Work on rebuilding and extending Linden Place in College Point has been delayed once again with the estimated completion date at least four years away.
Phase 1 to reconstruct the flooded-out Linden Place from Ulmer Street to 23rd Avenue was to begin in 2008 and be completed two years later. Despite complaints from area civic groups, elected officials and Community Board 7, the city’s Economic Development Corp. project has stalled and the completion date is scheduled for next fall, a full four years later than anticipated.
Once that is finished, the city will extend Linden Place from 23rd to 20th avenues, giving drivers an alternative route into and out of College Point, expected to be completed in mid-2017. Now, vehicles must take the Whitestone Expressway.
The extension was set to be finished in 2011, but it is not even in the design stage yet, according to CB 7 District Manager Marilyn Bitterman, who along with board Chairman Gene Kelty are angry about inaction on the project and lack of communications from the EDC.
“We’re frustrated by the lack of updates and action,” Bitterman said. “Ulmer Street is in total disrepair and it can’t be fixed until Linden Place is open.”
Kelty said the EDC is “always a problem. It is unaccountable to everyone except the mayor.” He added that the agency “does whatever it wants.”
The need for completion of the project has been ramped up recently due to projects in the adjacent College Point Corporate Park that are expected to add more traffic in the area. The new Police Academy is scheduled to open soon and an NYPD tow pound unexpectedly moved to the corporate park in September.
Andrew Rocco, president of the College Point Civic Association, said that both projects will definitely add traffic to the area. “The city needs to open the road and if they keep bringing in cars [to the tow pound] and we can’t get a road paved, we’ll protest,” Rocco said.
The section of Linden Place being reconstructed has been closed for more than 30 years after it collapsed and became dangerous due to flooding from the nearby wetlands. The road is next to the former Flushing Airport, which closed in 1982.
Airport owners used to drain the water out, but that stopped when the facility closed. The city has been trying to redevelop the property, but because of the wetlands it has become problematic.
Bitterman said the city has filled the collapsed road with debris to let it settle, which helps to compact the ground. The debris has not yet been removed, but that is expected to be done by next September.
A spokesperson from EDC said that Phase 1 delays were due to the public review process taking longer than expected. But those involved in the project say that is not the case.
“Everyone wants this project,” Kelty said. “It will help business and reduce traffic, plus the College Point Corporate Park Task Force approved it.”
He added that no one objected to the plan. “The EDC doesn’t want to admit they do anything wrong,” Kelty said.
Extending Linden Place to 20th Avenue is considered a big deal because it will link motorists to the mall there and the downtown shopping area.
Since the shopping center opened in 1998, local roads have had difficulty handling increased traffic, especially during the Christmas holiday shopping season.
The extension is also expected to relieve traffic congestion on the northbound Whitestone Expressway service road.