2018-08-29 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

ICE Man Cometh, Again

To The Editor:

The recent deportation of a 95-year-old former Nazi guard living in Jackson Heights has aroused strong feelings. I heard a stirring account by a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust in his 80s who vividly recalls the childhood memory of when they came for his father. He remembered every detail and gave the final account that his mother and sister were murdered while he, his father and another sister escaped. These two storylines illustrate impacts at both ends of the time continuum. Consequences followed this Nazi guard years after his actions defined his complicity. Memories became a haunting reminder of some of the most painful losses one might imagine.

If you believe that there is truth in the adage “history repeats itself,” let’s ponder what the picture will look like for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents who, with similar efficiency, carry out the command to round up those considered undesirable. Let us think about the children in detention, the parents in fear and the fatalities resulting from those who are deported to become victims of a violent end. Where will the ICE man be as history unfolds this particular story? Will there be an 80-year-old child remembering the father who never came home, or the terror of being separated from family? Will there be a final reckoning that demands justice for the victims of a hostile policy of ethnic cleansing? Or will we smudge the lines of this harsh depiction and make it a bedtime story for future generations about how we protected our borders from the threat of “invaders”?

America is a land of immigrants, sojourners, slaves, indentured servants and migrant workers hosted by indigenous people who now live on reservations. Let us not become blind to the truth of our collective heritage and the differences that have built and sustained this country and its commitment to democracy. Let us not default on our commitment to the values that are supposed to distinguish us from those who carried out the orders of the Third Reich.

Dr. Sharon M. Cadiz

RIP Senator John McCain

To The Editor:

It is so very sad that we have lost Senator John McCain due to brain cancer. He was in Vietnam as a Navy pilot, was shot down and held as a POW, enduring torture for 5 1/2 years. He served for decades as US senator and many called him a maverick Republican senator. But in my book he did what had to be done for the greater good of the American people. Senator John McCain was a true American hero who was dedicated to making America a better place and the world a little bit safer. When he was running for president in 2008, I had written him a letter to ask about issues that concern many of us. It was about unemployment, the economy, Social Security and our veterans. He responded with a signed picture and said, “Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future.” He also directed me to his web site with details on what he had done and plans to do. As a fellow Navy veteran, I salute Senator John McCain for a job well done and he will be truly missed.

Frederick R. Bedell, Jr.
Glen Oaks Village

Lost Heroes

To The Editor:

I am so elated that new license plates will be available for a cost of $25 to commemorate September 11 with pictures of the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and of the American Flag. The money raised will be given to the 9/11 scholarship fund. This is an excellent way to raise money, in addition to remembering those lost in that horrible terrorist attack. We must pray for those who gave their lives and for those who became ill who worked at the WTC site. Never again must such a horrible event happen in the world and in our nation. I applaud our heroes and all those who helped. I think that September 11 should be a national holiday.

I really was saddened upon the passing of John McCain. He was a true hero, a patriot, a man of values, a person willing to compromise and who did not believe that disagreements should lead to anger and hatred, and a real man of valor. He reached across the aisle to Democrats, and was a friend to nations and he and the legacy he left us will be long remembered.

We must use what he left us and what he had done during his lifetime as a role model and inspiration; the bickering, hatred, harsh words that split our nation and world apart must end.

Cynthia Groopman
Little Neck

Remembering McCain

To The Editor:

Senator John McCain was a fighter right until the very end. He accepted his diagnosis of brain cancer last year and did not let that deter him from continuing to live his life. He was truly a brave man, having endured severe torture after being shot down during the Vietnam War by the North Vietnamese. After the war, he returned to the US and continued to live a very active life, and in 2008 was the Republican candidate who challenged Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election. Even though he lost, Senator McCain continued his work as the representative from Arizona, and never hesitated to speak his mind on any issues the came forward in the Senate. He will always be remembered as a fighter for the American people and person who never backed down when the going got tough in government. Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his wife Cindy, daughter Meghan, the rest of his family, friends and colleagues in the Senate. The nation has lost a true warrior and hero. Rest in peace, Senator. John Amato

LIRR Elmhurst Station

To The Editor:

While “LIRR (is going) to Lengthen Platforms at Forest Hills and Kew Gardens” (August 22), Elmhurst residents wish they just had a station. In January 1985, the Elmhurst station on the LIRR Port Washington Branch closed. Ridership had dwindled to less than 100 per day. It was decided at the time, probably based on a cost-benefit analysis, that investing millions of dollars to upgrade the station made no economic sense. Research indicated that there would be a poor return in potential ridership that would utilize this station.

