Approximately 30 members of the public joined Council Member Sandra Ung and special guests at the Glow Cultural Center on 41st Avenue in downtown Flushing on Monday, Jan. 22 for her State of the District address.
Sidewalk congestion, public safety and education were the most discussed topics as Ung reflected on her achievements in 2023 and what she hopes to accomplish in 2024 for District 20 in Flushing.
Ung said that the most common complaint she received in 2023 dealt with cluttered sidewalks, with Flushing residents saying that there are too many vendors and people selling food—restricting space for people to walk.
“Individuals who use wheelchairs, senior residents with walkers and parents with strollers have all approached me to express their frustrations when I first came to office,” she said.
The responsibly for street vendor enforcement is now in the hands of The Department of Sanitation , after Ung helped advocate for the responsibility to be taken away from The Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP), who she believed did a poor job alleviating congestion on the streets.
“This responsibility was given to the DCWP through what I believe was an ill-fitted decision by then Mayor of New York Bill de Blasio. The DCWP was understaffed at the time and ill equipped to perform this important role. After months of advocacy, the enforcement was transferred to The Department of Sanitation with a dedicated staff of uniform officers who have years of experience enforcing and keeping our streets clean,” she said.
Ung pointed out that she has improved sidewalk congestion in Flushing and mentioned that the introduction of two pieces of legislation combating the issues of char broiling and vendors late last year played an important role in this.
She said that when she took office, there were hundreds of vendors on Main Street in Flushing and due to an increase in enforcement the numbers have come down considerably.
“Our sidewalks are important arteries that serve countless community interactions and they should be navigable by all,” she said.
Speaking about education, Ung said that supporting the schools in District 20 has been a top priority for her in the last year.
“Last year I partnered with school District 25 to distribute thousands of books to students. Ensuring schools have the resources they need to succeed is paramount and I am proud to say I provided more funding for the schools in our district in 2023,” Ung said.
She also said she was proud to secure $4.5 million dollars in funding for the schools in District 20 in the past year.
When speaking about public safety, Ung said that at this time last year Flushing was in the midst of a public safety crisis and that the NYPD 109th Precinct did not have enough police officers to tackle the issue.
Ung added that crime rates in Flushing were among the highest in Queens and it can be argued that the main factor driving the surge in crime was the shortage in police officers at the 109th Precinct.
“The same week that I delivered my first state of the district address, I wrote a letter to Mayor Eric Adams requesting more officers and resources for the precinct. He listened and over the past year, the 109 has received approximately 50 new officers with many of them assigned to foot patrol in downtown Flushing. This has paid off over the last year and we have seen a steady decrease in crime,” she said.
Ung said that she is looking forward to working with the new commanding officer at the 109, Deputy Inspector Kevin J. Coleman who was appointed in late December last year after moving from the 104th Precinct in Ridgewood, to continue this good work.
She stated that her goals for 2024 are to continue her work improving public safety , sanitation and education in District 20.
The event also included performances by The New York Guqin Center and the Korean Traditional Music and Dance Center.