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The Civic Scene: EDC speaks on borough economy at QCC meeting

TimesLedger Newspapers

Last month, the Queens Civic Congress held a meeting devoted to the economy of Queens in the Al Oerter Recreation Center in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

Seth Pinsky, President of the city Economic Development Corp., spoke about the economy of the city in general and of Queens in particular. He spoke favorably of the actions the city has taken to encourage small business growth. He believed that Queens has fared better than the city as a whole because of the mix of urban and suburban neighborhoods, a diverse population and the technology industries, service businesses and two airports have kept the economy humming.

Pinsky described the EDC plans to upgrade the infrastructure throughout New York City, which is necessary for a modern economy. Money has been provided for East River ferry service, Queens Plaza South, ferry service from the Rockaways and the Willets Point project. The latter is controversial.

Some people have expressed concern that the city ignored the old Iron Triangle in Willets Point for decades and now is using the threat of eminent domain and government raids to force the old auto scrap businesses to leave so private businesses can build housing and commercial projects. Eminent domain was thought to be only used when governments need land for some purpose, not to support well-connected private developers who are looking to make money.

When Pinsky spoke about the city’s desire to develop a high-tech research facility in the city, but did not mention any locations in Queens, several people raised questions. Some believed Willets Point should be used and not count on people coming over from Roosevelt Island. Jim Trent, the QCC treasurer, said the Creedmoor Campus in Queens Village could be used for this purpose, since there was infrastructure and soon-to-be-vacant buildings.

After Pinsky’s presentation and a discussion, a panel of experts discussed their views of the economics of Queens. The panel consisted of Ted Rinz from the Ridgewood Development Corp., City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), Seth Bornstein of the Queens EDC and LaGuardia Airport General Manager Tom Boscow.

One heated question was made by Anthony Nuziato, a businessman from the Juniper Park Civic Association. He wanted city agencies to stop driving small, fourth-generation business out of the city with fines for every little thing because peddlers sell goods outside their stores, pay no rent and are not ticketed for illegal things.

The health of strip malls near civic associations is a concern of civic leaders because homeowners want convenient, family friendly stores to shop in. Years ago, the QCC worked with the Korean American Small Business Service Center to fight big-box stores, which they feared would drive out family-run businesses.

The Queens EDC told of its activities and brought several brochures telling of ways it helps women and other entrepreneurs. It recently held its 6th annual Queens StartUP Business Plan Competition. For information, call 718-263-0546

GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: The results of the 2010 census have been released and to no one’s surprise the state did not gain as much population as other states. This means that New York will lose two congressional seats.

A court ruling means felons serving time in upstate prisons, which provide jobs to people there, will no longer be counted as residents of these communities but as residents of the areas where they actually live. This will be good for New York City because these inmates usually come from the city, so it will receive more federal and state money due to various formulas.

The QCC’s president, Patricia Dolan, has spoken out about the gerrymandered districts found in Queens. At a hearing recently at Queens Borough Hall, civic associations spoke out about district boundaries which divide their neighborhoods. It seems Bayside and Richmond Hill are divided into several districts and thus their votes are diluted. Many districts are gerrymandered for political reasons concerning power. We need independent state redistricting.

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