The topic of redistricting led the discussion during the Queens Borough Cabinet meeting as community leaders voiced repeated concerns about the re-drawing of New York’s district lines.
Members from the New York City Districting Commission once again explained the process which is now in its final stages and fielded questions during the Sept. 13 Queens Borough Cabinet meeting.
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards led the feedback, as he reiterated to the commission the three most common concerns he has heard since the redistricting began.
“The splitting up of Rochdale Village, and the splitting of Long Island City going into Manhattan, which we saw with the senate district, continues to be a concern. Then Jamaica Avenue, considering that Council member Natasha Williams has done a lot of work around ensuring that we can clean up — she’s a co-chair of the Jamaica Avenue task force — those are the things I most consistently hear in my journeys,” Richards said.
Long Island City is currently in District 26 which also incorporates Sunnyside, Woodside and parts of Astoria.
The new map would remove much of Astoria and Woodside and would include Roosevelt Island and the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Residents have voiced concerns about how the ethnic and socioeconomic makeup of District 26 would change under the proposal.
“That is exactly the kind of thing that’s helpful for the commission to hear as they’re going back into the room and drawing the new city council maps,” said, Ali Rosaline, from the Districting Commission.
Meanwhile, Gary Giordano, district manager for Queens Community Board 5, asked how the commission weighs the balance between keeping ethnic groups together and splitting neighborhoods.
“That’s something that the commission grapples with, looking at the history of these districts, where they are today, and where they might be going,” Rosaline said. “It’s really informed by what public testimony says. We’ve seen neighborhoods change, in some cases we’ve seen neighborhoods come and go, so it’s really what New Yorkers decide to call their communities.”
Florence Koulouris, district manager for Queens Community Board 1, voiced her concerns about the proposal to incorporate Roosevelt Island into a Manhattan council district.
“We have a quandary because we’re going to be having Manhattan as part of the district and I’ve never understood personally why, when CB 1 provides all the services to Roosevelt Island, it has been considered a part of Manhattan, but it is,” Koulouris said. “Having that overlap between Manhattan and Queens, is it going to stay like that. Are you going to work to rectify that, and how can you have the council district be a part of Queens and another borough?”
The placing of Roosevelt Island had the spotlight at a public hearing in Astoria in August and Rosaline said that the commission has received thousands of testaments about the issue which would all be taken into consideration going forward.