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City has no plans now for Flushing Airport

At the Mitchell Linden Civic Association meeting Tuesday night in Flushing, Doctoroff and several other city officials attested to quality-of-life issues as the backbone of the borough's ongoing economic and business initiatives as well as a force for the city's overall stability."Queens is a real engine for what happens in New York City," Doctoroff told the 30 members of the civic group assembled at 31-50 140th St.The basic strategy for improving livability lies in producing jobs and increasing tax revenue through elevating quality of life, creating an investment-friendly environment and diversifying the economy, he said. In addition, livability hinges on the quality of local schools, particularly as Mayor Michael Bloomberg reshapes the administration of the Department of Education, which is a slow and laborious process, Doctoroff said."It's not easy, and it takes time. It's literally like turning an ocean liner," he said.Closer to home, Doctoroff said the city was committed to alleviating local concerns, such as environmental and sewage improvements in Willets Point and College Point."The DEP is investing to improve the horrible flooding in Willets Point," Doctoroff said.One resident asked about future development at the Flushing Airport site in the College Point Corporate Park, where the mayor cancelled plans to build a wholesale distribution complex after stiff opposition from the community."The city doesn't have any development plans right now," said Melanie Lenz, the city's Economic Development Corporation vice president for Queens Real Estate. "There is a plan for a 34-acre wetlands restoration project, and we really want to understand the impact before proceeding with the Flushing Airport (development)."Doctoroff acknowledged the concerns in northeast Queens about overdevelopment with College Point poised for a change to more restrictive zoning rules, spearheaded by City Councilman Tony Avella (D-Bayside)."Not every community needs more housing," the deputy mayor said. "We're working to preserve the character of those neighborhoods."And for the borough's small businesses, Doctoroff pointed to the Bloomberg administration's initiatives to support local merchants."We have the promotion of business improvement districts in Queens," he said. "We're doing it across the city, but especially in Queens, to improve the quality of life for small businesses."With more economic, educational and environmental projects in store for the borough, Doctoroff said the city was pushing for the sustainable development of Queens."This is the tip of the iceberg of what we're trying to do in Queens," he said.Reach reporter Sophia Chang by e-mail at news@timesledger.com, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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