According to organizer Carin Bail, the purpose of the petition to try and get Queens Borough President Donovan Richards to receive more input from the residents in the area to try and address some of their biggest concerns.
Bail, who is a member of the Hollis Hills Civic Association, brought up multiple concerns she and other community members share about the Creedmoor Property Development potentially being transformed into housing units. While Empire State Construction is still in the process of developing the master plan for the project, many residents in the area are worried that a large influx of people for the developed property will cause overcrowding, creating more traffic in the area and making parking significantly more difficult. Additionally, there is concern over the environmental effect such a project could have, like its impact on the sewage system.
Despite the fact that Richards and Empire State Development announced back in January that a series of community visioning workshops would be held on the matter, Bail questioned the amount of input that truly came from the community during those that have since occurred. She said many living near Creedmoor weren’t aware of these sessions for quite a while, and feels these people should have their voices heard since they will be greatly impacted by it. Still, these offices have been in constant contact with several local civic associations in eastern Queens to keep them updated.
“I’m a civic president in a neighboring community and I wasn’t even aware of this until someone in my community asked if I was going to the Zoom meeting, which was back in April,” Bail said. “I have almost 1,000 people who are not in favor of this because they didn’t even know that this was happening.”
Among some of the examples that Bail mentioned she would like to see Creedmoor turned into rather than more residential units is a community space, community garden or parking lots. She noted the area was already scarce in each of these fields already. She, along with many other residents in the area, is concerned about the precedent that could be set should a building constructed there be as much as six stories high, as it could change the look of the community.
The public engagement sessions, which were held in-person and virtually, have featured hundreds of attendees. However, Bail pointed out that at least a portion of the attendees were contractors interested in working on the project.
One main concern in regards to community members not being able to voice their thoughts is that there are a lot of older residents in the community. Some of them have experienced difficulty trying to operate Zoom in order to participate in past meetings.
“While we are still in the preliminary stages of developing a Creedmoor master plan, I’m thankful to our partners at Empire State Development (ESD) for their tireless work and all our Eastern Queens neighbors for their contributions to our ongoing community visioning process,” Richards said. “It is my belief that the progress we make in creating a new, mixed-income community at Creedmoor will be a blueprint for the rest of the city to follow as we holistically and intelligently address the need to expand our hosing stock and invest in neighborhood infrastructure.”
The master plan is expected to be completed by Empire State Development in the fall. It had initially been expected to be released in the summer, but had been delayed. Once it is completed, more public engagement sessions will be scheduled. With more details likely to be available in regards to the project by that point, Richards’ office and ESD expect to receive much more feedback by then.
“Creedmoor’s redevelopment represents a real opportunity to enhance and enliven Eastern Queens with open space, infrastructure improvements and new housing options for the area’s current and future residents,” an ESD spokesperson said in a statement to QNS. “ESD is working diligently to review stakeholder feedback and will ensure the Creedmoor Master plan aligns with the needs and priorities of the community.”
Using the area for affordable housing is just one of several possibilities being considered by ESD and the borough president’s office. While Bail is concerned that they had long decided for it to be used this way, the public engagement sessions that have been held, along with those expected to occur in the fall, have been meant to get the community’s thoughts on what they would like to see done there.
According to a spokesperson for ESD, traffic and parking impacts, as well as sewage-related impacts, will be studied following the release of the master plan as part of the environmental review process. This study will then allow for members of the community to share their thoughts during future sessions. While the spokesperson also said ESD hadn’t heard much from the public in prior meetings expressing a desire for a public transportation hub, a variety of strategies are being considered in order to enhance transit access.
“While I think the intention may be good, I think the execution is not really happening in the way that I think the community expected,” Bail said. “We just want to collaborate. We just want there to be a win-win for everybody. We want everybody to feel like there’s a place for them.”