Thursday, October 14, 2010

Aqueduct Development and Liberty Ave Highlight CB 10 Meeting

By Eric Yun

With all the bureaucratic and political hurdles cleared, the community is looking forward to Genting New York operating video lottery terminals at Aqueduct racetrack. At this month’s Community Board 10 meeting, Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer and Patrick Jenkins, community liaison for Genting, talked about the project’s progress and what the community can expect in the coming months.

Pheffer (D-Ozone Park) informed the community that they are not cut off from Aqueduct decisions. There were some fears that since major Aqueduct negotiations were finished, residents would no longer have any say in the final product.

“The community is not out of the loop,” Pheffer said. She urged community members to stay involved and assured them that Betty Braton, Chair of CB 10, and the rest of the community board will have opportunities to discuss Genting’s upcoming plans. One of the first opportunities will be a meeting with State Lottery and New York Racing Association officials to determine the future of the establishment, according to Pheffer.

Jenkins, who was recently hired by Genting for community relations, reminded the community the number of jobs that will be created from the project: approximately 1,300 construction jobs and 800 permanent jobs.

“Genting is committed to operating a full-fledged community business,” Jenkins said. The company is already reviewing some contracts from local businesses for goods and services, and Jenkins said when Genting’s new website launches, there will be an opportunity for business owners to easily offer their services.

Genting paid New York its promised $380 million upfront payment two weeks ago. Jenkins said they paid quickly as a gesture of goodwill to the community. “We’re here to stay. We’re here to be good neighbors. We’re here to do good business,” Jenkins said.

Aqueduct wasn’t the only thing on the com- munity’s mind. There were doubts about New York City Department of Transportation’s (DOT) plans for the Liberty Avenue/Rockaway Boulevard/Cross Bay Boulevard corridor.

The DOT is planning massive renovations to the street to improve pedestrian and vehicle safety, but many board members have concerns about the changes, which include installing a concrete barrier on Cross Bay Boulevard to prevent traffic from entering the street from Liberty Avenue, and converting Liberty Avenue on 93rd Street to one-way travelling eastbound.

There are fears that despite the board’s trepidation, the DOT will no longer listen. Braton warned community members that the DOT public walkthrough might be the last chance for the community to express its frustrations. The walkthrough, scheduled for October 18, will begin at the southwest corner of Cross Bay Boulevard and Liberty Avenue at 3 p.m.

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