2002-12-18 / Front Page

Gallagher Wants 2 New Council Districts

Before the New York City Districting Commission presented proposed new council districts to the city council yesterday, Councilmember Dennis Gallagher came up with a plan to add two more districts to the present 51.

Gallagher, whose existing district could lose some territory to a Brooklyn district under the Districting Commission (DC) proposal, explained: "By adding two new districts, we could keep all of Ridgewood together in a Queens district and also prevent any other district from spilling over into another county."

Meanwhile, there was no word as to whether, in the lines it presented to the full council, the DC addressed calls from Ridgewood residents to continue to keep the Ridgewood section of Queens intact in Gallagher's district.

Assemblymember Catherine Nolan (D), the Ridgewood representative, led a spirited fight to have the council district remain unchanged under reapportionment.

The full council will now consider the lines proposed by the DC. The lines will either be accepted or sent back to the DC with revisions.

Under another part of Gallagher's proposal, all community boards would be made co-terminous with the new council districts. The number of community planning boards city-wide would be reduced to 53, six fewer than the current 59.

Gallagher (Middle Village), the only Republican in the Queens council delegation, said that six fewer community boards could save the city some $1 million. His proposal could become law either through a referendum or by amendment of the Municipal Home Rule Law by the state legislature.

"I would ask that it be done by amending the Home Rule Law," Gallagher said. Amending the Home Rule Law would be quicker, he added, and would mean that the new lines would be in place for next year's council elections.

Council elections next November were made necessary by new council lines having to be drawn up on the basis of the results of the 2000 Census.

Gallagher said the two new council districts he proposes would lie in Queens and The Bronx because of the population changes in these boroughs indicated by the Census count. But, he said, "It would be up to the Districting Commission to decide the exact locations and how they would fit in with the new alignment of districts."--John Toscano

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