According to reports this past weekend, management decided to put their own copies of police-issued “No Parking Sunday” signs over parking meters around the mall in order to help traffic flow. They did it for years until one Queens motorist defied the signs and parked there last month. He then questioned police and took it to the next level. The jig is up, and now the mall, which is the highest grossing mall per square foot in the entire nation, needs to come back and make restitution.
We’re suggesting free parking for three months in the mall’s parking lots.
According to Forest Hills Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, the parking meter scandal “…presents an incredibly disturbing problem that harms honest taxpayers who are shopping in Queens.” She and Jackson Heights Councilman Daniel Dromm say they are keeping a close eye on the situation.
Meanwhile Dromm has joined the fight the workers are taking up with the wage issues and lack of community engagement the mall has shown. The Macerich Company, which owns Queens Center, receives over $100 million in tax breaks, but most of the 3,100 employees at Queens Center Mall earn an average of just $7.25 per hour with no health benefits. “That’s the big issue for the people in my district,” said Dromm on Tuesday.
When tax dollars are used to subsidize private development, the jobs created should certainly help the surrounding community. A reasonable living wage should not be above our expectations.
The mall has had its share of tragedy recently, too. On April 8, 2009, 55-year-old Mary Lovelace climbed over a waist-high rail in the center area and plunged to her death three stories below, landing on a teenager. Safety issues at the mall were brought out as shop owners said the low height of the railings told them an incident like this was bound to happen.
Now groups are also asking that the mall, a popular hangout for teens, provide some kind of community support for these kids, maybe some help in job training, financial counseling, or even ESL classes.
We agree. The mall management should not hide behind ownership 3,000 miles away while issues like parking scandals and wage protests happen on the streets of Queens.