Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and Councilwoman Nantasha Williams on Thursday, May 12, announced the formation of the Downtown Jamaica Improvement Council, an interagency panel that will work to improve conditions in the community.
The Downtown Jamaica Improvement Council, which is made up of community stakeholders, elected officials and city agencies, held its first meeting on Wednesday, May 11. The new group will help streamline communication between all involved partners; spur the completion of projects to improve quality-of-life for area residents; and support the economic vitality of one of Queens’ major transportation and commercial hubs.
“We carefully listened to the downtown Jamaica community about the issues impacting the quality of life in the neighborhood and are committing to make sure they are addressed quickly and comprehensively,” Richards said. “Our downtown Jamaica Improvement Council will work diligently to fast-track several projects that will improve conditions in Jamaica and make it an even better place to live, work and visit. The council will not rest until downtown Jamaica reaches its fullest potential as a thriving commercial, residential and transportation hub.”
The creation of the new task force is another step towards making downtown Jamaica a thriving hub for people to work, play and dine, according to Williams.
“Jamaica is one of the most important economic hubs in southeast Queens and plays a vital role in New York City’s economy. This is an opportunity to improve downtown Jamaica by leveraging our collective resources,” Williams said. “I look forward to working with community leaders, my colleagues in government, city and state agencies, and the business community to make sure this vibrant part of our borough is even better than what it already is.”
The Downtown Jamaica Improvement Council was born out of a walking tour of the neighborhood led by Richards in March.
During the tour, Richards and Williams were joined by NYC Small Business Services Commissioner Kevin Kim and other city officials who spoke with civic and business leaders about pressing issues in the area such as crime, homelessness, sanitation, transportation and infrastructure.
The group observed many of these issues firsthand, including the need for capital improvements such as the improvement of street lighting to enhance public safety and the replacement of broken brick pavers on several of the neighborhood’s sidewalks.
In the weeks and months ahead, the council will focus on creating a localized small business grant program and business incubator; tweaking the Jamaica Avenue busway; identifying safety improvements at the Jamaica Center and Sutphin Boulevard-Archer Avenue subway stations; establishing an open street on 165th Street; beautifying the Jamaica bus terminal; and more.
The group is co-chaired by Richards and Williams. Additional members include Congressman Gregory Meeks, Senator Leroy Comrie, Assembly member Alicia Hyndman, City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, and Council members Selvena Brooks-Powers and James Gennaro.
Officials from the offices of Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams are also participating in the Improvement Council, as are representatives from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the NYPD, the New York City Department of Transportation, the New York City Department of Sanitation, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the New York City Department of Small Business Services, Queens Community Board 12 and the Empire State Development Corporation.
Non-governmental stakeholders represented on the task force include the Jamaica Center Business Improvement District (BID), the Sutphin Boulevard BID, the 165th Street Mall Association, the Queens Chamber of Commerce, the South East Queens Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, York College and the Association for a Better New York.