|Building The Borough 2000
COMPILED By RICHARD FASANELLA,
RICHARD SCHACK & TAMARA HARTMAN
Construction of new school space, new
facilities, and new jobs was the hero in this years glowing State of the Borough
speech, but Borough President Claire Shulman emphasized that the key to keeping all the
success going is going to be the coming census.
Borough President Claire Shulman delivers the first
"State of the Borough" address of the new century.
Tribune Photo By Ira Cohen
As Shulman gave her speech filled
with praise for projects that would address continued school overcrowding and
city-supported constructions that will build a new Queens Health Center and
flood-relieving sewers, an easel stood behind her, covered in a black cloth. She unveiled
it with the words that on this easel "is the most powerful weapon we have for
obtaining the resources we need . . . the key to securing necessary funding for building
new schools, developing new housing programs and improving our transportation
system." Beneath the veil was the Census 2000 Form.
The Borough President urged all Queens
community groups to get involved in insuring an accurate census count that will get the
borough its proper share of state and federal funding in the future.
While praising school construction
projects, Shulman vowed that her office would continue to search for ways to relieve
Queens severe overcrowding problems. Her reports on increased adult daycare,
re-opening of the Long Island Railroad Elmhurst station, quieter airports, and increased
affordable housing projects drew enthusiastic applause from the audience and Shulman
re-stated her vow to push for a one-seat ride from Manhattan to the boroughs
Bound version of the report on the "State of the
Among the dignitaries, elected
officials, and civic leaders in the audience was Susan Vollonos 6th grade class from
P.S. 156 in Laurelton. The class held a successful book drive and enlisted the help of
Borders Bookstore and Barnes & Noble to collect books for needy children of Queens.
Shulman spotlighted the class as examples of the "unsung heroes" of Queens and
they had praise for her report.
Sixth-grader Alexandria Largie said it was
"interesting to know what the community is building" and she supported plans for
dormitories at a local school, because that might change her mind about going to Howard
And her 12-year-old classmate Joel Osborne
added that it seemed the borough had made "a big improvement from the year
before" and he was encouraged by Shulmans commitment to creating more learning
space and attracting better teachers.
Following are highlights from the Borough
Presidents report, as well as comment from other elected officials on the state of
The capitol plan to
construct new schools includes 23 new buildings. Queens received 31 percent of the 16,285
new school seats created in the city for the 1999-2000 school year. New Queens schools
include P.S./I.S. 137 in District 27; P.S. 161 in District 28; and E.C.C. 228, P.S. 212
and I.S. 230 in District 30.
Queens students scored above the other four
boroughs in standardized reading and math tests.
Governor George Patakis State of the
State address added: "Ending social promotion in NYC is the first step in
establishing rigorous standards for student achievement. In the coming weeks, I will ask
for your support for a five-point plan to attract new teachers to our schools. We must
address the problem of uncertified teachers. Lets expand charter schools throughout
New York, and lets put responsibility for schools where it belongs-in the hands of
the Mayor and City Council."
During the 1990s, Queens
reduced in every major FBI category.
Crime fell from 50,433 incidents in 1998 to
46,120 in 1999, an 8.6 percent decrease with the following statistics: a 15.7 percent
decrease in rape, 12.9 percent decrease in auto theft, 10.7 percent decrease in burglary,
4.1 percent decrease in robbery, 2.5 percent decrease in grand larceny. However, there was
a 16.5 percent increase in murder statistics.
In 1999, the Council of
Senior Centers and Services expanded work in Queens. Extra funding helped expand hours of
operation, programs, and services for SAGE, the only center for gay and lesbian seniors.
Funding also helped continue expanded service hours for mentally frail clients in
Community districts 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11 in the Alzheimer Adult Day Care Centers in those
City Council Speaker Peter Vallones
State of the City address added, "This year, the council will provide expanded
funding for seven days of meals at all senior centers . . . We can offer
seniors some much needed relief in the form of a City tax credit for the purchase of
over-the-counter drugs . . . The Council will enact another tax credit to deal with a
pressing concern for all our elderly finding and holding onto a decent, affordable
place to live."
The Borough Presidents
Office has asked the Dept. of City Planning to examine the feasibility of a
standalone local commercial district that would allow slightly higher density
commercial development in lower density communities.
In 1999, the QBP Zoning Task Force helped
to preserve the unique character of residential neighborhoods. Since 1989, two dozen areas
have been rezoned to preserve integrity. Kew Forest Land and Little Neck Pines are in the
process of being rezoned. North Corona, East Flushing, and Ridgewood are currently under
consideration for rezoning.
State agencies are considering how to
improve access and other infrastructure improvements to advance Destination Technodome, a
$1 billion interactive entertainment center planned for the Averne section of the Rockaway
The Queens Blvd. Retail Working Group was
created to address traffic, parking, pedestrian, and transit impacts of several projects
planned on Queens Blvd, including expansion of Queens Center mall, an 18-screen multiplex,
and redevelopment of the Sterns Bldg.
