FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM SEPTEMBER 19, 2019 • THE QUEENS COURIER 11
Locals reject EDC vision for Sunnyside Yards
BY MARK HALLUM
Protestors did not let the Monday night’s
Sunnyside Yards hearing commence
without vocal opposition, as groups
expressed distrust toward the Economic
Development Corporation’s plan to deck
over 180 acres of rail yard.
Among the loudest groups protesting
in the cafeteria of the Aviation
High School in Sunnyside were Queens
Neighborhoods United (QNU), who
brought their beef with the EDC back to
the confl ict of Amazon HQ2, which they
referred to as a backroom deal.
And while QNU and other organizations
were making a din in the cafeteria,
the teacher’s lounge saw members of the
public were asking the planning consulting
team leader Vishaan Chakrabarti and
the EDC’s Adam Grossman Meager what
would happen to their community in
terms of fabric and infrastructure.
“We really believe that if Queens is
going to maintain the diversity that it has
today … It’s going to need more aff ordable
homes. It’s going to need more access to
jobs. It’s going to need better transportation,
and more parks, schools and healthcare,”
Chakrabarti said. “Th e city, generally,
we’re facing a lot of long-term challenges
in terms of climate change, aff ordability,
economic opportunity. We just think it
would be foolish to not look at Sunnyside
Yards in light of the needs of what both
Queens has and the city has.”
While an earlier feasibility study placed
the Sunnyside Yards project between $16
billion to $19 billion, the new price tag is
marked at $22 billion, which critics say
should be spent on existing problems in
“Now is the time to speak out against
luxury development and hyper-gentrifi cation
in western Queens. Mayor de Blasio
and the EDC should not be dumping billions
into new luxury developments while
NYCHA needs billions for critical maintenance
and repairs. We need good, truly
aff ordable housing for all and an end
to homelessness. Invest billions to solve
these problems, not hyper-gentrify our
neighborhoods,” said Patricia Chou, a
Queens Neighborhoods United organizer.
Along with the existing transit infrastructure,
Chakrabarti said the deck
would be equipped with roads wide
enough to handle bus service.
“Strained infrastructure, we know that,
we’ve heard that from a lot of people, but none
the less infrastructure that can be improved
upon,” Chakrabarti continued. “Th e process
has really been driven, we feel, by the public.
We’ve had many, many meetings and gotten
a lot of input. Not just input about specific
aspects of the plan but also what the identity
of Queens is and we want to be true to that
identity in the spirit of this place.”
On the western end of the site,
Chakrabarti said there is potential for a
long-awaited Sunnyside Station on for
LIRR riders, which has federal funding,
but has yet to be built by the MTA.
According to Chakrabarti, western
Queens is starved of open space which
he believes decking over the yard could
provide parks for the public. Th e overall
height of the deck has been decreased in
its highest points, the equivalent of fi ve- to
six-story buildings in some places.
Whether or not Sunnysiders would be
cast beneath a constant shadow from the
deck and the buildings combined was a
concern which the EDC said it had taken
into account to prevent.
Garbage and other services would be
handled within the “thickness of the
structural deck,” Chakrabarti said.
A 45-year resident of Sunnyside said her
neighborhood is diminishing without the
development as it is and posed the question
to Meager of how it is expected to
aff ect communities.
“We would want this to be a world where
Sunnyside is still very much Sunnyside,
and strengthened by the development,”
Th e Sunnyside Yards project is expected
to cover a space seven times the size
as Hudson Yards, which has attracted its
share of criticism since its completion
such as the unaff ordability of the housing,
the cost of the project and the return on
investment for the city.
Photo: Mark Hallum/QNS
A hearing on the development of Sunnyside Yards projected a cost of $22 billion and left many
residents with questions concerning quality of life.
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