The MTA included $40 million within the LIRR’s $380 million 2015-2019 Capital Stations Program to support reopening the Elmhurst LIRR Station. The total overall LIRR proposed 2015-2019 Capital Program request was $3.1 billion. The project ended up included in the overall $29 billion MTA 2015-2019 Capital Program.

The original Elmhurst LIRR Station was built on street level going across Broadway past Whitney Avenue. The station had a long platform and pedestrian underpass near the corner of Ketcham Place and 43rd Avenue to 88th Street. The underpass is still used today.

There was also an entrance to the Port Washington bound platform near the corner of Cornish Avenue and Broadway along with a tunnel leading to the Elmhurst Avenue subway station on the IND Queens Boulevard Line. This subway station is currently served by both the M and R lines.

Reopening the old Elmhurst Station involved first spending $4 million starting in 2016 for planning, environmental review, preliminary and final design activities. This would have been followed by initiation of construction in 2018 for $36 million. The new station was anticipated to be opened by the end of 2019.

The scope of work needed to reopen the Elmhurst LIRR station includes new 12-car platforms, staircases, railings, passenger shelters, ticket vending machines, lighting, communication, signal and security equipment, general site improvements and passenger elevators to be fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Since the construction contract has yet to be awarded, we don’t know if the engineers’ cost estimate of $36 million will be sufficient to cover all of the above, including passenger elevators.

Due to the unfortunate events of Hurricane Sandy in 2011, there is need to create alternative options for commuters, known as “redundancy”. The MTA is investing several billion dollars in capital projects to support this initiative. Reopening the old Elmhurst LIRR station would provide a new alternative for Port Washington LIRR customers should disruptions in service occur to either Woodside, Penn Station or the future Grand Central Terminal. Riders exiting the Elmhurst LIRR station could transfer to either the M or R lines. There would be a second transfer opportunity to either the E, F or 7 subway lines one stop away at the Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue station.

The MTA and LIRR overlooked the potential benefits of also reopening the old Corona LIRR Station. This station west of Elmhurst and east of Mets Citi Field located at 44th Avenue was closed in April 1964 due to poor ridership. Neighborhoods adjacent to this site have seen significant population growth over the past 54 years. There might be sufficient potential ridership to support reopening this station.

In 2017, the MTA added $3 billion ($1.95 billion for LIRR Main Line Third Track and $700 million for the Second Avenue Subway Phase 2) to the $29 billion 2015-2019 Five Year Capital Program Plan, bringing it up to $32 billion. Buried in this plan amendment was reprogramming $37 million originally allocated to support construction of the new Elmhurst LIRR station, to pay for other project(s). Only $3 million remains for preliminary design and environmental review. Restoration of $37 million to support final design and engineering along with construction will now have to wait until the next MTA 2020-2024 Five Year Capital Plan is adopted. Historically, these plans are adopted one year late. Overall project cost originally forecast for $40 million will probably require millions more due to inflation. Completion of final design and engineering may not occur until 2021. This would be followed by advertising and award of a construction contract in 2022. Notice to proceed followed by contractor mobilization, actual construction and completion may require another two years. As a result, the original project completion date for reopening the Elmhurst LIRR Station in 2019 will probably occur five years later in 2024. This is disappointing but not surprising given recent manipulations and shortfalls in the MTA overall capital program budget. There are also periodic problems with the LIRR in completion of other capital improvement projects on time and within budget.

Larry Penner
Great Neck
Fresh Meadows

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