To The Editor:
On July 18, I attended the community resource fair at Queens Borough Hall sponsored by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Borough President Melinda Katz. It was excellent! There must have been 30 or more city agencies represented there. They had tables set up for each agency and people could go from table to table and actually speak to agency commissioners/representatives regarding concerns/issues that they had. Although 311 is a great resource for residents to communicate with city agencies, there is nothing like dealing with a real person who has a face and name and contact information associated with a particular agency.
At the fair, each table also featured lots of handouts describing the work that each agency does.
I would encourage the mayor and the borough president to hold these resource fairs more often during the year. Perhaps one could be scheduled for evening hours and/or on a weekend day, so that people with 9-to-5 weekday jobs could attend as well.
At the fair, I spoke to Parks Commissioner Silver and representatives from the Parks Department regarding the need for a meeting with the Design Commission in connection with a fitting memorial stone at the Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground; the Department of Education regarding the need to return PS 130 for use by local children living near the school; Commissioner Lee of the Buildings Department regarding the problem of illegal conversions in our communities; the Finance Department regarding the problem of higher real estate taxes; the Transportation Department regarding various roadway conditions; and several other agencies about matters that were of concern to my community of Bayside/Auburndale and my civic organization, the Auburndale Improvement Association. I plan on following up with each agency to make sure that those issues of concern are further addressed. They may not get totally resolved, but at least they will continue to be on the radar screen of these particular agencies.
I was impressed with all of the agencies that we have here in New York and all of the help and information available. From health issues to veterans’ concerns, from housing matters to help for seniors and people with disabilities, we are truly an incredible city. We should all take advantage of these resources as we need them. As taxpayers, we all pay for these city services and we should not be afraid to ask for help. Working with our community boards, our civic organizations and community groups such as the Queens Civic Congress as well as the city agencies, there is help available to address any problem that one encounters.
Often our borough of Queens seems to be ignored, along with the other non-Manhattan boroughs. Those four boroughs are often referred to as the “outer” boroughs by our governmental representatives and those in the media. We are not “outer” anything. We are all part of the city of New York and should be treated with the same dignity and respect as our friends and neighbors in Manhattan.
The community resource fair that was held at Borough Hall really made me feel that Queens was a true partner in the functioning of our city.