2002-11-02 / Columnists

On The Beach… With Beverly Baxter

Summer 2012 Olympics Hosted Here!

On The Beach... With Beverly Baxter

   Imagine! The 2012 Summer Olympics, the world's most premiere sporting event, hosted by the greatest city in the world: New York! Although it's quite a while away, there are plans already underway by the New York City Olympic Committee to host the games all around the five boroughs, as well as venues in New Jersey and Long Island. New York is one of two cities that have submitted proposals to the U.S. Olympic Committee. The other candidate city is San Francisco. A decision is expected to be made by this November 3rd. If New York is selected, it would then compete internationally to become the 2012 host city. The International Olympic Committee will make its final selection in 2005. Although we have the capability, we're the only International city to never host the games.

What does this all mean to New York? Among the many things that come to my mind are security and traffic! However, the New York Olympic Committee has rendered quite an impressive proposal that addresses our unique venue. Experts in the fields of transportation, construction, law enforcement and security, the environment, and finance have together devised an ingenious system to ensure that if the 2012 summer games are held here, the experience will be efficient for the athletes, visitors who will come from around the world to spectate, and for New Yorkers. Using the most rigorous intelligence, the most modern technologies, heightened surveillance, and police presence will ensure the tightest security.

The Olympic X plan places all but one of the venues for the forty sports along two intersecting transportation axes: One water, and one rail. One north/south axis will run along the Harlem and East Rivers down across the bay to Staten Island. This will include Ferry transportation. The east/west axis will run along commuter rail lines from Flushing Meadows to the Meadowlands. At the center of the X will be the Olympic Village on a spectacular waterfront site in Queens Village, directly across from the United Nations. The events have even been carefully scheduled to avoid rush hour, and main subway lines will operate at heightened levels of service.

Who will finance the games? With 3.3 billion dollars in Olympic revenues obtained through private sources, the games will not be a burden on taxpayers. Funding will be derived from TV rights, sponsorship, licensing fees, and ticket sales. This will absorb all operating costs and includes a budget of 1.2 billion for the construction and upgrading of all sports venues. This will also include a contingency fund of $362 million to meet any unanticipated expenses.

Of course the economic impact will be astounding and is expected to exceed 11.7 billion. Indeed, the construction and hospitality industries will most directly benefit from preparing infrastructure and building the venues to accommodate the millions of visitors who will venture here. However, every imaginable industry will in some profound way benefit from the event. In addition, the event will generate thousands of newly created jobs.

There's an old adage: If you want to get some cleaning done around the house, just host a dinner party and invite guests to your home! It's a matter of pride. Somehow our entranceways and foyers get spruced up, the silver gets polished, and even those long neglected areas that are rarely used get added attention. In the same way, hosting the Olympics will have the same catalytic effect. The greatest aspect of hosting the games will be its legacy. These necessary construction projects and improvements that have long been in the planning stages will remain long after the games are gone.

So where will the games be played? Where else would Baseball be played but Yankee Stadium!  Also in the Bronx, we'll have Water Polo and Modern Pentathlon at Pelham Bay Park. In Queens, we'll fall in Love with Tennis at the National Tennis Center in Flushing; Rowing, Slalom and Flatwater Canoeing will make a splash at a newly renovated Flushing Meadows-Corona Park; Swimming, Diving, and Synchronized swimming will be held at a newly constructed Astoria Pool; and Track Cycling and Badminton will take place at the Queensbridge Athletic Center.

In Brooklyn, Volleyball will be competed at The Sportsplex; Archery and Beach Volleyball will take place on the waterfront amidst the spectacular city skyline at a newly created Williamsburg Waterfront Park.

Staten Island will host venues for Equestrian and Mountain Biking at a Robert Moses initiative called Greenbelt Park; Road Cycling will take place at St. George; and Softball will be played at the Richmond County Bank Ballpark.

Manhattan will be host to Artistic Gymnastics and Trampoline at Madison Square Garden; Tae-kwon-do, Judo, wrestling, Table Tennis, Fencing, and Weightlifting will be competed at the Javits Center. The Triathlon will run through Central Park, Field Hockey will score at Baker Field; and Rhythmic Gymnastics and Boxing will be at the 369th Regiment Armory.

The Olympic Torch will be lit at Olympic Stadium, which will be built on Manhattan's West Side. This will also be the site of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Olympic Village, which will be built in Queens Village near the 59th Street Bridge, will provide thousands of apartments for the athletes. With a stipulation that a certain percentage of these apartments be used for affordable as well as market rate housing, this newly created development will enhance and revitalize this section of Queens.

So, what does Rockaway have to do with it? Well, with our Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer who chairs the Tourism Committee, our Councilman James Sanders who chairs the Economic Development Committee, and our Councilman Joe Addabbo who chairs the Parks Committee, Rockaway is in an extraordinary position to get a big bite out of this apple!  The Olympic X Plan has proposed building a Marina and Pier on the bay at Fort Tilden to host the Sailing Competitions; however, Rockaway could be much more utilized for other events as well. We have Equestrian Trails and miles and miles of oceanfront land. Can you imagine the legacy of a state-of-the-art Community Center, or an Olympic-size pool at Riis Park where millions have already been spent on the Bath House? An extended Pier along the bay front could be the catalyst for our long awaited Ferry Transportation. Rockaway could be the beneficiary of these much-needed facilities.

We are asking the New York Olympic Committee to take more notice of our potential. Brenda Levin, Director of Community Relations for the NYC OC, recently gave a stunning presentation at Baxter's Playhouse. She and her committee have been invited to take a complete tour of our town within the next few weeks. With the Olympics held here, Rockaway will finally rise to its own occasion!

See you...On the Beach!     

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