Cohen says that the poll results
aren't surprising, given Cuomo's
plan is actually more complicated.

NEW YORK CITY-According to the latest poll, the vast majority of readers either aren’t in favor of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to build a convention center at the Aqueduct racetrack, or they simply don’t believe it will ever happen.

When asked what they thought of the plan, the largest percentage of readers—35%—said that it “doesn’t matter,” because the project “will never break ground.” Then 33% responded that the plan is the “dumbest idea” they had ever heard and 31% deemed it “brilliant.”

However, Hope Cohen, associate director at the Regional Plan Association’s Center for Urban Innovation, tells that the results are fairly typical, given that the plan is actually multi-faceted.

“I’m not surprised at those results for that question alone,” Cohen says. “When you just ask people ‘Should we have a new convention center at Aqueduct?’ they’re against that—it doesn’t seem to make any sense. But as part of a comprehensive package of conference and convention strategy that includes Manhattan and Queens and that, over time, could include other places as well it makes a lot of sense.”

The RPA—and others—advocate a plan that includes two new convention spaces in Queens as well as conference center space at Manhattan’s Farley Station. An RPA report, “Unconventional,” outlines the group’s view.

“Our report,” Cohen says, “highlights two potential sites—the Aqueduct site that the Governor has been talking about and also Willets Point, which of course the city has been talking about for a while.”

In her annual “State of the Borough” address on Tuesday, Queens borough president Helen Marshall hit on these points as well. “Let me be clear about the convention center at Willets Point,” Marshall said. “It is meant to complement the Javits convention center. And now, it can complement the convention center at Aqueduct.” She went on to say that because of Willets Point’s proximity to transportation options, building a mid-sized convention space there continues to make sense.

Transportation concerns, however, are among the top reasons that many are skeptical of the governor’s plan. Cohen acknowledges that additional research needs to be completed “to explore a range of issues” associated with both Willets Point and the Aqueduct site. “They both need some transportation access improvements and there are other policy considerations,” she says. But, she says, as long as discussions include the construction of smaller conference space in Manhattan, moving trade show space to cheaper real estate near viable transportation remains the best bet.