Tag Archives: Phil Goldfeder

Major airlines working with pols to end parking woes near JFK

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angela Matua


Parking either within or near John F. Kennedy International Airport is no simple task, with many airport employees taking up coveted spots both in parking lots and on nearby streets.

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder and Councilman Eric Ulrich are working with five major passenger and freight airline companies based at JFK to ensure proper parking policies that will ease traffic and increase available parking spots near the airport.

Goldfeder and Ulrich announced plans to attend an upcoming meeting with airport business and government leaders to address ongoing parking issues in surrounding communities.

“With more than 37,000 employees and countless visitors, JFK Airport is as much a neighboring community as it is a transit hub,” Goldfeder said. “That’s why it’s so important for companies operating at JFK do their part to be good neighbors to our families in southern Queens.”

Ulrich echoed the assemblyman’s comments, explaining how imperative it is for all airport employees and companies within JFK to be respectful to community neighbors.

“It is vital that all those employees and travelers at JFK Airport do their part to be good neighbors,” he said.

Just last month, Goldfeder and Ulrich wrote letters to the top 10 airlines operating out of JFK for a general parking inquiry. The latest Airport Traffic Report, made available by the Port Authority, reported that JFK employees were parking in nearby residential neighborhoods to access AirTrain stations. Officials said at the time that the practice takes up valuable parking spaces and increases traffic on otherwise quiet residential streets.

In letters sent last week to Goldfeder and Ulrich responding to their initial concerns about parking space, three major airlines at JFK airport – Cathay Pacific, JetBlue, and Lufthansa – all stated they provide transportation parking spaces, transportation reimbursements and shuttle services to employees.

Delta and American Airlines followed suit, contacting Goldfeder to confirm that they also provide parking for their employees. All airlines pledged to work with the legislators on maintaining good relations between the airport and surrounding communities.

“I’m pleased to learn that many of the airlines at JFK are already taking the necessary steps to alleviate parking problems in the community,” Goldfeder said. “I look forward to working with all businesses at JFK as we work to provide some much-needed relief for our families.”

The airlines issued letters in response to the local politicians’ claims shortly after Goldfeder and Ulrich met with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to discuss regular reported sightings of TSA officers in uniform parking in community streets. According to the TSA, the agency has taken steps to prevent the problem, including publishing notices in employee newsletters urging against the practice.

During the meeting, TSA officials confirmed that the agency is currently undergoing negotiations on new parking and public transportation subsidies for workers to help alleviate the issue.

The legislators also announced plans to address the board of the Kennedy Airport Airlines Management Council (KAAMCO) to further voice their concerns.


Pols announce construction of new library in Far Rockaway

| amatua@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Dominick Totino Photography

Elected officials gathered at the Queens Library at Far Rockaway on Wednesday to announce that the $29.75 million project to completely rebuild the structure is underway.

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Councilman Donovan Richards secured more than $6 million in capital funding for the project and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz added more than $21 million over several years. Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder and Mayor Bill de Blasio also contributed funding to rebuild the 47-year-old library at 1637 Central Ave.

“Libraries make a difference in the lives of many New Yorkers, and this City Council is proud to support the Queens Library in their plans to rebuild and improve the Far Rockaway branch,” Mark-Viverito said. “From serving as a hub for education, communal activity, and access to services, to providing Internet access for those who don’t have it at home, libraries are a pillar of communities across the five boroughs.”

The accompanying teen library annex located on Cornaga Avenue and Beach 20th Street will act as the temporary location when the structure is demolished in the fall. The library will reopen in 2019.

According to a statement from Snohetta, the architecture firm responsible for the new design, the exterior will be made up of colored glass with a gradient resembling the sky off the Long Island coast.

Far Rockaway library rendering

The new library will feature separate children’s, teen and adult library spaces on two levels, accommodate community meetings, include literary services and encourage after-school study. The library will also offer job skills training services, and career and entrepreneur resources for community members.

“The Far Rockaway library is a necessary and vital element of our community that provides necessary resources that help residents find employment, study for exams and learn new skills,” Richards said. “A new fully loaded library will help our neighborhood reach that next level as we continue to bring in added resources and opportunities to ensure our residents acquire the essential tools for success.”