The first phase of the Waters Edge
housing development, which consists of 40, 2-family homes, is underway, helped by $2.2
million in City capital budget funds to improve infrastructure.
In the summer of 1999, a developer was
selected for the Edgemere Urban Renewal Plan, which will result in the development of 800
units of affordable housing; 10,000 sq. ft. of local commercial space; a new elementary
school; a day care center, and 13 acres of parkland.
Also in 1999, the Creedmoor Working Group,
came up with a plan for the 26-acre parcel in the northern section of the campus.
Negotiations are underway with the Board of Ed., the School Construction Authority and the
State, to construct 3 schools - at the elementary, intermediate, and high school levels.
Unemployment dropped from
6.6 percent in Nov. 1998 to 5.6 percent in Nov. 1999.
The Economic Development Corp. is working
to improve vehicular access to ever-expanding College Pt. with the reconstruction of
In Maspeth, the borough president assisted
in the organization of a combined Business Improvement District, and worked with Phelps
Dodge to remediate its former industrial site into a manufacturing center.
The Federal Avaition Administration
Regional HQ in Springfield Gardens moved toward completion in 2000.
A new retail center in Southeast Queens
will house the first major supermarket there in over 25 years.
In the Mayor Rudy Giulianis State of
the City address, he added: Were going to implement a waterfront development for
Brooklyn and Queens so that we can develop both sides of the river . . .Were going
to use the Downtown Revitalization Program that helped turn around downtown Manhattan and
apply it to the other boroughs."
In Fiscal year 1999, 1,029
housing units were constructed, 1,886 were under construction and 724 applications for
residential permits were filed.
Over 100 homes will be built on the former
Playland site. Forty two-family homes will be built on sites in the Arverne Urban Renewal
In 1999, according to the Long Island Board
of Realtors, the median price of a Queens home was $209,000, an increase of 11.5 percent
from the previous year.
The NYC Housing Dev. Corporations New
Housing Opportunities Program completed 206 units in Queens in 1999, with another 132
under construction and 284 more in the planning stages.
During Fiscal year 1999, the Dept. of
Buildings conducted 11,067 field visits related to illegal conversions, and issued 3,857
In 1999, ridership on buses
in Queens increased 10 percent compared to 1998.
The newly restored LIRR Forest Hills
Station was dedicated in June, following a $5.4 million restoration. Final touches were
also put on the restoration of the Woodside LIRR station, and renovations on the Bayside
station will be completed the first quarter of this year.
The Queens Boulevard-63rd Street
connection, which will provide up to 15 additional trains running between Queens and
Manhattan during rush hour, is almost 90 percent complete and proceeding on schedule to
its October 2001 completion. A renovation of the 74th Street/ Broadway and Jackson
Heights/ Roosevelt Avenue station complex will cover the entire block.
For the first time in more
than a decade, the number of structural and non-structural fires increased slightly. But
although the number of serious fires increased in 1999, response times to the fires
decreased, as did fatalities. In 1999, the Fire Department replaced two ladder trucks and
five engine companies.
The Structural Work is
complete and the mechanical work for both the interior and the exterior is currently in
progress for the new Queens Hospital Center, which will have a "center of
excellence" for Womens Health and Cancer Care and a Diabetes Center.
As for the West Nile Virus, the report said
"the city is now instituting a long-term comprehensive program for the prevention of
the West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne diseases. This program is likely to include
enhanced mosquito surveillance, trapping wild birds to test for the presence of the
viruses, and using sentinel chickens or other foul to identify mosquito-borne
diseases before they appear in humans."
Shulmans Chief of Staff Alex Rosa
added that her Mosquito Task Force will be meeting again this week with members of the
Health Dept., Park Dept., State Dept. of Environmental Conservation and the Army Corps of
Engineer to discuss plans for the Spring. On the agenda is project funding, fact-finding
about Staten Island fish killed by the pesticide Malathion, and "tidal flushing"
plans for fresh-water areas of the Rockaways.
Pataki emphasized that the state "will
set goals to reduce asthma attacks by 50 percent, ensuring all children receive
vaccinations by their second birthday, try to eliminate teen smoking by 50 percent in the
next five years, make sure every child is screened for deafness, protect infants born to
HIV, and expand capabilities of disease identification and response resource."
Giuliani has called for "healthcare to
be as private and as competitive as it can possibly be, because private institutions do a
better job than government does of dealing with healthcare needs . . . Were going to
establish an office within the Mayors Office to increase access to health insurance
. . . Were going to expand the HealthPass program that takes small businesses, lumps
them together, and allows them to buy health insurance as if they were a big
And Vallone added, "we will expand
access to child care for working families, and create a New York City tax credit for every
family that has qualified child care expenses."
Describing her speech as the "first
state of the borough report of the 21st Century," Shulman concluded by discussing the
various ethnic celebrations in the borough throughout the year and observing "we are
at the doorway to the new millennium. Let us walk through together with confidence and