NEW YORK – More than 450 local residents, along with city officials, attended a Town Hall meeting on the night of March 28, hosted by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm, at Intermediate School (I.S.) 145 Joseph Pulitzer Middle School in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, New York.
The Town Hall, which was the 52nd one attended by the Mayor, was co-sponsored by Queens Community Board 3.
Questions for the Mayor and Council Member were reserved for the general audience in order to give residents maximum time allotted to them for the event.
Although de Blasio and Dromm politely asked the audience members to get right to the point and limited them to only one issue or concern per person, many in the audience raised more than one question at a time.
I.S. 145 student Malcolm Sweeney began the meeting by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
In his opening remarks, de Blasio praised the New York Police Department (NYPD) in reducing crime statistics, stating that in 2017, the first year since 1951, there were fewer than 300 homicides in the city.
De Blasio was also quick to point that pre-K education is a universal right in New York City and every middle school student gets afterschool programs for free.
Being a public school parent, de Blasio promised that no allegation of bullying of children will go ignored, with a new online portal available this spring, where harassment complaints can be filed and acted upon immediately by the school in question.
Among the other points the Mayor raised related to Jackson Heights:
- Public School 69 (P.S. 69) roof repairs will finished by the end of April.
- The new Travers Park will be re-opened in September 2019.
- Work on Diversity Plaza to make it a permanent pedestrian plaza will be completed soon, with its grand opening this July.
- An investment of $30 million is being made in Elmhurst Hospital to improve and expand the emergency room and trauma center there.
- Design work is starting on the new Jackson Heights Library, thanks to almost $11 million in funding.
- Increased sanitation pick-ups have begun for public litter baskets on 37th Avenue, Roosevelt Avenue and Broadway.
- New lighting is being installed under the elevated No. 7 subway train from 71st Street to 81st Street by this November.
- A new traffic agent at the intersection of 73rd Street and 37th Avenue beginning on April 2.
De Blasio championed his co-host Dromm’s “passion for immigrants of all backgrounds” remarking, “Every community has a common history and common reality.” The Mayor compared the country of Italy of more than 100 years ago where his immigrant grandparents came from to some of the poorer present day countries President Trump had categorized disparagingly in his widely reportedly remarks on immigration.
On a related note, the Mayor and Public Advocate Letitia James, who was also in attendance, called for the US Census Bureau to stop asking for citizenship status on its census forms, something that hasn’t been done in 70 years.