To celebrate the announcement, the Queens Library hosted a book bag giveaway that day and provided 300 students with book bags for the upcoming school year.

The Queens Library at Far Rockaway played an important role in the area’s recovery following Hurricane Sandy, providing a place for residents to receive supplies like bottled water, food and batteries. Though there was no heat or light at the library for several days, people gathered at the makeshift relief center for information and help.

“The Far Rockaway community depends on their public library for so many things: technology access, job readiness services, small business resources, educational materials and programs for all ages,” said Bridget Quinn-Carey, interim president and CEO of Queens Library. “They have long outgrown the current facility. Now, thanks to the generous support of Borough President Melinda Katz, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council member Donovan Richards and Assembly member Phillip Goldfeder, a new, state-of-the-art library is on its way.”


Op-ed: Time to relieve side effects of A train project

| oped@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File photo


I have long advocated for improving transportation for families across Queens as the best way to meet the demands of our growing population and boost economic activity in the borough. I have called for the reactivation of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line as the most cost-efficient way to improve commutes for tens of thousands of families and take cars off our clogged roadways.
Also, I recently met with Department of Transportation Queens Commissioner Nicole Garcia in Howard Beach, Lindenwood and Hamilton Beach to inspect roadways where our families have long asked for improvements.

That’s why I’m always willing to support the work done by the MTA, DOT or any other agency to improve infrastructure and make our commutes safer and more efficient.

However, with any large infrastructure project we need to take steps to ensure minimal impact to our homes and local businesses whenever possible.

Recently, I’ve been contacted by families and store owners along Liberty Avenue in Ozone Park that have been forced to deal with a traffic nightmare as a result of the ongoing Liberty Avenue Line Station Renewal Project, which is currently rebuilding A train stations between 80th Street and 111th Street.

For almost a year, NYC Transit has been storing construction equipment on Liberty Avenue and 84th Street. In one area, this equipment covers about 12 car lengths along the avenue. Not only do these materials take up valuable parking spaces, but they have also created a dangerous situation as cars swerve into oncoming traffic to pass. I’ve even spoken to local business owners who have had company vehicles hit by oncoming traffic. They come into work every day wondering if they and their employees will make it safely through the workday. This is unacceptable.

I’ve written to NYC Transit President Carmen Bianco urging the state agency to minimize the amount of equipment stored on this busy roadway. Our families and local businesses should expect some inconvenience as work progresses on the stations. But we should not accept any situation that hurts our local economy and puts our families’ lives at risk. By being smart about how we improve infrastructure in the community, we can ensure that our families stay safe and our local businesses remain strong.

Goldfeder represents the 23rd District encompassing Ozone Park, Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach, Lindenwood, Broad Channel and Rockaway.


Cuomo seeks Breezy Point elevation study, signs bill blocking ‘red tape’

| rpozarycki@queenscourier.com

Photo via Twitter/@NYGovCuomo

Along with signing a bill to keep “red tape” from strangling continued efforts to recover from Hurricane Sandy, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in Breezy Point on Friday that the state would embark on an elevation study for the area.

Located on the western tip of the Rockaway Peninsula, Breezy Point was one of the communities hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. The neighborhood was flooded by the superstorm’s surge, and over 100 homes were destroyed by a wind-fueled inferno that firefighters were unable to reach and fight.

The community is still recovering nearly three years later, Cuomo noted, and the state is working to help fortify the shoreline with stronger dunes and seawalls. Even so, with weather patterns changing across the globe, the governor stressed that further planning and preparation are needed to prevent a repeat of Sandy’s destruction.

“I would love to be able to say to you that Sandy was one in a million and it’s never going to happen again. The problem is, I don’t believe that,” Cuomo said. “We are seeing weather patterns we have never seen before…I don’t care what you call it, but let’s prepare for it.”

Cuomo said he would seek funding for an elevation study to examine Breezy Point and see “what it would take to actually elevate the homes to a point where, if this happens again, we don’t have the same type of damage.”

“Let’s build back, but let’s build back better than before,” Cuomo added.

In the interim, Cuomo penned on Friday a bill granting a two-year extension to legislation waiving the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) requirements for Breezy Point homeowners still rebuilding their damaged properties. The bill — sponsored by Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder and state Senator Joseph Addabbo — releases homeowners from being subject to an extensive review process that could take up to 18 months to complete.

