Growing up in Ozone Park and working in Richmond Hill, I have seen many changes.My parents bought their home on 79th Street in 1927 several months after they married.
They took into consideration transportation, because my father worked as a postal clerk in Manhattan.He traveled on the elevated A line. The A line eventually was connected tothe subway at Grant Avenue, just over the Brooklyn-Queens border.
My friends and I played in the vacant lots at the corners of 77th and 79th streets and Liberty Avenue and in many on Pitkin Avenue as well. We played punch ball and Tarzan and climbed trees. But I eventually moved on to the schoolyards of J.H.S 214 and John Adams High School, in Ozone Park.
It was as a teenager that I started venturing out into Richmond Hill, riding the train to the Lefferts' Movie Theater on Lefferts Boulevard and 121st Street. There, over the years, I saw musicals such as “Oklahoma” and horror films such as “Psycho.”
The Long Island Rail Road tracks were above ground on Atlantic Avenue.They ran along Atlantic Avenue all the way into Jamaica.The LaLance and Grosjean factory, which made pots and pans, was at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and 92nd Street.The factorywent out of business in the 1950s and was left to deteriorate for a number of years.
I spent many years as the area’s Republican district leader and represented it at conventions both in the state and as far away as Kansas City. In 1983, I became a candidate for Community School Board 27 and was elected to that position.
That same year, I submitted my resume for the position of district manager of Community Board9.I was selected and have served Richmond Hill and the other areas in the community board’s district since then.
As district manager I have been involved in many community issues, including the restoration of the Forest Park Carousel and Bandshell and the rejuvenation of Forest Park.As a member of the Jamaica Hospital Health Services Committee I worked with Dave Rosen and Fred Beekman on the construction of the new hospital and the parking garage.I worked to get water from the city’s wells upstate not only to Richmond Hill, but to parts of Woodhaven as well. These areas had previously been served by private water companies.
I organized five Community Board 9 health fairs and helped establish the Richmond Hill East Block Association. That group oversaw the reconstruction of Jamaica Avenue from the Van Wyck Expressway to Lefferts Boulevard.
With community activists, I have worked on numerous other roadway reconstruction projects, including some on Kew Gardens Road and 101st and 103rd avenues.
In the mid 1980s, I brought a Neighborhood Stabilization Office to Richmond Hill. This city-funded group worked to safeguard the elderly in Richmond Hill from realtors who were trying to push them out to make way for the waves of Hispanic families coming into the community.
As the nature of Richmond Hill continues to change, so do the challenges I face. I recently worked with a constituent to settle a dispute regarding the day laborers who were congregating on 118th Street and 97th Avenue.They would appear at 6:30 a.m and loiter until they would get picked up.
The commotion created by truck drivers calling out for workers and revving their engines, as well as the pollution, were too much to bear.I arranged a meeting with all concerned and the laborers agreed to relocate to Lefferts Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue.
This overview gives some idea of the path I have traveled over the years and the work I was able to do on behalf of the Richmond Hill community.