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There is something missing on the part of New York city and state officials when it comes to convention centers (“Officials believe Queens has convention potential,” TimesLedger Newspapers, June 14-20).
Several years ago, The Brookings Institution issued a report — “Report finds a glut in space for meetings” — that raised serious issues about convention space. The report stated, “You’ve got cities around the country building new or expanded convention space at a very rapid rate in a market that is already glutted and over supplied. ... In an environment where every major center around the country is sharply discounting rental rates or giving space away and throwing in incentives, the likelihood of any succeeding is remarkably thin.”
It also pointed out there was a decline in attendance.
Were the above in and of itself not enough to suggest the foolishness implicit in building the “world’s largest convention center,” reference must be made to the Javits Center on the West Side of Manhattan, which, while structurally sound, is undergoing an extensive taxpayer-funded $1.4 billion renovation purported to make it more competitive.
The idea is then to demolish the renovated Javits Center when the new “super” center is completed. Presumably this valuable tract of land will then be turned over to fat cat real estate mogul friends of far too many myopic politicians in this state. Furthermore, at the end of the day conventioneers want to be where the action is.
That is Manhattan, the cultural and entertainment capital of the world, not the boondocks of Aqueduct and Willets Point. As to Willets Point, there is also talk of a 1,000-room hotel, but this in an area choked with congestion and the Grand Central Parkway, Van Wyck Expressway and Northern Boulevard — traffic arteries that are incapable to being expanded.
Notwithstanding that fact that I am a lifelong Queens resident, I see nothing special about this borough that warrants an enormous structure that will not serve any significant need to the people of Queens. The claim that it will bring jobs to Queens is nonsense. Queens is part of New York city and state and it would be illegal to limit jobs to Queens residents or to give them priorities — and particularly since it will be city and state taxpayer dollars that will undoubtedly subsidize, directly or indirectly, developers.
The people should question why a proposed convention center is tied to a gambling casino and the huge sums of money floating around to buy political support.
The Brennan Center for Justice, a public interest law center at the New York University School of Law, rated the state Legislature the worst in the nation. What the people of this city and state need is a functioning Legislature and governor who do not believe their only constituents are special interests.
What we do not need is another convention center, albeit a useless one.
Benjamin M. Haber
©2012 Community Newspaper Group
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