BY YVETTE BROWN
On Tuesday, the Long Island City Summit took place at the Museum of Moving Image where dozens of business leaders, elected officials and residents of the community came to hear more about what is being done for the community.
Various panel discussions took place between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. with a lunch break at noon. All of them had to do with how to make the community better and audience members were allowed to ask some of the panelists what their future plans were for the neighborhood and how they each fit into that equation.
One of the panel discussions included a talk about the workforce of today and tomorrow. The panelists included in this discussion were Andrea Azzolina from JetBlue, Janet Corcoran from LaGuardia Community College, Angie Kamath from Per Scholas and Douglas Stayman from Cornell Tech. The talk was moderated by Dennis Walcott the President and CEO of Queens Library and the introduction was given by Carol Conslato from Con Edison.
The Workforce of Today and Tomorrow panel discussion dealt with the exploration of how to provide the right kind of education, skills and training to enable local residents to fill these positions and how to connect the businesses in LIC to candidates with the right qualifications to help the economy and community to thrive.
Another informative panel discussion was the Transformations in Transit panel. The panelists included Peter Cafiero from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority New York City Transit, Thomas McKnight from the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Cameron Clark from Hornblower and Ryan Russo from the New York City Department of Transportation. The panel was moderated by Thomas K. Wright from the Regional Plan Association and the introduction was given by Elizabeth Lusskin from the LIC Partnership.
The Transformations in Transit panel discussion dealt with experts talking about new projects to support emerging needs across all modes of transportation, including what’s already underway, such as expanded ferry service, upgraded buses and bike expansion and intermodal stations, it also dealt with proposals for the future like the Brooklyn Queens Connector and new bridges as well as other creative approaches for other important issues.
The summit ended off with a keynote discussion which was held by Lusskin and Carl Weisbrod from NYC Department of City Planning and NYC City Planning Commission. The introduction was given by state Sen. Michael Gianaris and Borough President Melinda Katz.
“Long Island City, as you all know, is one of the fastest changing, most dynamic and fastest growing neighborhoods in all of New York and with that comes a tremendous responsibility to plan accordingly and to make sure that these changes don’t happen randomly and one of the great things about these summits is that we get the opportunity to talk as a community about how we’d like to see things developed, what would be the smart way to do it, so that the community actually has some input into the process as it unfolds,” said Gianaris. “There are some things that we’ve done extremely well and I think if you look at the waterfront, their ability to develop great space has been terrific and there are some things that we’d like to see done better and the first thing that comes to my mind is mass transit options in Long Island City. We can’ t mention mass transit without mentioning schools and we have built a number of new schools and that’s terrific, but the population is happening faster than the construction is happening and we have tremendous demand.
We’re going to continue to work on that front.”
Katz spoke after Gianaris, starting off with applause for the summit and the people responsible for making it happen.
“It’s an exciting time here in Queens,” said Katz. “Queens has our neighborhoods, the professional spaces, the businesses, all of the cultures, tourism is growing exponentially, we have 130 languages, 120 countries, everyone has their arts and culture from the countries they hail from and we are culminating all of that all over the borough, but especially here in Long Island City.”
Lusskin then introduced Weisbrod where he discussed important issues like the growth of the population and affordable housing.
“The population and job increases that we have are putting increased pressure on our infrastructure; it’s putting increased pressure on our housing particularly and particularly our affordable housing, I don’t have to tell any of you that we have 55, 000 people sleeping every night in homeless shelters and that’s just unacceptable for a civilized society,” said Weisbrod. “We have an extraordinary demand for affordable housing; the demand exceeds the supply for low-income households by 2-to-1 ratio. In Long Island City, 82 percent of the households in Long Island City are rented households, 18 percent of households own their own apartments or units, but of those 82 percent, more than half are rent-stressed and that means that they’re spending more than a third of their household income on rent and almost a third of that 18 percent are extremely rent-stressed and that means that they’re spending more than half of their household income on rent and that’s why affordable housing is such an important goal of this administration.”
Weisbrod continued, “I am particularly supportive of the Phipps project on Barnett Avenue that’s in Sunnyside, that’s now going through its public review process, really affordable housing is one of the great challenges of our time. Now the city has responded by allocating $8.2 billion over 10 years for affordable housing just to pay for subsidies to build affordable housing and preserve affordable housing with the goal of preserving and building 200,000 units of affordable housing over 10 years, after two years of that program, we are more than on target with more than 40,000 units since the beginning of 2014.”
Reach Yvette Brown at (718)357-7400 ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @eveywrites.