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Editorial: Temporary, ha!

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At the same time, there are few families residing in Queens, if any, that are willing to cut back...

By The Times-Ledger

Far as we can tell, there are not many people, if any, who would welcome the building of a new generator within a hair's breadth of their backyard.  

At the same time, there are few families residing in Queens, if any, that are willing to cut back substantially on their use of electricity. From washers and dryers to computers and DVD players, we have grown addicted to our power-absorbing conveniences. We have no desire to turn the digital clock back to a simpler time, and, if we ever did, the nation's economy would grind to a halt overnight.

On the other hand, we have been warned. It would be folly to look at the rolling blackouts and brownouts in California and conclude it couldn't happen. Mayor Giuliani made it clear last week that, without the support of the unpopular new generators, New York City will not make it through the coming summer without power shortages.

However, although we agree with the mayor that the new generators are a necessity, we see the site selection process as inherently flawed. To be sure, the Power Authority faced an incredibly difficult challenge. The NIMBYs are everywhere. No one wants a power plant in his or her neighborhood. Further complicating the equation is the reality that the real estate needed to build such a power plant is most affordable in the poorest neighborhoods of the city. Inevitably these neighborhoods feel that they are being dumped on by bureaucrats who don't know what it means to be living in public housing.

The Power Authority did a miserable job of selling the public on the need for the new generators. One would have expected the state to work with the office of the Borough President and with other elected officials in Queens to identify possible sites for the urgently needed generators. Had they done so, the state power officials could have avoided a world of trouble.

Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Ridgewood) is understandably upset because the generator is being built directly across the street from the Queensbridge Houses. Said Borough President Claire Shulman, “You could not have chosen a worse place to put a power plant.”

To add insult to injury, until last week the state claimed that the new generators would be temporary. The Power Authority officials now admit that the generators are here to stay.

There is a silver lining in this controversy. The state has made believable case in arguing that the new generators will be much more environmentally friendly. It may well be true that the cleaner generators will not increase health risks to the children living in the Queensbridge Houses.

Meanwhile, the state should be mandated to give the local community board and the Borough President's office greater input in the site-selection process. Finally, those resident trying to raise a family in the city should be given a greater voice on projects that will directly impact on their quality of life.

A jitney for mall rats

To drive to the Queens Mall is to venture into the traffic am from hell. The only reason that people aren't killed there on a regular basis – as happens on nearby Queens Boulevard – is that the traffic barely moves.

Those who endure the traffic nightmare wind up parking their cars in the public lot across from the mall. For senior citizens and the disabled, the mandatory hike to the stores in prohibitive.

For this reason, we applaud Borough President Claire Shulman’s proposal to create a jitney bus service that would take shoppers to and from their cars at no cost. This is a definite step in the right direction.

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