Nolan Presents Plan To Keep Ridgewood As Queens CD
Continuing the Ridgewood community’s fight to remain in a single city council district, Assemblymember Catherine Nolan last week submitted her own remapping proposal to the New York City Districting Commission at a hearing attended by 400 vociferous members of that community.
Nolan urged the 15-member commission to go back to the drawing board and computer as she presented her proposals, which she said meet the tests set out in the New York City Charter and the federal Voting Rights Act without dividing Ridgewood in two.
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall also submitted a statement through a representative in which she said she stands united with Queens residents to protest the plan to include Ridgewood in a Brooklyn legislative district.
Councilmember Dennis Gallagher, a Republican and the 30th Council District incumbent, made a brief statement in which he summarized his long involvement in Ridgewood’s affairs over the past two decades in various roles.
"I know the issues in Ridgewood thoroughly. I won last year by a 60-40 margin and I would be proud to be Ridgewood’s representative no matter what fashion the new district comes out," Gallagher declared.
However, he added, it would be best if the present situation, with Ridgewood in an all-Queens district, would continue.
Under Nolan’s proposal, which was created with the assistance of her husband, Gerard Marsicano, and other volunteers, the 30th Council District would have a population increase from 147,992 to 163,068; the Hispanic population would increase from 22 percent to 29 percent; the white population decrease from 68 percent to 61 percent," and all of Ridgewood would be restored to the district," Nolan said.
Among other changes, approximately 8,000 Maspeth residents, the majority of whom are in Councilmember Melinda Katz’s 29th Council District (Rego Park/Forest Hills) but which the Districting Commission proposed to move to the proposed split-Ridgewood district, would remain in the 29th.
Also, a portion of Woodhaven between Park Lane South and Jamaica Avenue from the Brooklyn line to Woodhaven Boulevard would be placed in Councilmember Joseph Addabbo’s 32nd District under Nolan’s plan.
The 34th Council District in Bushwick, in which the commission proposed to place part of Ridgewood, Queens, would remain totally Brooklyn under Nolan’s plan and would have a slight population decrease while remaining an Hispanic district. The same conditions would apply to the nearby 37th CD in Brooklyn.
As for other Queens districts, Katz’ district, besides picking up a small portion of Gallagher’s 30th Council District, would have a population increase from 152,515 to 162,986, but about 3,500 residents of Forest Hills and Rego Park would remain in the 24th CD (Jamaica Estates/Kew Gardens), represented by Councilmember James Gennaro.
Districts represented by Gennaro, Addabbo and Councilmember Eric Gioia (D–Woodside) would undergo minor changes under Nolan’s plan. She said she would accept the lines proposed by the commission for these districts.
Commenting on the plan, Nolan said it showed it is not necessary to cross county lines. She said, "All the districts drawn here adhere to the 10 percent tolerance in population established by the commission. Any district drawn by the commission that was majority Hispanic, African-American, or white, maintains that majority under this plan.
"In fact, with a little more work, if all districts in each borough were drawn to that borough’s average, the deviation could be kept to a 4 percent rather than a 10 percent deviation."
Nolan said she had discussed with other Queens councilmembers the changes to their districts created by her proposal and no objections were raised by them.
The veteran Ridgewood lawmaker and resident said she was very proud of the large turnout by area residents at the hearing, occurring, as it did, two days before Thanksgiving. She said the turnout showed "the spirit of my fellow Ridgewoodites today" and their determination to keep their community united.
"I know we have forged a beautiful, unique and highly diverse Queens community," she continued. "We need to be in a council district that would give us a voice in competing for city services, in weighing in on important city issues of the day. Indeed, we need to stay unified to continue to support the viability and strength and cohesiveness that make me so proud to be a lifelong resident of Ridgewood."
Marshall’s statement was presented at the Queens College hearing by Deputy Counsel Monica Norris.
In the statement, she repeatedly cited the borough’s unique identity, shown some years ago when Ridgewood and Glendale demanded the removal of the Brooklyn postal zip code imposed on these neighborhoods. Queens neighborhoods, she noted, listed their local names as part of their addresses, unlike other boroughs.
Speaking to the issue at hand, Marshall said, "To incorporate parts of Ridgewood, Queens into a Brooklyn legislative district will, among other things, deprive its residents of the cohesiveness that they now enjoy and promote divisiveness. A community that has existed for many years as one will now see a part of itself appended to a Brooklyn legislative district.
"Ridgewood is a Queens community, its residents maintain a Queens address and, as such, should be represented by a Queens legislator who recognizes that the goals and needs of the Ridgewood community do not mirror those of Bushwick."
Marshall concluded by urging the commission to reject a proposal that would "dissect a community that has been united for generations."
Nolan had high praise for the support from the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association and the Citizens for A Better Ridgewood organization.