BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
The city’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and Amtrak announced last week that master planning for the Sunnyside Yard project would begin this summer, and a steering committee had been created to oversee the project. But western Queens leaders said that they were kept out of the loop.
“I am incredibly disappointed that Deputy Mayor [Alicia] Glen did not reach out to get my input as the elected representative of this district for over 30 years,” said Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Long Island City). “I have worked closely with the mayor on many issues, and it is shocking to see community voices denied in this process at the very beginning. I commend the many talented leaders on this group, but it must be more diverse and reflective of our western Queens community.”
Nolan said that the Sunnyside Yard steering committee should consist of nonprofit groups, community leaders, local residents and business leaders.
“I will be introducing legislation to give the governor and the legislature more input into this process,” said Nolan.
U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), state Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) and Assembly members Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria), Brian Barnwell (D-Maspeth) and Nolan released a joint statement to voice their opposition to the project and noted that the community’s input was currently not being sought. They called on the city to place the project on hold until concerns from elected officials and residents were addressed.
“We are deeply alarmed by the city’s decision to move forward with plans to build a massive residential and commercial development in Sunnyside Yard without seeking adequate community input or establishing sufficient infrastructure and transit options for local residents who will be impacted by the project,” the statement read. “If the city accelerates the Sunnyside Yard project without seeking community input, it will only further contribute to the affordability and public transit crises that have created chaos for New Yorkers. We urge the city to cease development of this project until our voices and concerns have been fully considered.”
The EDC told the Queens Tribune that local elected officials have been invited to serve on the Sunnyside Yard steering committee.
“The master planning process will include many opportunities for elected and stakeholder engagement,” an EDC spokeswoman said. “It’s our goal to ensure that the many diverse communities surrounding Sunnyside Yard have a seat at the table in the planning and visioning process.”
The EDC’s plan includes approximately 24,000 homes, up to 19 new schools, 52 acres of public parks, open space and new transportation options near the 180-acre site.
Upon last week’s announcement of the plan, the EDC noted that a steering committee for Sunnyside Yard would include community leaders and planning experts.
Elizabeth Lusskin, the president of the Long Island City Partnership; and Sharon Greenberger, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater New York, are leading the committee.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144, firstname.lastname@example.org or @reporter_ariel.