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Editorial: Renewal in Queens

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If the proposals made by the City Planning Commission are approved, this underdeveloped and underappreciated area of Queens could become a major business district comparable to downtown Manhattan or downtown Brooklyn. According to Commission Chairman Joe Rose, "Long Island City will accommodate the city's expanding economy by providing development opportunities that are in short supply elsewhere in the city."

Every aspect of Mr. Rose's plan makes sense. The rezoning would allow the building of luxury office space and residential units. New walkways would be built as well as two parks. An area that has evolved into commercial chaos would be redesigned to encourage growth and development.

Will this change the character of the neighborhood? You bet. Real estate values will skyrocket. New jobs will be created. Tax revenues will increase. If there's a downside to this expansion, we don't see it.

We trust that Borough Hall is happy. Plans have been in the works for the development of western Queens for more than 10 years. The rezoning, if it gets final approval, should give a badly need kick-start to this development. We trust the City Council will see this as a good deal for all of New York.

Let the Mayor do it

There was a time in southeast Queens when the No. 1 political issue was always public safety. In the eighth and final year of the Giuliani administration, fear of crime has given way to the very real fear that the children of Queens are not getting a quality education. For a long time to come, this will be the most pressing issue in Queens and all of New York.

This problem cannot be addressed without a fundamental change in the way in which our schools are run. The Board of Education must be placed in the hands of the next mayor. As we have repeated often, under the current system, there is no accountability. The mayor appoints two members to the board and each borough president gets one representative. It is a recipe for disaster.

The representatives from the boroughs are there primarily to do what is best for their borough. Because of the makeup of the board, the budget process is fatally flawed. A borough like Queens, which continues to experience phenomenal growth, never gets a fair share of the education dollars.

Voters who are dissatisfied with the quality of our city schools have no voice. They had nothing to do with the selection of Schools Chancellor Harold Levy. Parents have no way to respond to or effect changes in Board of Education policy.

If the mayor controlled the board, perhaps by controlling a majority of the appointments or by naming the chancellor, then the public could blame or praise the mayor for the state of the schools. When the people of Queens were fed up with crime, especially auto thefts, they put the blame on the shoulders of Mayor Dinkins. Now that New York is the safest large city in America, the credit goes to Mayor Giuliani.

We hope that in 2001 the state Legislature will find the courage to change the way our schools are run.

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