Cuomo initially signed the bill in 2013, and last year penned his signature to a one-year extension. Goldfeder hopes that this two-year extension will allow Breezy Point “to finally nip this thing in the bud.”

“Nobody in Breezy Point has to worry about the red tape,” he said.

“We have businesses that are coming back. We have people coming back to their homes,” Addabbo added. “We are moving forward, but there is so much more to do.”


Rockwood Park Jewish Center hosts Holocaust Remembrance Day

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Rockwood Park Jewish Center


Stories were shared and prayers were offered to the victims of the Holocaust during a special service last week at the Rockwood Park Jewish Center in Howard Beach.

Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, honors both the more than 6 million people who died at the hands of Nazi Germany during World War II and those who survived the atrocity. The event, which was hosted at the synagogue on Thursday, April 16, honored four Holocaust survivors: Nathan Berkowitz, Martin Braun, Jack Gruer and Judy Berkowitz.

After a candle lighting service, the audience sang “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem, and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Rabbi Tzvi Berkowitz welcomed the crowd along with Bernard Fisch, president of the Rockwood Park Jewish Center.

Public officials including Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder, Community Board 10 Chair Betty Braton, Fr. Francis Colamaria of St. Helen’s Church, state Senator Joseph Addabbo and Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff, commanding officer of the 106th Precinct, made opening remarks.

Helen Greenblat, Rabbi Berkowitz’s cousin, told the story of her mother and father, who were both held in concentration camps to put a face to the numbers we so often hear.

“It’s something we can’t comprehend, but we can tell the stories and they can come to life and pay tribute by telling the stories,” Greenblat said.

Greenblat spoke about her parents before the war to emphasize that they lived a “normal” life, as well as the challenges they faced when starting over.

“They were absolutely heroic for starting all over again and continuing after what [they’d] been through, the losses they suffered, the misery they endured,” Greenblat said.

Her parents were both in their mid-teens when the war started and both lost family members as a result.

Greenblat’s father, Max Traeger, lived in Warsaw, Poland, and worked in his father’s shoe factory after dropping out of school in the fifth grade. According to Greenblat, the extreme anti-Semitism he faced in school caused him to leave.

Traeger and his family were forced into labor camps after Germany invaded Poland. Traeger, the lone survivor, lived in the camps for five years.

Ilona Lax, Greenblat’s mother, was forced out of her house in Czechoslovakia to a nearby ghetto along with her sister, two brothers and father. Soon after, they were put on cattle cars to be escorted to Auschwitz.  Upon arrival at the death camp, Lax’s father and brother were both killed.

Lax and her sister, Lily, were liberated from Bergen-Belsen, a concentration camp in Germany, by British soldiers. To start a new life, they created a kosher kitchen and a synagogue. When Lax’s sister got engaged, she requested that her fiancé get her a white wedding gown.

“I couldn’t believe when I heard the story. They went through hell, they lost so many of their family members and she’s telling him she wants a white wedding gown,” Greenblat said.

Rations were implemented and instead of coffee and cigarettes, Lily Lax’s fiancé requested a white German parachute. The makeshift gown has been used by 17 brides, including Greenblat’s mother.

“That to me is a symbol of renewed life,” said Greenblat.


Frank Charles Park repairs a home run for Howard Beach community

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Angela Matua


Howard Beach residents hoping to enjoy America’s pastime at Frank Charles Park will experience a whole new ballgame when visiting the ballfields.

The National Park Service (NPS) made repairs to the fields on April 8 through 10, including leveling the infields, filling in ridges that formed between the diamonds and the outfields and repairing the outfields.

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder received numerous complaints from the Hamilton Beach community and Michael Baker, manager of the X-Bays Softball team in the Queens Metro ASA Softball league.

Baker said he has experienced problems with the field since he started playing on it eight years ago. The X-Bays team, which was formed in 2009 and plays on the field from April to August, has never seen the ballfields being maintained.

“The field has been in quite bad shape for years,” Baker said, “more so after [Hurricane] Sandy. After the storm it was like a beach. We’ve gotten a lot of heat from other teams in the league about how atrocious it was, so I finally said enough is enough.”

