BY JON CRONIN
In his 44th mayoral town hall since becoming mayor, Bill de Blasio promised last week to bring more traffic agents, trash pick-up and affordable housing, but not more parking, to Flushing.
At Flushing International High School, the mayor announced that he would bring 300,000 new affordable apartments to New York City, of which 232 new units would be in Flushing, and 66 of the 232 would be set aside for seniors.
“You’re always asking, ‘Will the apartments really be affordable?’” the mayor said.
He said that the apartments would be affordable to people who make as little as $21,000 per year.
Tina Lee, of the Flushing Business Improvement District, and several downtown merchants asked the mayor for new parking in the Flushing area and to “consider the entire community” when making plans for Select Bus Service and affordable housing.
De Blasio responded that he would not promote putting more cars on the road and added that “roadways can’t handle more cars.”
Polly Trottenberg, commissioner of the city’s Department of Transportation, said that in studies to implement bus lanes, the department discovered that downtown Flushing gets 83 percent of its business from walkers or residents using mass transit.
Another Flushing businessman asked the mayor to be more lenient on the city’s upcoming new law to ticket persons riding electric bikes on the sidewalk or roadway. De Blasio said that e-bikes are already illegal and pointed out that the city would fine the business owners, but not those making the deliveries.
“There are other ways to deliver food,” he said. “They did it before e-bikes; they can do it after.”
The mayor also announced that the city’s Department of Sanitation would double trash bin pickups in downtown Flushing. With the advent of bus lanes and proliferation of a congested downtown area, the mayor said that more traffic-enforcement agents would be placed in downtown Flushing.
In regard to adding infrastructure to Flushing, one resident asked for funding to create a new community center in Flushing. The mayor said that funding for a center is on his radar, “but we’re not quite there yet.”
Representatives from the Star Track biking club asked for funding to renovate the Kissena Velodrome.
“I’m aware of it, my team is aware,” the mayor said of the proposal. “I’m not there yet.”
Regarding education in the district, Community Board 7 member Michael Cheng asked the mayor about the future of Flushing High School.
“What is going on with Flushing High School?” he asked. “I heard it was going to shut down soon. What is the city going to do to give Flushing a fighting chance? I heard that Flushing High School has one of the highest student-to-teacher ratios.”
De Blasio said that the city would make decisions on the fates of underperforming schools by the end of the year and accommodate students as much as possible.
“It’s no secret the school has had trouble and it’s no secret the school has not achieved some of the turnaround we would have liked to have seen so far,” de Blasio said.
Reach reporter Jon Cronin via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 357-7400, ext. 125.