August 12, 2010
Excerpt from Megan Dees Friedman’s Op-Ed in August 11 Queens Gazette:
A fitting home must be found for historic millstones which have languished at their peril for decades among the traffic and pollution on Queens Plaza. These millstones are connected to the grist mill in the first European community in Queens, in what was and is today, Dutch Kills.
Penny Lee of the Department of City Planning, working with powerful figures at the Dutch Kills Civic Association, without the advice of an archeologist, have decided to make this a battle of wills, insisting the millstones remain on pedestals on Queens Plaza. To treat these historic artifacts as pawns, to exclude our community from any meaningful say in their future, goes against everything this nation stands for and against 350 years of local tradition and pride. As a result of very poor planning by the city, these millstones and Dutch Kills, our community, have suffered abusive neglect. Despite the heritage of these artifacts, various city officials have allowed these millstones to be eroded, cracked, even permitted hot asphalt to be poured on them.
It is hardly surprising that the value of these millstones has been disregarded by the city since the Dutch Kills community itself has been totally “rolled over” by the planning apparatus of the city of New York. To the current administration, these historic artifacts are just as invisible as we apparently are.
The full text of Ms. Dees Op-Ed can be accessed here
June 15, 2010
The Western Queens Gazette reported in a front page article on June 2 that the City Council had approved a Department of City Planning proposal to rezone 238 blocks located within the jurisdiction of Queens Community Board 1. The article went on to note that the proposal was “intended to preserve scale and character” of Astoria’s neighborhoods.
But significantly, the issue of zoning variances was not addressed in the proposal which may allow developers to come in and put up numerous “out of character” buildings like they did in the adjacent community of Dutch Kills in the interim period between the approval and implimentation of new zoning regulations. Dutch Kills has since been overrun by a series of ugly, out of character hotels, that are adding stress to it’s infrastucture.
Then there has been far too little discussion on the drawbacks of the Astoria rezoning plan itself and questions such as whether or not the proposal might permit too greater influx of population into a community that is already over-taxed in terms of its ability to provide basic services and quality of life, whether the study area boundary was arbitrarily drawn and fails to take into account the spillover effect of development and population increase in adjacent communities, whether schools, hospitals, sanitation, energy, fire and police protection for an increased population have been adequately addressed and how the cost of absorbing greater population is to be met and whether that cost is to be borne equitably.
These are the questions that need to be asked and addressed before we can truly say that Astoria has been “saved.”