By Jon Cronin, Editor
“Ya gotta dream,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said in her annual State of the Borough speech on Friday in Astoria. During the speech, Katz made the case for her accomplishments from the past four years and noted where she hopes the “world’s borough” will go during the next 12 years.
Clad in black to support the #MeToo movement, Katz discussed the needs of the borough, such as the alleviation of overcrowded schools, addressing Queens’ transit deserts, affordable housing and the safety of the borough’s immigrant population, which encompasses nearly half of Queens.
Katz noted that Queens has more students than other boroughs, with elementary schools operating at an average 116 percent capacity and high schools at 113 percent. She said that Queens was home to the most overcrowded school in the five boroughs—Francis Lewis High School, which is at more than 200 percent capacity.
“To be frank, our schools haven’t kept up with the growth of our families. While we are the most overcrowded, we are also the most underfunded,” Katz said.
She added that even with the School Construction Authority’s $1.9 billion of funding for 18,632 new seats for the borough’s schools, Queens will still be at over capacity.
Katz has big plans for western Queens. She hopes to see more tech job growth in a part of the borough where people can live and businesses would thrive. She hopes that this would make it an enticing place for Amazon’s second U.S. headquarters.
Her biggest announcement during the speech was in regard to her vision for Queens in 2030. She said that she foresaw 100 percent affordable housing at Willets Point that is paid for by a soccer stadium.
Katz has hopes for the borough’s transportation system. She wants to see a light rail proposal by former Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley up and running from Jamaica, through Maspeth and into Long Island City. Katz envisions reliable MTA service in Elmhurst, Long Island City and Willets Point. She wants “a modern, three-station complex with seamless transfers between the 7 train, Long Island Rail Road and the AirTrain to LaGuardia” as well as a one-seat ride to John F. Kennedy International Airport from Manhattan.
Read more about the borough president’s speech in the next edition of the Queens Tribune.
Reach Jon Cronin at 718-357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @JonathanSCronin