As a lifelong resident of Forest Hills, I am writing to ask our legislators to save our idyllic community from urban sprawl. Anyone who has ever lived in Forest Hills knows what a treasure this is: a quiet residential neighborhood with trees and grass, conveniences without crowding, and amazing proximity to the culture of Manhattan.
Naturally, everyone wants to capitalize on these assets. Developers see opportunities for profit, while lawmakers see job growth and new housing—prospects that may seem not to have a downside.
But in this case, they do. In trying to let more people in on this priceless lifestyle, we may destroy it altogether.
I live in a beautiful apartment on 72nd Road. The view of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs’ tower makes it feel more like Paris than Queens. Alas, in a few months, that view will be gone: we are being boxed in by the erection of a six-story building in a tiny plot next door.
That loss is my tragedy; it’s too late for me. But it’s not too late for others. Forest Hills is characterized by trees and sky and light. Just a few more tall buildings will change that. Forest Hills is quiet. Just a few hundred more residents will change that.
In the Austin Street area in particular, we are maxed out. Rush-hour traffic now resembles Manhattan. Rents are so wild it’s almost impossible to sustain an independent business here. Austin Street is beginning to look like a strip mall. Is this what we want?
I beg you to look past the obvious economic factors and understand that booming business is not the only thing of value in a neighborhood. I beg you to take steps to slow down the growth.
Specifically, limit additional stories where there were low or no buildings and preserve one of the few genuine neighborhoods remaining in our city.
I don’t begrudge anyone the unique lifestyle available in Forest Hills, I just want to make sure it remains in existence.
Joanna G. Friedman