Focus on Families Shapes Katz’s First State of the Borough Address

Focus on Families Shapes Katz’s First State of the Borough Address

Borough President Melinda Katz delivered her first State of the Borough address last Thursday at Queens College. Photo Courtesy of the Borough President's Office

Borough President Melinda Katz delivered her first State of the Borough address last Thursday at Queens College.
Photo Courtesy of the Borough President’s Office

If it’s good for our families, it’s good for Queens.

It’s not only the motto at Borough Hall, according to Borough President Melinda Katz, but also the foundation on which Katz built her inaugural State of the Borough address, which she delivered last Thursday morning at Queens College.

“My parents believed that Queens held all the elements of any great city, and that no one should need to cross a bridge or tunnel to experience arts, culture, fine dining or great neighborhoods,” said Katz as she kicked off her roughly 40-minute speech. “I inherited their vision while growing up here, from my childhood in Forest Hills to my education at our public schools to studying law at St. John’s. And now I am raising my own children—Hunter and Carter—in the very same home in Forest Hills where I grew up. My kids keep me grounded when shaping our city’s policies and planning for our borough’s future.”

Calling herself “unabashedly biased toward our borough” and “personally vested in its success,” Katz touted the IDNYC Municipal Identification program during the address, noting how “tools like [the card] help ensure equal access to city services and civic engagement, and it’s good for our families, therefore good for Queens.”

Katz identified the now-defunct Rockaway ferry as another item that’s key to the borough’s future prosperity. She reiterated her call for a permanent ferry service connecting the Rockaways to the rest of city.

“While in service, it proved to be extremely useful to residents lacking real transit options, and was an economic generator as well, bringing people in from other parts of the city to come visit the Rockaways” Katz noted.

Katz asked audience members and all Queens residents to help identify community-based organizations that would be willing to host pre-K programs to help avoid overcrowding at existing pre-K locations.

While affirming the need for educational standards, Katz said she is “not a fan” of Common Core and said the standards need to be revamped so that its instructional methods are no longer so needlessly complicated for students and parents.

“As a Queens parent, I feel in my gut, though, that there’s something wrong here,” Katz related. “It’s not Common Core—it’s more like a common problem.”

Building on the success of last year’s celebrations of the anniversaries of the 1939 and 1964 World’s Fairs, Katz announced that her office will sponsor an annual “Queens Day” event that will celebrate our diversity and help unite us as “The World’s Borough.”

Katz also said she looked forward to working on the panel appointed by Gov. Cuomo that will advise him on the efforts to redesign LaGuardia and Kennedy airports so they can reach their full potential as economic engines for the region.

Katz went on to praise the current membership of the Queens Library’s Board of Trustees for their work toward helping to restore public trust in the Library, which is now being governed with greater transparency.

“Sunlight really is the best disinfectant,” Katz quipped.

Additionally, Katz proposed creating a specific zoning designation to protect neighborhoods that are primarily defined by single-family row houses, such as in Maspeth and Ridgewood. This designation would help preserve the character of places that many families have called their home for decades.

Katz expressed disappointment with city Housing Authority’s proposal to allocate only 750 public housing apartments annually for homeless families.  She said she is urging the administration to increase this annual allocation to at least 2,500 public housing units.

In closing, Katz reminded stakeholders in the audience that, going forward, it’s all about finding a better life for the sons and daughters of Queens “than we ever dreamed for ourselves.”

By Michael V. Cusenza


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