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Queens Chronicle

Paltry attendance at Meng meeting

Only a half-dozen constituents attend ‘Congress on your Corner’

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Posted: Thursday, February 20, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:21 am, Thu Feb 27, 2014.

Congresswoman Grace Meng’s (D-Flushing) periodic “Congress on your Corner” events normally get dozens of attendees wishing to meet with their representative. But that wasn’t the case at the Glendale Public Library on Tuesday.

Just six constituents showed up to speak individually with Meng over the course of two hours, a far cry from previous meetings in Middle Village and Fresh Meadows that garnered about 40 and 60 attendees, respectively.

Meng aides, including press secretary Jordan Goldes, suggested the snow earlier in the day as a possible reason for the poor attendance.

The people who did show up spoke with Meng mostly about national issues like last year’s repeal of Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Keystone Pipeline and renewable energy. One woman spoke to Meng about her opposition to the the proposed homeless shelter at 78-16 Cooper Ave. in Glendale.

Susan Chen, a 28-year resident of Glendale, spoke with Meng for approximately 15 minutes, and afterwards, she expressed her fear of a 125-family shelter coming to her neighborhood.

“I worry for my children; my daughter goes to [Glendale Intermediate School] 119 right over there,” Chen said. “They could use that space for something that would benefit our community and provide jobs for people in the community.”

“We work so hard to keep this community and the shelter kind of threatens that,” she continued. “125 families, each with three or four people, that’s about 500 people. It’s really scary.”

Chen said she was pleased with what the congresswoman had to say and that she feels much better knowing that Meng is on the community’s side.

“She told me that she’s on the issue and that she’s going to try her best to help us out,” Chen said.

Meng has long opposed the shelter planned for an old factory building, which must undergo a full environmental review before construction can begin.

The congresswoman penned a letter to the city on Dec. 11, her second such correspondence, reaffirming her view that the site is an inappropriate space to house homeless families.

Meng spoke about the shelter after Tuesday’s event and applauded Community Board 5, various civic groups and area elected officials for standing in unison to object the plan.

“We just want to, especially in this case, speak in terms of having as much of a uniformed voice as possible,” Meng said. “Three schools are near the shelter, it’s a very serious issue. It’s kind of frightening.”

She also touched on the issue of substandard public transportation throughout the borough, claiming that problems are getting worse for commuters.

“I heard Mayor de Blasio say soon after he was elected that he wants to focus on bus service in the outer boroughs, which really excites me. This has been a problem forever,” she said. “I’m really hopeful and banking on that one sentence I heard de Blasio utter about increased and more efficient bus service in the outer boroughs.”

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