Community Board 13 Chairman Bryan Block was confident in Melinda Katz the entire time she was running for borough president.
“I saw her last summer and I said to her ‘When you are elected, you will come and swear in my board,’” Block said Monday night at CB 13’s first meeting of the new year.
Whether he was psychic or just very persuasive, Katz accepted the invitation.
“I’ll be brief, because four years from now I would like you to vote for me again,” Katz told the crowd at Bellerose Assembly of God Church. “This is my first board meeting as borough president. I’ve been invited to a lot, but this is the first one my schedule allowed.”
Katz swore in Block, First Vice Chairwoman Tanya Cruz, Second Vice Chairwoman Angela Agugliaro, Treasurer Anup Ramnauth and Executive Secretary Jerry Wind, but also took questions from the audience, and spoke of how she believes she and the new mayor are progressing in their first month on the job.
Katz said one major move she is making is restarting her office’s Aviation Task Force, something she deems a necessity with people throughout the borough having issues with LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International airports only likely to get busier in the coming years.
Katz also said she considers Mayor de Blasio to be a partner, based on early signs from his administration.
“It’s nice to have a mayor who doesn’t need a GPS to get to the borough,” she said.
The mother of 5- and 2-year-old boys is particularly pleased that de Blasio has been digging in on his promised universal pre-kindergarten initiative for the city’s schools.
“Pre-K is absolutely essential,” she said. “I can’t imagine what it would be like; mothers have to work ... and it’s terrible that kids have to be bused all over the city when they aren’t chosen in the lottery in their neighborhood [schools].”
She said residents can always reach her with questions or concerns at her email — Katz@qbp.org.
In its regular business, the board approved an application from the city Department of Parks and Recreation for a land swap that will give Yeshiva Har Torah in Little Neck a strip of land near the Grand Central and Little Neck parkways in return for an addition on the south side of Det. William Gunn Park in Queens Village.
Jose Lopez, deputy director of parkland for the department, said the crescent-shaped strip, adjacent to the existing Yeshiva property, would not only give the school more parking, but safer entrance and egress than is possible now onto the Grand Central’s service road. The new 12,000 square feet of parkland is located near 87th Avenue.
Board member Jack Friedman and others reminded the public that the Yeshiva has been trying to acquire the land near the parkway for about a decade. He said it is currently overgrown and unsightly, and that both parcels now would be regularly cleaned and maintained.
Dan Donoghue, one of a handful of residents who live near the park, said they are satisfied with the swap, and that the Yeshiva has agreed to pay to relocate some fences of residents that over the years had inadvertently been placed beyond recognized property lines.