Congressman says Bayside Hills, Auburndale may not be his anymore

U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (l.) addresses Community Board 11 as Jerry Iannece looks on.
TimesLedger Newspapers

Newly elected U.S. Rep. Bob Turner (R-Middle Village) paid his first, and possibly last, visit to Community Board 11 last week when he talked about his experiences in Washington thus far and his stance on issues concerning the district.

“If you have any questions, this is a good time because I’m still new to the process and you’re liable to get the truth,” Turner said during the Jan. 3 meeting, at MS 158 in Bayside.

The 9th Congressional District represents parts of Bayside Hills, Oakland Gardens and Auburndale.

Turner said he planned to run for re-election in 2012, when New York state will lose two congressional seats and many believe one of them will be his election district, which had belonged to U.S. Rep. Ånthony Weiner, a Democrat.

“I expect redistricting to be such that you won’t see me around here,” he said, referring to the process now underway in which the lines of election districts are redrawn to reflect shifts in demographics and the political will of the governing parties.

In the past, Turner said that if his seat were eliminated, he would run against other incumbents, which means he could go up against U.S. Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside), Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) or Joe Crowley (D-Jackson Heights).

A member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Turner said it is a struggle trying to wrangle federal dollars to protect the city.

“We deploy 1,000 police officers a day to anti-terrorism activities at an enormous expense. States like Idaho and Ohio look for their share of Homeland Security money, but they don’t have the same threat level we have here,” he said.

The congressman said he supported hydrofracking, which he said is “working successfully in Pennsylvania” and could bring much-needed jobs to upstate New York, an area he called an economic disaster. The controversial practice is used to get gas from shale.

“The water supply has to be priority No. 1,” he said, and added that the wells would be drilled below the aquifer, a statement which drew snickers from a few board members.

Later in the evening after Turner had left, Henry Euler, co-chairman of the board’s Environment Committee, questioned how many of the jobs created by hydrofracking would actually go to New York residents and how the state could consider legalizing the practice without an environmental impact statement or a contingency plan should the water supply be contaminated.

Chairman Jerry Iannece agreed, and the board voted to send a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo containing a list of questions they believed he should consider before making a decision.

“We’re just asking him to hold off until we get a complete picture of what could be a very dangerous scenario,” Iannece said.

The board also voted to extend two variances — one to allow the Capital One Bank on the corner of Bell and Northern boulevards to continue operating its employee parking lot on 214th Place and another permitting the Gulf Station on Horace Harding Expressway to operate.

Both applicants received praise from the board for seeking to extend the variances before they expired.

Explaining what he promised would be a rare “yea” vote, board member Frank Skala said he was impressed that the owner of the Gulf station came in “10 months before, not 10 years after,” the variance expired.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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