By Naeisha Rose
Anthony Rivers, a former U.S. Marine and retired police officer, is running against City Councilman I. Daneek Miller (D-St. Albans) for the District 27 seat in the Sept. 12 primaries. The St. Albans resident is running with a mission to address inequity in southeast Queens.
Rivers was a Marine for four years and a lieutenant with the NYPD for 23 years, serving in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. While with the NYPD, the grassroots candidate served many residents through his work as a project community officer.
“As a Marine I served my country, as an NYPD lieutenant I served the city of New York, and now I am going to serve the community,” Rivers said.
Rivers wants fair and equitable policies and treatment for southeast Queens residents. He wants to prevent the flood of shelters in the district, which represents Cambria Heights, Queens Village, Springfield Gardens, Hollis and Jamaica.
Rivers said he wants to fight for better air quality and schools in southeast Queens, keep gentrification from plaguing the area, and have the average median income re-evaluated and lowered for affordable housing.
“There is an inequality of treatment and a lack of people advocating for southeast Queens,” Rivers said.
Rivers believes that there is an overabundance of shelters and too many co-located schools in the southeast part of the borough compared to the northern parts of Queens.
“We are inundated with shelters on this side of Queens in comparison to the north side of Queens,” Rivers said. “Community Board 12 had about 50 percent of all the shelters in the borough right now. Do you know that in Community Board 11 they have zero? That is Douglaston, Whitestone, Little Neck, and Auburn.”
He wants the fair share system, which was first brought to City Council in the early ’90s, to be implemented. The purpose of the initiative was to achieve fairness in the siting of municipal facilities to all community districts.
Not only is he worried about the southeast being besieged by shelters, but also by halfway houses and drug rehab centers.
“We don’t even have a valid count on the number of these types of facilities being placed within the boundaries of Community Board 12, and yet other communities in the northern area have none. This is problematic,” Rivers said. “We are not against homelessness, we are against the disproportion of these facilities on our side of Queens.”
When it comes to fair share, Rivers said he has issues with schools in the southeast area having up to five co-locations in one building. There are almost no co-locations or schools within a school sharing one facility in the northern part of Queens. Co-locations reduce the amount of funds and entitlements an institution could receive, according to Rivers.
“Why must our schools all be broken down into segments of 450 and 500 students?” Rivers said. “They are missing patronage because of the low numbers.”
If the schools were operating as one, and the up to 2,500 students in those schools were counted as one unit, there would be more funding for advanced placement classes, science labs, and vocational courses, according to Rivers.
The southern region of Queens is also plagued with three waste basins, which affects air quality.
“The air pollution is horrendous,” Rivers said. “A woman who has a son with asthma told me that when the wind blows he has an attack.”
Rivers wants to advocate for the structure of the basins to be improved and for there to be fewer basins.
The luxury apartments that are being built are also an issue for Rivers, who believes the ones listed as affordable do not take into consideration the actual income that residents make and that the average median income for the area needs to be lowered.
Rivers is a supporter of the Neighborhood Community Officer program.
“Our neighbors vary, block to block, so when we address them, it’s going to have to be in small community meetings block to block,” Rivers said.
(fixing council district, which is CD 27
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose