Friday, November 30, 2012
Randall's Island tossed into Queens Council district
Randall’s Island, a tract of less than a square mile in the East River, is part of the borough of Manhattan.
Yet a panel that recently drew New York City Council district lines, which are set to stand for the next decade, moved the sparsely populated island from its current Manhattan council district into a district that is otherwise entirely in Queens. That’s even though Queens is geographically farther from the island than Manhattan and the Bronx are.
And East Harlem and South Bronx community activists call the move politically motivated, arguing that Randall’s Island was corralled into Queens because the island’s current council member, Melissa-Mark Viverito of Manhattan, and local activists have emerged as thorns in the side of city officials who are pushing private development on Randall’s Island.
For years, community activists in the South Bronx and East Harlem have argued that the island should be the public backyard for their communities, where quality parkland is scarce. Instead, they argue, the Bloomberg administration has attempted to turn Randall’s Island into a country club for the rich, full of golf courses and tennis courts.
The 15-member Districting Commission was appointed by the City Council and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. At public hearings, South Bronx and East Harlem activists argued for the island to remain in a Manhattan-based district. There was little public support for moving it to Queens.