With one of the largest projects in the city slated to be built in her district, Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) has made a point of prioritizing development in region.
During her State of the District Address, held last week, Ferreras took time to reflect on the changes she has brought to areas like Roosevelt Avenue and Corona Plaza, regardless of how controversial some of her ideas are.
“... the spirit of transition is in the air for our great city,” she said. “Together, we have elected a new, progressive mayor; the first-ever City Council speaker of color; 21 diverse new members of the City Council and a new borough president. Indeed, this spirit of transition is certainly no different when it comes to our district.”
The speech did not bring up many new ideas, but rather, drew upon initiatives she introduced in 2013.
Education, public safety, affordable housing, economic development, business environment and green spaces are the six priorities Ferreras said she will focus on in 2014.
Many, if not all of those priorities were on her list last year as well.
“If these issues sound familiar to you, then you are probably familiar with my ‘New Deal for Roosevelt Avenue,’” she said. “Announced in March of last year, ‘The New Deal’ was a seven-point plan I designed to help revitalize what is widely known as one of New York City’s most bustling, yet uncared for, commercial corridors.”
Changes Ferreras has been working on include introducing the Jackson Heights-Corona Business Improvement District.
While she laid out the numerous benefits of bringing a BID to the district, the proposal has remained quite controversial among some business owners and residents. They fear that taxes will increase and big-box stores will replace many of the mom-and-pop shops sprinkled throughout the area.
But perhaps the most controversial project Ferreras has played a major role in was the approval of the Queens Development Group’s proposal for Willets Point.
The behemoth of a project aims to turn the weather-beaten streets of the area into a thriving metropolis by 2025 but the relocation of dozens of existing businesses has led some to emphatically come out against it.
A lawsuit has even been filed by state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) and activist groups who claim the city selling a small parcel of parkland adjacent to the site for a related project for a dollar is illegal.
Despite the suit, Ferreras said she is confident the plan will turn over a new leaf for the area and bring much-needed economic growth.
“For decades, this area has gone without many of the resources the rest of the city has regularly received, such as sanitation, paved roads and proper sewage and flood draining,” she said. “After five long years of reviewing this proposal and taking all of our community’s needs into account, I have found that a vote in favor of the plan would forever become a new progressive benchmark, not only for my district, but for all of New York City.”