Mayor Eric Adams talks public safety, migrant crisis, and more at packed Woodhaven townhall

Medina Adams Woodhaven
Mayor Adams leads Woodhaven community event, addressing public safety, migrant crisis, and quality-of-life concerns with over 200 residents and city officials.
Photo by Anthony Medina

Mayor Eric Adams and dozens of city agency representatives addressed several local concerns at a community event held in Woodhaven earlier this week.

The Mayor, who hosted the meeting, spoke to an audience of over 200 residents inside the Woodhaven Manor, located at 96-01 Jamaica Ave, on Wednesday, March 27, where he discussed issues pertaining to public safety, the migrant crisis, and quality-of-life issues.

Assembly Member Jenifer Rajkumar and Council Member Joann Ariola, both of whom represent Woodhaven, were in attendance, and Adams recognized them for helping to organize the event for southern Queens residents.

Throughout the night, residents asked Adams questions about an array of topics, such as the economic impact of the migrant crisis, public and school safety, infrastructure upgrades to nearby parks, challenges faced by small business owners, and how the city works with Albany to pass legislation.

Adams started the event with a moment of silence in honor of Police Officer Jonathan Diller, who was fatally shot in Queens Monday night.

“To lose that young man was really horrific,” Adams said, sharing his condolences for Officer Diller’s family and members of the NYPD.

Adams soon after was asked by a resident whether there was a growing divide between the city lawmakers and Albany, and what are the implications. The mayor responded by saying that the relationship with the state is important since many of the necessary city changes require state legislation or the approval of Gov. Kathy Hochul.

“The state does control us. We’re creatures of the state,” Adams said, highlighting the necessity of seeking increased mayoral authority from the state for critical city advancements, such as expanding housing options.

Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar thanks the Mayor’s office for coming to her Woodhaven district. Adams praised her efforts in Albany to empower NYPD against illegal smoke shops.Photo by Anthony Medina

The Mayor acknowledged the work of Rajkumar in Albany, who introduced legislation to give the NYPD and law enforcement more control to shutter illegal smoke shops. Adams also criticized the state’s rollout of the marijuana laws and licenses, which he says has led to the plethora of illegal cannabis shops that the city now has to contend with.

“Although we are the economic engine of the state, we put so much money in the state, it’s unbelievable how much we don’t have the authority,” Adams later added.

In response to a similar question, NYPD Chief John Chell spoke about a collaborative effort from city agencies and law enforcement to address quality of life concerns, which include illegal smoke shops, ghost cars, and illegally operated scooters.

Residents engaged Mayor Adams on a wide range of topics: migrant crisis impact, safety concerns, park upgrades, small business challenges, and legislative tensions.Photo by Anthony Medina

In 2022, the city witnessed about 1,200 illegal shops boom in their neighborhoods and the number now has increased to 2,500, Chell said.

Residential concerns closer to Woodhaven also took center stage in the community conversation. A tennis court partially used and mostly left unused due to long-term environmental damages at Forest Park was brought to the attention of Adams.

Ariola announced that she is asking for funds for the tennis court improvements, with news of a $9 million proposal in this year’s city council budget hearings. The work is expected to be done over the next 10 years.

The New York City Health Department was also asked to review the regulations on restaurant health inspections.

During the conversation, Loycent Gordon, owner of the long-established Neir’s Tavern, raised a concern about a protracted delay in receiving health inspection results, which had lingered for months. He detailed a recurrent issue where health inspectors would often conduct visits on days when businesses were busy unloading deliveries. Mayor Adams addressed Gordon’s concern directly, assuring him of a resolution and indicating that this situation would be examined as a potential catalyst for revisions to Department of Health (DOH) regulations, aiming for clearer and more efficient processes.

In an unexpected turn during the event, one community conversation participant seated in the back of the room, stood up and hurled accusations at the Mayor.

“You have blood on your hands,” the participant shouted, adding more comments as she was taken out of the room.

The community event reached full capacity shortly after 6 p.m., leading to confusion among some guests about their inability to gain entry. Any misunderstandings between Rajkumar’s team and Mayor Adams’s office were promptly addressed once all pre-registered attendees had been accommodated.It is unclear if the participant forced to leave was part of those unregistered residents.

As the town hall came to a close, Mayor Adams assured the audience that he would return to Woodhaven for future engagements.

Correction: An earlier version of this story read Ariola allocated $9 million for improvements of a tennis court in Forest Park. No allocations have yet to be made. We regret the error.