Queens sometimes feels like the forgotten borough—an afterthought in the city’s public mind with Manhattan and Brooklyn grabbing the spotlights. But no more.
When the mayor released his budget proposals for the next fiscal year, Queens was on the top of the list for some of the major projects in the city.
He set aside funds for another police precinct in southeast Queens, reconstruction of the Koch-Queensborough Bridge and the first animal shelter in the borough. Queens’ January blizzard gridlock also got some attention, with money allocated for smaller snow plows to navigate narrow streets.
Factor into the happy-times equation a proposal by the city comptroller to tax commercial jet fuel at the two Queens airports and the borough is on a roll.
Mayor Bill de Blasio earmarked $70 million to create of a new 116th Precinct covering Rosedale, Springfield Gardens and Brookville. These communities are now part of the overstretched 105th Precinct, a 13-square-mile area which runs along the Queens border from Glen Oaks to the Kennedy Airport area.
Residents have been clamoring for years for an additional precinct to reduce slow response times and better balance the needs of the southern end, where serious crime is more prevalent, against the quieter northern section.
The pothole-ridden Queensborough Bridge, scene of loose hub caps rolling at will, has earned a face-lift and the borough’s abandoned animals will finally have a safe haven.
In another plus, the mayor allocated $292 million for more sewer work in southeast Queens, where low-lying areas frequently flood.
City Comptroller Scott Stringer came out with a report chastising the state for giving commercial airlines a free ride by not charging them the 4.5 percent sale tax every Queens motorist pays at the pump. He estimated that taxing jet fuel at Kennedy and LaGuardia airports would produce revenues of about $100 million a year, based on today’s prices.
Stringer said the windfall should go toward building an AirRail link from Willets Point to LaGuardia and installing green roofs at the two Queens airports to help offset their contribution to the global greenhouse gas problem.
Airline passengers would then pay for the use of our airspace since the airlines pass taxes along to the traveler, but Queens deserves a break as increasing jet noise shatters an already uneasy peace.
Add in the 227,000 Queens homeowners who are getting a water bill tax credit of $183 for what has turned out to be a very good week.