Newly inaugurated Borough President Melinda Katz came to the 112th Precinct in Forest Hills to present her vision for Queens and to hear residents’ concerns at the recent precinct community council meeting.
“As borough president of 4.2 million people, the most diverse borough on the planet, with 160 languages spoken in schools and folks coming from all over the world to educate their children here,” said Katz, pledging to grow education and tourism, create programs celebrating traditions and cultures, address traffic issues and be hands on with constituent concerns.
The borough president wants to wait until the $140,000 feasibility study of a park is completed before deciding on whether to create one or reopen the Long Island Rail Road line. She wants to know how a new park would be funded and who would patrol it.
Katz said she is keenly aware of traffic tragedies as her mother was killed by an underage drunk driver in 1969 when she was 4 years old. She cited her agreement with Mayor de Blasio’s goal to dramatically reduce pedestrian fatalities.
The borough president said she heard too often during her 20-year career as a public servant, “If we don’t get a stop sign or a red light then there will be an accident or a death.” Katz promised more 20-mph zones and more red light cameras.
“Anytime an accident happens there will be an in-depth study, which means police involvement,” she added.
Katz cited the tragedy of an 8 year-old boy killed on Northern Boulevard and 61st Street in December. Another incident occurred on Jan. 15, when an 80-year-old woman was hit by a Q64 bus turning onto Queens Boulevard in front of the Ridgewood Savings Bank at 107-55 Queens Blvd.
Capt. Thomas Conforti, commanding officer of the 112th Precinct, was at the scene. The woman was taken to a hospital with an ankle injury. Just like CompStat tracks crimes, Police headquarters is also tracking traffic incidents, the captain said.
A senior citizen asked about rising rents in the neighborhood. Katz said she represented Forest Hills in the Assembly and City Council so she realizes how a large part of the neighborhood has rent-stabilized apartments. She was a co-sponsor in Albany of a rent regulation law protecting tenants.
Katz does not want the frequent large increases landlords were given during the Bloomberg years.
The dense amount of mosquitoes during the summer months was a complaint of one Forest Hills resident. Living in the house her family has owned since 1953, Katz related how she had to put six or seven candles on her small lawn during the summer. She supports spraying insecticide during those months.
The borough president asked for the public to send their complaints, concerns and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“2013 was an historic year,” Conforti said as there were 60 stolen vehicles, opposed to about 3,800 in 1990; and there were 76 robberies, the lowest since the 1990s. He warned of an uptick of burglaries and that scams are back.