Friday, May 7, 2010

Ridgewood Dems Discuss Hot Issues by Michael Cusenza - Queens Chronicle

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The Ridgewood Democratic Club held its monthly meeting last Friday. Photo by Michael Cusenza

Piping hot coffee and opinions last Friday evening flowed during the Ridgewood Democratic Club’s monthly meeting at its historic headquarters on Putnam Avenue.

Approximately 25 members, elected officials and guests gathered in the club’s hall to discuss state and city budget issues, possible firehouse and school closures, borough healthcare concerns and more.

After an hour-long board meeting, City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) kicked off the membership assemblage with a plea for community support in preventing the proposed closure of 62 fire companies across the city due to cuts in state and city funding.

“I’m optimistic, because last year we were able to save 16 companies,” said Crowley, chairperson of the city Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services. “But things are tough right now. It’s up to us, because our safety will be jeopardized.”

She also decried the possible closure of Grover Cleveland High School in Ridgewood. The 80-year-old institution on Himrod Street appeared on the State Education Department’s “Persistently Lowest-Achieving Schools” list in January.

Crowley’s concern was echoed by members and Cleveland alum and chairperson of the Assembly Education Committee, Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Ridgewood).

“We want to see [the school] restore some programs,” Nolan said, adding that she mentioned to schools Chancellor Joel Klein that Cleveland should be designated a “global studies school.”

Nolan addressed state budget questions and how it will continue to affect the community. She recognized that “there’s a lot of bad feeling right now about a lot of issues” and expressed her own frustration.

“I believe there is waste and fraud in state government,” she said. “Pensioners are suddenly responsible for the fiscal crisis of our state? I don’t think so.”

After a couple of club members voiced concerns over the state of shuttered borough hospitals like St. John’s and Parkway, Nolan said she’s “very committed to doing more with healthcare. We’ve got to preserve our hospitals and our clinics.”

Nolan, a 26-year veteran of the Assembly who is running for reelection in the fall, added that while she empathized with all affected by the recent closure of St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, “I think it’s more of a shame that nothing was done for St. John’s.”

In an upbeat note, the club voted unanimously to install several “Welcome to Ridgewood” signs at key community locations. Some proposed sites include the intersections of Fresh Pond Road and Metropolitan Avenue, and Myrtle Avenue and Wyckoff Avenue.