Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Jackson Heights wants Mayor's Task Force
MAYOR BLOOMBERG TALKS SUSTAINABILITY BUT DOESN'T WALK THE WALK
The “environmental Mayor” rejects meeting with residents looking to improve environmental conditions in Jackson Heights.
(Jackson Heights, New York) New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has touted his Plan2030 for creating a more environmentally friendly, less congested city, is coming to Jackson Heights, Queens tonight, but refuses to met with area residents who have been working to improve living conditions in the area.
Jackson Heights has struggled with vehicular traffic, pollution and congestion, sanitation chaos and around-the-clock disruption and degradation of quality-of-life issues for decades. Mayor Bloomberg has refused to meet with these residents and has disinvited them from a so-called Town Hall open only to merchants, most of whom don't live in the area.
The residents of Jackson Heights will still greet Mayor Bloomberg at his scheduled meeting tonight with a local merchants group at the Jackson Diner on 74th Street between 37th Ave. and 37th Rd. — not with open arms but with signs, street protest, and pent-up expressions of outrage.
Jackson Heights residents for years have been bedeviled by choking traffic congestion, constant horn honking, illegal double-parking, foul emissions from delivery truck double-parking and idling, a history of pedestrian accidents that are increasing at an alarming rate, overflowing and illegal trash dumping, illegal street vendors and a marked aesthetic degradation.
This isn't happening in 2030. It's happening now. And Mayor Bloomberg, fresh from promoting his congestion-pricing plan, isn't acknowledging the current problem, or the residents he purports to serve.
The ‘sustainability Mayor’ will be one block away from 73rd Street and 37th Ave. -- an intersection that has been termed “a canyon of death,” “a disaster in the making,” and “one of the three worst in Queens." One of the members of the group he is meeting is a commercial developer whose wanton disregard for civil and environmental law, code enforcement and the concerns of the wider residential community has resulted in a mockery of Jackson Heights' multicultural reputation -- instead transforming the area with an environmental degradation not often experienced outside the Third World.
Now the city has approved an initial plan to build a 4-story addition over a one-story retail operation right on the corner of this already dysfunctional crossroads. Not only would this construction be a crushing blow to any solution of ongoing environmental problems, it would sabotage two current ongoing sustainability studies specific to the western portion of Jackson Heights, one federally funded ($640k, with an additional $160k provided by City Planning, to be administered by Congressman Joseph Crowley) and one undertaken by City Councilwoman Helen Sears.
We cannot understand why the City would issue any permits or approve any plans whose implementation kills the viability of these studies and wastes a million dollars’ worth of City and Federal money. Add to that as well: The application is being pushed by a commercial developer who is associated with a self-certifying architect now under investigation for fraud by a City Councilman’s office and who has already far exceeded any reasonable interpretation of an outdated 1961 mixed-use zoning code (C 4-3) for this street by doing away with two-family residential units on 73rd Street south of 37th Avenue and replacing them with five-story commercial units—each of which have longstanding, double-digit outstanding violations.
The Western Jackson Heights Alliance, on behalf of its 500+ membership of local residents, appealed to the Mayor to form a Task Force that would gather the various city agencies that could make a difference in saving this neighborhood from its precipitous decline. Instead, the only civic group representing residential interests in Jackson Heights was pointedly and specifically dis-invited from the meeting and told that any further insistence would result in the cancellation of any discussion of a Task Force. Who is the Mayor punishing?
We asked the Mayor to lend suffering residents a hand. . .and he has responded by giving us the finger.
RALLY TO PROTEST THE EXCLUSION OF JACKSON HEIGHTS RESIDENTS
Tuesday, July 31st 2007 7pm
37-47 74th Street (between 37th Ave & 37th Rd)