As the newly elected representative of the borough, Katz expressed her enthusiasm for local issues, and discussed her ideas for revitalizing the New York State Pavilion, expanding the borough’s transportation options, and finding new ways to market what she explained as an overlooked community.
“We’re creating a cultural guide, that folks get when they check into hotels,” Katz announced before a crowded room at CUNY School of Law in Court Square. “Marketing and tourism has to go along with that, and make sure that they're here.”
Katz also addressed her position on other key issues, like the 7 train shutdown.
“We’re not covered 100 percent by subways in this borough, it’s a problem,” she said. “We can’t stop the 7 train for 22 weekends a year and expect that the businesses are not going to be hindered. We can’t develop in the Rockaways if we don’t have ferry service that’s permanent.”
She added, “These are common sense things that the borough president's office is now working on.”
Additionally, Katz said she also plans to work with civic groups and the city to revitalize the abandoned New York State Pavilion in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, originally built for the 1964 World’s Fair.
“From when I was 10 or 11, people were still worried about what to do with that. Someone would say, ‘they’re knocking it down,’ and someone else would say, ‘no, they’re painting it,’ and someone else would say it’s unsafe,” she recalled. “When I became the beep, in the second or third week I just said let’s go out there. We’re going to save it. Let’s just stop having that argument.”
A study by the city found that it would cost $14 million to tear it down, but an estimated $74 million to make the necessary repairs.
“As far as I’m concerned, that starts with the $14 million from the city as an investment into saving it,” she said. “I would love to make the theater an open air theater again.”
Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan expressed her enthusiasm for having Katz as part of the “team” in Queens, and said she looks forward to working with her in the coming years.
“It’s a great shot in the arm to live here and have a wonderful team here,” Nolan said. “It’s a challenging area but I do love it, and I look forward to trying to improve our community.”
Members of the LIC Partnership came to listen to her vision, however they were also there to ask questions that have been affecting their own businesses.
Dominic Stiller, president of the Dutch Kills Civic Association and owner of the Dutch Kills Centraal restaurant, said the neighborhood is awaiting the implementation of Citi Bike following a delayed rollout in the neighborhood.
“We in the residential neighborhood of Long Island City would love a status report on Citi Bike,” Stiller said. “We would love to push for Citi Bike and we think that Citi Bike would help raise residential and commercial property values in the neighborhood.”
One member of the LIC Partnership asked the borough president to address her position regarding the revitalization of the Rockaway Beach Rail Line versus creating the QueensWay on the deserted tracks.
“There’s the old abandoned right of way that goes all the way down to the Rockaways,” he said. “There have been people that want to turn it into a park like The High Line, but I think the transportation would actually be a way of improving the access of actually going down into southern Queens and into the Rockaways.”
Katz responded that she has yet to take a position on whether to support the conversion to a rail or park.
“There are so many different sides to the argument,” she said. “If you make it a park you’re not redoing the Rockaway Rail Line and if you make it the Rockaway Rail line you won’t be able to do a park. No matter what, none of the folks that live along it are happy.”
But Katz did say she was focused on delivering immediate attention to the Rockaways.
“That is why a ferry is so important when it comes to development and rebuilding the Rockaways,” she said.