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Editorial: Boom Town

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According to developer Raymond Tan, the first phase of a luxury housing project being built along the East River in College Point will be ready by November. This phase will feature 62 two-family units with dramatic views of Manhattan and the East River. The second phase will include 54 units. When the construction is done, 232 families will find a luxury home in College Point.

Mr. Tan expects the homes to appeal to young families. The cost for each two-family unit will range from $599,000 to $819,000, depending on the view. If Mr. Tan is right, School District 25 can expect hundreds of additional children in a very brief period of time.

This is a disaster in the making. PS 29 and PS 129 in College Point are already overcrowded. Both schools have a shortage of kindergarten space. There are no new schools or classrooms on the drawing boards to handle the influx of new students.

In addition to the shortage of classroom space, critics of the new development question whether the existing infrastructure in College Point can handle the growth. There are only four roads going in and out of College Point. The main road, 20th Avenue, is already congested with traffic headed to the new shopping centers. Part of College Point Boulevard could soon be tied up with trash trucks heading for the new transfer station.

“College Point is booming,” says Mr. Tan with pride. Others may say the same with a sense of dread. College Point is booming without a plan. If there is such a thing as urban planning, it is not part of the changes in College Point. Somebody needs to put a foot on the brakes to stop the growth until it is clear that the infrastructure is ready for it.

Editorial: Welcome back

After 51 days, Transport Workers Union Local 100 has ended its strike. This is welcome news to the 115,000 Queens riders who depend on the buses run by Queens Surface Corp., Triboro Coach and Jamaica Buses to get to work, school and doctors' appointments each day. And most certainly it is welcome news to the 1,500 drivers and other workers and their families.

It is regrettable that this union was not able to get a fair contract without a strike that lasted seven weeks. The union had gone more than a year and a half without a contract. There was no sign of movement until the drivers staged one-day walkouts. In the end the union was able to win modest wage increases dating back to 2001. But the drivers were not able to secure a guarantee that they would keep their jobs if the city took over the Queens bus routes.

The city hoped that the dollar vans would fill in the gap left by the missing buses. The vans helped, but for most commuters the inconvenience was substantial. Queens Borough President Helen Marshall said “we worried daily” about the elderly, the stranded passengers and the economic impact of the strike. And she worried about the drivers who were struggling to put food on the table for their families.

For years the drivers have provided a valuable service to the people of Queens. They deserved better treatment and they should not have had to endure seven weeks without a paycheck to get a fair contract.

We are certain that the riders have already let the bus drivers know how much they were missed.

Posted 7:16 pm, October 10, 2011
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