NYC Olympic committee talks to Queens

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"New York is the city that best represents what the Olympics is all about," said NYC 2012 President Daniel Doctoroff. "And there's no better place than in Queens."

Doctoroff said the Olympics' total economic impact on the city would be about $11 billion. The project price tag is about $1.3 billion that would be financed solely by private investments.

Under the plan the Olympic Village would be built in the Hunters Point area and parts of Flushing Meadows Corona Park would be used for rowing, canoeing, softball and tennis.

He said the idea for bringing the Olympics to New York came to him while he was watching a World Cup soccer match in the Meadowlands six years ago. He said people in Queens, who hail in one way or another from so many countries, would be eager to watch Olympians from their homelands compete close to home.

NYC 2012 has proposed plans for an Olympic Village in Queens West along the waterfront between Newtown Creek and 45th Road at Hunter's Point.

The 73-acre stretch of land across the East River from the United Nations would house 15,000 athletes and coaches, according to NYC 2012 plans. The 4,400 housing units could then be converted to conventional housing and sold or rented on the local market.

"The whole thing sounds kind of fanciful, I know, but the key is transportation. Without transportation, it's not going to happen," Doctoroff said.

Using computer-enhanced photos in a slide show, Doctoroff outlined a plan to transport the athletes using a system of mass transit meant to minimize traffic and congestion.

The "NYC 2012" group would build sporting facilities in the city's five boroughs and the New Jersey Meadowlands that athletes could reach without using city streets and highways.

Instead, they would travel along two axis dubbed the "Olympic X," consisting of a north-south water axis involving the use of high- speed ferries on the Harlem and East rivers, then cross the bay to Staten Island, and an east-west rail axis that would follow commuter rail lines from Flushing Meadows across Queens and Manhattan to the Meadowlands.

The group has also proposed an ambitious plan to build a stadium on the Upper West Side of Manhattan that would convert to a football stadium for the New York Jets and connect to the Jacob Javits Center.

Other proposals include renovating the Astoria Pool and Astoria Park for swimming, diving and synchronized swimming, and using Flushing's National Tennis Center and Shea Stadium for tennis and softball events.

The privately funded NYC 2012 will present its 600-page proposal to the U.S. Olympic Committee by December and will include alternative locations for every site.

New York City is competing for selection against San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Tampa, Los Angeles and Washington-Baltimore. The USOC will have two years to choose one of the seven cities as the official U.S. candidate for the 2012 Games.

Some local leaders are not happy with the plan.

Borough President Claire Shulman has said publicly she does not oppose bringing the Olympics to New York, but believes some parts of Queens proposed as venues for athlete housing would be better suited for residential needs.

"What [Shulman] opposes is using the Queens West site for housing of athletes," said Shulman's spokesman, Dan Andrews. "She doesn't believe that is a site that should be considered for an Olympic village."

Andrews said the Queens West development has been in the planning stages since 1984, but Shulman believes the land is better suited for residential, commercial and recreational space.

"The borough president doesn't believe that after 15 years of planning the space should be turned over to the 2012 committee."

Shulman is also against using Flushing Meadows Corona Park as a venue for boat races and reconfiguring the lakes for Olympic events.

"We put a lot of money into the park," Andrews said. "We've been pouring million of dollars into it. All of this would be done for an event that lasts two weeks."

But Doctoroff said the Olympics would act as a catalyst for getting people jobs and leaving a legacy of accomplishment in the future.

"The Olympics are not worth having if you are only focused on a 16-day event," he said. "We can leave a legacy here in Queens."

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