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Point of View: Community gets a peek at Flushing’s future

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Can you envision that tomorrow’s Flushing could be the tourist mecca of the city? What’s its drawing power? Well, a mixture of magnificent architectures could come into sight.

Some visionary developers have painted an inviting panorama of the town in a photo-poster exhibition at the newly opened Flushing Mall. Although the futuristic poster is just a piece of art, we could turn that imagination into a reality with the help of the state and city governments.

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the official opening of the mall on June 14, Gov. George Pataki said he was impressed by the fast growth of Flushing, as were the congressional members from New York, state lawmakers and local politicians.

It is perhaps the best mall of its size that offers a variety of Oriental products. It’s the right place to visit if you wish to shop for Chinese arts, handicrafts and jewelry.

Speaking of development, Flushing apparently has reached its saturation between Franklin and 36th avenues. The developers may have set their sights on other areas unknown to the public. But we can go westward for projects linking Shea Stadium, the riverfront and College Point. However, we must first get rid of the garbage-transfer station that has tarnished Flushing’s image and upset local residents. Doing away with it is a tough task, but with the city’s cooperation we can remove this eyesore.

According to pictures shown at the Flushing Art Gallery, erstwhile Flushing was a far cry from today’s Flushing.

Main Street looked placid with nostalgic carriages and tramcar tracks. That presents a sharp contrast to today’s hustling and bustling appearance.

A greater Flushing is a boon to its surroundings, particularly to homeowners. Their property value is skyrocketing as a result of the housing shortage. On the other hand, the housing price in Manhattan has dropped 30 percent after the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center.

There have been many changes in Flushing since 1997, when I moved to this area from upstate. The construction of the lustrous library was then at its final stage. There was no mini-mall and there were fewer supermarkets and restaurants. And the traffic was manageable. The mall on 20th Avenue, with BJ’s and Target as its anchors, was then a parcel of land with tall weeds; the Multiplex Cinemas at Linden Place was a lot with piles of debris. I saw these two places develop toward fast maturity as I drove by them every day.

The mall and the cinemas perhaps have attracted shoppers and movie-goers from every part of the borough. Their brisk business has brought both traffic jams and prosperity to the area.

It’s too bad, though, that the fast growth spawns two byproducts — the traffic congestion and increased volume of trash on all sidewalks in downtown Flushing. The problems have reached an unbearable proportion. So at the other end of the spectrum, Flushing looks just like a town of an undeveloped country. We must cure these woes or what we have achieved so far will evaporate.

It was reported that John Liu, chairman of the City Council’s transportation committee, said recently he had taken note of the garbage problem in downtown Flushing and has secured 10 additional trash cans. That helps, but the root of the problem is pedestrians and some store owners.

In addition to trash cans, we should post signs warning pedestrians against littering. Anybody caught would get fined. Singapore claims to be the world’s cleanest city because its citizens are educated to show care for their environment. The government imposes heavy fines on people who ignore its policy to keep the area clean.

Let’s hire three to five permanent maintenance workers to keep streets clean. All stores in town, not the city government, should share the outlay for the cleaners. I hope one day the downtown area will look as clean as the Flushing Mall. Besides, we need more cops to keep the chaotic traffic conditions in order.

I am optimistic about the future of Flushing, notwithstanding the problems, and wish it could become a safe and affordable place to stay.

An Asian friend who had planned to move to Dixie has shelved such a plan because he said he would miss Flushing, where he can get everything from fine foods to entertainment. Besides, it’s only a 45-minute drive to Lincoln Center and Broadway shows in Manhattan.

To immigrants, Flushing is the gem of the state of New York.

After Sept. 11, the number of immigrants to the state, especially the city, has fallen more than 30 percent, according to a Chinese-language daily in New York. Apart from terror phobia, the stagnant economy, a bleak job market and visa restrictions are to blame for the decline.

Flushing bucks the trend because it has a lion’s share of the estimated 100,000 immigrants coming to New York. The total number is about a third of the same period last year (September to March), the paper said.

The nation’s No. 1 city is the paradise of the illegals who work their way up through construction sites, restaurant kitchens and odd jobs. The number of foreigners seeking political asylum or refugee status also dipped sharply. The Big Apple may face a labor shortage if the supply decline continues.

Posted 7:07 pm, October 10, 2011
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