Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar needs to learn to admit when she’s wrong and just move on. Instead, she’s led us and her constituents down a rabbit hole of confusion this week, one so weird and in denial of reality that seeing Alice in Wonderland joining a tea party at the Forest Park Co-op in Woodhaven would not be the strangest thing.
As with so much in Queens, the root of the problem is parking. Rajkumar, to her credit, wants to get more for residents of the co-op. She’s proposed, for one thing, some diagonal parking on 98th Street where it runs through the complex just north of Park Lane South. If there’s room, that’d be great. But she also proposed, bizarrely, creating parking in “the vacant park space at the corner of 98th and Park Lane South.”
The “vacant park space” at that corner is a part of Forest Park designated as Forever Wild by the city Parks Department. It must remain so, for the benefit of all (think drainage in a storm!). It’s also on a hill, next to an old railroad. Turning any of it into parking would be an engineering nightmare, if not impossible.
When this was pointed out to Rajkumar — and when a mix of environmentalists and her political opponents protested — her office went silent. Then, as the Chronicle pressed the issue, things got weird. A staffer claimed Rajkumar had never proposed parking at that corner. But she did, in writing, on the internet, in public. Eventually the assemblywoman sent us an email her office previously had sent the Department of Transportation claiming that she “never at any time supported such a plan.” Really? She proposed it.
Then the office shifted to claiming that she really had been talking about a “vacant plot of gravel,” with the assemblywoman herself explaining that it was not at 98th and Park Lane South but on 98th off Park Lane South. She’s apparently talking about an asphalt (not gravel) seating area in the co-op complex. It doesn’t look like it would fit many cars, but if that’s what the residents there want, OK; it’s not precious parkland.
Meanwhile, Rajkumar denies any mistakes at all, telling us that “all of the releases and plans that I have sent out were perfectly correct.” Nope. Why claim something so obviously false? Just admit the error. Otherwise it’s tea time with Alice at the co-ops.