Amazon not welcome
Dec 18, 2018 | 156 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dear Editor, The Long Island City Mr. Ed Riecks of Howard Beach described in his December 13th letter bears no resemblance to the Long Island City where I have lived my long life or to the stories I heard from my family, which moved here more than 100 years ago. The part of Long Island City to which he refers is a warehouse district, not a factory district. The worst air pollution comes from a Con Ed facility, which is not included in the Amazon land grab. We would gladly see it go. Long Island City includes the Hunters Point Historic District (designated for its architectural significance), the Queens Supreme Court (housed in a stately, 110-year-old Beaux Arts building), numerous parks along the waterfront (including Gantry Plaza State Park and the Long Island City beach), MoMA/PS1 (one of many cultural locations, so many in fact that they are connected by a dedicated bus loop), neighborhoods, stores, and businesses. People live and work in Long Island City, as they have since the 17th century. It is an old area. The streets are narrow, the sewage and transportation systems are antiquated, the police force is insufficient for the number of people already there. We have not gotten much official help, although Long Island City regularly turns up on the city’s radar as ripe for picking. To accommodate the Amazon campus and the ensuing sprawl, much of Long Island City will need to be razed, and those of us who call it home will be forced out. The nearly $3 billion cost of the Amazon deal, however, will be borne throughout the city, including in Howard Beach. To set the record straight, Amazon is not bringing in 25,000 high-paying jobs. It is bringing in 25,000 people with high-paying jobs. That means more cars (and air pollution), more garbage, more use of water and utilities. It means luxury condos instead of the affordable housing we’ve been promised. It means restaurants and services too expensive for the people currently living here. It means the loss of our view of the sun setting over the Manhattan skyline. And it means a helipad for people too rich to take a limousine to the airport, thereby disturbing our peace and putting our lives in danger from the inevitable accidents. We are still waiting for the improvements promised by Citicorp when it constructed its tower nearly 40 years ago. The secret negotiations that led to the Amazon invasion do not give us any hope that it will be a more responsible neighbor. Amazon treats its customers well. It does not do the same for its working-class employees. It refused to help address the homeless situation in Seattle. It supplies unreliable facial recognition to ICE, an insult to our multicultural neighborhoods. Mr. Riecks spoke of breaking eggs to make an omelette. Amazon is not making an omelette, it is raping a community and it is being paid to do it. Mr. Riecks is correct. There are strip joints in Long Island City. They are clustered along the Queensboro Bridge. That’s what happens around single-function monoliths in cities. As for drugs, we suffer from the same addictions that plague the entire country, including Howard Beach. And yes, parts of Long Island City are scruffy. I, for one, prefer that to the bigotry and racial violence that is part of the Howard Beach legacy. People who live in glass houses... Sincerely, Marie Gangemi Long Island City
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Murial A. Buccino
Dec 18, 2018 | 148 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Murial A. Buccino of Glendale passed away on Tuesday, December 11, 2018 at the age of 94. She was the beloved Wife of the late Joseph. Devoted Mother of Gloria M. Buccino and Janice Votta Buccino. Dear Grandmother of Jessie Betancourt. Great-Grandmother of John Joseph Alma and Gabriella Betancourt. Services were held at Sacred Heart Church. Interment was in Mt. Olivet Cemetery under the direction of Hess-Miller Funeral Home 64-19 Metropolitan Ave. Middle Village, NY 11379
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Failing leaves
Dec 18, 2018 | 119 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dear Editor, I question the efficiency, financial and otherwise, of the city's leaf collection program. Requiring that leaves be put out in paper bags, at a cost of $1 a bag, is a financial burden to most homeowners in Queens. And how many trash cans are available considering our leafy streets and backyards? Having personally checked a two-block stretch on 36th Street between Astoria Boulevard and 30th Avenue on the days leaves were to be picked up (November 25 and December 9), I noticed one can filled with leaves, no paper bags, but many clear plastic bags filled with leaves. Sanitation trucks pass through on designated days without picking up leaves because they are not in cans or paper bags! What a waste of taxpayers' money and homeowners' time. Why are clear plastic bags not acceptable? Many residents participate in the program by putting out leaves in clear plastic bags, but none are picked up. All will be collected later on as garbage. What a waste! City Hall's good intentions to work in favor of our environment misses the point. Has it ever conducted a study to evaluate the efficacy of its leaf collection program? Sincerely, Edith Scherer Astoria
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We're lost
