As the end comes to a close, and we welcome 2014, let’s take a quick look at Jamaica happenings (the real deal, not the bullshit stuff) for 2013 in no particular order.
1. Crooked Politicians Galore. Every other week it was another corruption, scandal involving the majority of our local leaders, you had a hard time of keeping track. The big ones were former Senator Shirley Huntley going to prison on corruption charges and Senator Malcolm Smith more than likely on his way soon for him and his buffoon buddies trying to rig the mayor election.
2. CityRib Restaurant/Bar Finally Opens. After months of “Coming Soon” in 2012, the very hip and stylish restaurant/bar finally opened their doors this year, making it the first high quality sit-down restaurant in downtown Jamaica (sorry Applebee’s does not cut it for high quality). Time will only tell how if more quality sit-down restaurants, bars or cafes will appear on the scene or how well CityRib will do in this area.
3. Major Garbage Problem Still Plagues Jamaica. The major and horrendous Jamaica garbage problem continued to plague Jamaica and all the surrounding area, with little relief in sight. Although there were a few victories (none due to our local elected leaders), the problem continued to get worse with little enforcement from city agencies and local leaders who as usual kept their eyes wide shut.
4. Media Coverage Galore on the Garbage Problem. While we had to endure yet another year of a garbage/litter problem, garbage strewn vacant lots, illegal dumping and a lack of enforcement, the media came out in full force this year to publicize the horrendous conditions. From WPIX-TV, Greg Mocker, Queens Courier, Queens Times Ledger, Queens Press, Queens Chronicle and of course NY1, who did several stories on the issue, including the great 4-part series by Ruschell Boone on the problem which really got people talking and people pissed off, you could not avoid hearing or seeing this major quality of life problem that is killing Jamaica.
5. Senator Tony Avella Takes a Quality of Life Walking Tour With CleanUpJamaica. Our own local elected leaders proved to be pretty much useless in dealing with the garbage problem, but Senator Tony Avella steps up to the plate and walks around the community (with NY1) and other activists to take note of various violations and contact all the various agencies involved with some results, including an impressive fence finally put up by Metropolitan Lumber around an eyesore of a lot.
6. The Quick closing of One High End Retail (Merci Boutique) and the Opening of Another (Premium House). With the exception of a few places on Jamaica Avenue, choices for nice clothing retail stores sucks. Cheap clothing, dirty stores and poor customer service. A big surprise was the opening of Merci Boutique on Jamaica Avenue (169th & 170th) with it’s fancy store and high quality fashion clothing. Alas, most people were not even aware of it (the location was not the greatest) and it closed in six short months to be replaced by a Nail Salon (like we don’t have enough of those shit places). But in August saw the opening of a fancy quality boutique, Premium House at Jamaica Avenue and Sutphin Blvd replacing both a crappy nail salon and crappy bakery. Hopefully this will have more staying power than Merci Boutique.
7. The Jamaica Ball. The Jamaica Ball, an extravagant gala to help benefit various local non-profits, was held at the gorgeous Jamaica Performing Arts Center (which is not used enough). Great food, great music, dancing and stylish beautiful people make this event a winner in an area that disparately needs it.
8. Jamaica Revealed & Queens Royalty Bust. Jamaica Revealed was to be a a way to bring quality businesses to Jamaica and Queens Royalty website, which is relatively new and highlights the positives of Jamaica, really did nothing to help improve the situation in Jamaica. While both are very good ideas, they just are not working as long as our community looks like a garbage dump and Jamaica Avenue is pretty much low end retail. You cannot put the cart before the horse. Clean the area up and then introduce such initiatives, otherwise you just look foolish and it is embarrassing.
9. Lack of Pride and Apathy. These two things alone are killing Jamaica. How can you have any type of pride, when the so many residents and visitors treat Jamaica like one big garbage dump. Throw in the apathy factor and who gives a shit attitude and you have a recipe for disaster which continues to keep the Jamaica community down.
10. Lack of Good Leadership. Another major problem in Jamaica, so many elected leaders and community leaders but all pretty much coasting, doing nothing, not stepping up to the plate or a total lack of vision that is needed to push Jamaica forward toward the future.
12. Murder. Bloomberg might shout how the murder rate overall is down, but here in Jamaica it seems like every other day there is another senseless shooting and killing. In the wake of the totally senseless shooting of young D’aja Robison while riding the bus by some knucklehead gang banger, people were in an uproar and demanded something be done, but as time passed, it was back to the status quo and more shootings and killings.
Let’s see if 2014 is better for Jamaica.