BY JEFF YAPALATER
Port Authority executives, Congressman Gregory Meeks, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, state Assembly members, Community Board members, community leaders and stakeholders were on hand for the ribbon cutting of the new JFK Redevelopment Community Outreach office on Jamaica Avenue.
The office was created to involve the community during development of the $13 billion JFK Airport Redevelopment project. It is open to the public and intended to be focal point for Queens residents’ jobs and career opportunities with a high percentage directed to MWBE businesses.
“The new Queens outreach office at JFK will engage with local residents and connect them with jobs and opportunities, ensuring the local community is heard and its needs are met every step of the way throughout this historic redevelopment project,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said.
Port Authority Aviation Director Huntley Lawrence referred to the governor’s recent announcement that more than half the recent hires at the developing LaGuardia Airport are from Queens.
“Most important thing to remember is that we mean business when we say we want to connect with the community. I look forward to a lot of great news from the office in the near future,” Lawrence said.
Meeks inspired the guests with a resounding appreciation for all the work everyone has done to create this Center.
“This is indeed a good day” pointing to all the work done mainly by minority contractors, he said. “We are helping to build bridges around our airports, not building any walls.”
“This is part of the community and the community helped put it together,” Meeks added. “We are setting the example how you do a project and how community is intricately involved every step of the way. Often money from a project goes out; here it will stay in.”
Meeks pointed out the ever increasing support of collaboration between the Port Authority and the community.
“From the early efforts by Jim Heyliger and Philippa Karteron when working with the Port and bringing in community benefits when the Airtrain project was first conceived. Now, going forward the community residents are the first to get opportunities of benefits from a project like this. We are now able to build upon this cooperation today,” Meeks said. “We will show the country that inclusion and economy benefits go to all. The Outreach team in this office understands the community and the mission.”
Katz, along with the co-chair of the JFK Redevelopment Advisory Committee, reflected on the success of the AirTrain and thanked Meeks for the work he does in Washington, D.C., on Queens’ behalf.
“We’ve done this not only with colleagues but with the community also through the advisory council,” Katz said. “We are proud of the fact we are working together with the community, giving second chances, training and apprentice programs.”
The office is located at 144-33 Jamaica Ave. and will be open daily to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The office will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursdays.
This story first appeared in the Airport Voice, a sister publication of QNS.