The Richmond Hill South Civic Association’s most recent meeting, held at the United Methodist Church on 112 St. on May 30, included the reinstallation of its entire executive board and a special tribute honoring a local community leader, but the star attraction of the evening was unquestionably Margaret Finnerty, who was celebrating the 20th anniversary of her first installation as president, as a seemingly never-ending procession of local elected officials stopped by to sing her praises.
“It’s never about herself. It’s always about others,” said Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park), on hand to dismiss the outgoing board, to whom he added, “Don’t give up fighting for this neighborhood. Without you, it just wouldn’t happen.”
The new board was sworn in for the 2013-2014 fiscal year by state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach), one of several officials who presented Finnerty with a certificate for her collective efforts.
Other guests, most of whom made quick appearances throughout the evening, included recently elected state Sen. James Sanders, Jr. (D-Jamaica), who told the attendees, “It’s good to be your senator. It’s good to be an American. I look forward to working with you.” He then turned to Finnerty and said, “We’ll give you another 21 years.”
Following the swearing-in ceremony, Finnerty said, “I feel honored to represent the community. We’ve worked on many projects. I look forward to more. I’ve seen many changes. Without the elected officials, our organization would not flourish.”
In addition to Finnerty, members of the board who were reinstalled last week were: Terri Saporita and Phyllis Saraceno as vice presidents; Lee Condra as financial secretary; Angela Morgan as corresponding secretary; Terry Haflich as treasurer; Rose Guida and Rosemary Ferrara as chairpersons; Elena Carruba and Maureen Faubion for hospitality; and Elke Henkell for publicity.
While on hand, several of the elected officials were asked to comment on issues relevant to the community, including the controversial possibility that table games could be added to Resorts World Casino New York City. Currently, the facility offers only virtual games, with no live croupiers.
“I don’t like gambling,” Sanders said. “If it is here, I want to make sure it’s doing well for our community. We might as well have the [live] tables. It should not simply be for upstate or Jersey. We’re not getting the percentage we should. We are getting the traffic.”
Also supporting the tables was Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Fresh Meadows), who also spoke in favor of raising the gambling age to 21, particularly with a high school only a few blocks away.
Weprin used the occasion to express hope that Alice’s Law, which would make it a separate felony to stage automobile accidents with intent to commit insurance fraud, would become a reality. He also supports the Adoptees’ Bill of Rights, which would allow individuals who have been adopted to have access to their original birth certificates upon reaching the age of 18.
Councilman Ruben Wills (D-South Jamaica) said his newly delineated district brings to 169,000 his total number of constituents and admitted that there are “a lot of different issues we have to deal with.”
He spoke of undertaking an “aggressive” plan to make all schools in the district part of a feeder program initiative and to set goals that would upgrade both technology and schoolyard equipment in the schools.
“We don’t have one failing school [in the district],” he added.
Also on hand were Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Rockaway Park) and a representative from the office of Assemblyman Michael Miller (D-Woodhaven).
Joann Ariola, president of the Lindenwood Alliance, was honored at the meeting for outstanding community leadership.
“She has really come out and worked with our civic,” Finnerty said of Ariola.
“I am humbled, I’m honored, I’m surprised,” Ariola said. “I saw a lifetime of absolute enjoyment.”
Deputy Inspector Thomas Pascale of the 106th Precinct made a brief presentation that focused on how to deal with noise and the use of fireworks in the neighborhood. He encouraged anyone facing related problems to call (718) 845-2206.
“I’ll get the right guys over there to take care of it,” he said.
Police Officer Gary Maher spoke briefly on crime prevention tips, focusing on the need for caution when withdrawing money from ATM machines.
“If there is a crew of guys in the vestibule, go to another vestibule,” he advised.