Woodhaven wants to be united.
That’s what the members of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association (WRBA) are saying about what was the proposed City Council redistricting map that will now be redrawn once again.
The map would have had Woodhaven split into two districts, similar to how it is now between Councilman Eric Ulrich and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, and the civic group is calling on the redistricting commission to draw Woodhaven into a single district.
At its most recent meeting last Saturday, WRBA members were unhappy about the possibility of being in two different districts once again, saying that it dilutes their voice when they go out and vote for elected officials.
WRBA president Ed Wendell questioned the audience as to what landmarks like the library and the Forest Park Carousel are on which side of the district and said that many residents would not share those two institutions if the neighborhood is divided into separate districts.
“These are things that define us as a community; these are the things that are our identity,” he said. “And they are splitting it and taking it away from us.”
Residents who attended the meeting were split into tables designated for people who live in Crowley’s district and who reside in Ulrich’s district, although many of them were confused as to which side they live on.
A couple of them, including Colin Bucca who lives on 90th Street, got to step up front and speak their mind about why Woodhaven should be under a single district.
“When I walk down the streets of my neighborhood and I say hello to someone I should not think “oh are they on this side of the line or on that side,” he said, echoing many sentiments of being under one district. “When I want to find out who my elected official is, I should not have to look at a map.”
WRBA member Vance Barbour said that if it remains split and the two areas are only a small part of the council member’s district, then the larger areas of the overall district will have the ear of that council member, leaving the smaller part with less of a voice for their community.
Etienne David Adorno, a Woodhaven resident who works for Manhattan Councilman Robert Jackson (D- Washington Heights), backed up what Barbour said, providing the example of Jackson’s district saying that he gives the most discretionary funding to the people who represent the largest part of his district.
Members of the WRBA and other residents said that they would attend the Queens public hearing for the city council redistricting map next month.
A new round of public hearings was scheduled after the redistricting commission scraped the map that was supposed to be voted on after many were unhappy with several parts of the redrawn lines.
Public hearings must be held first before another version of the map is released, in order to allow the public to submit testimony to the commission. Each borough has their own separate hearing set where residents can voice their opinions and concerns.
The meeting in Queens will take place on Monday, January 14th at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City.
By Luis Gronda