Linden Place rebuild may proceed without airport sale

By Cynthia Koons

“At this point, there's no guarantee that the Linden Place road would be built if the Flushing Airport sale does not go through,” Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing), chairman of the Transportation Committee said Monday. “However, I am looking to secure funding through other channels because we need that road regardless of what happens to Flushing Airport.”

As parcels of the College Point Corporate Park have been developed, congestion on 20th Avenue – also an exit off the Whitestone Expressway – has increased. The completion of the Linden Place project would reduce the number of drivers exiting the Whitestone Expressway by 20th Avenue.

The airport property, which abuts the Whitestone Expressway and 20th Avenue, would be bisected by the expanded Linden Place. With public criticism mounting against the 180-business wholesale development complex plans for the Flushing Airport property, Liu and state Sen. Frank Padavan (R-Bellerose) are preparing to secure outside sources of funding for the road project.

The city has chosen a Korean developer to construct the business complex on the airport property, but the city cannot approve the project without the Queens Borough Board's nod.

Plans for the site include 180 wholesale operations, to be owned by mostly Korean businessmen, for importing and exporting goods.

Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside) is lobbying against the project at the community level and at the Borough Board. Seeing Linden Place completed, however, is a major priority of his.

Linden Place, an exit off the Whitestone Expressway, has been closed for a decade since water began accumulating on the road, Avella (D-Bayside) said. The Flushing Airport property is partially preserved as wetlands and the majority of the land is the victim of unstable, ecologically sensitive ground, Avella said.

“There are terrible soil conditions throughout the corporate park,” Avella said. “There's even a problem with developing Linden Place because the soil conditions are so poor.”

He said less than a quarter of a mile of roadway is left to construct, from 23rd Avenue to 20th Avenue. This would extend the road from the Whitestone Expressway through the site of the Flushing Airport to the ever-congested 20th Avenue that fronts the airport property.

Funding for the road project should not be tied to the development of Flushing Airport, Avella contended. He has written several letters as well as led one rally to protest the proposed wholesale business complex there.

Avella was also an outspoken opponent of his fellow councilman, since Liu stood beside Mayor Michael Bloomberg last month as he announced plans for the Flushing Airport site. Avella was not invited to the press conference. Liu maintains he was there in his capacity ad chairman of the City Council's Transportation Committee.

Liu said he was going to attempt to secure city funds to complete the necessary roadwork there.

Padavan's press secretary said the senator was going to explore channels to secure state funding for the roadway.

“The construction of the Linden Place road should not be contingent on the sale of Flushing Airport,” Liu said.

Avella hopes the city will earmark funds from the capital budget to finance the roadwork.

“Here we are still over a decade later, and they're still playing games with this road,” Avella said. “Fix the road, irrespective of the entire College Point Corporate Park. This is a major road for the College Point community.

“The way it's being presented, it's almost like blackmail,” he said. “The community has to take the Flushing Airport project in order to get Linden Place.”

He is planning a second rally for Saturday, March 13, on the Flushing Airport property.

Reach reporter Cynthia Koons by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 141.

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