While the media buzz surrounding Gov. Cuomo’s proposal to build the nation’s largest convention center in South Ozone Park has largely died down, South Queens residents certainly have not forgotten the plan and are continuing to urge the state to address a myriad of infrastructure problems in the neighborhood before millions of more visitors flock to their once quiet streets.
“What’s not being talked about right now is that it’s very, very difficult to get here,” Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park) said during the Community Board 10 meeting in South Ozone Park last Thursday. “I need to know infrastructure and transportation are going to be a priority. The community comes first and foremost over anything else.”
While Genting, the company that operates the new Resorts World Casino New York City at Aqueduct and which would fund and run the convention center, originally estimated the gambling facility would draw about eight million people to the area annually, CB 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton called that number a “lowball” figure that will likely grow to around nine or 10 million.
Since the casino opened last fall, traffic congestion on area streets, particularly Rockaway Boulevard, has increased and residents frequently complain that their driveways are being blocked.
Braton added that South Ozone Park’s population essentially doubles during any given weekend because of residents flocking to the casino.
“We would like to see the state and city enter into serious infrastructure improvements,” Braton said.
The chairwoman noted that U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-Queens, Brooklyn) recently received a letter from Cuomo that stated the governor agrees with the congressman that the community should be involved in the convention center planning process.
Turner had asked the governor to include CB 10 when planning the center.
“We share a common goal of fostering a positive economic environment in order to get New Yorkers back to work, and I fully understand and appreciate your concerns for an open and transparent planning process with a key role reserved for the local community board,” Cuomo said in his letter to Turner.