Advocates decry BQX plans at Astoria workshop
BY ANGÉLICA ACEVEDO
Justice for All Coalition (JFC)
members chanted “Buses yes,
BQX no,” during a BQX work-shop
at the Museum of the
Moving Image, hosted by the Economic
Development Corp. (EDC) and the New
York City Department of Transportation,
on Tuesday, Feb. 25.
The two-hour long event had more than
80 attendees, and was the first workshop
the EDC and NYC DOT hosted in Queens
(there were two prior ones in Brooklyn)
regarding the BQX, a $2.7 billion project
led by the city that would create a streetcar
system along an 11-mile corridor from
Astoria to Red Hook, Brooklyn.
The museum’s main lobby was laid
out with snacks, posters and EDC fa-cilitators
while another room had tables
for facilitators who talked to people
about the current plans for BQX and
took down notes with their suggestions.
Around 7 p.m., three members of
the Justice for All Coalition stood in
the middle of the museum’s lobby with
posters that delineated why the project
is “bad planning.”
“One of the big problems is that the
BQX isn’t really the idea of transit plan-ners
and transit experts, it’s the idea of
real estate developers,” Jenny Dubnau,
an artist and JFC member said. “Gentri-fication,
displacement and more luxury
towers are baked into the BQX trolley.”
24 MARCH 2020 I LIC COURIER I www.qns.com
Dubnau cited a 2016 New York Daily
News article, in which they reveal that
a number of developers with projects
along the proposed streetcar line do-nated
to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s admin-istration,
who later began to push for
the project. One of those donors was
Brooklyn developer Jed Walentas, who
created Friends of the Brooklyn Queens
Connector in February 2015.
Some of the concerns raised by JFC
and other Astorians is the way the proj-ect
will be funded.
According to Rebecca Gafvert, vice
president of neighborhood strategies
at the EDC, the EDC and city are in
conversations with the Federal Transit
Administration to fund half of the project
with federal government money, while
the other half will be paid for by the city
with the implementation of value capture
as well as other private sources.
Value capture will involve increasing
tax revenue and raising property tax
values along the route.
One Astoria landlord at the workshop
said that because of that, he might have
to raise rent for his tenants.
Many people also asked what the
fare for the streetcar will be. Right now,
the EDC wants to make it “the most
attractive option for people,” so they
anticipate a “full fare integration,” which
means it’ll cost the same as a MetroCard
($2.75) and will allow riders to make free
transfers between subway and buses.
Justice for All Coalition and Mary Jobaida (center) protested
the BQX at a workshop in the Museum of the Moving Image
on Tuesday, Feb. 25.
‘This Isn’t About