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From a “supportive” mayor to the “nanny” mayor of Queens, Mayor Bloomberg has left business leaders with a range of opinions on his impact on small businesses in the borough.
With 80 percent of the 44,000 businesses in Queens having fewer than 10 employees, according to Rob Mackay of the Queens Economic Development Corp., small businesses make up a significant portion of the Queens economy. Mackay has seen the mayor as someone who’s realized the importance of small businesses for each neighborhood, but as other business owners noted, that was sometimes hard to realize when the “nanny” mayor came into the spotlight.
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall presided over the dedication of “The Forum at Borough Hall,” the $23 million, 11,000-square-foot expansion at Queens’ civic headquarters.
The multi-functional, indoor meeting space was built in the rear courtyard of Borough Hall. It is the first addition to the building since it opened more than 70 years ago and will serve as a location for government hearings, community meetings, cultural performances and other public events.
One would think The Mets ball club and the Related Companies would be more than gratified at receiving, for $1, the Willets Point property acquired by the City for tens of millions of dollars; a taxpayer subsidy of $99 million; and the right to construct a 1.4 million-square-foot shopping mall on the Citi Field parking lot, which is part of Flushing Meadows Corona Park without having to replace parkland and undergo a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure proceeding.
Predictably, not so.
In addition to all of the above, they now seek what they claim is a $43 million tax break from the city, but when added to the actual value of the Willets Point property of about $250 million; sewer construction cost of about $35 million; Van Wyck construction cost of $66 million; the total cost to the city for Willets Point will be about $400 million, a taxpayer subsidy that may well break all previous records.
At a time when city poverty and homeless levels are increasing, a demand by multibillionaires for a huge tax break, is outrageous.
If the Bloomberg Administration and the City Council agree to this raid on the City treasury, and if Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio and Queens Borough President-Elect Melinda Katz remain silent, it would be tantamount, in my opinion, to malfeasance in office.
It seemed like an appropriate gesture to open the Ageless Summit in Laurelton last Thursday with a moment of silence for the passing of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela.
Mandela, who passed away on the same day at the age of 95, stood as a symbol for many in Southeast Queens for equal rights and justice. And while the topic of apartheid wasn’t discussed, issues of equality and justice were covered by the two-hour event, which took place at St. Luke’s Church in Laurelton, and was moderated by community activist Tanequa Strong.
Political heavyweights from throughout Queens were on hand at LaGuardia Airport last Friday as Congressman Joe Crowley (D-Bronx, Queens) announced legislation that would require airlines to stock their fleets with quieter planes.
The Quiet Skies Act (HR 3650) will, if passed, give the Federal Aviation Administration until the end of 2015 to come up with regulations that would require all domestic airlines to phase in quiter aircraft, or those meeting the federal Stage 4 noise requirements.
The Industrial Development Agency, a branch of the Economic Development Corp., approved a proposal Tuesday that will grant Willets Point developers $43 million in tax breaks to raze the “Valley of Ashes” and put a mega-mall and more in its place.
The $3 billion project, spearheaded by the Queens Development Group, recently bought the 23-acre site near Flushing Meadows Corona Park from the city for a dollar.
The City Council gave its final stamp of approval to the rezoning of 530 blocks in South Queens Tuesday. The unanimous vote puts the plan into motion immediately,
There was little opposition to the plan, which aimed to protect the characteristics of residential homes in the neighborhood.
Mayor-Elect Bill de Blasio today announced his appointment of William J. Bratton to serve as New York City’s next Police Commissioner.
In selecting Bratton to lead the New York Police Department, de Blasio emphasized his commitment to proactive policing to protect New Yorkers, while simultaneously respecting their civil liberties.
Term-limited Councilman Leroy Comrie, left, is landing a job a lot closer to home come January. Borough President-Elect Melinda Katz, right, has designated him as her new deputy, citing his long and varied experience in serving borough residents.
City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Carter Strickland on Tuesday announced a number of initiatives aimed at managing storm water and alleviating flooding in neighborhoods throughout Southeast Queens.
“The city’s sewer system protects public health and promotes economic growth, which is why we have invested more than $383 million over the last 10 years to continue to extend sewers throughout Southeast Queens,” Strickland said.
For several years now, Dmytro Fedkowskyj, Queens’ representative on the Panel for Educational Policy — the Department of Education’s policy-making body — has convened parents and community education council members at Borough Hall several times a year to discuss education issues and concerns with him and policy advisors to Borough President Helen Marshall.
On Tuesday, they met one last time. With Marshall — and likely Fedkowskyj, who serves at her pleasure — leaving office at the end of the month, the parents, officials, former teachers and CEC members gathered to put together a list of concerns and suggestions they hope Borough President-Elect Melinda Katz, her future PEP appointee and the de Blasio administration will tackle.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last Friday that he will allocate $50 million from the state’s share of the $67 billion federal Hurricane Sandy aid package toward rebuilding protective marshland in Spring Creek Park to serve as a stronger barrier between Howard Beach and Jamaica Bay and alleviate future flooding in storms like Sandy.
