“One thing is certain — certain is not the word we use when talking about Aqueduct,” Community Board 10 Chairwoman Betty Braton said at the group’s meeting last Thursday night, garnering loud chuckles from members who said they were surprised, but nowhere near crestfallen, by Gov. Cuomo’s recent announcement that the country’s largest convention center may no longer be built in South Ozone Park.
Cuomo said in a radio interview with former Gov. Paterson about two weeks ago that talks between his office and Genting, which runs the Resorts World New York Casino at Aqueduct, to fund and operate a $4 billion, 3.8-million-square-foot convention center had fallen through. While Genting is no longer definitely constructing the center, the company did say it plans to compete in the state’s bid process for a convention site — as have such Las Vegas-based companies as Caesars Entertainment Corporation, MGM and Sands.
Cuomo first announced in his State of the State address in January that he wanted the massive facility built in Queens.
Braton said at last week’s meeting that while the news was a shock to the community, “I don’t think anybody will cry all night because we won’t have the largest convention center.”
The chairwoman also emphasized that residents should not worry about Genting abandoning the casino at Aqueduct because plans for a center may not come to fruition, noting that the company has a 30-year commitment to operate video lottery terminals at the South Ozone Park site.
“We want to continue to bring more jobs and bring quality entertainment here,” Resorts World spokesman Patrick Jenkins said at the meeting.
Pat McCabe, chief of staff to state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), told board members that the senator is in “constant contact” with the governor’s office and Genting executives about the center. Addabbo has said he hopes to still have a convention center in Queens, especially one in South Ozone Park. Others in Queens, including state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights), have said a convention center should be built at Willets Point.
In other meeting news, Capt. Thomas Pascale, the commanding officer of the 106th Precinct, warned residents they are “going to see an increase in grand larceny” during the summer months.
“We have bank branches on Crossbay where people have installed skimmers —which means they install a camera and pick up your pin number,” Pascale said. “It’s unbelievable the amount of damage that’s done.”
Pascale said the crooks often install the skimmers just before the weekend and remove them before they are detected. He noted that putting their hands over the pin pad while typing often shields the code from prying eyes.
The captain also said thieves are hitting South Queens in the early morning hours —usually around 4 a.m. — and stealing car rims. He said the problem is especially prevalent in Howard Beach, Lindenwood and Ozone Park, and the criminals typically target 2011 and 2012 Maximas, Accords and Camrys.
“We know they mainly hit midweek and usually on a rainy night,” Pascale said. “People can get wheel locks from their dealership. You should be parked in a well-lit spot, too.”