In her State of the Borough Address Tuesday morning, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall dedicated the last year of relief and recovery efforts in the district to Dylan Smith, a Belle Harbor man who lost his life after helping save lives during Hurricane Sandy, providing $10,000 in grant funding to the Swim Strong Foundation in his name.
As she stood on the Colden Auditorium stage at Queens College and honored of those who lost their lives in the storm, Marshall also looked to the tragedy at Sandy Hook, showing her support for gun control and a framework for forward movement and positive change in the borough.
“While Thanksgiving was muted by Sandy and the holiday season as saddened by the horrific violence in Newtown, let’s all agree that 2013 must be a year of hope,” Marshall said. “I’m proud to say that my office made a contribution to this effort when it sponsored a gun buyback in June in which dozens of firearms were brought in, I think it was 42 guns.”
Over the last 10 years, Marshall has spent $616 million in capital dollars on completing unfinished projects like the Jamaica Performing Arts Center, as well as the pool and skating rink at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, worked to rezone 6,300 blocks of “inappropriate zoning” in neighborhoods like Long Island City and Jamaica.
“This year, working with our great Speaker of the City Council, Chris Quinn, we will work on another 1,000 blocks,” she announced. “To support this tech boom, my office will develop a strategic plan to create a ‘Tech Zone’ on the Queens side of the East River.”
Marshall revealed that her office would work with the Coalition for Queens and other “tech stakeholders” after receiving a $150,000 state grant for developing a waterfront revitalization strategy in support of technological innovations.
In addition to investing over $63 million in CUNY institutions, she spoke of her work with Lorraine Grillo and the School Construction Authority on opening six new schools and 60 new school buildings.
She also noted the importance of the Parents Advisory Board’s involvement in making the most out of the nearly 30,000 added seats.
“Our schools must provide the virtual link to the growing economic sectors of science, technology, engineering and math,” she said, announcing the distribution of $2 million for adding mobile science labs to schools that have not yet added science labs or dedicated science rooms.
Her office invested $117 million in library renovation and expansion projects since 2002, and is now looking toward breaking ground on a replacement library in Far Rockaway, a new library in Glen Oaks, and expansion projects at the new Hunters Point Library, East Elmhurst Library, Kew Gardens Hills Library and the Rochdale Village Adult Learning Center.
While Marshall discussed the expansion of the USTA and her support for the Major League Soccer stadium, both in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, she highlighted her work with the Queens Parks Commissioner Dottie Lewandowski and investing $151 million in new baseball, soccer, volleyball and cricket fields.
As she outlined her work on job creation with the Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct, which has generated of $434 million in revenue and creation of 3,000 jobs, she also touched on her work in opening visitor's centers in PS1 and Queens Botanical Gardens, along with expansion projects at the Queens Museum of Art, Queens Theatre, Museum of the Moving Image and New York Hall of Science.
“At Flushing Town Hall, we’ll complete several renovation projects and improvements to its adjacent garden, and we’ll complete the renovation of the Afrikan Poetry Theater in Jamaica,” she added.
Other expansion projects from Marshall's time in office included the growth of emergency, cancer and cardiac centers, and the development of $15 million in grant money for additional medical equipment.
“Today, it’s more important than ever to continue our work to increase the availability and accessibility of the health care services,” Marshall said. “We must develop a healthcare system that meets the needs of more than 100,000 residents of the Rockaways.”
Marshall also expressed her support and dedication to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Andrew Cuomo in their work towards climate sustainability, hopeful of preventing more disasters like Sandy in the future.
“I know that ingrained in us is the determination and hope that has seen our borough through its hardest days,” she said. “We will meet future challenges the way we met challenges in the past: united.”