Baker emailed Goldfeder’s office and was surprised by the Assemblyman’s quick response.

“He responded within 15 minutes,” Baker said. “I fell off my chair. It was phenomenal.”

Goldfeder’s office contacted the agency that owns and operates Charles Park, NPS’s Gateway National Recreation Area, and requested they make the repairs. He also asked the agency to provide the team with equipment including shovels, rakes and infield clay so players could make minor game day repairs.

“These improvements will help prevent injuries and make games more enjoyable for players, families and the entire community,” Goldfeder said in a press release. “I’d like to thank the National Park Service for their quick response and partnership with the neighborhood.”

Baker and his co-manager Anthony Galetto would spend two to three hours every Saturday fixing the field and prepping it for Sunday morning, especially after it rained, Baker said.

“It became quite a nuisance after years and years and years,” Baker said. “Now it’s just such a pleasure. When it rains, it rained fairly hard last night and it’s holding up so well. We’re just very pleased.”

The X-Bays played their first game of the season on the new field on Sunday, April 12, and are currently 4-0.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better start on our repaired field,” Baker said.


Pol calls for cleanup at Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder's office


Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder wants the MTA to do some spring cleaning at the Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge.

Goldfeder wrote a letter to the MTA Bridges and Tunnels calling on the agency to clean up a blighted parking lot located on the Rockaway side of the Cross Bay Bridge linking Broad Channel with the Rockaway Peninsula.

“We’re only months away from the summer season and this parking lot is filled with trash and debris,” Goldfeder said. “Millions of beachgoers will pass over Cross Bay Bridge and see this eyesore. It’s time the MTA clean this lot and turn it into an entrance to Rockaway that our community can be proud of.”

In his letter to MTA Bridges and Tunnels President James Ferrara, Goldfeder said that the parking lot located between Cross Bay Parkway and Beach 94th Street is filled with trash and broken tree branches. He also noted there was rust on the metal fence surrounding the lot and cracks in the sidewalk and pavement where tall weeds have begun to grow.

The bridge is one of only three access points to the Rockaway Peninsula for millions of tourists. In 2014, more than four million people visited the popular beachfront, according to the NYC Parks Department. Thousands of these visitors use the Cross Bay Bridge and drive by the blighted parking lot to access the beach, with many more passing above the lot on the nearby elevated A train line.

The Cross Bay Bridge opened to traffic in 1970 and serves approximately 22,000 vehicles per day, with traffic increasing during the busy summer months.

“Given its location at the entrance to the peninsula, this lot is really Rockaway’s ‘welcome mat,'” Goldfeder said. “It’s time for some spring cleaning.”


Goldfeder unveils plan to create new flood insurance agency as alternative to FEMA

| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder

It’s about giving homeowners affected by floods a choice, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder said in describing legislation he proposed to create a new flood insurance agency for New Yorkers.

The New York Flood Insurance Association [NYFIA] would provide homeowners with an alternative to FEMA’s flood insurance, with premiums that are currently on the rise, by offering economical, fair and non-discriminatory policies, said Goldfeder at a press conference on Sunday. It would also “protect families from the unfair flood damage claims practices experienced following Superstorm Sandy.”

“Our families were victimized by Sandy and then again by the insurance companies and NFIP who were supposed to help,” said Goldfeder. “Insurers have fought Sandy claims and challenged homeowners’ needs, adding insult to injury for those who went through so much and who still struggle to recover.”

The proposed law is aimed at giving homeowners a choice between insurance policies they could pick if another flooding catastrophe happens. Any homeowner or renter who has made a reasonable effort to find coverage on the private market could be eligible to apply to NYFIA for coverage of up to $1.5 million for property and contents.

Included in the proposed legislation are provisions to keep costs low for both policyholders and insurance providers, according to Goldfeder.

This would be done by capping policies at certain percentages of private market policy rates, based on the property of the homeowner. NYFIA would also have the power to distribute any premium gains and losses in excess of 1 percent evenly among members.

Goldfeder said this is in sharp contrast to the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program, which after 1986 was stripped of its ability to save and reinvest premium revenues.

State-approved insurers would work for the new association, which would be governed by the superintendent of the State Department of Financial Services and a board of 13 directors.