Dec 18, 2018 | 115 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dear Editor, In a letter last week, a dispatcher asked "Why are the Russians blocking a channel connected to the Baltic Sea?" This is a big geographical mistake. The incident the writer is referring to took place 1,100 miles from the Baltic Sea in the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. I am not surprised. I think that something is wrong when it comes to teaching geography in our schools. We live in a country where a university professor specializing in Eastern European affairs thinks that the city of Odessa is located on the Crimean peninsula. Sincerely, Victor Maltsev Rego Park
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Why I'm Suporting Amazon
by Seth Bornstein
Dec 18, 2018 | 156 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I am finding out that discussing the Amazon HQ2 project in Long Island City is as treacherous as traveling down the Amazon River on a raft: full of wild rapids and deep trenches and home to biting amphibians. And that's just around people I love! Let me state that I was not part of the negotiations, but by virtue of my job, I've been fielding many inquiries since the announcement. And let's get this out in the open, I'm in favor of the Seattle-based company's expansion in Queens. But before any rotten fruit is thrown through my office windows and negative emails flood my inbox, allow me to explain. I recently finished the second volume of Mike Wallace's “Greater Gotham.” The book covers 1898 to 1919, but it sheds incredible light on the changes that took place in this city in less than a generation. It points to the fact that New York City must always reinvent itself to remain a world-class city. If not, we become an artifact like Venice, which is now primarily known for sinking into the sea and overpriced cappuccino. When I started my career in 1979, my first task was to attract a quality drug store to southern Queens. There was none as most neighborhoods were redlined. Queensborough Plaza was notable for greasy doughnut shops and illicit sex. Commuting on the E or F to Kew Gardens in the morning, I was often the only one in the subway car, though a drunk once tried to knife me, but only succeeded in slitting my New York Times down the middle. People and businesses did not want to be here. Efforts were made to retain the borough's great companies, Eagle Electric and Swingline come to mind. (Oh, how I miss that gigantic neon stapler bearing down over Sunnyside Yards!) This city once had hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs, now it has fewer than 75,000. Incentives were used to hemorrhage the flow of jobs, but in the end it was like shoveling sand against the tide. Manufacturing found greener pastures and the great smoke stacks that defined our borough disappeared. We were triumphant when Citi opened its tower; we thought it was harbinger of financial institutions that would jump across the East River. But the economic downturns in 1987 and 2008 put a big damper on the financial sector as our savior. As the world's most diverse county, we need a diverse economy. We still have manufacturing, albeit on a smaller scale and hopefully more environmentally friendly. Citi did beget other financial organizations, such as the UN Credit Union. Tourism, which employs more than 50,000 people in Queens, has played a key role as people flock for an authentic NYC experience. The movie studios have also made our economic base fatter, bringing with them a touch of glamour. Throughout history, New York City adapts. We always have. From an oyster trading post to the country's biggest port to a manufacturing center to financiers who went on to open offices in counting houses to cultural arts and mass media, we need to be cutting edge. Over the last decades, technology has become that edge, and it cuts across every sector. Why did Amazon chose Queens? For a company that wants to be at the intersection of technology, diversity, and a well-skilled labor pool, the choice is apparent. My loved ones ask, "Do they really need the billions of dollars that could go to rebuilding our infrastructure, schools, and hospitals?" My response is that most of the economic development incentives are as-of-right and/or in the form of tax credits, not cold cash. They're tax credits on new jobs, not retained jobs. If 25,000 jobs are created that pay an average of $150,000 each per year, that's an annual payroll of $3,750,000,000. The incentives are "paid back" by spreading a lot of money through the city and putting a lot of bread on a lot of tables. And these are new jobs that will add to our tax base. In addition, Amazon has agreed to help with schools, job fairs, and other community benefits. This is where we need to take a strong and tough stance. Job fairs and resume writing workshops are sweet, but they need to do much more. Skilled training must be memorialized into the agreement, especially for communities that have been sidelined as development booms around them. This is how they can make a difference, and by doing so, be a model for future economic development. It's also time take a hard line on infrastructure improvements financed in part by companies that want ─ and need ─ better transit, schools, and health care if they're going to continue to attract a qualified workforce. The Long Island City site must be designed carefully, 25,000 employees are a lot, and they're going to need goods and services. Savvy local entrepreneurs will benefit. We need to ensure they're trained to provide the goods and services even Amazon employees can't buy on Amazon. We are New York. We welcome, we absorb, and we need to make Amazon accommodate us. Seth Bornstein is executive director of the Queens Economic Development Corporation.
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