Maloney Speaks to Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce

Nov 12, 2004
Press Release
NEW YORK, NY - Congresswoman Maloney served as the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce. Understanding the importance of Long Island City as a growing center of commerce, Maloney discussed the need to improve the infrastructure in Western Queens. Here are excerpts from her remarks:

“Thank you all for coming. I particularly want to thank Lillie Gavin for organizing and hosting this event. As always, Lillie makes Daizie’s a warm and comfortable place to get together.

“As you know, this is a time of great changes for Western Queens – this area is developing into a major hub of commercial, cultural and residential activity.... That’s why I’ve made infrastructure a major priority....One of my first votes in Congress was providing funding for the 63rd Street Tunnel connector, which expanded the numbers of subways coming from Queens into Manhattan and made use of the 63rd Street tunnel. For years, the 63rd Street tunnel was derided as the tunnel to nowhere....The Queens Tunnel Connector opened for business on December 16, 2001. The connector allows New York City Transit to add 20% more trains - about 17 an hour- during rush hour periods.

“East Side Access is also a major priority. Access to Manhattan’s business districts
from Queens is becoming increasingly difficult as current modes of transportation are reaching capacity. Congestion leads to increased commuting times and greater difficulties getting to work. East Side Access will shave 15 to 30 minutes off of people’s commutes by allowing the LIRR to come into Grand Central Terminal so that all the burden isn’t on Penn Station, as it is now. In addition, it will help residents of Queens with a stop in Sunnyside at Queens Boulevard near Skillman Avenue. Area businesses are also excited about this prospect – because the LIRR will make it easier for workers to commute to the Long Island City business district. What’s more, 5,000 Queens residents are expected to choose to take the LIRR instead of the subway... The MTA has allocated $2 million to study improving pedestrian connections between the new Sunnyside station and transit stations at Queens Plaza and Queensboro Plaza.

“I have also supported two smaller projects – the Queens Plaza Roadway Rebuilding Project and Long Island City Links. I joined with Congressman Crowley to secure federal funding for the Queens Plaza Roadway Rebuilding Project. The goal of the project is to redesign and rebuild Queens Plaza, to ease traffic congestion and improve air quality by encouraging residents to use alternate forms of transportation - such as biking, walking, and mass transit trains and buses. This will be achieved by improving the pedestrian environment by creating new bike lanes, reorganizing traffic lanes between Crescent Street and Queens Plaza East, and through innovative streetscape improvements such as landscaping, public art, lighting, crosswalks, street furniture, directional signs and artistic banners.

“Long Island City Links is another important aspect of the broader City and State initiative to re-develop Long Island City’s waterfront. It would create a 37 block transit hub
between Queens Plaza and Court Square. With Congressman Crowley, I successfully obtained a $250,000 Congressional earmark for this project in June 2001. With input from the neighborhood’s cultural and institutional resources, Long Island City Links aims to establish a network of pedestrian, bicycle and transit connections and heighten the quality of the neighborhood’s public areas. This means better pedestrian walkways, better lighting and signage, more green space, a new and improved bike path and a shuttle bus network and expanded bus service...

“The age-old problem for people living near water, is that eventually the water
has an impact on the land – in some places it’s flooding, in some places, like Venice, the entire city starts to sink. In New York, we have to maintain our seawalls – The East River is among the fastest moving bodies of water in the nation and in many places the city’s failure to devote sufficient resources to seawall maintenance has allowed the water to erode the land. For the last several years, I have been able to get funding to protect the Queens seawall – $100,000 for FY2003 and 2004....

“Americans are living longer and healthier. But for many seniors, there comes a time
when they can no longer manage.... For these seniors, assisted living facilities or Section 202 housing may be appropriate. In New York, land is at a premium and it’s incredibly hard to build senior housing. That’s why I’m proud of the role I have played ... in Western Queens. Our most recent success was in saving the Section 202 funds that are intended for Riverview Houses, an 80 unit building that is being built at Queens West. The funding had been allocated to the project in 1996, but the developer couldn’t begin building because of delays in developing the entire site. The issues were on the verge of being resolved, but the federal government was threatening to pull back the money. I prevailed on HUD to give them more time – but a whole year went by and still the issues weren’t resolved and the federal government threatened once again to pull the funding. And this time they were adamant. I prevailed on HUD one more time to give the developer until the fall. Reluctantly, they agreed – and this time I think we’re really there. The official ground-breaking is scheduled for next week.

“MOMA’s sojourn in Long Island City brought a mini-boomlet for many area businesses – particularly the long lines from the Picasso/Matisse exhibit. I wrote to MOMA and asked them to maintain a presence in the area after they returned to Manhattan, and I am hopeful that eventually we will prevail on them to have more than just storage space in this area. But even without MOMA, this area has its own museum mile with Noguchi Garden Museum, the American Museum of the Moving Image, PS1 and the Museum for African Art. People who go to museums are also looking for places to eat and places to shop – the presence of these cultural institutions is good for business in this community, and I will do everything I can to promote this area as a good place for the arts....”