By Henry Euler
For far too long, the boroughs of Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island have been denigrated as the “outer boroughs” of New York City. The media, the politicians and even the residents refer to these areas as outer parts of our great city. We are, in fact, not satellites, but all part of our great city. When one goes to Manhattan from any of these four boroughs, we should not say, “I am going to the city” because we are already in the city. We should just be saying, “I am going to Manhattan”.
This division manifests itself in many ways. When important hearings are held dealing with land use and other issues, local residents have to trek to Manhattan to express their opinions. The City Planning Commission, the Board of Standards and Appeals, and the Landmarks Preservation Commission all operate from downtown Manhattan. This makes it difficult for residents of the four non-Manhattan boroughs to appear to testify on matters that affect the quality of life in their neighborhoods. Why can’t these agencies come to the four other boroughs on a regular basis and hold hearings dealing with each borough’s issues, at a time convenient for any resident who chooses to appear and testify at such hearings?
And why don’t we see our citywide elected officials and agency heads coming to all of the boroughs to listen to the taxpayers who pay their salaries? I know that when the mayor makes an appearance in Queens, it is viewed as a great occasion, something out of the ordinary. This applies not only to our current mayor, but to all of the mayors of the past.
We need to see the citywide elected people and agency heads on a regular basis, not just at election time or at some grand event. I would strongly suggest that the leaders appear in each of the five boroughs at least once a month to listen to the residents and their concerns. We are concerned about education, transportation, housing issues, crime prevention, health care, the environment, taxes, utility rates and all aspects of community life. These leaders should come to a civic or community organization meeting. I am sure that arrangements can be made so that these people can appear in almost all parts of all the boroughs over the course of the year.
Recently, Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina came to Little Neck, but was only able to stay one hour to listen to and answer questions regarding residents’ concerns about our local schools. Her appearance was most welcome. I am sure that citywide elected officials and agency heads would be welcome no matter what part of the city they would visit. So I would urge them to venture out of downtown Manhattan and meet the locals.
We are friendly and don’t bite!