Association members would have to follow a plan of operation requiring them to provide “economical, fair and non-discriminatory” flood coverage to policyholders and follow “reasonable and objective” underwriting standards, said Goldfeder.

Goldfeder expressed his anger at the National Flood Insurance Program and said that it had failed his constituents. He believes this new system would give homeowners more peace of mind if they ever had to face another storm such as Sandy.

“Our families have been held hostage by the mismanaged National Flood Insurance Program and by unscrupulous insurance companies,” he said. “The New York Flood Insurance Association will be a strong system with shared risk that will give families a new choice for flood coverage and help keep premiums affordable so that they can remain strong and secure in their own homes.”


Goldfeder calls for improved safety measure under A train underpass

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

New and additional street lights are needed for a poorly lit underpass in Ozone Park that is “potentially dangerous” for residents to walk through at night, said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder.

“This dark and dangerous underpass poses a threat to the children and families in the community and is a welcome sign for criminal behavior,” said Goldfeder. “Our families deserve to feel safe walking in their own neighborhoods and I’m urging the Department of Transportation to immediately install lights to help give every resident the peace of mind they deserve.”

The pathway Goldfeder is singling out is between 99th and 100th streets on Rockaway Boulevard, which passes under the elevated A train tracks. He said that the current fixtures that provide light do not work and that even when they do, they wouldn’t provide adequate lighting for the area. He has written to the Department of Transportation in hopes that they will fix the problem that he calls “troubling and dangerous.”

“When I arrive home every night from work, I use the pathway to get to my house,” said local resident Shaki Kar. “There are no street lamps there and it’s dark and covered in litter and graffiti. I know people who have gotten robbed there in the past. I feel very unsafe.”

The assemblyman encouraged the agency to work with the MTA, which owns the tracks, to perform any necessary maintenance at the site.

He said that the area is home to many local businesses and is also near two public schools – M.S. 137 America’s School of Heroes and John Adams High School – making the situation particularly dangerous for students walking home from school.

“No one should have to fear for their safety while walking home at night,” said Goldfeder. “We live in a great community where people feel safe to live and raise a family. When problems like this underpass arise, it’s important to address them as soon as possible and maintain the quality of life we enjoy.”

As of press time the DOT did not respond for a request of comment on the situation.


Goldfeder urging National Grid for plant site usage as new hope arises in fight for ferry service

| slicata@queenscourier.com

File photo

As Mayor de Blasio announced plans for a resumption of ferry service to the Rockaways, local elected officials and community advocates immediately took up the call for community development projects that they say would go hand-in-hand with a ferry — including a proposal for a new parking lot on the site of an old gas plant.

Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder has asked National Grid President Dean Seavers to review and consider community suggestions for uses of a former manufactured gas plant the utility company owns at the corner of Beach 108th Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard. Among the possible uses of the site, could be for a parking lot for the nearby ferry terminal.

“Rarely do we have the opportunity to redevelop such a large site with so much potential to revitalize the community. The Rockaway Park MGP site is a ‘blank slate’ on which we can write the future economic development of the Rockaway Peninsula,” Goldfeder said. “I urge National Grid to consider the community’s suggestions for the site as we work together to put an end to the cycle of blight and decay that Rockaway families have endured for too long.”

Following Superstorm Sandy, Goldfeder secured an agreement from National Grid to allow hundreds of daily Rockaway Ferry commuters to park at the site for what was temporary ferry service. He and residents of Rockaway who are looking for a restoration of the ferry are hoping that the property can once again be used for parking once ferry service resumes.

De Blasio unveiled his proposal for a citywide ferry service during his State of the City speech on Feb. 3.

“Today, we announce that we’re launching a new citywide ferry service to be open for business in 2017,” he said. “New ferry rides will be priced the same as a MetroCard fare, so ferries will be as affordable to everyday New Yorkers as our subways and buses. … so residents of the Rockaways and Red Hook and Soundview will now be closer to the opportunities they need.”

Other politicians on the peninsula talked about how important this restoration would be to the local economy.

“Rockaway has great year-round potential, but its major economic strength is its summer season, which is a time when connecting the peninsula with the remainder of the city would maximize the benefit for all individuals within the city limits,” said state Sen. Joe Addabbo. “Right now, the peninsula’s only viable transportation option is a water, ferry service.”

