Over 1,100 Queens residents and officials turned out for
Borough President Claire Shulmans inauguration on Jan. 12, welcoming to a fourth
term the public figure who one official on the scene, Councilman Walter McCaffrey,
described as "the mother of Queens."
From left, Deputy Borough President
Peter Magnani and city Comptroller Alan Hevesi applaud Shulmans speech.
Tribune Photos By Dee Richard
Shulman defined a bold agenda in her inauguration speech, in effect using the
opportunity to announce that she has no intention of serving out her last term as a lame
Shulman was appointed Deputy Borough President in 1980 and ascended to the Borough
Presidency in 1986, when her then-boss Donald Manes resigned as his role in a city Parking
Violations Bureau scandal became public.
Shulman took the podium to outline numerous long-term infrastructure projects that she
would like to see accomplished or at least put on track over the next four
Shulman, a registered nurse at Queens Hospital Center before her entry into
officialdom, announced progress on a plan dear to her heart: the reconstruction of the
"Four years ago, I pledged that we would rebuild the Queens Hospital Center,"
she said. "Today, with the support of many of you and the commitment of Mayor
Giuliani and believe me, it took that reconstruction ... will begin this
The $147 million refit is an about-face from the Mayors earlier plans to sell the
Following her swearing in, Claire shares an embrace with Mayor
Tribune Photos By Dee Richard
Shulman also announced that, with the construction of the new Civil Court building at
89-17 Sutphin Blvd. in Jamaica, "the judiciary will be leaving Borough Hall in about
The vacated space in the Borough Hall will quickly be filled though, said Shulman, with
agencies including City Planning Department, the Department of Housing Preservation and
Development, Environmental Protection, and the Department of Buildings.
"Over the course of this year we will be transforming the Queens Borough Hall into
a Queens City Hall," said Shulman.
Returning to an often-voiced theme, Shulman reiterated her plans to link John F.
Kennedy and LaGuardia airports to the citys mass transit system to keep the
facilities competitive with other area airports. Neither airport has seen a significant
access improvement since before the 1964 Worlds Fair.
"Our two airports have been losing business to other airports throughout this
country, especially Newark Airport, in part because we do not have a direct rail system to
our airports," Shulman said. "Four years ago our goal to provide a one-seat ride
from the airports to Manhattan seemed distant. Today we have made progress in reaching
Citing the importance of business travelers and tourists to Queens economy,
Shulman announced that she is awaiting FAA approval of funding to link Kennedy Airport
terminals to the Aline subway stop at Howard Beach and the Long Island Rail Road
station in Jamaica. While that plan would not create the one-seat ride Shulman has called
for, it will be, she said, a "first step."
"We ... expect to put a shovel in the ground this year," Shulman said.
The "next step," said Shulman, is to design a one-seat ride from Manhattan to
LaGuardia Airport. Shulman said a study will be undertaken later this year.
One aspect of Shulmans plan to link Kennedy airport, reiterated in her speech, is
to review revitalization of the abandoned Long Island Rail Road Rockaway Line which, she
said, "would also have the added benefit of assisting our economic development plans
for the Rockaways." To minimize the impact on neighbors of the line, Shulman has in
the past suggested covering the tracks.
Shulman acknowledged that with airport development will come increased aircraft noise,
and pledged to continue her fight against additional flights in and out of the two
airports. Shulman and Giuliani are currently plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to block
federal approval of additional flights.
Sharing credit, Shulman thanked the Rev. Floyd Flake for helping to attract the federal
Food and Drug Administrations 280,000-square-foot northeast regional headquarters
lab to the campus of York College in downtown Jamaica.
She also thanked Giuliani and Deputy Mayor Randy Levine for helping to keep Eagle
Electric, the second largest producer of residential wiring in the world, according to
Shulman, in Long Island City - with 1,000 jobs.
And she described The New York Times $300 million printing and
distribution plant in College Point, which opened last September, as "one of the
largest investments in a manufacturing facility made in New York City during the past 10
But perhaps the biggest component of the economic plan Shulman announced for the next
four years is her intention to allow development of a mega-project in the Rockaways
Arverne Urban Renewal Area.
"We have targeted the Rockaways for a $1 billion development project that will be
the largest year-round indoor entertainment and sports complex in the world," she
"Destination Technodome," as the project is called, will generate 19,000
construction jobs and 25,000 permanent jobs, Shulman said, and attract up to two million
tourists per year.
"Our reading of the situation is that everything is going very positively,"
said Jeffrey Goodman, a spokeman for Heathmount, the Toronto-based developer angling to
build the Technodome. Goodman said that, once the project is approved and area roads are
upgraded to handle increased traffic, then it would take about two years to construct.
"In terms of the jobs and the taxes paid, the investment would be back in the
hands of the taxpayers in a few years," Goodman said.
Reporting for this story was done by Joshua Manning