2004-04-30 / Front Page

Airport Money May Benefit Rockaway

By Howard Schwach

As part of the deal with the City Council that gives the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PA) control over the two Queens airports, John F. Kennedy Airport and LaGuardia Airport, until 2050, the agency will reportedly give as much as $100 million over five years to the borough to use for "capital improvement" projects.

The agreement between the city and the PA also sets up a community advisory board that will be responsible for deciding how the money for Queens will be spent.

The capital project money, which will begin with $10 million in 2005, could grow to the $100 million figure, according to Daniel Doctorow, the deputy mayor for economic development.

The committee that will have responsibility for spending the money was originally to include members of local community boards, but the final agreement now says that the board will be made up of the Borough President, four people appointed by the PA, three appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the chair of the Council’s Land Use Committee, as well as the five council members whose districts are impacted by the airports, including Councilmen James Sanders and Joseph Addabbo.

"I would expect that once the money is turned over to the committee that there would be a piece for Rockaway," Sanders told The Wave.

"Community input on level is good news for residents who have long lived in the shadow of the airports with little or no say on how the money was being spent," City Councilman Addabbo said. "There was a time when the Port Authority were not good neighbors and we yelled and screamed on deaf ears, but they have made a 180-degree turn. They have actually been attentive to our requests and are even working closely with local civic groups on beautification projects such as the redesigning of the veterans memorial near the Howard Beach train station."

While it is too early to talk about specific projects, Sanders said, he was sure that there are many things in Rockaway that have to be done that the PA money could address.

"The city can use the money however we see necessary," one council member told reporters. "It could be used for parks, schools, sound walls. This is a win-win situation for both the communities and for the PA."

Addabbo says that it is really a time to "wait and see" how the money will be spent.

"Obviously, the local communities will have a say in how the money will be used," Addabbo added. "We will get that input through civic meetings and through contact with local people."

"I have a good relationship with the PA," he concluded. "There is nothing in the new plan to preclude me from picking up the phone and calling the PA when there is something that my community needs."

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