Roosevelt Avenue Deal Met With Hope and Concern

Last week’s announcement of a renovation plan for Queens’s beleaguered Roosevelt Avenue has received wide acclaim by the local media, although El Diario-La Prensa has found some dissenting voices.

According to the Queens Chronicle, in the words of Commissioner Robert Walsh of the Department of Small Business Services, Roosevelt Avenue from 82nd to 114th Street will be “brighter, safer, cleaner.”

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras unveils a plan to improve Roosevelt Avenue. (Photo by Percy D. Luján via Queens Latino)

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-Corona) announced a plan, called the New Deal, at a meeting on Tuesday morning to increase sanitation services, brighten the area with lights and paint, create a business improvement district, install more police cameras, update zoning, continue programming at Corona Plaza and create a task force for the bustling thoroughfare.

“If you walk down Roosevelt Avenue there is no denying that a change needs to be made,” Ferreras said.

According to the story by Josey Bartlett, the more than $1 million plan doesn’t have just cosmetic purposes.

Roosevelt Avenue (Photo by Zaira Cortés via El Diario-La Prensa)

On Roosevelt Avenue trash cans overflow and spill onto the sidewalk and at night the No. 7 train tracks overhead have provided cover for criminals. Bars often violate the State Liquor Authority law keeping them 500 feet apart and in some cases operate past closing hours. The avenue has also been a haven for fake indentification manufacturers and sex trafficking.

There is pending legislation by state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Jackson Heights) addressing those issues.

The New Deal adds to the efforts to clean up the bustling avenue.

The story also mentions plans to rezone the south side of Roosevelt Avenue from 90th to 114th Street, from residential to commercial, and to create a Jackson Heights-Corona Business Improvement District modeled after the successful 82nd Street Partnership.

In covering the story, El Diario-La Prensa found mixed reactions within the community.

Elected officials, businessmen and residents stressed that security is the main challenge for the plan that seeks to make Jackson Heights and Corona more vibrant communities. (…)

“Prostitution, often forced, is associated with other illegal business that authorities have let thrive in the past years,” said Rev. Víctor Tiburcio, who offers an aid program for former prostitutes. “There is no point in starting a wave of arrests. We need to search for the most humane solution to our security problems.”

Another point that has raised concerns, according to the story by Zaira Cortés, is a plan by Councilwoman Ferreras to address the “chronic” problem of illegally-parked trucks.

Peruvian Mario de Gante, who owns a moving business, said that parking his truck around 90th Street is his only way to make a living.

“Where are we going to go when this plan pans out?” said Gante, 47. “Not everybody benefits from the beautification of Roosevelt Avenue. We are the workers no one wants to see.”

Street vendors are also concerned by Ferreras’ stated efforts to keep open “the small businesses that contribute to the area’s economy” and stop street vendors.

“Our customers are the people who can’t afford to eat in a restaurant,” said street vendor Nancy Ordoñez, from Ecuador. “They should focus on combating crime, not the buhoneros [street vendors].”

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