The third community forum was held by the Port Authority to bring the airport communities input into the JFK Redevelopment plan. The Port panel highlighted the jobs currently available, through the terminals, jobs to come over the next several years from the Governor Cuomo’s $10 billion vision plan for JFK Airport and jobs from a community benefit program. This recent meeting was held in Southeast Queens and as with the others, the Port representatives stressed their commitment to involve the Queens communities in the redevelopment process before actual construction begins and to bring jobs to the community boosting the MWBE participation to 30% of jobs created.
The messaging from the Port has been the same throughout all these meetings: increased minority set asides according the Governor’s initiative, jobs for areas adjacent to the airport, unprecedented community participation and involvement, improved transportation, and long term economic development. There is $1 billion in seed money from the government and the rest of the development money will come from investors or partnerships between investors and terminal lease holders. But, the contract or sub-contract opportunities will go to as many local firms as possible Ida Perich of Port said. Case in point was the recent Job Fair at LaGuardia for the new Terminal B which is seeking retail concessions
Residents of Queens who will be largely impacted by the development will have the most to gain from the outreach of the Port according to all of the panelists at the forums. Said Assistant Director Office of Diversity and Inclusion Ida
Perich, “there are many jobs and opportunities right now with the airport community and many more as the redevelopment plan takes shape. MWBE companies should begin the certification process now so they can be included in the Port Authority contractors list. I encourage you to create your portfolio now to have the experience for complex projects to come”. Perich and her team have applications ready to be filled out. Jim Steven, Port manager for the plan, said that once the developers have been chosen for the new terminals at JFK, more opportunities will grow in the early fall. He said that there is not “one project but hundreds” once the process begins to move forward. To date no RFP responders have been announced for terminal development awards by Port Authority but they are imminent.
According to Justin Bernbach, Director Government and Community Affairs, there will be a community advisory committee established to represent the various groups in the area as well as a community based office to keep residents involved and informed. The subject of community benefits program was brought up and this is already being organized as a coalition by the various community boards and organizations. The JFK Airport Committee (JFKAC) and the Queens Connection Team (QCT) are actively seeking to bring together community people to present a united approach for a community benefits program.
Another major topic of discussion was the improvement of the Van Wyck Expressway (VWE) into JFK. According to the Governor’s office, the DOT already has proposals in place with proposed improvements including improving portions of the Van Wyck closer to the JFK Expressway by providing an additional vehicular travel lane each direction between Kew Gardens and JFK, Plans also include addressing the geometric and operational deficiencies of the exit/entrance ramps, addressing the structural deficiencies on the bridges on or over the VWE within the project limits. Timeline-wise Steven said that scoping begins, then environmental impact around November 2019, with a comment period in December, and construction beginning sometime in mid-2019.
According to the Port the forward movement of the redevelopment plan is:
approaching agreements in principle with all parties, continuing final negotiations with investors, garnering community input, and environmental reviews to follow in 2019. In terms of the agreements with all parties, one of the main reasons for these community forums is to create economic opportunities for MWBE, include local business preferences, increase capacity building and training, sustainable jobs for local residents and community development ostensibly through community benefits agreements.
At this time there is no date set for the for the next Port meeting. There was a community benefits meeting held by the JFK Airport Committee of NYCAR. The date for the next NYCAR meeting is September with the location yet to be determined.