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Comrie’s town hall offers forum to Jamaica residents

Nearly 150 Jamaica residents took advantage of a town hall meeting last week in St. Albans to voice their concerns about traffic, flooding, abandoned houses and more.

The meeting, organized by new City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), brought residents and representatives from more than 13 city agencies and utilities together to discuss quality-of-life issues affecting their communities.

City agency representatives from fire, police, consumer affairs, health, sanitation and environmental protection departments, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Community Board 12, and Con Ed and Keyspan fielded questions from residents and provided information on how to make complaints.

The meeting, held in conjunction with CB 12, was for residents in the neighborhoods of St. Albans, Jamaica, Hollis, Springfield Gardens, Addisleigh Park, Baisley Park, and Locust Manor.

One of the major concerns of the residents is traffic in downtown Jamaica, Comrie said. Residents cited poor traffic flow, parking, and mass transit as problems that need to be addressed.

“Just the traffic flow in downtown Jamaica is horrendous,” Comrie said. “You can’t get close to a parking spot, you can’t get close to the curb.”

A police officer was assigned to the intersection of Jamaica Avenue and Parsons Avenue, and eight other officers were assigned to write traffic summonses, said Deputy Inspector Robert Thursland, the commanding officer for the 103rd Precinct.

“I’ll be the first to admit it,” he said. “There are days that are good and there are days that are horrific.”

Overcrowding on buses in downtown Jamaica was also a concern, with one resident asking if buses could be added just for schoolchildren to alleviate the strain they put on elderly passengers or pregnant women.

Although the MTA is restricted from providing bus service just for schoolchildren, the agency does provide the “School Trippers” program, Joseph Raskin, assistant director for the MTA told meeting attendees. The program starts bus runs at different schools and continues on their routes. This allows the students to get on the bus first, but the MTA cannot close the bus to other riders, Raskin said.

“If somebody wants to get on that bus, a member of the general public, we have to let them on,” he said.

Raskin asked that residents keep him informed and let him know if there are bus lines where incidents like this happen often.

Flooding was also discussed, specifically around Lakeview Boulevard, which runs along Baisley Pond. The city Department of Design and Construction responded to the question, saying that the problem was being looked at. Renovation of the road had previously been included in another project, but it was dropped because it needed more study, said Tony Pollio of DDC.

Comrie was pleased with the turnout at the meeting, both for residents and city agencies, he said.

“I’m glad the city allowed us to do this.” Comrie said, adding that the mayor’s office was cooperative. “We just told them who we wanted here and they were able to get almost everyone we asked for.”

The meeting’s focus was on quality-of-life issues because Comrie believes they have a significant impact on people’s lives, he said.

“It’s those quality-of-life issues that make people comfortable,” Comrie said. “When they drive down their street, they shouldn’t get upset at what they see.”

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch at 229-0300, Ext. 138, or by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com

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