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City Comptroller William Thompson came to Rego Park Friday to hear the community's concerns, but ended up discussing issues that transcend the area and city such as school siting, the plight of veterans seeking health care and meals for seniors.
Thompson's office released a report earlier this month examining how the city Department of Education and city School Construction Authority site schools and whether capacity is keeping pace with demand for school seats and programs. Speaking in the Rego Park Jewish Center's basement on Queens Boulevard last week, he said he was skeptical of the efforts.
"They're not building schools where the population is going to be," he said of the DOE and SCA. His report looked at Flushing, Long Island City and Hunters Point, all of which have seen a building boom in recent years, but few new schools.
Norbert Chwat, a Community Board 6 member in Forest Hills, longtime area resident and World War II veteran, asked Thompson what could be done about a "land grab" at the St. Albans Veterans Administration Hospital site, where private developers are eyeing the land for apartments.
"I will make sure to follow up on it," Thompson promised, saying he, local elected officials and the community board were aware of the situation.
Thompson has frequently criticized the plans of the city Department for the Aging to restructure meal delivery to housebound senior citizens and the talk of closing senior centers. Last week was no exception.
"DFTA wants to change to a program they started in the Bronx and change from hot meals delivered daily to frozen meals twice a week. It was wrong when they did the pilot program in the Bronx, and now they want to do it citywide," he said. "In the Bronx, the Latino people didn't find the meals conducive to their needs. The kosher meals, for what they were paying, the quality wasn't good."
In Queens, with so many ethnic groups receiving meals, Thompson worried that people would not find the food to their liking.
"If you change to meals that are frozen, a lot of people aren't going to eat it," he said.
Another question had to do with community organizations not receiving funding as a result of the City Council's slush fund probe. Thompson said the city Investigation Department was now reviewing all contracts first, but it was trying to do so as quickly as possible.
"When it comes to that pot of money, the DOI reviews [contracts], then it comes to us for registration within a week to 10-day review period," Thompson said. "We're not holding contracts. We're verifying where the money came from, creating a more transparent process. We're trying to register contracts even faster these days because we know community organizations are dying out there."
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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