Shulman Delivers Her Last State Of Borough Report:

Shulman told the people gathered for her report today that public education remains her highest priority and cited the opening of the three new schools, a new Queens Hospital Center and the lowest unemployment rate in more than a decade as signs that "the borough is ready to enter the first year of the next millennium."
Shulman said that progress has been made in her commitment to provide a seat for every student in the borough that is the most diverse county in the world. "More than 35 percent of us are foreign born and many thousands more are first generation Americans," Shulman said.
using slides to illustrate severe overcrowding in schools, Shulman also noted the opening of I.S. 230 and P.S. 212 in District 30, and P.S. 161 in District 28. She stated, however, that while some progress has been made, with the 7,000 new seats added at the beginning of this school year, the borough is still short 28,000 more seats for students. Shulman noted, however, that Mayor Rudy Giuliani has accelerated the building schedule for 11 new Queens schools in the Board of Educations Capital Plan.
"Alongside this new construction, I am also advocating a progressive plan for academic success," she stated. "This comprehensive program includes an increase in student instruction time, the provision of English immersion programs and weekend math and science academics. Underlying our program is attracting and retaining the best teachers. To do that we must significantly increase salaries for certified teachers and allow retired teachers to retain full pensions if they teach in our most troubled schools. We also must provide funding for mandated professional development," said Shulman.
Showing slides of the nearly completed new Queens Hospital Center, Shulman said, "Here is something I have been waiting to say for the last ten years  the new Queens Hospital Center will open this year." The new hospital, which when opened this spring, will include three Centers of Excellence, including womens health, cancer care and diabetes care. The 200-bed, $147 million hospital will replace an antiquated facility with a state-of-the-art health care institution. Plans are also underway to redevelop the remainder of the hospital campus for medical related uses.
"Perhaps the most essential resource we improved this year is our health care system," said Shulman. In addition to the hospital, she noted the openings of clinics, senior health care centers and hospital additions and expansions around the borough.
On the economic front, her 116-page Queens 2001 report highlights the boroughs 4.1 unemployment rate for December the lowest rate in more than a decade and the lowest of all of the Citys five boroughs. "New businesses continued to take advantage of this climate," said Shulman. Plans for an expanded Queens Center, reconfigured retail space at the Sterns site on Queens Blvd. and a retail/theater complex in Jamaica are all underway. The 20th Ave. shopping center has added new retailers, and the first new major supermarket in southeast Queens in more than a quarter century is now open. At the same time, the federal government opened its new $60 million FAA regional headquarters in Springfield Gardens and the FDAs regional headquarters in Jamaica. "Another key component of our blueprint for the future is the integration of high-tech businesses into our borough," said the Borough President. "Our CyberCity@LIC program offers incentives and site location assistance to attract high tech businesses to western Queens. In the last year, high tech companies such as Vast Video, British Telcom and MCI have moved into the Long Island City/Astoria area.
Last year, ground was broken for the 372-unit Avalon Riverview apartments at Queens West. This month, a developer was designated to build two million square feet of commercial, retail and hotel space, and in February a developer will be designated to build another 2,500 units of housing, a waterfront promenade and a school, Shulman reported.
Pointing out that Queens parks also play a role in the boroughs life, Shulman said that she has joined with Giuliani and City Council Speaker Peter Vallone in funding a new, more than $30 million, year-round, Olympic-size swimming pool and ice skating rink in Flushing Meadows-Corona park. Groundbreaking for the facility is slated for March. The new Flushing Bay promenade will also open this year, and the restoration of the Ederle amphitheater site will be completed in 2002.
Meanwhile, Shulman reported that major felonies in Queens declined in the Year 2000 by 9.2 percent, while structural fires went down from 4,812 in 1999 to 4,745 in 2000. Response time to such fires also decreased to 4.47 minutes.
Shulman also said that she will see that pedestrian and traffic safety improvements continue to be implemented on Queens Blvd. to reduce a tragic toll of injuries and fatalities.
Noting that progress was made on the AirTrain project last year, Shulman said that the new vehicle will go into service in 2003, relieving traffic on the Van Wyck Expwy. She also noted that a new lottery system for flights at LaGuardia is scheduled to begin this week. In other transportation improvements, the borough president said that long-suffering E and F subway rides will find relief when the new $645 million 63rd St. subway tunnel opens.
The multimillion dollar Carson St. sewer project, one of the boroughs largest capital projects, has progressed significantly with the installation of lateral connections to the trunk lines now being expedited. This will relieve chronic flooding for more than 250,000 residents of southeast Queens, Shulman stated.

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