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Having the large National Grid site as an option for parking now comes into play for ferry riders.

“We appreciate that National Grid made their property available for Rockaway residents to park their vehicles to utilize the ferry service,” said Rockaway Ferry advocate Danny Ruscillo. “Our hope is that when National Grid no longer has a need for this property, they take into consideration the community’s interests, including ferry transportation and parking, when finding the best use for the site.”

The former Rockaway Park Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) occupied the 9-acre lot between Beach Channel Drive and the Rockaway Freeway at Beach 108th Street. From the 1880s until the mid-1950s, the site housed gas production and storage facilities operated by the Long Island Lighting Company (LILCO). In 1998, the ownership of the site transferred to KeySpan in a merger between LILCO and Brooklyn Union Gas Company.

In a 2006 decision, the state Department of Environmental Conservation ordered KeySpan to begin remedial action to remove toxic waste and contaminated ground soil from the site. National Grid took over cleanup at the site when it bought out KeySpan in 2008 and they are now in their final steps of their efforts.

Goldfeder did not only suggest for the site to be used as a parking lot. He is mainly asking that when National Grid has no more use for the site, they take into consideration what the Rockaway community wants.

“Our families have seen so much destruction in the wake of Superstorm Sandy,” he noted.

“Allowing the community to be a large part of the process in determining the future of the MGP site will send a strong message that the community is not only building back stronger but that our residents have a voice for the future.”



Goldfeder’s push for backup generators on the Marine Park Bridge prevails

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

The MTA announced that they have installed on-site backup generators at the Marine Park Bridge after a recent power outage shut the bridge down for hours.

“Installing generators at the Marine Parkway Bridge comes as a great relief to the thousands of families who rely on the bridge every day to travel to work or school,” said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. “I want to thank Chairman Prendergast and the MTA for their swift action to ensure that the bridge will be powered at all times.”

On Nov. 29, one of the two electrical feeder cables at the bridge was damaged, which led to a power outage. The outage lasted for six hours and prevented thousands of motorists from crossing. Goldfeder wrote letters to the MTA and Con Edison shortly after asking for backup generators just in case something similar happens again.

After multiple efforts, Goldfeder was notified last week that the backup generators had finally been installed at the bridge in the hope of preventing another shutdown due to the loss of power.

The Marine Parkway Bridge links the west end of the Rockaway Peninsula to Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. It is one of the three access points to the Rockaways, together with the Cross Bay Bridge and the Nassau Expressway.

In 2012, the bridge served as the primary evacuation route for tens of thousands of families in the days leading up to Superstorm Sandy. The bridge carries 23,000 vehicles daily, with traffic doubling during the busy summer months, according to the MTA.

“The lesson we learned from Sandy is that we need to be prepared,” said Goldfeder. “This includes ensuring our vital infrastructure is up to the challenge at all times.”


New liquid gas port proposed for Long Island coast, bashed by Queens elected officials

| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder

A proposal to build a massive natural gas terminal, called Port Ambrose, just 17 miles off the southern shore of Long Island was met by angry opposition from hundreds of residents from Queens and surrounding counties last week during a public hearing near Kennedy Airport.

“Our families in southern Queens and Rockaway have been devastated by Superstorm Sandy and have seen first-hand what torturing our environment can do to us if we don’t take the proper precautions for the future,” Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder said. “Approving Port Ambrose and bringing dangerous liquefied natural gas to our communities is simply unacceptable.”

The facility, proposed by Liberty Natural Gas, would create a deep water terminal where liquefied natural gas would be imported by supertankers. The new site would receive the shipments, vaporize the gas, and deliver it through underwater pipelines to the coast with a capacity of about 400 million cubic feet of gas a day, according to a report in Capital New York.

The facility would be approximately 17 nautical miles away from Jones Beach and 28 nautical miles from Sandy Hook in New Jersey.

Photo courtesy of Liberty Natural Gas

Photo courtesy of Liberty Natural Gas

Liberty Natural Gas believes that the recent Environmental Impact Study released on the project is a good step forward for them and will help them continue on with the project.

