Making education her top priority, Borough President Helen Marshall promised to fight for new school construction and involve parents in their childrens learning in her first State of the Borough address.
Marshall also called for a new police substation in Flushing Meadows Corona Park and more affordable housing, according to an advanced copy of her speech, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday at Queens Colleges Colden Center.
The borough president also honored singer and Astoria native Tony Bennett for his work creating the Frank Sinatra High School for the Performing Arts in Astoria, Howard Beach Eagle Scout Jonathan Grassi, and police dog Sean as well as handler Officer Kim Flechaus, who helped catch suspects in a December rape in Flushing Meadows.
Marshall, a former teacher and Queens College graduate, highlighted new schools that opened in fall 2002 and added 2,000 desks to ease the overcrowding that has plagued the borough. This year nine more schools are slated to open, she said.
My predecessor, Claire Shulman, understood that a seat for every child was imperative, Marshall said. We are making progress, but we are still woefully short and need many thousands more.
Marshall also stressed the importance of private investment in education, particularly as the city faces a multibillion-dollar deficit. She praised Bennett for helping to raise money for the Sinatra school, and the Take-the-Field program to match public funds with private donations to rebuild school athletic fields.
Turning to crime, Marshall announced that Queens is expected to get 160 new police officers, but she also urged Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to establish substations in areas that need increased manpower, including Flushing Meadows Corona Park, where a woman was gang-raped by a group of homeless men in December.
It is through the dedication of the men and women in our Police Department, Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services that we benefit from a lower incidence of crime, the best fire protection and prompt emergency response, Marshall said. They are our Homeland Security Force.
In terms of housing, Marshall praised Queens as a pacesetter for quality home developments for all income levels, citing projects such as Arverne-by-the-Sea in the Rockaways, which broke ground on more than 2,000 homes this year. That tradition is set to continue next month as the city Economic Development Corporations solicits projects to build housing on part of the Queens Hospital Center campus in Jamaica.
When developers meet with me about new housing plans, I always ask them how they can make it affordable for young families so that they can stay in Queens, Marshall said.
Marshall also paid tribute to two personal heroes. Clarence Irving Sr., a Queens activist, organized and managed the first black baseball team to play in Cooperstown, N.Y., and founded the Black Heritage Foundation. Julius Edelstein, vice chancellor emeritus of the City University, was the only reporter on-duty at the foreign desk of wire service United Press in Washington, D.C. when Pearl Harbor was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941.
Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 138.
©2003 Community News Group
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