By Joe Anuta

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) crossed the East River last week to discuss problems facing two Queens organizations as well as curry favor ahead of the 2013 mayoral race, attendees said.

On her first stop July 27, Quinn met with the Queens Civic Congress in Kew Gardens to tout Council legislation and take down a list of grievances that affected the entire borough.

“I really wanted to open it up to what you guys had questions on,” she told the group, which sat around a small table at the Kew Gardens

Two of those grievances were with the city Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Queens division of the Department of City Planning.

Activists in the area have been getting the cold shoulder from the LPC after applying for landmarked districts in several neighborhoods like Kew Gardens and Broadway-Flushing.

“They are basically hostile to suburban development,” said Paul Graziano, chair of the congress landmarking and preservation committee, who said the residents of Broadway-Flushing overwhelmingly wanted a landmarked district, along with Queens lawmakers, yet the LPC disagreed.

“I look forward to the response from [Quinn’s] office,” he said.

Quinn related this issue, as she did many at the meeting, to problems in her Manhattan district.

“I heard a lot of folks say landmarking, and I heard your frustration, which I have in my district, too,” she said. “You put papers in, and then it’s like: ‘Hello? Is anyone home over there?’”

The speaker seemed at ease with the panel, and her large laugh filled the tiny room several times as she discussed other issues with the congress.

When asked if the meeting had anything to do with Quinn’s likely aspirations for Gracie Mansion, Patricia Dolan, president of the congress, asked: “Is the pope Catholic?”

But the underlying reasons for the trip mattered little to Dolan, who said the meeting was extremely productive.

“I think that the speaker got a very good idea of what our major issues were in Queens,” she said. “It was a good opportunity.”

After the brief meeting, Quinn and a few staff members headed over to Long Island City to meet with business owners in the industrial neighborhood.

“The meeting was very productive,” said Dan Miner of Long Island City Partnership, a business advocacy group for the area. “I think the speaker has an ongoing mission to connect to small businesses and find out how the city government’s treatment of businesses can be improved.”

For starters, the city can get its cars out of the way, according to Dan Jennings, who owns a small business selling loading dock equipment.

He brought pictures of city Department of Transportation vehicles illegally parked on streets which block delivery trucks for backing into loading zones.

Quinn made a to-do list from the meeting, which Gayle Baron, president of the partnership, said was likely a fact-finding mission to get a pulse on the borough for either her mayoral run or for her legacy as Council speaker.

But she was quick to add that it was a productive session.

“It wasn’t just fact-finding,” she said. “It was fact-finding and action.”

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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