Woodhaven on redistricting: Send lines back to the drawing board

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The newest proposed City Council lines released would divide parts of Woodhaven once again into two districts. Photo courtesy of Woodhaven Residents Block Association
The newest proposed City Council lines released would divide parts of Woodhaven once again into two districts.

The newest set of proposed city council district lines, set to take effect next year, have some Woodhaven residents upset that they might once again be split into two districts.

The Woodhaven Residents Block Association (WRBA) has taken a stand against the proposed redistricting lines, saying they would split up the neighborhood and exhaust and overlap the efforts of city representatives. “We just feel overall you should never split a community,” said WRBA president Ed Wendell. “I just don’t believe in that.”

If the neighborhood has a problem, such as downed power lines after a storm, Wendell said the WRBA, as a resource for information, would have to either sift through who lives in which district or provide both city council offices with a full list of complaints. The result would be over-exhausting resources from the two offices.

“Not only do I think it’s bad for the community, I don’t think it’s fair to the elected officials,” Wendell said. “Now they have to cover a lot more ground. There’s overlapping — it’s doubling of efforts.”

Woodhaven, in the preliminary map released earlier this year by the NYC Districting Commission, had the bulk of the neighborhood within the boundaries of Council District 30.

The new map, released last month, however, divides the neighborhood back into two districts. City Council District 30 would include all streets bordered by Park Lane South and Atlantic Avenue from north to south, and 75th Street to Forest Parkway from east to west. The district, according to the new map, would also encompass the co-ops in the northeastern corner of Woodhaven. The rest of the neighborhood would be represented by Council District 32.

Roughly two thirds of Woodhaven is served by Councilmember Eric Ulrich; the other third by Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley. Both have represented the neighborhood since 2009.

Alexander Blenkinsopp, communications director for the WRBA, hopes that the City Council would vote the new lines down and send them back to the drawing board.

“The Commission decided to throw Woodhaven under the bus,” Blenkinsopp said. “It should be embarrassed about how its final proposal treats our community. Now that the final decision is in the hands of the city council, we want all city councilmembers to know that a vote in favor of this gerrymander is a vote against Woodhaven.”

During a September WRBA meeting, when the first draft of the map had come out, both councilmembers made it apparent that Woodhaven would be completely within one district.

Neither Ulrich nor Crowley was able to comment at deadline.