By Alex Davidson
Maria Thomson, executive director of the corporation that hopes to improve the economic and social climate in the Queens community, said she wants to get surveillance cameras installed along the Woodhaven portion of Jamaica Avenue to prevent graffiti and assist the borough district attorney in prosecuting those who commit vandalism.
“Hopefully, we will get some kind of grant next year,” Thomson said in a phone interview of the portable cameras. “It is difficult because it takes a lot of money to maintain them.”
Thomson said graffiti has long been a problem on the Woodhaven strip of Jamaica Avenue, which stretches from Dexter Court to 110th Street. She said store fronts and elevated subway poles are targets of spray paint.
Along with the cameras, Thomson said she wants to encourage Community School District 27 to redraw the zones from which students are taken to attend Franklin K. Lane High School, which sits on the border of Queens and Brooklyn. She said over the years the school has become predominantly filled with students from Brooklyn and that this has caused people in Woodhaven to feel distant from the educational institution.
“In actuality, it has become more of a Brooklyn school,” Thomson said. “We would like to see more of our young people go there.”
One of the loftier goals Thomson described was to get money to replace the elevated J-train subway train network along Jamaica Avenue with a monorail system, similar to the AirTrain network recently unveiled along the Van Wyck Expressway.
Thomson conceded that it is unlikely such a proposition would take shape soon in Woodhaven, but she said the technology is proven and could help beautify a host of communities along Jamaica Avenue.
“Wouldn't that be great?” she said. “I think it would be great for us.”
Some of the other goals listed in the Greater Woodhaven Development Corp.'s annual report for which the group will be seeking money in 2004 include installing a permanent sound system along Jamaica Avenue to be used for playing music during holiday and other celebrations; restoring marble seating at the World War II veterans memorial at the Forest Parkway Plaza; and planting more trees along side streets off Jamaica Avenue.
The group wrote in its report that it would also like to work with state officials to establish a city liquor authority to replace the one in Albany to better address the borough's needs. The corporation said it is working with state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale) and state Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway) to make the change, which Thomson and others said would give local communities more control over who is approved for new and renewed liquor licenses.
Reach reporter Alex Davidson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.