Governor Cuomo introduced the 10 billion JFK redevelopment plan in 2017. Now with a year after the announcement community members are looking for ways they can be involved. On June 17th, a community panel brought experts from the Port Authority and newly hired community outreach members into Rockaway to answer questions and alleviate concerns. Governor Cuomo made the decision to start the redevelopment of JFK Airport a couple of years ago with three main goals:
1. Create a unified, interconnected world-class airport
2. Improved road access to JFK
3. Expand rail mass transit.
The panel had their goal of making sure there is community involvement from the South Queens area in every step of the progress. There was a PowerPoint presentation to answer common questions (on noise pollution, job opportunities and the inclusion of local businesses) and to show progress, followed by a Q & A section for any other concerns.
Since the project is in its infancy stages, they didn’t have any physical progression to show but were able to show the commitments/plans they had in mind. As for the noise pollution, the panel plans to install noise/vibration monitors once they start construction and have a noise complaint process — although there was nothing was mentioned about noise pollution from of planes flying over Rockaway. Then mentioning the lack of local business support and how to address that to include those businesses in the process.
A major priority is to work with local businesses so that they can be involved in the process, once redevelopment is finished. It wasn’t specified how local businesses could be involved, but there was a guarantee that local businesses will be in the process, according to Justin Bernbach, director of Community Relations with Port Authority. The panel believes that the way to have the most community engagement is to create economic opportunity through local businesses — the idea is to create the most job opportunities possible.
The plan is to put local residents on the top of the list for all possible job opportunities. Ida Perich, Chair of Diversity and Inclusion for Port Authority, understands that most employment opportunities were low-level construction fields, but she plans to make those options broader for residents. There is no official description for jobs yet, but the panel stated that once the website is up and running, information on all new job opportunities will be available. Cuomo introduced the M/WBE (Minority and Women-Owned Enterprises) plan in 2015 in the hopes of creating more diverse workplaces. The J.F.K. redevelopment is working on creating a 30% M/WBE participation plan. This will give job opportunities to minority groups in particular, for chances to progress in the white- and male-dominated aviation field.
With the recent success of the LaGuardia Airport redevelopment, the panel believes that JFK will be a continuation of that momentum. They stated that through building relationships with the Rockaway community, they only see the best outcomes.
~by Sheneca Sharpe