BY ASSEMBLYWOMAN CATHERINE NOLAN
There is a proposal to move the Javits Convention Center to Queens, but it should not go forward without input from the thousands of residents who live in the neighborhoods nearby.
There have been proposals to develop this historic industrial space almost since it opened in 1910. The Sunnyside Yards have attracted attention by impractical dreamers, unscrupulous speculators and even some visionary city planners. Still, any serious plan must address the concerns of local residents and businesses before it can be supported by government.
Affordable housing is an important citywide goal, but the plan as pictured in the Daily News looks grossly overbuilt. Residents have a right to see density and scale addressed. Lots of open space must be part of any plan in a neighborhood of few existing parks.
Any plans to develop Sunnyside Yards need strong, local review. I would propose LaGuardia Community College play a lead role in a community-based needs assessment, shared and developed by local residents, students, businesses, community boards and elected officials.
• Any plan must include the effects of remediation. The Yards have been subjected to industrial runoff for so long, they probably warrant Superfund status. What will be the effect of a major cleanup on our community?
• Transportation is critical. The N, R, G and 7 lines are overcrowded and often shut down due to needed upgrades. Bus service is inadequate, and a multi-modal connector to the East Side Access Project must be addressed as well.
• Our community has few health facilities, an antiquated police precinct and inadequate fire and sanitation services. Extensive resources would have to be added before our community could absorb any large infusion of new residents.
• Long Island City has thousands of important jobs in the auto, transportation, food, film, cultural, tech and manufacturing industries. These need to be maintained, not pushed out.
• Our schools have long been among the most overcrowded in the city. Many students attend classes in trailers. Obviously, this has to be resolved for current residents who are now fighting for pre-K, elementary and middle school seats.
We need a plan that recognizes that thousands of us — from Sunnyside Gardens to Hunter’s Point, from Dutch Kills to Ravenswood — have already chosen western Queens for our homes, businesses, education and creative community. We are not going away just because the big boys in Manhattan have decided to tear down the Javits Center and develop luxury housing on the far West Side.
It is not NIMBY to say that our community will not support proposals if we have no say in their development. Those of us who decided to live, work and love our neighborhoods with the Sunnyside Yards as they currently exist must be included in any plans.
Catherine Nolan represents Sunnyside, Ridgewood, Astoria and Long Island City in the state Assembly.
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