October 10, 2013

Melinda Katz Democratic nominee for Queens BP
Melinda Katz, Democratic nominee for Queens BP
By Marc Bussanich 

Queens, NY—Melinda Katz is on the verge of re-entering politics as Queens Borough President after a four year hiatus. She received high-profile endorsements from labor and the late Mayor Ed Koch to best her main rival, Peter Vallone Jr. She’s hoping to implement an economic development master plan that includes strengthening the borough’s industrial base, growing the tech sector and expanding ferry transportation. Watch Video

In an interview with Labor Press, she talked about how the borough of Queens has a lot to offer. Her father, David Katz, was the founder of the Queens Symphony Orchestra and her mother, Jeanne Katz, was the founder of the Queens Council of the Arts and they told her that “you shouldn’t have to go over a bridge or go under a tunnel; you should be able to get everything you need right here in the borough,” including jobs.

She has high hopes that more high-tech startups will locate in Long Island City because of the area’s proximity to Cornell University's sprawling applied-sciences campus to be built on Roosevelt Island starting in 2015, and to avoid steep Manhattan rents. 

In her plan she calls for expanding transportation so that Queens residents can get to and from new job opportunities via ferry service expansion and additional bus routes including bus rapid transit.

But noticeably absent from the plan is mention of upgrading or expanding rail transportation. Ms. Katz is all for encouraging residents and drivers to use public transportation but believes rail projects take too long to complete and are overbearingly capital intensive.

“Rail transportation is good to do but is also extremely expensive and takes enormous amounts of capital investments. In general rail is a very expensive option no matter how you cut it,” said Ms. Katz.

The MTA just released a $25.5 billion 20-year needs assessment that calls for rebuilding infrastructure, equipment procurement and expanding the system to accommodate growth. Included in the plan is restoring train service to the Rockaway Beach Line that was shuttered in 1962 and would link southern and eastern Brooklyn with central and northern Queens.

Ms. Katz believes solidifying ferry service, however, is more important in the short-term for the borough.  

“We’re looking at all the options. Right now in the Rockaways we need to make sure ferry service is permanent and we also would like to make the A train faster and smarter. Right now it takes over one hour and a half to sometimes get from Rockaway to Manhattan,” Ms. Katz said.

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