Council Member Vallone Chairs First Hearing of the Committee on Economic Development of New Legislative Session
On Tuesday, Council Member Vallone held his first hearing as Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Economic Development. As the first hearing of the 2018-2021 legislative session, the purpose of Tuesday’s hearing was to take a close look at the various top projects and initiatives administered by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) within each borough. Particular attention was also paid to the EDC’s ongoing relationship with the Council in its oversight capacity and growing inclusion as to the planning and development of each site.
At the start of his testimony James Patchett, President and CEO of NYCEDC, gave a brief overview of his vision for the organization and described how the agency drives economic growth and uses city resources to create a bridge between city agencies, private businesses and local communities. He also touched upon a major EDC project within each borough such as the Lighthouse Point project in Staten Island, the Jamaica Now Action Plan in Queens, the conversion of the Spofford Juvenile Detention Center to a thriving mixed use development in the Bronx, the Flatbush Caton Market project in Brooklyn, and the MTA Bus Depot project in Manhattan.
Later in his testimony, he stated that more focus and energy should be spent on creating stable, accessible jobs with clear career paths. “While New York’s economy is employing an unprecedented number of people, since the last recession, our job growth has exacerbated our class divide. Many of these new jobs are either high-paying roles that require advanced degrees or low-paying jobs with little opportunity for growth. This leaves a gap in good-paying, accessible jobs with relatively low barriers to entry but a clear path to the middle class. These are the ones we want, and need to make an extra effort to create.”
In Queens, the Willets Point Development is a major project that will affect the constituency of not only Council Member Vallone, but several other Queens Council Members. Council Member Vallone stressed the importance of increasing transparency with the EDC and the involvement of community groups, leaders and community boards to ensure a comprehensive approach is taken that accounts for the effects the project will have on the local infrastructure. He also stated that special attention should be paid to infrastructure projects in surrounding communities, such as College Point, and that he plans on having further hearings focusing specifically on the Willets Point Development.
“The previous chair of this committee focused on increasing transparency of the EDC’s projects and I plan on continuing and expanding that trend by making sure local community leaders and Council Members are consulted before a new project commences in their district and throughout the term of the project,” said Council Member Paul Vallone. “We invite the EDC to join us on this vision and partnership to create a broad and inclusive vision for the present and future of EDC. After all, we entrust EDC with a significant amount of taxpayer money, and we should at – at the very least – ensure that those same taxpayers are afforded a role in how it is spent.”