Former deputy borough president plans to take on traffic, health care issues
Sitting in her new 17th-floor office overlooking an expansive view that includes Citi Field and the Manhattan skyline, City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) joked it will be easy for her to conduct her own Queens Boulevard traffic study.
“It’s right there,” Koslowitz said Monday. “I can see all the people who are trying to cross. I can see everything.”
Koslowitz, who officially took office Jan. 1, hopes she will be able to see everything her constituents need and that the view from her Forest Hills office on Queens Boulevard will be a metaphor for a tenure in Council marked by efforts to address a wide range of issues from education to health care. She replaces former Forest Hills Councilwoman Melinda Katz.
The Democratic councilwoman, who represents Forest Hills, Rego Park, Kew Gardens and parts of Richmond Hill, Maspeth and Elmhurst, already knows her territory well. Koslowitz represented District 29 for 11 years until 2001, when she was forced out of office by term limits. She then worked in the borough president’s office, first as the borough vice president and then as the president of community boards at Queens Borough Hall.
Emphasizing her desire to relay parents’ needs to the city, Koslowitz said she first plans to organize an advisory council that would include all the presidents of school parents’ associations.
“I’d like to bring the advisory council’s ideas to the [city] Department of Education,” said Koslowitz, who pointed out that parents have addressed such frustrations as overcrowded schools to the councilwoman.
Koslowitz has repeatedly complained that Forest Hills High School is too crowded and noted the school is bursting at the seams with about 4,000 students. It was built to hold some 2,700 pupils. She said the incoming Metropolitan Campus in Forest Hills, slated to open next fall, will help to decrease classroom size at Forest Hills HS.
Health care also needs to be addressed in the borough, Koslowitz said. The borough has lost about 600 hospital beds over the past year with the closing of Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills, St. John’s Hospital in Elmhurst and Mary Immaculate Hospital in Jamaica.
“I’d love to see a hospital where Parkway is,” Koslowitz said. “If we can’t have that, I’d love to see a medical facility for the people.”
The councilwoman again condemned an idea to bring a detention center to the Parkway Hospital site.
“That was a scare tactic on the part of the hospital,” she said.
A court-appointed receiver for Medical Capital Holdings, a defunct investment firm that originally issued Parkway’s mortgage, filed an Oct. 15 deposition that said he might be forced to turn the building into a detention center if it did not reopen as a hospital.
Senior issues, traffic alleviation and working with the Bukharian community also top Koslowitz’s ever-growing to-do list. She is hoping to see senior housing with medical facilities in her area and said she will work to scrap the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s plans to drop Access-A-Ride users at bus stops instead of their ultimate destinations.
Koslowitz is hoping to study traffic on Queens and Woodhaven boulevards as well as at truck traffic in areas like Grand Avenue in Maspeth.
She has already launched efforts to work with the Bukharian community, including her former rival for the Council, Albert Cohen, and Koslowitz will be honored at a dinner sponsored by many of her Bukharian constituents this week.