Civic group focuses on ozone park’s issues

If Eric Ulrich and Our Neighbors Civic Association have anything to do with it, Ozone Park is on its way to reassuming its role as the quiet, family-oriented slice of Queens it once was.
That, at least, is the message Ulrich sent Tuesday, November 13 during Our Neighbors’ monthly meeting, when he proudly declared to the 75 or so listeners in attendance that he vowed to work with city leaders and agencies to “get things done for Ozone Park.”
The meeting, held at Christ Lutheran Church on 101st Avenue and 86th Street, featured Senator Serphin Maltese, who addressed the audience on his commitment to making the Ozone Park community a better place. But Ulrich, who was elected Republican District Leader of the 23rd Assembly District in September, said Maltese’s presence had nothing to do with partisanship.
“Next month, our guest speaker will be [Democratic Assemblymember] Audrey Pheffer,” said Ulrich. “We’re all from different parties and have different beliefs, but we all live in or represent Ozone Park - that’s what this is about.”
Ulrich said Ozone Park is in a transition process similar to the ones that plagued parts of Brooklyn generations ago. As large one- and two-family homes are replaced with multi-family apartment buildings - many of which are used for Section 8 and low-income housing - families that have lived in Ozone Park for generations are leaving.
“I want to see people coming to these meetings, stepping up to the plate, and saying, ‘Ozone Park is my home, and I don’t want to leave any time soon, so let’s improve it,’” he said.
Ulrich believes Ozone Park has been neglected by the city for far too long.
The neighborhood’s streets, he said, are so poorly maintained that they “resemble the streets of Baghdad, in some cases.”
But, as he plainly told listeners at Our Neighbors’ meeting, Ulrich plans to do something about it.
“We have to collaborate with city groups and agencies,” he said, citing the NYPD, Fire Department, Department of Sanitation, FEMA, local politicians, and other civic groups as organizations with whom he plans to work closely.
“We want to try to stabilize the community, clean up graffiti, that sort of thing,” he added. “We’re giving out smoke detectors - addressing quality of life issues. The quality of life stinks right now.”
Ulrich said his recently attained post as Republican District Leader won’t significantly affect his civic duties.
“If I have access to politicians and agencies because I was recently elected to office, so be it - if it will help the neighborhood, so be it,” he said. “But I’m not looking to blend politics and community service.”
Instead, Ulrich said, he plans to run an inclusive, welcoming civic group - one that will make people want to jump on board and help the effort to revitalize Ozone Park.
“I was born and raised here,” said Ulrich, “and I want to stay here.”

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