Buses would be better

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“DOB reviewing Flushing Commons permit” (Melissa Chan, October 24) can still right a wrong.  There have been many missed opportunities as a result of the Flushing Commons development project planned for Municipal Lot 1.  This project is currently managed by the NYC Economic Development Corporation and was approved in 2010.

Three years later the developers have yet to place a shovel in the ground.  If it was such a good deal, why the delay?  This is a sure sign that the developer may be having second thoughts about the project’s financial viability. The developer may be renegotiating terms and conditions with NYC behind closed doors.  They may be looking for low cost or interest free loans, additional tax credits and municipal capital improvements from NYC — all at taxpayers’ expense.  Permits granted by NYC for this project will end in 2014.  A trip down memory lane will show why canceling the project might be a better deal when considering other better alternatives for the property.

In the early 1960s this site was thought of for construction of an intermodal bus terminal. This facility would take hundreds of buses off the surrounding streets, where they discharge and pick up riders. Since that time, generation after generation of public officials on a bipartisan basis for almost 50 years have failed to secure any funding necessary to support this badly needed transportation improvement. Since the 1960s, there has been an explosion in the number of commuters riding buses to Flushing and transferring to the subway. This has been complimented by a huge growth of commercial businesses accompanied by the demolition of homes to support construction of apartment houses and multi-family homes in the surrounding neighborhood. Just walk in any direction from the corner of Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue in downtown Flushing and see.   What are the costs for upgrades to the existing water, gas, electric, sewer and other infrastructure necessary to support the proposed Flushing Commons?

Construction of a climate controlled intermodal bus terminal could assist in improving traffic and pedestrian circulation in and around the intersection of Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue along with the rest of downtown Flushing. Tens of thousands of rush hour riders would be protected from heat, cold, rain, snow and winds. There could be a smoother transfer between the bus and subway.  Opportunities would still be available for air rights above the bus terminal for parking, joint development of retail, office and or residential units.

How disappointing that no elected official ever stepped forward to honor this commitment from decades ago as this final opportunity disappears forever.  Why not discuss the viability of canceling the stalled Flushing Commons project?  Building a state-of-the-art intermodal bus terminal project in the long run might be a far better investment than lining the pockets of the Flushing Commons developers.

 

Larry Penner