There is a proposal to move the Javits Center to Queens, but it should not go forward without input from the thousands of residents who live in the neighborhoods nearby.
There have been proposals to develop this historic industrial space almost since its opening in 1910. It has attracted attention by impractical dreamers, unscrupulous speculators and even some visionary city planners. Still, any serious plan must address the concerns of local residents and businesses before it can be supported by government.
Affordable housing is an important citywide goal, but the plan as pictured in the Daily News looks grossly overbuilt. Residents have a right to see density and scale addressed. Lots of open space must be part of any plan in a neighborhood of few existing parks.
Any plans to develop Sunnyside Yards need strong, local review. I would propose LaGuardia Community College play a lead role in a community-based needs assessment, shared and developed by local residents, students, businesses, community boards and elected officials.
Transportation is critical. The N,R, G and 7 lines are overcrowded and often shut down due to needed upgrades. Bus service is inadequate, and a multi-modal connector to the East Side Access Project must be addressed as well. The impact on transit lines that pass through Sunnyside also will affect neighboring communities, such as Maspeth, Middle Village, Elmhurst, Rego Park, Forest Hills, Long Island City, Astoria and beyond.
■ With the close of area hospitals, western Queens communities have few health facilities. They also have antiquated police precincts and inadequate fire and sanitation services. Extensive resources would have to be added before Sunnyside and its neighbors could absorb any large infusion of new residents.
■ Our schools have long been among the most overcrowded in the city. Many students attend classes in trailers. Obviously, this has to be resolved for current residents who are now fighting for pre-K, elementary and middle school seats.
■ Any plan must include the effects of remediation. The Yards have been subjected to industrial runoff for so long, they probably warrant Superfund status. What will be the effect of a major clean-up on Sunnyside and surrounding communities?
■ Long Island City has thousands of important jobs in the auto, transportation, food, film, cultural, tech and manufacturing industries. These need to be maintained, not pushed out.
We need a plan that recognizes that thousands of us have already chosen Western Queens for our homes, businesses, education and creative community. We are not going away just because the big boys in Manhattan have decided to tear down the Javits Center and develop luxury housing on the far West Side.
It is not NIMBY to say that our community will not support proposals if we have no say in their development. Those of us that decided to live in, work in and love our neighborhoods with the Sunnyside Yards as they currently exist must be included in any plans.
Catherine Nolan represents Assembly District 37, which includes parts of Maspeth, Ridgewood, Sunnyside, Astoria and Long Island City.
**The views expressed in this column represent only those of the author and not the board or membership of the Juniper Park Civic Association.