Trash collection, installation of speed humps and illegal conversions were just some of the topics of concern for about 30 residents who attended a town hall meeting Friday in Jamaica organized by state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Jamaica).
Representatives from all the major city agencies were on hand to provide answers to the somewhat familiar questions, as the issues raised are ones that have been prevalent in the community for quite some time.
Not surprisingly, the city representatives said that agencies are being forced to do more with less thanks to budget cuts. Still, they are managing to make progress and touted some of their most recent accomplishments.
Maura McCarthy, Queens commissioner for the city Department of Transportation, said the agency is proud that last year the borough had the fewest traffic accident fatalities, for which she shared credit with the NYPD.
“I think that’s a credit to both enforcement and our engineering efforts,” McCarthy said. “You will notice a lot of speed humps being installed. One of the biggest causes of injuries and death is speeding.”
Randy LaFargue, borough manager at the city Department of Education, said since mayoral control began in 2002, the agency has created 528 new schools and made gradual improvements in the way students learn. In 2012-2013 the DOE will be opening 54 additional schools.
“Obviously fiscal times dictate that there are certain things that we are unable to do, particularly certain programs, but where there’s a will there’s a way and we certainly make the best effort we can,” he said.
Karen Ellis, deputy borough commissioner for the Department of Environmental Protection, said the agency has installed new automated meter readers in approximately 625,000 homes citywide, so that the agency can better monitor water consumption. Homeowners will be able to access information about their usage online.