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Queens Chronicle

De Blasio hosts town hall chat in Rego Park

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Posted: Monday, June 12, 2017 1:14 pm

From their condos and co-ops in Glen Oaks to the outer reaches of the Rockaways, Mayor de Blasio fielded questions from all comers Thursday night at a three-hour town hall meeting in Rego Park.

Well over 300 people were in attendance at Lost Battalion Hall on Queens Boulevard. Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) co-hosted the evening.

 Per usual for the mayor’s town halls, department personnel — in some cases up to the rank of commissioner — were on hand to take questions directly, as were ranking brass from the NYPD, Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) and Borough President Melinda Katz.

The biggest news of the evening was the announcement that the city, Koslowitz and Katz have committed the money to build a new Rego Park library [see related story in some editions or at qchron.com].

No issue was too large or controversial for conversation. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, for example, has been having numerous high-profile equipment failures — and just happens to be answerable to Gov. Cuomo, one of the mayor’s favorite and most frequent sparring partners.

“We don’t control the MTA,” de Blasio said. “We can fix what we can do. Personally, I think it’s up to the governor to come up with a plan. If he doesn’t, we’ll put forward our plans; time’s a-wastin’.”

The MTA also came under fire when the subject turned to shops in Kew Gardens atop a bridge on Lefferts Boulevard that crosses over the Long Island Rail Road tracks.

The shops are facing closure when their leases expire in 2020. The LIRR plans to renovate or rebuild the bridge, which all agree is in poor condition.

Nathalie Reid works at one of the shops.

“Your response has been rather nebulous,” Reid told the mayor. De Blasio wasn’t unsympathetic.

“We’re not being nebulous because we want to be,” he said. “It’s because we don’t have all the information yet. I know what we’d like to do, but we don’t have all the information.”

Alice Christy of Parkwood Estates asked the mayor what he would be willing do to address a quirk in the city’s property tax regulations for condominiums and co-ops, thus charging them more than owners of houses.

“We are charged as commercial properties,” she said, with the mayor expressing some surprise. He said that the property tax code is long overdue for reform.

But he also said any changes would have to work out so that the city does not experience a net loss of income.

“We can’t lose revenue,” he said, adding that top-to-bottom overhaul could take two years or more.

On other matters, de Blasio assured an immigrants’ rights organization that the city has made subtle changes to recordkeeping for its IDNYC card program in order to better keep information of undocumented residdents from federal officials.

He also put in a plug for the city’s expanded services for people suffering from mental illness. He repeatedly spoke the number of the city’s confidential helpline — 1(888) NYC-WELL (692-9355) — where people can get help or referrals.

“You can call for yourself, a family member or a friend,” he said. “Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.”

Discussing homelessness, the mayor credited Hevesi, chairman of the Assembly’s Social Services Committee, for his efforts to steer state money to directly aid people facing eviction from their homes, saying he hopes the lawmaker’s bill to do so fares better in the 2018 legislative session.

At the conclusion of the formal question-and-answer session, de Blasio and agency officials broke off into small groups to speak directly with residents.

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1 comment:

  • pvaldezriverajr posted at 5:03 pm on Fri, Jun 16, 2017.

    pvaldezriverajr Posts: 292

    2017: The year that the borough of Queens will be certainly never forget on the issue on public transportation - The biggest year since 2010. [smile]