Often it seems that New Year’s resolutions, much like rules, are meant to be broken. Try as we all might, the spur-of-the-moment commitments made toward self-improvement in the new year are long forgotten by the Super Bowl kickoff in February.
But Queens is not one person, but one borough of 2.3 million people who already live in a great place, but want and deserve an even better standard of living. With that in mind, we present six resolutions on how to improve Queens this year, with the hope that those in power at City Hall, in Manhattan and on Capitol Hill remember to keep them on our behalf this year:
1.) Resolve the homelessness crisis with dignity. The city’s response to the sharp increase in homelessness has largely been reduced to stuffing as many people as possible into “shelters” unfit for residence. Promises of reform from the mayor and edicts from the governor mandating shelter during freezing conditions aren’t going to be enough to solve this crisis. The city and state must work together to completely hammer out a new strategy to tackle homelessness. This includes not only making housing more affordable but also creating “supportive housing,” which gives every shelter resident the living quarters they require and the services they need to build independent lives.
2.) Keep the pressure on the criminals. Despite an uptick in homicides this past year, the New York Police Department continues to do a yeoman’s job in keeping Queens and the other four boroughs safe. Queens residents need to continue to support the NYPD, and the NYPD — along with the city government — must continue to provide Queens with the proper manpower needed to fight crime from Astoria to Arverne, from Breezy Point to Bayside and every community in between. New York City hired 1,000 additional police officers last year, and we believe that the city should hire a thousand more in 2016 to fortify its counterterrorism efforts without draining the rosters of local precincts.
3.) Fix the borough’s public transportation system. With more people relying on public transportation to get around, the MTA must improve bus service across Queens, especially in the eastern half, to make it more timely and convenient for commuters. We also believe the MTA should adopt the “Freedom Ticket” program immediately to allow more commuters to use the Long Island Rail Road through Manhattan and Queens more affordably. The MTA should also consider increasing service on the Queens Boulevard line to ease the commuting pain for western Queens residents.
4.) Get moving on Flushing Meadows renovations. At a time where two major promoters want to use Flushing Meadows Corona Park for large-scale music festivals, the city must work to improve the unofficial playground of the “World’s Borough.” The northern half of the park near attractions such as the Unisphere, the Queens Museum and the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center need a makeover including more greenery, athletic fields, picnic areas and additional amenities. The southern half of the park, where Meadow and Willow lakes are, must not be neglected any longer. This passive area must be protected but also improved to accommodate visitors seeking to enjoy nature. Such projects won’t be completed in a year, but elected officials and the Parks Department must get the process started at once.
5.) Higher voter turnout at 2016 elections. The people of Queens need to pay attention not just to the presidential races, but also to those legislative contests. They also need to pay attention to the voting deadlines, which we will report about in the weeks ahead. There are four chances to vote this year: an April presidential primary, a June congressional primary, a September state legislative primary and the November general election. You need to be registered with a party to vote in all four or, at the very least, registered to participate in the November election. If we want a working democracy, we need to be informed about our choices at the polls, and then go to the polls on Primary and Election Days. Don’t take your right to vote for granted!
6.) Another World Series run for the Mets. What the 2015 Mets gave their fans and Queens was something special. Though they came up short in the World Series, there was a great thrill in watching a young team come into its own after so many years of struggling. Now the 2016 Mets must take the next step and bring the World Series trophy home to the “World’s Borough.”
Let’s hope all of us have a happy, healthy, prosperous and peaceful new year!