BY JORDAN GIBBONS
Borough President Melinda Katz’s office and Mayor Bill De Blasio’s administration have been reaching out to the greater Jamaica community for months to create a Jamaica Action Plan to build a collaborative vision for the area’s future.
Melva Miller, Katz’s director of economic development, said that the input from the community outreach that has been ongoing since the first meeting on June 24 will be considered for the action plan that is scheduled to be released during the winter.
The plan is expected to provide a guideline for meaningful improvement of City services for residents and businesses and to promote continued commercial, economic and residential development.
Katz credited the new administration with making new developments and projects a priority in Jamaica and Queens as a whole.
“We’ve been talking to ourselves for too many years in this community,” she said. “To have an administration that is a partner has really been a blessing.”
Some key representatives from the City who pledged their support to the initiative at the event were Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, Kyle Kimball, president of the Economic Development Corporation, and Bob Yaro, president of the Regional Plan Association.
Kimball said it is an exciting time to be in Jamaica because it is emblematic for what the EDC is trying to get done across the City. Kimball outlined the main goals that the City plans to implement in Jamaica and beyond.
He said that the City is focused on maintaining the City’s status as a global center for commerce, unlocking human capital potential by supporting quality jobs, keeping the City competitive for top talent, providing access to skill development for all New Yorkers, driving sustainable resilient economic growth, transforming unutilized properties and investing in critical infrastructure.
Kimball said the EDC realizes the potential for Jamaica’s growth and plans to utilize the area’s untapped assets and underutilized buildings.
“It’s a diverse and talented population and there’s really tremendous human capital potential,” he said. “Jamaica is really the heart of this City, in terms of the strengths that are built in terms of its diversity.”
Yaro added that the RPA is dedicated to building up Jamaica and has been pushing this initiative along since the beginning.
“Our job is to continue to raise everybody’s sights,” he said. “We’re the most persistent group in town and this is a long-term commitment by RPA.”
Before breaking into workshop sessions focused on Jamaica’s identity, transportation, urban design, jobs, housing and commercial development, attendees were asked to participate in a variety of work stations. These stations included filling out what their vision for Jamaica is and ranking the factors they consider most important for commercial growth and economic development, improvements to livability and increasing quality jobs and small business support.
Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-Jamaica) said that it is great that the overview of Jamaica is being looked at.
“We have an opportunity to not only expand housing, but to build up those homeowners and those people that make up this community, that keep it stable,” he said. “So I’m excited to work with this group and to use this opportunity to work on long standing problems that we can collectively deal with.”
U.S Rep. Greg Meeks (D-Jamaica) said that he was grateful that Queens is in the forefront of the conversation towards building a greater City and the collective efforts of everyone in attendance.
“The future of Queens is now,” he said. “We can’t have the greatness without everybody participating in the building of our community. The most precious resource, what makes Queens that diamond of a Borough is the people.”
Reach Jordan Gibbons at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 123, firstname.lastname@example.org or @jgibbons2.