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Pols praise Marshall’s vision for borough

Borough President Helen Marshall delivered her first State of the Borough address last week, leading her audience on a tour of ongoing and coming economic and transportation projects in each neighborhood in Queens.

Marshall, who gave the speech before a packed house at the Colden Center at Queens College Jan. 22, earned praise from borough politicians for highlighting a variety of communities within Queens and for creative approaches on how to continue progress in the face of a multibillion-dollar city budget deficit.

“I think it’s a terrific vision for the borough,” said City Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis), head of the Council’s Finance Committee. “Despite tough economic times, it’s important not to lose what we’ve gained.”

Marshall also listed education as a priority, hailing the 12 schools scheduled to open in the borough this year, as reported in the Jan. 23 editions of the TimesLedger Newspapers.

Touting economic development as the driving force behind borough growth, Marshall began her tour of Queens in Jamaica, where Jamaica Center, the first major retail complex and movie theater to open in more than a generation, welcomed customers this May. As the AirTrain link to Kennedy Airport continues, more development is expected in the southeast Queens area, she said.

“The AirTrain terminal, adjacent to the Long Island Rail Road station, will be the front door to JFK International Airport where you can check your luggage, board the AirTrain, which will take you directly to your terminal, thus bringing JFK into the 21st century like other major airports throughout the country,” she said.

Moving on to Flushing, Marshall outlined a plan to clean up downtown Main Street, the waterfront and particularly Willets Point, an area she called “vital.”

“We can do better than junkyards at this location,” she said. “I believe these efforts will encourage the city and state to further invest in the development of this strategic area.”

Marshall also praised development in Long Island City, northeast Queens and the Rockaways.

Transportation projects are also making progress in the borough, Marshall said, citing the September opening of the Long Island City ferry service to Manhattan, a transit option she hopes to replicate in the Rockaways.

Long Island Rail Road stations are getting made over, with renovations in Auburndale, Broadway, St. Albans and Rosedale, Marshall said.

“Long Island Rail Road trains pass through too many abandoned and neglected stations in our borough,” she said.

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-St. Albans) lauded Marshall for covering the entire borough.

“I think she showed the diversity in the borough and how there’s a plan to do something in every community and pull it all together,” Meeks said. “I thought the overall program was a unified program.”

Astoria native and singer Tony Bennett joined Marshall to celebrate the gains in education, including the Frank Sinatra School for the Performing Arts planned for Astoria.

“We want to build the finest school in the entire country so that it will be such an example that there are other schools in every state,” Bennett said. “It’s unbelievable, the artists that have come out of Queens. This is a community of dreamers.”

And like many, city Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) is looking forward to helping Queens move forward, he said.

“Helen has served as our borough’s chief executive for one year and has imparted a great deal of momentum in the positive direction Queens is heading in,” he said. “The ideas and plans laid out in her speech today clearly shows there is much more to come.”

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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