Cuomo announces competition to overhaul area airports
by Andrew Shilling
Oct 22, 2014 | 1 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Just eight months ago, Vice President Joseph Biden used LaGuardia Airport as an example for the dismal state of infrastructure in the United States, referring to the airport as one that might be found, “in a Third World country.” Earlier this week, however, the comment was all laughs as Biden joined Governor Andrew Cuomo in the William Decota airplane hangar at Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology in East Elmhurst to discuss a new plan designed to bring immediate change to several New York airports. "The number one job of government is to promote economic growth and prosperity, and one of the best ways to drive commerce is by investing in infrastructure that connects New York with local, national and international markets," Cuomo said as he announced the Master Plan Design Competition. Designers from around the world that take part in the competition will not only be asked to create a modernized design for the airports, but also include ways of improving transportation with the possibility of high-speed ferries or improved rail service, as well infrastructure enhancements to prepare for potential future natural disasters. Cuomo said plans for the design competition would not step on the toes of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which currently has a roughly $3.6 billion to refurbish LaGuardia’s Central Terminal. The winning design from the competition, which begins in 30 days and provides design firms 60 days to develop their plans. “This is an extraordinarily fast timeline,” he said. “What we’re saying first is, take a look at the template and give me some big ideas about that footprint; out-of-the-box ideas that address issues like transportation, ferries and hotels.” Also included in the competition is a redesign of the entirety of John F. Kennedy International Airport, including possible transportation enhancements and increased hotel capacity in the immediate surrounding area. Cuomo added that other possible improvements at the southern Queens airport could also be the addition of state-of-the-art amenities with dining and shopping opportunities, as well as an upgrade to all facilities across-the-board. “Business people are flying from airport to airport, and when they get to New York airports they get frustrated,” Cuomo told reporters following the press conference. “The other airports, it’s night and day and that can’t be.” Biden congratulated Cuomo on his visionary plan for the future of New York airports, even comparing him to the likes of former President Abraham Lincoln, adding, “he’s like you pal, he had a vision.” “It’s unacceptable that LaGuardia has the worst passenger service in the world,” Biden said. “It doesn’t work, the hallways are too long and it doesn’t make sense. And it doesn’t matter how nice the JetBlue terminal is at JFK if you can't get out of the terminal quick and efficiently.” The governor’s office reported that both LaGuardia and JFK airports served nearly 77 million customers last year, or roughly one-quarter of the U.S. Population. The competition also includes proposals to increase capacity at Stewart International Airport in the Hudson Valley and Republic Airport on Long Island to relieve some of the traffic at the city's two airports. In January, Biden and Cuomo put more focus on New York infrastructure with the unveiling of “Reimagining New York for a Reality,” a $17 billion plan to supply coastal protection to protect residents from possible future extreme weather. It was then that the vice president expressed his concerns for upgrades at the airports. “There’s not a single thing this nation can’t do,” he said. “I am more optimistic, more convinced, more certain about the future of this country than I have ever been in my entire life.”
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DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor
DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor
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New members and officers from the Maspeth Kiwanis join Lt. Gov. J.P. DiTroia at O’Neill’s Restaurant.
New members and officers from the Maspeth Kiwanis join Lt. Gov. J.P. DiTroia at O’Neill’s Restaurant.
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DHS commissioner sits down with Ledger, discusses transparency
Oct 22, 2014 | 1 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor
DHS Commissioner Gilbert Taylor
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Amid growing tensions in communities slated for new homeless shelters and transitional housing facilities, Department of Homeless Services (DHS) Commissioner Gilbert Taylor reached out to the Glendale Register last week to discuss the severity of the homelessness issue and discuss the proposed shelter on Cooper Avenue. The site was proposed to DHS by Samaritan Village and would be specifically tailored for homeless families by including kitchens, recreational facilities and social services, especially as they relate to youth. According to Taylor, the Glendale shelter would be built to meet DHS's specifications for housing homeless families, unlike the emergency shelters that have recently opened in the borough, such as the one at the Pan Am Motor Inn on Queens Boulevard. The commissioner, flanked by a few staffers, was clear to point out that it is not unusual for neighborhoods to be opposed to a shelter. But with nearly 57,000 homeless now living in the five boroughs – a 40 percent increase over the past four years - Taylor said the department’s central focus is finding a bed for every man, woman and child. “The city is facing a record number of homeless families and adults requesting shelter,” Taylor said. “As an agency, it is our mission and responsibility to provide shelter and related services to anyone in need. “We hope that New Yorkers will find it in themselves to embrace these families with children in their communities as we help them get back on their feet,” Taylor added. Since 2004, the agency has focused their efforts on helping families, which make up 70 percent of the city's homeless population, from ever entering the homeless population through programs like HomeBase, neighborhood outreach offices to aid those on the brink of losing their home. Currently 14 sites across the five boroughs have served nearly 65,000 families and individuals since they opened with family mediation services, household budgeting, rental assistance, and job training. The department hopes to open even more in areas with families that are at high risk of becoming homeless. The city is also assisting those who have been in the shelter system the longest with rental assistance through its LINC program. LINC is a rental subsidy for families that are unable to afford stable housing, requiring recipients to remain working and contributing a set amount of their income towards rent. With the growth of these services and additional permanent shelter sites, like the one slated for the site at 78-16 Cooper Avenue in Glendale, Taylor said it would reduce the need for emergency shelters like the Pan Am, which don't meet the department's guidelines. According to a representative at DHS, the city continuously reevaluates the need for these sites and will often close and readjust depending on current homeless population statistics. Taylor worked with the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) as the executive deputy commissioner in the Division of Child Protection before taking over at DHS eight months ago. At ACS, Taylor played an integral role in starting Childstat, a tool that monitors child protective casework and performance data from families that have been subject to abuse. The commissioner admitted that outreach about new shelters needs to be better, and the department recently amended its guidelines to ensure better notice of proposed shelters is given to local elected officials and community boards. He said he hopes to work with communities to create a comprehensive approach to housing the homeless. Dawn Scala, a Glendale resident who has been fighting the shelter since a controversial environmental assessment of the Cooper Avenue site, has a different impression of the process so far, but hopes Taylor is serious about outreach. “Samaritan Village has no intention of talking to the community, they have to be forced to do it,” she said. “If they are the operators picked by DHS, then DHS has to hold Samaritan to the fire.”
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