In the last issue of the Juniper Berry the article entitled: “The Big Question for Keyspan” presented the community with facts, figures and foresight regarding the best use of this six – acre site (located on Grand Avenue near Stop and Shop) for all New York and the Nation. Although the Juniper Park Civic Association has written several times to the Keyspan Energy Corporation, they have never had the professional courtesy to answer any of our letters. Indeed to compound their disrespect for our community, they have not answered a December 20, 2002 letter sent by our elected officials including Congressman Anthony Weiner, State Senator Serf Maltese, Assemblyman Michael Cohen, Councilman Dennis Gallagher and Councilwoman Melinda Katz.
It is my understanding that at a December meeting our elected officials had with Keyspan, a verbal agreement was made to hold off any final decision on the part of Keyspan regarding the sale of this property.
Now rumor has it that they have chosen the worst case scenario for the sale of this property – The Big Box. There is clearly no other way to describe the construction of a Big Box facility but as the absolute worst case for this and surrounding communities.
Without question, the 104th precinct has a large and formidable geographical area, the highest amount of backlogged jobs in the borough, the least amount of officers on the street and is burdened with a lack of easy access to transverse the precinct during critical times. As a matter of fact all emergency vehicles are denied easy access throughout the community because of the present infrastructure. Presently the traffic situation up and down Grand Avenue on 74th Street and 80th Street is often times impossible without the addition of a “Big Box.” We have only to look at other nearby communities such as College Point (the 20th Avenue exit on the Van Wyck Expressway) or the traffic debacle that the new Gateway Mall has caused on the Belt Parkway at the Erskine Avenue Exit to witness the traffic disasters that have been created by developers building “as of right” without regard to the infrastructure. Frankly, the problem is the result of developers looking to superimpose a suburban concept on an urban community that was designed for public transportation and pedestrian traffic.
Incidentally, while Mayor Mike is so very concerned about everyone's pulmonary capacity he should consider the toxicity of the diesel fumes that are emanating from the eighteen wheelers and the school buses that are idling throughout our community. Now that we have raised the question of toxicity, the Keyspan Site has not had a final letter of clearance from the State Department of Environmental Control, our elected officials should make sure that the DEC gives this matter a careful examination. The undesirable consequences that not only this but other future development plans will burden this community with should be a wake up call to Council Member Melinda Katz and the Land Use Committee to address the zoning of all communities in New York City.
Hopefully the Big Box threat may have only been a malicious rumor spread to aggravate certain parties and Keyspan will initiate the development of a memorial park dedicated to the victims and heroes of 09/11/01.