblematic of just how far the World’s Borough has come.”


President of the NYC School Construction Authority Lorraine Grillo, District Manager of Community Board 12 Yvonne Reddick and Council Member Karen Koslowitz. President of the NYC School Construction Authority Lorraine Grillo, District Manager of Community Board 12 Yvonne Reddick and Council Member Karen Koslowitz. In her first term, the borough president said she allocated $300 million for capital projects, one-third of which was invested in innovations designed to improve teaching in Queens public schools and renovating libraries. An additional $100 million went to improvement and restoration of parks, including Big Bush Park in Woodside.

Community-based health services have been well-funded, she added, and there have been many firehouse upgrades, some of them to buildings that have seen little improvement for nearly a century.


Borough President Melinda Katz and Queens Gazette Publisher Tony Barsamian. Borough President Melinda Katz and Queens Gazette Publisher Tony Barsamian. Her 2030 references began with praise of the nearly complete recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

“Full recovery from Superstorm Sandy is now finally within reach. By this June, all 3,600 Queens residents affected by the October 2012 superstorm will return home, and the community is more resilient than ever, with a fully restored boardwalk along Rockaway Beach,” Katz said.

Katz emphasized that school construction and restoration must be maintained. Crises must be met and dealt with: for example, the number of schools which are wildly over capacity. The most shocking example, in Queens or anywhere else in the city, she contended, is Francis Lewis High School in Fresh Meadows, which is at 200 percent capacity, while also being among the worst-funded. She praised the School Construction Authority’s Lorraine Grillo and noted that the well-being of schools is the most important issue as we head toward 2030.

“What we’ve actually been doing in Queens is setting a roadmap and building the infrastructure for the future, of where we want the borough to be by the beginning of the next generation, by at least 2030,” said Borough President Katz.

The Queens technological picture is also improving, she said, but is likely to be where it needs to be, long before 2030. With nearly every locality in America bidding to be the new headquarters for Amazon, she said that New York’s presentation should stress the growth and potentiality of Queens, particularly Long Island City, where companies such as Boyce Technologies are establishing themselves firmly. Local training is imperative, she said, and with the number of educational facilities in Queens and the colossal Cornell Technion on nearby Roosevelt Island, along with hundreds of thousands of square feet available for use, Queens is ready to enter what the borough president called “the competitive lane.”

Among the daydreams about 2030 that she holds dear (aside from one about six championship seasons for the Mets, would you believe) are an end to homelessness and, speaking of homes, NYCHA residences especially for grandparents; and, in Willets Point, tens of thousands of new residences, all of them affordable. Also at an end would be the aforementioned classroom trailers, which she envisioned as extinct by then. As for the airports, she said that by 2030 LaGuardia’s extensive makeover should be finished and Kennedy’s proceeding, while LaGuardia, like JFK, should have exclusive rail service to and from the city. Increased general rail service should be available with the revival of the so-called Lower Montauk Branch between Jamaica and Long Island City.

Katz concluded that Queens has “changed the narrative” about Manhattan and Brooklyn as the chief engines of New York’s progress. And by the way, she added, the future is not in the suburbs— it’s in Queens.

“Together, we’ve all brought Queens so far. And so much more remains to be done. But with a shared vision—our vision—New York’s greatest potential, opportunities, and future are all here. And in 2030, when I’m 64, we’ll be able to look back fondly to today, and how, together, we built our tomorrow,” concluded the borough president.

For the complete text of Borough President Melinda Katz’ State of the Borough, visit QGazette.com.

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