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Alliance has ideas to improve city’s Flushing West proposal

By Madina Toure

The Flushing Rezoning Community Alliance has presented a series of recommendations from its white paper on the Flushing West rezoning proposal, including more senior centers, more 7 train service and extra subway entrances.

The City Planning Department’s Flushing West proposal seeks to clean up and rezone 60 acres on the Flushing waterfront and create a planned community with waterfront access as well as housing and commercial space.

The alliance, also known as FRCA, presented its recommendations at a news conference on the steps of St. George’s Episcopal Church in downtown Flushing on April 28.

“These concerns are present now,” Carol McLoughlin of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Queens, a member of the alliance, said. “With increased development, they’re only going to be much bigger.”

FCRA consists of community, faith, social services and allied organizations that advocate for the rights of Flushing residents in areas such as quality-of-life issues, community planning and development.

The recommendations call for incentivizing development of senior centers catering to a diverse immigrant community in community facility space within rezoned neighborhoods, It also proposes increasing 7 train service during rush-hour commutes and reducing LIRR fare between the Flushing-Main Street station and Penn Station.

Other recommendations call for creating additional subway entrances in rezoned areas to reduce street congestion and for city and MTA funds to be used to develop a bus depot that could reduce pedestrian and car traffic in downtown Flushing.

The remaining recommendations ask for significantly reducing combined sewer overflow into Flushing Creek and improving sanitation and solid waste services.

Grace Shim, executive director of the MinKwon Center for Community Action, urged City Planning to adopt the recommendations.

“Policy recommenadtions outlined in the report reflect the reality that our community members face every day while the rezoning process is happening in Flushing,” Shim said.

Pedro Rodriguez, a Flushing resident and parishioner at St. George’s, said that affordable housing needs to be built, but that current Flushing residents must also be able to stay in their homes.

“My aunt and many other tenants struggle every day with buildings in disrepair and landlords who harass them to move,” Rodriguez said. “We need legislation like the Certificate of No Harassment and legal services in Flushing residents’ native languages to change the incentive to harass and give tenants back the power they need.”

Rev. Wilfredo Benitez of St. George’s said foreign developers have no interest in benefitng the community and that the fight must continue.

“There is a lot of work to do and we’ve worked really hard,” Benitez said.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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