At the request of the mayor for community groups to make recommendations to his “NYCPlan 2030,” the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association submitted 12 suggestions to improve the city over the next two decades in five categories: housing; mass transit; sewer and water infrastructure; parkland and urban greenery; and energy conversation.
The recommendations are as follows:
On housing, the group urges the mayor to replicate the New York State Mitchell-Lama Housing Program in order to create new affordable housing within the city.
The program worked well in the 1950s and 1960s by providing the city’s working-class families with well-planned, affordable housing, and nobody has yet offered any reason why the same program cannot be replicated in the 21st century. It can work again and should be implemented quickly and on a similar scale as the original program.
On mass transit, the group recommends extending all subway lines from their current terminals to the city limits of the borough’s shoreline. There has been no significant rail rebuilding for nearly seven decades in New York City, they charged — adding that most of the city’s subway lines were constructed thirty years before this seven-decade hiatus.
In Queens, it recommends rebuilding the Rockaway line between the Rockaways, JFK airport and LaGuardia airport, thereby providing a seamless ride between these three locations, as well as to Manhattan, downtown Brooklyn, Jamaica, Flushing and Long Island City.
Woodhaven and Richmond Hill were originally developed because of the creation of the Rockaway train line through these two communities. Consequently, the reactivation of this line would spur the growth and redevelopment of these areas.
Regarding sewer and water infrastructure: With the completion of the third water tunnel in the next decade, New York City will just start to catch up with an increased demand for water over the next 50 years.
There are two additional efforts that the Department of Environmental Protection must pursue to meet these additional fresh water requirements: new sources of fresh water and extra conservation measures.
The two Delaware, Ashokan and Croton reservoir systems have been exhausted; therefore, for new sources of fresh water, the department should look to the Adirondack region to develop additional systems.
Additionally, it recommends that all water users be metered at their source in order to ensure that those who are responsible for actual water consumption are directly responsible for payment. This is the only sure way to mitigate water demand.
On parkland and urban greenery, civic members recommended restoring the inactive “Ridgewood Reservoir” for swimming, fishing, recreational boating and habitation by migratory birds. It also wants the city to allow PILOT (pay in lieu of taxes) concessions at this site to be dedicated to fund the maintenance of this new parkland. In addition, the association recommends purifying air quality by planting 25,000 new street trees per year. Over a period of 20 years, all city neighborhoods could be tree-lined, using this baseline figure, members asserted, adding that the city should also establish a financial baseline for the Department of Parks and Recreation on its capital and expense budgets for such projects.
Finally, on energy conservation, the group recommends the following:
Power plants: As is done in Europe, garbage should be “super incinerated” to generate electricity, thereby saving residents hundreds of millions of dollars annually in transporting waste to remote locations out of state.
Solar power: The state should increase its energy rebate rates to New York City residents and business owners from 50 percent to 75 percent in order to encourage the rapid installation of rooftop solar panels. Doing so would reduce electricity demands in so-called “load pockets” by 10 percent.
Buses: All MTA buses should be powered by hybrid engines to reduce emissions, and all public school bus routes should be paired down to reduce daily air pollution. Scaling back school bus service would encourage public school parents to send their children to schools within walking distance.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article do not reflect the beliefs of The Queens Chronicle staff.