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Photo by Ryan Kelley/QNS.
Photo by Ryan Kelley/QNS.
Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at a town hall meeting in Glendale alongside Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley.

Scores of community leaders and residents joined Mayor Bill de Blasio and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley for a town hall meeting in Glendale on Monday night.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz opened the Dec. 18 meeting inside the gym at P.S./I.S. 113 by introducing de Blasio and Crowley. She praised all that Crowley had accomplished for the community in her nine years on the City Council. The two-term incumbent lost her bid for re-election on Nov. 8 to Councilman-elect Robert Holden, president of the Juniper Park Civic Association.

“I’m proud of the millions that she has brought home to this neighborhood each and every single year of her nine years,” Katz said. “That is an amazing accomplishment.”

De Blasio also thanked Crowley during his opening remarks, and several audience members did the same when the floor was opened for questions. Crowley thanked the mayor as well, stating that they have the same vision for the city even if they aren’t always in agreement.

“Sometimes we’re on the same team, and sometimes we’re not,” Crowley said. “But we have respect for one another, and that’s what’s important to move our city forward in the right direction.”

Councilman-elect Holden told QNS in a phone interview on Tuesday that did not attend the town hall because he had already made a commitment to speak at the Middle Village Property Owners and Residents Association meeting on the same night.  

As the evening went on, homelessness, transportation and traffic safety emerged as the recurring concerns from local residents. One self-described lifelong Glendale resident asked the mayor if he could “stand here in District 30 and say that we’re going to stop putting homeless in hotels?”

De Blasio explained that the legal mandate that the city must provide shelter for someone who can show that they are homeless with no other options is the challenge.

“We have the mandate, we’ve got to live with it, but we do not want to do it through hotels,” de Blasio said. “Our vision that we laid out in the spring is to contract the shelter system steadily over the years, but it will take a bunch of years.”

Photo by Ryan Kelley/QNS.

Photo by Ryan Kelley/QNS

Several residents also expressed their concerns about transportation issues such as the lack of options for Queens residents and overcrowded bus lines. De Blasio said that the MTA is controlled by New York state, not New York City, but noted that he has proposed a “millionaire’s tax” to raise more money toward addressing transportation needs.

The mayor welcomed members from various city agencies to help him respond to questions related to their departments and follow up with residents after the meeting.

Toward the end of the meeting, the conversation about Holden’s transition into office began when a resident, Joy Huber, asked how de Blasio plans to work with him despite their differences across party lines, referencing the “flippant” comments the mayor made the day after the election.

“If my comments seemed flippant, it may be because we’re in a rather agitated moment in history, and a lot of us are feeling very strongly about the bigger issues about the two parties,” de Blasio said. “But that does not mean, on the day-to-day issues affecting the community, that we don’t have to put that aside.”

Holden told QNS that he had spoken with de Blasio earlier on Monday, and following the conversation, felt “very hopeful” that they could work together.

“We can find common ground and compromise,” Holden said. “That’s what government needs more of.”

After the town hall meeting was over, Huber expressed concern to QNS that there would be a drop in local government action if Holden and de Blasio can’t see eye-to-eye.

“Things still have to get done no matter who our council person is,” Huber said. “If that doesn’t happen, then we need to continue to make noise, and reach out, and write letters, and keep [de Blasio] involved.”


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Pedro Valdez Rivera Jr. December 24, 2017 / 04:28PM
Kicking the can down the road by not helping the MTA year again.

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