To The Editor:
The [Queens] Gazette used 578 words to tell half a story.
All the neighborhoods in our city are screaming for downzoning. The Dutch Kills community was and is screaming for UPZONING. What part of that is not understood by the Gazette?
The Dutch Kills Zoning Proposal was designed to UPZONE the area for residential use "as of right". The rest of the zoning was designed to balance the character of the community. It was not intended to further special interests; rather, the UPZONING was intended for the good and welfare of the entire community.
The Dutch Kills community was condemned to death as a residential community by the zoning change of 1961. That change, in effect, said: NO NEW HOMES or expanded homes in Dutch Kills. Those that remained found it difficult to secure mortgages, fire insurance and, if a home was destroyed, more than 50 percent could not be rebuilt. THAT was real DOWNZONING, better known as How To Kill A Family Neighborhood 101.
Queens Community Board 1 and Borough President Helen Marshall recommended passage of the UPZONING proposal for the Dutch Kills community, which is now before the City Council. Hundreds of property owners will benefit from the zoning change. Property values will rise for owners because there can now be two uses for the property: Commercial and Residential. Commercial owners can continue to provide jobs and expand. Can they build tall manufacturing buildings? Yes, but not in areas of Dutch Kills.
When Dutch Kills Civic Association President Jerry Walsh brought our request for UPZONING for residential uses to the attention of Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg, it was noted that Jerry was the only one of the civic leaders gathered at the Gracie Mansion meeting making such a request. By the end of the day, Department of City Planning Chair Amanda Burden had an appointment with Jerry. Jerry has worked tirelessly with the Department City Planning to revitalize our community. Will everyone be satisfied? No, of course not. However, had Jerry not started this process when he did, our community would have been totally devastated by the hotels that have rushed to build. Nineteen hotel permits have been issued in a five-block area.
There is a balance in the Dutch Kills proposal for low, medium and high-rise zoning for residential and business property owners. With the patience and hard work of Queens Director of City Planning John Young, Joy Chen and Penny Lee, we have reached a milestone for the good of the entire community.
Now with the new UPZONING, we can begin to rebuild our community.
UPZONING. UPZONING. UPZONING.
George L. Stamatiades
Dutch Kills Civic Association of Long Island City, Inc.