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The Civic Scene: Columnist thinks back over the Shulman years

I wondered where the years had gone as I sat in the auditorium of the Queens Theatre in the Park watching Claire Shulman's 15th annual State of the Borough address.

These reports naturally are a chronology of her many accomplishments and tell what things still need to be accomplished. For several years I have admired her use of colored slides to illustrate the points she wishes to make.

She stood in the darkened theater as slides on the screen told of the construction of the new Queens Hospital Center, the start of the Avalon Riverview apartments at Queens West, the new shopping centers, the FDA’s regional headquarters in Jamaica, the new FAA regional headquarters, the new Olympic-size pool and ice skating rink in Flushing Meadows Park, the AirTrain project along the Van Wyck Expressway, the renovation of parks, the activities at York and LaGuardia colleges, the huge circulation at our libraries, programs for senior citizens, and new schools that have been built and are planned for the borough.

The room was crowded with some people standing along the walls. Present were politicians, many reporters, police brass, people from Queens Borough Hall, officials from the many city agencies which service the people of Queens, civic association leaders and people from all areas of Queens.

I thought how over the years Claire Shulman aided each group or individual who came to her for help. The civic associations remember that she created the Queens Zoning Task Force which has helped neighborhoods rezone so that some speculator can’t buy a one family home and suddenly build a four or five-story building next to the remaining homes. She was there when the old Queens Federation of Civic Councils had concerns, just as she is here now when the current Queens Civic Congress has concerns.

One can marvel at her political savvy. When the New York City Charter was changed — against the advice of the civic associations — and the Board of Estimate was abolished, she was able to achieve political leverage by working with Mayor Giuliani, although some Queens civic leaders didn’t like that concept. One has to give Shulman credit for using what power and leverage she had to work with City Hall to do things for Queens County.

Not everybody liked everything she did, but a look at her 116-page State of the Borough of Queens 2001 booklet shows that she accomplished quite a bit during her 15 years.

As a very nice surprise touch to the program, three high school students from the Queens High Schools Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council were accompanied to the theater by their facilitator, Naomi Stonehill, so they could tell how Shulman had helped each high school. Speaking were Academy of American Studies junior from Woodside Thomas Medina, Townsend Harris junior from Woodside Riomay Delrosario, and John Bowne H.S. senior from Cambria Heights Lynn Marie Joseph — who, incidentally, has won a college scholarship.

As part of the surprise, the chorus from PS 230 in Jackson Heights sang “The Wind Beneath My Wings” and “God Bless America” under the direction of Alena Petersen. Thus ended an enjoyable afternoon.

GOOD NEWS OF THE WEEK

As I write this column the final residue of the snow from the last snow storm has been washed away. I must again compliment the Sanitation Department for the splendid job they did in plowing and salting during three storms in as many weeks.

BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK

A former resident of Manhasset was killed by two specially bred huge dogs in the hall of her apartment building in San Francisco. The dogs are a cross between a Canary Island dog and a mastiff. It appears that these dogs were bred for ferocity as guard dogs for illegal-drug laboratories Diane Wipple, a 33-year old lacrosse coach, just happened to be going into her apartment when the dogs attacked her. There are simply too many breeds of aggressive dogs too close to too many people.

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