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Hevesi lays out ambitious plan for third term

Forest Hills sent its state assemblyman back to Albany for another two years Nov. 3, and he has a lot of work to do.

Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) has plans to tackle malodorous trains, school bullies and a state budget in the red.

Locally, he wants to renew the dialogue with CSX, a railroad freight company whose garbage-hauling route cuts a stinky swath through many of the neighborhoods in Hevesi’s constituency. Residents complained about noise and a powerful stench.

“We understand that they have a right to do business,” he said. “But CSX trains have not been the best neighbors.”

Hevesi had previously introduced a bill that would require train companies to put smell-proof lids on any of their cars carrying putrid materials. The bill did not pass, but Hevesi plans to either reintroduce it or draft a new one.

In his third term, the assemblyman also wants to focus on schools. After Metropolitan Avenue High School was opened this year and zoned for local students, not enough children enrolled, he said.

“We need to keep on top of that issue,” he said. “We didn’t get enough kids from the neighborhood to go to that school.”

But for the children who did go, Hevesi also plans to tackle bullying — a problem he said affects one in 10 students nationwide.

“This is an issue that you have to take seriously,” he said. “It can affect your childhood and it can last the rest of your life.”

His office will partner with organizations experienced in the field and then will decide on the best actions to curb the predatory practice that occurs both on the playground and the Internet.

Lastly, Hevesi said that he wants the city Department of Transportation to make Queens Boulevard, nicknamed the “Boulevard of Death,” a safe place to walk.

The department has already pledged to put countdown clocks along the infamous stretch of road so pedestrians can see how quickly they need to cross, but Hevesi said the clocks are not yet on every intersection.

“We want them to expedite the process,” he said.

On a state level, Hevesi had grim news for the budget deficit, which is projected to reach nearly $10 billion.

“We are in for some difficult times,” he said.

There are four ways to reduce a bloated budget: receive federal dollars, borrow money, taxation and budget cuts — and Hevesi said cuts are the only viable option.

“There is no money coming from the federal government. I think borrowing is a huge mistake and we are one of the highest-taxed states in the nation,” he said. “We have to cut spending.”

To do that, every issue must be considered.

“Everything has to be on the table, including the areas that I least like to cut — education and health care,” he said. “But those are the two biggest parts of the state budget, and you cannot afford to overlook them.”

On the subject of unemployment, Hevesi said that he has a plan to encourage alternative energy production in the state, which will attract more business — and jobs. He wants to increase incentives and ensure companies have a competitive marketplace for the next generation of energy.

On the environment Hevesi wants to end the practice of drilling for natural gas — called hydrofracking — that was going to take place in New York City’s aquifer. He said the process could contaminate the city’s drinking water, which is why he pushed for a moratorium bill that recently passed in the Assembly.

It forbids any new drilling contracts for five months, but Hevesi wants to see it extended.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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