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Editorial: Let the games come

On Sept. 11, New York City took it on the chin for the entire free world. Osama Bin Laden sent his madmen here to commit their act of terrorism because New York is the capital of the world. Like the Phoenix, this city will rise from the ashes. It is only fitting that the Summer Olympics, the symbol of international peace and unity, should come to New York in 2012. We have paid the price.

In October, New York made the cut when the United States Olympic Committee selected it as one of four American cities to compete for the honor of hosting the 2012 Summer Olympics along with Houston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The winner from these four will then have to compete with cities from all over the world.

Although there has been some debate over the past year, there is no question in our mind that hosting the Olympics would be good for New York City and good for Queens –just as hosting two World’s fairs in the 20th century was good for Queens. To prepare for the privilege of hosting the Olympiad, the city would have to invest billions of dollars in capital improvements. A new stadium would be needed, probably built on the rail yards on the west side of Manhattan. An Olympic village to house the athletes would be constructed along the East River in Western Queens – an area that has long been underutilized. This need not interfere with existing plans to develop the area. In fact, it could be a much-needed kick-start.

To accommodate the rowing events, the two manmade lakes in Flushing Meadows –Corona Park, Meadow Lake and Willow Lake, would be joined to form a 2,000-meter course, with six new boathouses erected near the former site of the Flushing Aquacade. To minimize the impact on local traffic, a bridge would be built on Jewel Avenue crossing the lakes.

The Astoria Pool will be renovated to accommodate diving, swimming and synchronized swimming competitions. Following the games, Astoria would be left with a premier aquatics center to be used by generations of Queens residents.

Virtually everything created for the 2012 Olympics would have lasting value for the people of New York City. The games would attract more than a million visitors generating millions of dollars in tax revenues. And thousands of high-paying construction jobs would be created lasting more than a century.

We trust that the city's newly elected officials will see the tremendous value of bringing the Olympics here. We hope that the International Olympic Committee will understand why the 2012 Olympics must come here. Let the games begin.

Editorial: Killing the fourth grade

They're at it again. Under pressure from state education bureaucrats, the teachers in the fourth grade in public schools throughout the city are busy preparing children to take the standardized fourth-grade math and reading exams. Unfortunately, this preparation leaves little time for creative learning. The state had good intentions, but it has created a monster. The standardized testing has done more harm than good.

Catch them in an honest moment and you will not find a teacher or principal who likes what these exams have done to the fourth grade. Sadly no one in Albany is willing to admit that the plan isn't working.

These are 9-year-old children. Schools should focus on building self-confidence and capturing the imagination of these children. Instead teachers are focused on preparing them to take exams. It's a waste of a year. It's a waste of young minds. It's a waste of good teachers.

Editorial: Too many planes?

Best guess at the writing of this editorial is that American Airlines Flight 587 crashed into Belle Harbor because of air turbulence from a Japanese Airlines flight that took off just 90 seconds earlier.

If this is true, then the FAA ought to be asking serious questions about the increase in air traffic at Kennedy and LaGuardia. Are there too many planes attempting to take off and land each day? Are there more flights each day than the air traffic controllers can safely handle?

The tragedy at Belle harbor could have been much worse. It is a miracle that more people on the ground were not killed. For the sake of the families living near the airports, officials must decide if the increased traffic has created an unacceptable level of risk.

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