The project, developed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, will involve excavation, recontouring, and revegetation to establish a self-sustaining system of wave-dampening barriers to reduce storm damage on the south and west coasts of Howard Beach. It would also make the land, which is a public park, into a more inviting and functional space.
One of the victims of Sunday’s train derailment in the Bronx was a nurse living in Woodside who cared for children after immigrating to the United States from South Korea and was known as “an exceptional person.
Kisook Ahn, 35, was the youngest of the four people killed in the accident, which also injured more than 60 as a southbound Metro North train left the tracks near the Spuyten Duyvil station at about 7:20 a.m. The federal government says the train was going 82 miles an hour around a curved section of track where the limit is 30, reportedly because the engineer had dozed off.
Borough President-Elect Melinda Katz has tapped a longtime associate and a former rival for key positions in Borough Hall come January.
Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who dropped out of the borough president race this past summer, will serve as deputy borough president, while Jay Bond, a former policy advisor to Katz during her tenure on the City Council and in the state Assembly, will be brought on board as chief of staff.
The quarter-acre Plaut Triangle in Flushing will be getting a major facelift next summer with the addition of new pathways, a drinking fountain and a spigot for watering plants, new benches, additional plantings and gates.
Chrissy Voskerichian, vice president of the Station Road Civic Association, is delighted with the plans. Her group has helped maintain the site for five years. “Our civic and community members are very happy and excited that money was funded for the upgrades to Plaut,” Voskerichian said.
Two rare Roman Catholic relics on tour throughout the world will be making a stop at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Forest Hills next week.
According to Catholic teaching, the body of forceful Portuguese priest St. Anthony of Padua was exhumed in 1263, three decades after his death.
Elected officials, area clergymen and dozens of onlookers gathered on Sunday night to watch the lighting of a 16-foot-tall menorah at Federoff Triangle on Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills.
Borough President-Elect Melinda Katz, Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) and Chabad of Rego Park Rabbi Eli Blokh spoke to the crowd, which also included Congresswoman Grace Meng.
“Mental health is not the sexiest topic.” So suggested Dennis Romero, speaking before a room filled with upwards of 100 senior citizens at Queens Borough Hall on Wednesday morning.
Romero, Region II administrator of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, was one of two speakers who addressed members of the Queens Interagency Council on Aging, which sponsored the event.
The right of way exists, the tracks exist, the infrastructure, although it needs work, still exists — if we want to improve Queens transportation and stimulate economic growth for future development of our borough, the complete restoration and rehabilitation of the abandoned Rockaway Beach Rail Line is our best option.
Sandy revealed what our communities have known for too long: We need more transit options for our families in Queens. There is no better time than right now.
Elected officials, area clergymen and dozens of onlookers gathered on Sunday night to watch the lighting of a 16-foot-tall menorah at Federoff Triangle on Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills. Borough President-Elect Melinda Katz, Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) and Chabad of Rego Park Rabbi Eli Blokh spoke to the crowd, which also included Congresswoman Grace Meng. Five of the menorah’s candles were lit to recognize the fifth night of Chanukah and Woodside resident Harry Bieber was also honored for his service in Israel’s War of Independence. — by Christopher Barca
Borough President-Elect Melinda Katz takes her turn with the torch that lit the menorah.
Borough President-Elect Melinda Katz has tapped a long-time associate and a former rival for key positions in Borough Hall come January.
Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who dropped out of the borough president race this past summer, will serve as deputy borough president, a job that traditionally has included supervision of the borough’s community boards.
One of the victims of Sunday's train derailment in the Bronx was a nurse from Woodside who reportedly had only come to the United States this year.
Kisook Ahn, 35, was the youngest of the four victims killed in the accident, which also injured dozens as a southbound Metro North train left the tracks near the Spuyten Duyvil station at about 7:20 a.m. The cause is under investigation.
Borough President-Elect Melinda Katz, second from left, Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, River Fund of New York Executive Director Swami Durga Das, and Jason Hilliard from the office of Congressman Gregory Meeks assist the needy in Richmond Hill on Saturday.
Queens elected officials gathered for a peaceful political event on Saturday at Queens College to raise funds for the groups Big Buddy and Women and Work.
The cast featured borough city, state and federal legislators, including the lone Republican, Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), former Borough President Clare Shulman, her successor Helen Marshall, Borough President-Elect Melinda Katz, and City Comptroller John Liu. The variety show featured singing, dancing, parodies of cinema, television and Broadway and costumes, including Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) in a rainbow wig. Tickets were $100 each.