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CB 7 Task Force Blasts College Point Development

Nearly a decade of frustration with local traffic jams finally boiled over last week as the College Point Task Force unanimously voted to reject the construction of a 26-acre commercial complex in the giant College Point Corporate Park.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg had announced the Economic Development Corporations (EDC) project with great fanfare earlier this month.
Key to the angry turndown is ballooning traffic congestion in College Point, Whitestone, Malba and Flushing. Mounting traffic volumes are creating a significant impact in northeast Queens:
Sections of residential property along 20th Avenue and the adjacent northbound Whitestone Expwy. service road are being condemned to permit road widening operations.
The Whitestone Expwys Linden Place exit and underpass are being enlarged and widened.
A new exit link is being constructed between the Grand Central Parkway and the busy Linden Place exit by the state Department of Transportation.
The heavy industrial vehicular volumes on College Point Boulevard have literally erased its traffic markings in downtown Flushing.
An increasing number of commercial vehicles are leaving the Whitestone Expressways 14th Avenue exit in Malba to avoid the congestion at 20th Avenue, endangering students at nearby schools.
The $175 million project will be constructed in the giant corporate parks wetlands area between the Linden Place, Whitestone Expressway and 20th Avenue roadways. Located on the site of the former Flushing Airport, the development will contain 585,000 square feet of showrooms and warehouse facilities to accommodate 150 wholesale businesses. Since an estimated 2,250 vehicles per day are expected to visit the commercial development, the EDC is currently negotiating with The New York Times to use its Whitestone Service Drive access.
The city has also agreed to extend Linden Place, which has been shut down for nearly 20 years, and to build a $2 million nature trail around the perimeter of the commercial development.
Tempers began to flare when it was revealed that a 1998 EDC report had revealed that sections of the affected area contained "elevated concentrations of lead, zinc and mercury," and that the groundwater was also contaminated with petroleum products. EDC representative Melanie Lenz responded by saying all efforts would be taken to clear the contaminated area.
Task force members recalled that while the reconstruction of Linden Place has been on the EDC agenda for nearly 20 years, the new proposal leaves out how many lanes it will contain and where in College Point it will go. The last extension of Linden Place, proposed by the EDC, and later canceled, stopped at 23rd Avenue and had only one moving lane in each direction.
Calling the corporate park development "ill advised," Fred Mazzarello, president of the College Point Board of Trade, has angrily charged that "the benefits of the project were all lopsided in favor of the city." He also charged irregularities in the bidding process.
Many residents and task force members had wanted an expansion of the corporate parks family recreation and entertainment facilities.
The task force chairman, Eugene Kelty, pointed out that, for more than a decade, the city transportation department has scheduled installation of computerized signals on College Points four major access arteries, but no action was ever taken.
One task force member objected to the mayors boasts that the development would create new jobs for Queens residents, pointing out that Manhattan workers would merely move to the borough.
While its vote is not legally binding, the task force unanimously voted to refuse the proposal and requested that the Linden Place extension be constructed as quickly as possible.

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