The recent Amazon deal to move to Long Island City has been smashed by many prominent leaders. They are misguided. The promise of up to 40,000 jobs and billions in tax revenue is something we must embrace. Remember that this is not as much a tax giveaway as an important investment. Giving $3 billion in tax breaks is paltry compared to the estimated $9-plus billion in tax revenues and up to $27 billion in economic activity anticipated in the coming two decades. While there are valid concerns that New York has not gotten enough in return or that L.I.C. infrastructure is already strained, let’s marshal support for the deal by having Amazon, over time, help the community and city. Here are areas where we can make progress.
1) Have Amazon help subsidize a ferry stop in Long Island city.
2) Have Amazon build a light rail line that connects the LIRR, E, F, G, R, 7, and ferry lines to the waterfront. Getting the influx of Amazon workers around should encourage Amazon to help create a light rail line that will also benefit all of us. It’s much better to have clean, electric means for transportation than an influx of yet more cars clogging streets. Let’s plan well!
3) Improving subway stations in L.I.C., including elevators and escalators for the elderly and handicapped, should be part of the deal.
4) Have Amazon build 600 units of low-income housing in New York City. It should cost about $150,000,000.
5) Let’s remake the areas by planning on planting 10,000 trees.
6) Let’s require the building of a new vocational high school designated for the technologies and software for which Amazon is renowned. It will also create about another 1,000 slots for worthy New York students.
7) While we’re at it, let’s zone some areas for parks and playgrounds for children to enjoy.
The Amazon deal can be a wonderful change, improving life in L.I.C. Instead of attacking reflexively, let’s use this opportunity to recreate the neighborhood, build, and expand needed infrastructure for the neighborhood. We must remain aware that more jobs (and high-paying jobs) will be a huge benefit to our city. Additional tax revenue helps fund our failing subways, schools, housing, and more. There are also benefits to our local nonprofits because most people would rather give to a local charity where they can see results firsthand. Chasing away opportunity is not in anyone’s interests.