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The Civic Scene: Should Queens become a concrete jungle?

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Opposition comes mostly from civic association members who are concerned about the quality of life in their communities. A recent application to add a third floor to a private school was also recently passed, but then with no opposition. There was no community opposition from the nearby homeowners to this proposal. There are several schools in the vicinity which add to the congestion.In the past few years larger buildings have been going up in the outer boroughs with more concrete and less green space. It seems that Queens is becoming like Manhattan, with cement sidewalks, tall glass or stone walls with an occasional tree or bush here and there and the mandatory open space. The Citibank building in western Queens stands tall in the sky like a naked dead green tree. It was approved years ago and seems to be good for the economy. Being over a subway station helps with the movement of people and congestion.Queens is a suburban area within the great urban metropolis called New York City. We have miles and miles of one- and two-family houses with commercial strips here and there to serve the residents. Along the route of the subways on wide boulevards one finds tall apartment houses.The subways or the Long Island Rail Road are easy ways to get into Manhattan to jobs or recreational establishments. Should Queens stay suburban-like with houses, gardens, grassy lawns, flowering bushes and leafy trees? Should more and more office buildings and apartment houses be built in Queens to provide jobs and stimulate the economy?A recent two page article in the TimesLedger Newspapers tells of a $600M plan to build a six-story residential and retail complex on Roosevelt Avenue and College Point Boulevard. This land is largely industrial. Now, commercial use is good and so is housing, but I wonder what is becoming of our nation's industrial base.Manufacturing creates goods which can be sold overseas to bring money into the United States and solve our balance of payments problem where we owe billions to foreign nations for goods we buy overseas. Can't we balance the creation of tax money from commercial and residential property with the need to correct our balance of payments problems by manufacturing products to be sold overseas? Can't we balance development and green spaces?Nearby, a developer received variances to build an 18-story high glass building on top of the old RKO Keith's Theater which will be bulkier than permitted by zoning laws. His original request, proposed a year ago, was unanimously rejected. The new proposal is slimmer and preserves the old movie lobby which was vandalized by the previous notorious builder. Valet parking spaces may have turned the minds of Community Board 7's members. A senior citizens center made the building more palatable.Speaking of tall buildings, it is interesting that the original proposal for the RKO Keith building had been rejected by the Port Authority because it was 36 feet too tall for nearby LaGuardia Airport. It seems that the Federal Aviation Authority rules say that a building along airport flight paths can't be higher than 195 feet tall.I thought of this the other day when driving past Kissena Corridor Park and I noticed the tall buildings. With an estimated daily 1,050 planes, containing about 70,000 passengers I would think that tall buildings should not be permitted along the LaGuardia Airport flight paths. After I was married I had lived on the 15th floor of Carlyle Towers and watched the airplanes at night.Another argument against the commercialization of outer Queens is the story my cousin recently told me. His firm decided to move some workers out of mid-Manhattan up into space north of the city. Several workers who lived up there quit saying that they didn't want to be up there since they had sought work in the city to be in the city. Is Queens "the city?"Good and bad news of the weekThe US Navy has just commissioned the last of the heavily armed Seawolf class attack submarines which is named after Jimmy Carter. It cost $3.2 billion to build. It shows you how long these hi-tech projects take since it was started just before the Cold War ended. This should be the last of our big submarines since there is no enemy who can start World War III and threaten our security.A newspaper article says that according to intelligence experts the submarine was modified so it is longer than usual and has special intelligence gear to tap into underseas cables and eavesdrop on messages going through them. While this is one way to collect intelligence, as we have discovered in Iraq, we need agents on the ground who can give us time sensitive information which hopefully our intelligence experts can evaluate and transfer into action.The submarine will be able to carry navy seals who are one arm of our fight against insurgents who threaten us. Yet, looking at the cost for the sub one can understand why we have a $7 trillion national deficit.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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