2017 State of the Borough Theme: “The Borough of Growth, The Borough of Families”
Urges Re-Opening in Queens of Federal Citizenship Office; Borough-Wide Plan for Bike Lanes
Proposes Soccer and Hockey Stadium at Willets Point Site; ULURP for NYC Hotel Permits; Parks Designed for Seniors
JAMAICA, NY – Borough President Melinda Katz delivered her third annual “State of the Borough” address this morning at York College/CUNY, where she offered highlights of Queens’ milestones in recent years, some of the challenges that continue, and her vision for the borough’s future. Borough President Katz outlined Queens’ recent growth in population, jobs, tourism, hospitality, trees, airports and schools, saying, “As we continue to be the borough of growth, we can’t forget that we are – at our core – still the borough of families.”
Highlighted proposals included: a new, soccer and hockey stadium at Willets Point; mandating public review through ULURP for hotel permits in NYC to help ensure community input and better monitoring of growth; a borough-wide plan for bike lanes; the re-opening of the displaced Queens Field Office of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); building space in public parks specifically designed for seniors to stay active.
The speech included the following key points:
- Borough President Katz stressed the need for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to open a Field Office in Queens, which has not had one since flooding forced the closure of the USCIS Field Office in Long Island City two years ago.
o The departure of the old Queens Field Office means Queens Residents must either travel to Lower Manhattan or to Holtsville, Long Island, to reach the nearest USCIS Field Office to address their citizenship and green card applications and obtain other important services that have become even more vital during this time of uncertainty in Federal immigration policy. Borough President Katz and U.S. Representative Gregory Meeks recently restated their proposal to open a USCIS Queens Field Office in the vacant space available in the Addabbo Federal Building in Jamaica, Queens, which is optimally located near mass transit and within easy reach of Queens’ 2.3 million residents, nearly half of whom were born abroad.
- Borough President Katz pondered additional options for the 62 acres of Willets Point, the urban renewal plan that the Borough President first sponsored more than 10 years ago when she was a member of the City Council. With the plan in court, Borough President Katz said it is time to review additional options for the area that could include the construction of a hockey arena or soccer stadium, along with other facilities like a new school, an eco-recreation center, and more parking to accommodate the major events often take place simultaneously in the Flushing Meadows vicinity.
o “New York City’s land is not limitless, and with the projected growth in our borough, this highly coveted area of Willets Point needs to be remediated and prepped for a cleaner future,” said Borough President Katz during today’s address (as prepared for delivery).” …We should be unafraid to think bigger….. bolder….. and more comprehensively.”
- Borough President Katz endorsed the proposed $400 million expansion of Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct Racetrack. The project calls for a 400-room hotel, a 20,000-square-foot spa and resort, and at least 140,000 square feet of convention and meeting space.
o “In its five years of operations, Resorts World has proven to be an exemplary neighbor to the surrounding community,” said Borough President Katz during today’s address (as prepared for delivery). “With the potential for more good-paying jobs and attracting even more visitors, I believe the expansion of Resorts World is a good partnership for this borough.”
- The Borough President called for the creation of a special permitting process for all proposed new hotels.
o This process would compel all hotel projects in the City to go through a mandated public review through the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). Borough President Katz said such a process would guarantee community input and allow government to better monitor hotel growth citywide.
The program was MCed by Dr. Stacie N.C. Grant, a motivational speaker, author, and Southeast Queens resident. A traditional lion dance performed by the Asian United and Cultural Exchange Council from Flushing kicked off the program in celebration of the upcoming Lunar New Year, as well as brief welcoming remarks by Dr. Marcia V. Keizs, President of York College/CUNY. Borough President Katz was then introduced by Allan Houston, two-time NBA All-Star and founder of the Allan Houston Legacy Foundation dedicated to youth mentorship and entrepreneurship.
CUNY’s Reserve Officers ‘Training Corps (ROTC) presented the colors. Victoria Labban, an Ozone Park resident and student at the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, delivered a wonderful rendition of the National Anthem.
Immediately following the address, guests enjoyed a brief reception featuring music by DJ Nat of Flux Factory in Long Island City, cookies by YouCake in Long Island City, and catering by DelishNY in Corona.
The State of the Borough Address was recorded by Queens Public Television (QPTV) and will air on the following dates and times on the following channels:
Day Date Time Spectrum RCN Fios
Thursday February 9, 2017 6:00 pm 34/1995 82 34
Thursday February 16, 2017 6:00 pm 34/1995 82 34
Thursday February 23, 2017 6:00 pm 34/1995 82 34
Thursday March 2, 2017 6:00 pm 34/1995 82 34
Thursday March 9, 2017 6:00 pm 34/1995 82 34
Thursday March 16, 2017 6:00 pm 34/1995 82 34
Thursday March 23, 2017 6:00 pm 34/1995 82 34
Thursday March 30, 2017 6:00 pm 34/1995 82 34
JetBlue Airways Corporation, headquartered in Long Island City, was the proud prime sponsor of Borough President Katz’s 2017 State of the Borough event.
Follow Borough President Katz via @melindakatz or www.facebook.com/queensbpkatz