In an interview with Elizabeth Crowley recently she took the opportunity to state what her priorities and challenges are as she starts her tenure on January 1, 2009 as the Council Member from the 30th Council District.

Elizabeth is totally enthusiastic about her new job. She stated how she has been prepping for it for several years now and how she wants to hit the ground running, working with her constituents to implement change. Accessibility is her priority and she is determined to surround herself with knowledgeable people who will serve her constituents well.

“Thinking outside the box” will be her mantra and she wants to provide the residents of the 30th Council District with a more open and transparent leadership. Currently she is looking for suitable facilities in which to open her district office.

Looming Budget Cuts
She sees her first big hurdle to be the budget because of the cuts that the Bloomberg Administration is implementing in order to get ready for the shortfall in tax dollars that lie ahead.

Elizabeth stated that there is a huge disparity between the hard working communities of her district and the financial workers who made millions and are being rewarded with bailouts from the federal government.

She said she wants to work hard and be vocal against cuts in services to her district particularly as it relates to
police, education and public transportation. She knows the 104th Pct. is understaffed and she will fight further cuts, working towards getting more cops on our streets. She will make sure that cuts to education will be done carefully so there is no negative impact on the children of her district.

Reducing class size and recruiting well qualified teachers are the necessary tools to improving our educational system. She feels that the local kids should have access to good public schools and not have to resort to private high schools where tuition is very high. She knows that currently, that is the reality.

Improving Public Transit
She is determined to see to it that our public transportation network is kept affordable for our residents in the wake of the budget cuts and threats of raised fares by the MTA. She feels the funding of the NYC Transit Authority is just one example of how we are short changed by the State. She understands that when the MTA raises fares, it does so at a greater percentage for city dwellers. She feels the residents in the 30th Council District are underserved by the system.

Elizabeth Already Addressing Downzoning
In response to questions about our neighborhood’s stalled downzoning, Elizabeth stated that she had spoken this week to Amanda Burden, Chair of City Planning. This is what she told me – “My conversation with Chair Burden was about the need for downzoning. I said that overdevelopment has become our community’s greatest challenge and that our low density neighborhood has suffered enough. Burden agreed to meet with me on this issue, and before we meet she will come out to the district with her team on December 9th to see first hand the examples that have distressed our community. This Tuesday, 11/25, I will meet with her Queens Directors who are working on the maps that the downzoning details. I am getting a good response from Chair Burden and I believe that our downzoning resolution is just weeks from happening.”

Elizabeth told me that she had also spoken to NYC Dept of Buildings Commissioner, Robert LiMandri. This is what she said about that conversation – “My conversation with LiMandri was one where I introduced myself and stated that I had work experience with building and construction. I let LiMandri know that our community has some dangerous residences with illegal conversions and single room occupancies. I further stated that I needed to be assured that the Department of Buildings enforces building codes and zoning resolutions and that I need to be assured that violators are penalized. LiMandri and I agreed to meet soon and he’ll provide me with the department’s staff contacts as it relates to geography and specifics.”

Truck Traffic on Grand Avenue
Council Member-Elect Crowley continued explaining her itinerary for her district stating that she wants to make every effort to see to it that the Grand Avenue Truck Bypass Plan is implemented as quickly as possible. She knows that the reality is a larger numbers of trucks on Grand Avenue every day, causing dangerous traffic conditions and negatively impacting nearby residents environmentally. This project will be another one of her top priorities.

St. Saviour’s and Preservation
With regard to questions about St. Saviour’s, Elizabeth stated that she recognizes the need to preserve our heritage
and will focus on getting funding wherever possible so the church can be reestablished in All Faith’s Cemetery. With a bachelors degree in restoration/preservation and masters in city and regional planning it is easy to conclude that preservation of our heritage looms large on her agenda. She stated that holding a fundraiser early next year to raise funds for St. Saviour’s is a possibility.

When asked about discretionary funding this was her response –

“I will give all community groups an equal opportunity to apply for funding. And after a thorough vetting process, I will make those decisions at the appropriate time. It is also my intention that my staff will audit those groups annually so that we know the money is being used for its intended purposes.”

She had this to say about the Juniper Juniors whom the JPCA see as possible future generations of civic leaders –

“As a mother of two school aged boys I know the importance of involving children in civics. I am thrilled about the
Juniper Juniors and believe that under my administration the program will expand. I also hope that Juniper Juniors can be used as a model for other park programs throughout the city.”

Dark Clouds Have Passed
Elizabeth Crowley feels that the 30th Council District will see a change in leadership when she takes office in January. In recent years the district has become polarized with problems that have distracted from doing the people’s work of good governmental representation.

While she can’t be too specific on issues at this point, it will be apparent that the dark cloud that has hovered over
the neighborhood will be gone and a more open and involved leadership will represent the 30th Council District.

Winning the current election puts Elizabeth Crowley in office for the next year to complete the term of office for the disgraced Dennis Gallagher. She is confident that at reelection time in November 2009 she will have established herself as the leader she has groomed herself to be and her council record will be her campaign rallying speech for 2009. (After interviewing Elizabeth for this article and noting her focus and resolve, I have no doubt she will be a force in politics and represents our political future.)

This article is published to give you a snapshot of Elizabeth Crowley’s front burner for Middle Village and
Maspeth. As you can see she has hit the ground running, making key connections with people like Amanda Burden, Chair of City Planning and Robert LiMandri, Commissioner of the Building Department. Future articles will be Elizabeth’s to write and we wish her the best of luck with her new responsibilities as the 30th CD’s Councilwoman, she has her work cut out for her and she has our support.