Op-ed: The western Queens renaissance: A burgeoning community on the rise

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ASSEMBLYMEMBER ARAVELLA SIMOTAS

At its core, western Queens is a community built by small businesses. From the time the Steinway brothers built their first factory in the U.S. in 1853 to the television and film production and high-tech enterprises we see flourishing today, this part of New York City is firmly grounded in innovation and civic leadership. As a lifelong resident of Astoria and a New York State elected representative, I have been dedicated to ensuring that this wonderful community continues to thrive.

As we continue to recover from the economic downturn, western Queens has been a powerhouse of new ventures and a center for job creation. As the most diverse county in the United States, our borough is uniquely positioned to cultivate a dynamic hub of economic and cultural activity. The area is growing fast, with an influx of new families and workers eager to contribute and establish themselves in the neighborhood.

As the home to three film production studios, western Queens is also a driving force behind the continued strength of the New York City film industry. These studios and the movies and television they produce contribute thousands of jobs and untold indirect revenue and economic activity that benefit community residents. Located adjacent to the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, the Museum of the Moving Image, and the new home of the Queens Council on the Arts,  this part of the borough has become a veritable epicenter of arts and culture.

In addition to the hundreds of restaurants, boutiques, hardware stores and every imaginable variety of mom-and-pop stores, western Queens is a model for responsible innovation. The hard work of so many ensures that growth benefits all members of our community. Recently, construction began on the $125 million expansion and modernization project at Mt. Sinai Hospital. This new state of the art facility will be much better equipped to serve the growing population of new residents who will now enjoy expanded first-rate medical care in the heart of Astoria.

Our local seniors have also benefited from the construction and opening of the brand-new HANAC/PCA Residence, a 90-unit facility which will make affordable housing more accessible, especially important in a city with scarce land resources and a high demand for real estate.

Together with other local leaders, I have worked to ensure that our community welcomes these new waves of growth. I have made it a priority to keep our streets free of trash and our centers of commerce clean and welcoming for consumers. Working with concerned residents, I have also striven to preserve the family-oriented character of local neighborhoods so that our children can always feel safe and our small businesses can thrive.

I will always pledge to work both in the community and through my role in Albany to encourage and promote an environment conducive to the continued growth of western Queens. Working together with businesses, residents, and local institutions, we can ensure that our world-class neighborhood remains a beacon of economic and cultural development for decades to come.

Aravella Simotas represents parts of western Queens, including Astoria and parts of Long Island City in the New York State Assembly.

 

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