Commission OK’s 3rd Council Map
By Luis Gronda
While the City Districting Commission has approved the third version of new City Council lines last week, controversy still exists over the proposal.
In Queens, residents of communities in Flushing and neighborhoods in South Queens, including Woodhaven, Richmond Hill and South Ozone Park, have voiced displeasure with the proposals.
In the new map, Woodhaven will remain split between the 30 and 32 districts, represented by Council members Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) and Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park) respectively, with Ulrich taking in the western part of the neighborhood next to Brooklyn and a number of streets after Atlantic Avenue, while Crowley has the rest of that area in her district, which includes Forest Park.
The Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association had petitioned the commission to put them in a single district and has expressed disappointment that it did not listen to their request.
“The Districting Commission did the wrong thing, pure and simple,” WRBA Communications Director Alexander Blenkinsopp said. “They took a community that has shown that it is united and they instead split us apart.”
He added that many Woodhaven residents will continue to have the same problem of their votes being diluted due to the split between the two districts. Many people who attended WRBA meetings often complained about not knowing who represents them in the City Council depending on what street they live on.
In the Broadway-Flushing, North Flushing border, the Commission drew the majority of North Flushing into the 20th Council district, represented by Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing), but leaves a few spots in Whitestone in Koo’s district, while the majority of that neighborhood is in Councilman Dan Halloran’s (R-Whitestone) 19th District.
Halloran, although admitting that the lines the Commission drew are not exactly what the area wanted, called the new map a good compromise that benefits both neighborhoods.
“When the Commission wanted to divide Broadway-Flushing in half, the community turned out in force to oppose being moved into a district with very different zoning and interests. They were heard,” Halloran said. “This latest proposal keeps Broadway-Flushing united and protects its character.”
But Paul Graziano, a North Flushing resident and an independent urban planning consultant, disagrees with Halloran, saying that too much of Northern Flushing is in District 20 and more of it should have been in the 19th District.
He said that Northern Boulevard serves as the cut-off point for Flushing North and it has more in common with a place like Whitestone, that is mostly single family homes, as opposed to the southern part of Flushing, which are majority apartment complexes. Graziano noted that he is also concerned with unbalanced populations in the two districts, with many people in the 20th District unaccounted for in the U.S Census.
Richard David, the executive director of the Indo-Caribbean Alliance, said that while they are disappointed that all of Richmond Hill is not in one district, he called the map a “sign of progress.” The new map shifts the 28th District, represented by Councilman Ruben Wills, westward and puts a larger part of Richmond Hill in that district.
“The way Richmond Hill is right now, it’s more united than ever before,” David said, cautioning that it will still have similar problem as Woodhaven with a portion of Richmond Hill remaining in Ulrich’s district.
Reach Reporter Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127 or at email@example.com..