“We are confident that once all the facts about the minimal impacts and many benefits that Port Ambrose will bring to the New York region become known, the public will support the project,” said Roger Whelan, chief executive officer at the company. “We are proud to already have the support of both business and labor leaders, fishermen, as well as others across the region.”

He also went on to say that if the new port is built, it will lead to “800 good paying jobs, investment of $90 million in the local economy and will help to reduce and stabilize energy prices for New York consumers during peak winter and summer months.”

According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commision, LNG facilities can be used to both import and export natural gas — leading some critics to say it would only encourage the use of fracking to produce domestic gas supplies for export. The port could also be used to store gas that could be tapped for periods of peak usage.

Photo courtesy of Liberty Natural Gas

Photo courtesy of Liberty Natural Gas

The public hearing was held in Jamaica, near Kennedy Airport, on Jan. 7. More than 500 people showed up, according to Capital New York. It was one of two public hearings on the proposal held by the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Maritime Administration, the federal agencies tasked with reviewing the potential environmental and community impacts posed by the project.

The federal government has extended the comment period on the proposal from 60 to 90 days, according to Capital New York. After this and another comment period, which will take place later this year, Gov. Cuomo will have the option to veto the project. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey will also have an option to veto.

Goldfeder, along with other elected officials voiced their concern about safety risks posed to residents on the coast by the presence of the deep-water gas port and the “highly combustible liquefied natural gas it would store.”

“The bottom line is that LNG is unsafe,” concluded Goldfeder. “It’s unsafe for the ocean, it’s unsafe for environment, and, quite frankly, it’s unsafe for the tens of thousands of families in southern Queens and Rockaway.”


Rally held in Rockaway to show support for the NYPD

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Salvatore Licata

Rockaway residents gathered together on Monday to show their support for the men and women in blue.

“We want to show our support for the NYPD,” Councilman Eric Ulrich said. “We are there for them today, we were there for them before the tragedy happened and we will be there for them in the future.”

The rally took place at the 100th Precinct, located at 92-24 Rockaway Beach Blvd. Over 50 residents joined police officers and elected officials to show their solidarity and the respect they have for the NYPD, in particular the precinct that keeps watch over the peninsula.

“We are thankful for the brave men and women who protect and serve us, especially those down here in the 100th Precinct,” Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder said. “These officers wake up every day and all they look to do is help.”

The ceremony started off with a prayer for slain Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were targeted by a deranged gunman simply because they were police officers. They also said a prayer for four officers who were killed in the line of duty in the 100th Precinct in years past and lit a blue candle for each.

“These officers put on their badge each and every day to protect each and every one of us,” state Sen. Joe Addabbo said. “I’m glad we have a moment to gather and say thank you.”

police rally 4

Toward the end of the meeting, Joseph Concannon, a former NYPD captain, announced that he is holding a rally at Queens Borough Hall on Tuesday, Jan. 13, at noon. The event is titled “Support Your Local Police,” and is meant to raise awareness that there are many people who do support the NYPD.

“Come out and show your support for the men and women of the NYPD,” the rally flier reads. “Stand together with the law enforcement community and your Queens neighbors.”


Op-ed: Reactivate the Rockaway Beach Rail Line

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


We are currently at a crossroads in Queens.

In recent years, we’ve seen tremendous growth and progress. At same time, we’ve struggled together to recover from the devastation of Superstorm Sandy over two years ago. Now, as we continue forward, we have a real opportunity to make lasting changes that will speed our recovery, benefit our local businesses and improve our neighborhoods in the years to come. But, in order to make this a reality, we need to put in place the transportation infrastructure that will spur growth and connect us to the rest of the city. The best way to do this is to restore and reactivate the Rockaway Beach Rail Line.

The Rockaway Beach Rail Line ran from the Rockaway Peninsula to Rego Park, serving as the primary north-south rail connection through central Queens. Until it was sectioned off and closed in the early 1960s, the rail line provided residents of southern Queens and Rockaway with 40-minute commutes to midtown Manhattan. To this day, the right-of-way for the line is still owned by the city and is largely intact. This rail right-of-way is our single greatest unused transportation asset in the city. By reactivating the line, we would once again connect southern Queens to the heart of the borough and ease commutes for thousands of families.

