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Koo plans to tackle traffic, parking issues

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Flushing’scouncilman-elect, Republican Peter Koo, is following through on his campaign pledge to focus his efforts on quality-of-life issues once he takes the seat Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) has held for the last eight years.

The soft-spoken owner of the five-store Starside Pharmacy chain said in an interview with TimesLedger Newspapers staff last week that traffic, parking, street cleanliness, sidewalk crowding and other such issues will dominate his agenda in the Council, although he has plans for some larger-scale work.

“We will handle mostly people’s complaints in the beginning, and we have some big projects,” he said in between sips of a green tea latte. “Everyday complaints mostly ... traffic, parking, the neighborhood is too crowded, garbage pickup. Quality-of-life issues.”

Koo, who will soon move into Liu’s office at 135-27 38th Ave. with a small new staff, also discussed his views on development and listed projects he would like to see completed by the end of his term.

“I’m always for balanced development. We have this ‘Three W’ approach: the community has to win, the developer has to win and the government has to win,” he said. “For a developer to build a big building, they have to give us something, like a community center.”

Koo repeatedly said he wants to see the now-stalled municipal parking lot project move forward, as he believes the site’s development would be beneficial for the downtown district. He also said he is glad that ground has broken on the new police academy in College Point and he would like to see the Willets Point development plans move forward. The construction of both projects will cause increased traffic and other woes, but Koo said he believes they will be net positives, attracting people to the 20th Council District in Flushing, western Auburndale and part of Whitestone, where they will spend their money.

Although he is a supporter of lowering taxes and fines and other measures to attract businesses and development to downtown Flushing’s commercial area, he said he wants to see “suburban” residential areas downzoned or remain as they are currently zoned.

The father of two, who emigrated from Hong Kong in 1971 and put himself through college working at Dunkin’ Donuts and Kentucky Fried Chicken before building his Flushing pharmacy chain, also addressed the fact that he is now one of three Queens Republicans on the Council, with the election of Dan Halloran in northeast Queens and re-election of Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Rockaway Beach).

“When I get to City Hall I won’t consider myself a Democrat or a Republican, I’ll consider myself a Council member,” he said. “There’s no Democrat or Republican way to fix a pothole.”

And he said that four years from now, he hopes to have made a positive difference for the people of Flushing, Auburndale and Whitestone.

“I want people to be able to say, ‘Oh, this is better now,’” he said.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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