By Naeisha Rose
City Comptroller Scott Stringer spelled out his priorities for Cambria Heights residents last week, holding a civic association meeting at Community Bridge Home to address and find potential solutions to quality-of-life issues in that neighborhood and in the city.
Some of the topics Stringer focused on were seniors, transportation access and education at the April 12 meeting.
“This city is getting older by the day,” said Stringer. “By the next couple of decades we are going to have 1.4 million seniors.”
The comptroller pointed out to the audience that the city only spends 0.4 percent on seniors in the city budget and that the current aging population is living longer than those in the generations before them.
“Seniors are living longer, they are more engaged than ever before, seniors are using technology, and yet a lot of the programs that we have [for them] is for a different era,” said Stringer, who has an 86-year-old mother and a 90-year-old stepfather who still plays tennis.
His solution was better senior centers, an improvement to Access-A-Ride, more and improved access to escalators in subway stations, and bus service that not only comes on time, but also goes to hard-to-reach areas.
In terms of transit, Stringer said an audit his office conducted showed that New York City’s bus service was the slowest in the nation and that bus routes are not extensive enough in Queens, because 20 years ago nearly 58 percent of workers went to Manhattan for work, which is no longer the case today.
The comptroller also said the city is losing hundreds of millions of dollars by having slowed down bus and subway service at night, which does not accommodate people who work evening or twilight shifts and tourists who visit the city.
“We have to fix our transportation system, we have to put the money in the system, and put management to the issue, and that is something that we must deal with,” said Stringer.
Not only does the comptroller want to secure funds to help seniors and adults travel, but he also wants to ensure the future of the youth by having more teachers who specialize in STEM and the arts, two areas that he said will have the most viable jobs of tomorrow.
“The high-tech economy is now defined by science, by the arts and those are where the opportunities our grandchildren and children will have,” said Stringer, who has an elementary school-age child. “We have to make sure that all of our schools have certified arts teachers and science teachers offering kids real curricula… so that they can become coders and entrepreneurs in the 21st century economy.”
His last goal for education is for zip code-less schools.
“You should be able to go to a school and have a real future and not be discriminated against by the time you are 5 years old.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose