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Open Letter: Don’t Include Manhattan in Revised Council District 26

Russell Squire, Chair of Community Board 8 Manhattan

Aug 15, 2022 Submitted By: Russell Squire, Chair of Community Board 8 Manhattan

The New York City Districting Commission, which is responsible for redistricting for the New York City Council, recently released a draft district map that would add Roosevelt Island and parts of Manhattan’s East Side to District 26 in Queens, while removing part of Woodside from the district. The Commission’s proposal, which will affect how our elected officials are chosen and the city services we will receive for the next decade, is a mistake.

First, it would divide neighborhoods and “communities of interest” into separate districts, while lumping together areas that don’t really belong together, all in violation of the City Charter. In addition, the Commission’s proposal would dramatically change the demographics of the district. District 26 is currently quite diverse—it is roughly one third Asian, one third Latino, and one third white. The new District 26 would have a white plurality of around 40 percent.

Adding parts of Manhattan to District 26 also poses obvious practical challenges. The Manhattan portion of the district encompasses two Manhattan community boards, 6 and 8. That would mean a lot of additional meetings and local issues for the Councilmember and their office to cover and would require less attention paid to the Queens portion of the district.

The proposed district lines for Council District 26. The new district would include Roosevelt Island and parts of Manhattan (Map via CB2)

Finally, the Commission’s proposed changes to District 26 would significantly affect the provision of services in the district. The part of Manhattan that the Commission would add to District 26 includes multiple large hospitals. That means that on paper, District 26 will look like it has more than adequate healthcare infrastructure, even though the reality would be that Western Queens would still be in need of additional healthcare facilities (particularly a birthing center).

There is still time to stop the Commission’s proposed district lines. The Commission is holding a hearing on August 16 from 5:30 – 9:00 pm at the Museum of the Moving Image. Members of the public can testify in person or by Zoom; they can also write to the Commission. A strong outcry can convince the Commission to go back to the drawing board and fix the maps; please add your voice to the opposition to this proposal.

*Russell Squire, is the Chair of Community Board 8 Manhattan

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