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Civics fear JFK cargo warehouse

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More than 100 residents representing five civic associations met with city officials Nov. 21 at the St. Peter's Lutheran Church, where they expressed fears about increased, traffic, pollution and flooding.

"People really let them have it at that meeting," said Fred Kress, president of the Rosedale Civic Association.

The air cargo industry is vital to the economy of Queens, but a recent survey found that JFK was having trouble competing with other airports because of inadequate and antiquated cargo facilities.

Jannel Patterson, a spokeswoman for the New York City Economic Development Corporation, said the proposed air cargo complex would create 1,000 new jobs.

International Airport Center, a Chicago-based company, wants to build an entire air cargo complex at Idlewild Park, now undeveloped and unused parkland which separates Springfield Gardens from Rosedale, said Dan Andrews, a spokesman for Borough President Claire Shulman.

The proposal would involve building four warehouses with 352,025 square feet of storage space and 175,000 square feet of office space, said Andrews. The plan also calls for the construction of International Airport Center Boulevard between 182nd Street and Brookville Boulevard, which local residents refer to as "Snake Road" because it winds through wetlands.

Last month Community Board 13 voted unanimously against rezoning the parkland as a manufacturing district because it said not enough information was provided about how the project would affect the environment and traffic conditions.

"There will be traffic jams - trucks will be coming from every which way," said Kress.

Earlier this month Shulman recommended that the project go forward but said measures must be taken to curb traffic in the residential area.

"We said they should put up bollards, or barriers, to prevent trucks from going up residential streets like Brookville Boulevard," said Andrews.

The City Council was expected to hear a presentation on the project from the Department of City Planning Wednesday morning. Members of the Rosedale Civic Association, Federated Blocks of Laurelton, Spring Gar Civic Association, Springfiel­d/Rosedale Community Action Association, and the Wayanda Civic Association planned to charter a bus for the trip to city hall to sit in on the hearing.

On Monday Jim English, chairman of the Rosedale Civic Association, faxed a letter to each city council member urging them to attend the meeting. Councilwoman Juanita Watkins (D-Laurelton), who represents the area in question, did not return calls requesting comment.

A spokesman for International Airport Center's could not be reached for comment.

At last month's community board meeting, a representative of the mayor's office said the project would have no negative impact on the environment.

"Rising water level is not even being considered," said Kress.

He said next year the city Parks Department is planning a cleanup of Twin Pounds, a body of water about a mile and a half north of the site. Kress said the cleanup would allow water to flow out of the lake south toward the wetlands.

Kress said no one has addressed what will happen to the water if a significant amount of wetlands is drained in order to build the warehouses.

"You better come see us on a rubber raft," he said.

Posted 7:15 pm, October 10, 2011
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