De Blasio answers questions about homelessness, Astoria diving pool and his daughter’s depression in Queens
Mayor Bill de Blasio said they will be building a new 116th Precinct next to the current 105th Precinct satellite station house on North Conduit in Rosedale, Queens he said on July 17, 2017. (Todd Maisel/New York Daily News)
Queens residents had an opportunity for face time with Mayor de Blasio Tuesday — and bent his ear about everything from homelessness to high drama over a high dive at a borough pool.
Hizzoner spent more than an hour and half hearing from local residents — and posing for plenty of pictures — as part of the City Hall in Your Borough program, which landed in Queens Monday.
Paulette Wilson, a recently retired visiting nurse from Fresh Meadows, waited in line so she could tell de Blasio about a frightening encounter she had with a homeless man beneath the elevated J train tracks in Bushwick in May. As she was heading to a home visit, a man came up behind her and stuck something against her back — luckily, just his finger. She told him to go away, but he kept following her, she said.
"Anything like that needs to be reported to the police immediately," de Blasio told Wilson. "Anything aggressive, that’s illegal and that needs to be reported to police. So I know you were dealing with it, and I feel bad that you went through it."
Wilson told the mayor she used her aggressive personality to get the man to leave her alone.
"I turned around and I told him get away from me, I’m not playing, and luckily he backed off," Wilson told de Blasio. "But it could’ve been more than a finger."
Astoria resident Kathleen Springer came to urge de Blasio to re-open a diving pool in Astoria that was used in the 1964 Olympic trials — which Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver says the city opposes for safety reasons. Plans call for the site to be turned into a public plaza.
Springer said part of her complaint was that Silver wasn’t getting accurate information — insisting other pools do have diving boards (Silver said they are lower). She pointed out an Astoria wading pool was also closed, and called plans to revamp the pool area "a racist design to decrease the capacity of the pool."
"I believe you’re being undermined, commissioner, and I have evidence to show that as well," she said.
At the very least, Springer wanted de Blasio to read and get someone to respond to a letter she said she sent him back in November, urging him to do some homework a day before he’ll host a town hall in the neighborhood.
"I hope you read that letter by tomorrow, because everybody else has," she quipped.
Some people waited just to tell the mayor they liked his policies or to take a picture. One woman, who complained about bumpy Access-a-Ride trips where "you get your brain banged against your skull" also asked about the mayor’s daughter, Chiara.
"Thank you for asking. She’s doing well, she graduated college, she’s working very hard," de Blasio said.
"And the depression is under control?" the woman asked.
"Yes. Thank god. Thank you for asking. It’s very kind of you. God bless you," he said.