Op-ed | Building a brighter future: The promise of the Jamaica Neighborhood Plan

Council Member Nantasha Williams, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and Senator Leroy Comrie

As the heartbeat of Queens, Jamaica holds a special place in our hearts and the hearts of its residents. It’s a vibrant community with a rich cultural tapestry, bustling streets and a unique identity. Like any urban center, Jamaica faces its share of challenges, but there are brighter days ahead thanks to the Jamaica Neighborhood Plan — both a blueprint for development and a catalyst for positive, transformative change.

The roots of this commitment to Jamaica run deep, as evidenced by the personal connections of us three. We all grew up on Jamaica Ave and remember visiting the Coliseum block after school during our high school years, and even over the decades, it has remained a constant gathering place for our youth. Our fond memories of the area reflect a genuine dedication to preserving and enhancing the community we call home.

This personal connection is more than just nostalgia; it’s a driving force behind the Jamaica Neighborhood Plan. It’s a reminder that the decisions made today will shape the future for the next generation of Jamaica residents. With the continued leadership and support of Mayor Adams and the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP), along with active community participation, the Jamaica Neighborhood Plan is not just a vision – it’s a promise of a brighter, more prosperous future for Jamaica and its residents. A vision that includes more affordable housing and an improved quality of life for our neighbors.

From the outset, the DCP recognized the importance of community input. After all, who knows the needs and aspirations of Jamaica better than the people who call it home? Through an aggressive survey campaign in Summer 2023 followed by a dozen meetings/workshops with residents, community leaders, and organizations have come together to begin to shape the vision for their neighborhood.

The plan’s phased approach, from organizing and learning to creating and finalizing, ensures that all voices are heard and all perspectives are considered, showcasing the power of collaboration and collective action. As we find ourselves in the midst of the creation phase of this plan for Jamaica’s future, the momentum is palpable.

The six overarching topics outlined by the Jamaica Neighborhood Plan team—transportation, public realm and open space, public health and safety, housing, economic opportunity and education, and arts and culture—reflect the multifaceted nature of the community’s needs. By addressing these key areas comprehensively, the plan aims to lay the foundation for a more equitable and vibrant Jamaica.

As we move forward, the stakes are high. Translating this vision into reality requires significant investment. The City of New York and the State of New York have the power to shape the trajectory of the Jamaica Neighborhood Plan, determining whether it truly serves the community’s best interests. These investments extend beyond physical infrastructure, influencing social and economic opportunities. Their significance cannot be overstated; they will dictate whether Jamaica blossoms into a hub of opportunity or languishes under the weight of neglect.

It is our hope that the City recognizes the importance of this plan and rises to the occasion by investing in Jamaica’s future and ensuring that our shared vision becomes a reality. The residents of Jamaica deserve nothing less, and we are committed to working tirelessly to make this vision come to life.