I recently joined the Queens College Department of Urban Studies in releasing its comprehensive and objective study of the reactivation of the rail line. Unlike the taxpayer-funded study by out-of-borough consultants that looked into alternative uses for the right-of-way, this student-led study put the best young minds in Queens to work on this vital community issue. They found that, if reactivated, the Rockaway Beach Rail Line could generate up to half a million trips a day and cost less than $1 billion to reactivate. Their community survey of local residents and businesses also concluded that the rail line was supported by a broad cross-section of the community, with middle class families overwhelmingly in favor of reactivation, and was the best way to grow our local economy.

At the study release, we were joined by an unprecedented coalition of elected officials, union representatives and transit advocates who came out in support. Our coalition grows larger every day. Recently, even the MTA has supported the idea of reactivation. In a report released last week, the MTA’s Transportation Reinvention Commission has called for utilizing existing rail rights-of-way as an opportunity to quickly and cheaply increase transportation options in the city. This is a part of its proposed plan to “aggressively expand” our rail infrastructure to better connect growing neighborhoods, like southern Queens and Rockaway, that are not adequately served by existing transportation options. To help pay for this plan, I’m calling for Gov. Cuomo to use a portion of the state’s $5 billion surplus to reactivate the Rockaway Beach Rail Line.

I believe in reactivating the Rockaway Beach Rail Line because it is our best opportunity to provide southern Queens and Rockaway with the equal access to transit options that we need and deserve. I was born and raised in Rockaway and my wife and I are now raising our own children here. I want my children — and all of our children — to have the opportunity to make the most of their lives right here in Queens. So, we need to seize this opportunity now and reactivate the Rockaway Beach Rail Line so that all of our families can continue to succeed and grow.

Goldfeder represents the 23rd Assembly District including the Rockaways, Broad Channel, Ozone Park, Lindenwood and Howard Beach.



Rockaway train line would serve half a million riders a day, says study

| slicata@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

Throwing a wrench into plans for the QueensWay park, a new study claims the restoration of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line would generate nearly half a million rides a day.

“The rail line would connect north and south Queens like no other [form of transportation],” Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder said at a press conference in Queens College Monday.

“The results of this study clearly show that reactivating the Rockaway Beach Rail Line is the best, most cost-efficient way to decrease commute times, improve access to existing parkland and grow our small businesses in Queens.”

The study, “A community impact study of proposed uses of the Rockaway Beach Branch right of way,” surveyed thousands of residents and assessed transportation and park needs in the surrounding communities of the rail line.

If reactivated, the study says, the rail line will ease congestion and commute times, and connect north and south Queens in a way that is currently not available with existing subway lines.

The project was student-led under the watch of Dr. Scott Larson, director of the office of community studies at Queens College.

“We did not come to the conclusion of what the best use for the land would be. That wasn’t the point of it,” Larson said. “We did it to add to the debate and provide objective information.”

A summary of the study reads: “The Rockaway Beach Branch line presents a unique opportunity as a potential transportation improvement. The effect would be faster travel between southern Queens, including the Rockaways, and northern/western Queens, Midtown Manhattan and points north.”

It goes on to mention that while ridership in south Queens is low compared to other parts of the city, commute times are long and the restoration of the line could lead to positive savings in travel times for the riders.

The rail line has been out of commission since the 1960s. If the rail line was seen as the most viable option for the land, it would cost about $700 million to fully restore it.

Currently, there is a debate on whether the land should be used to restore the transit line, make access to the QueensWay, or use the land for both transportation and park features.

The QueensWay would cost about $120 million to fully build out. Advocates for the QueensWay say the land would better be used as parkland rather than for transportation.

“The QueensWay would be free to everyone,” said Mark Matsil, a representative from the Trust for Public Land. “We have support from many elected officials. The QueensWay is economically feasible.”

Matsil said they are in the process of raising funds for the design phase of the QueensWay.

But Goldfeder believes that more and improved transit in Queens is a top priority for the borough, and not using this existing infrastructure would be a waste.

“Complete restoration of the rail line will increase transit options for every resident in Queens and NYC, create quality jobs, boost our economic development, ease commutes and congestion and clean our environment by taking thousands of cars off the road,” said Goldfeder. “I urge the MTA to include restoration of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line in their next capital plan.”