Nov. 1, 2017 By Tara Law
An independent candidate who has advocated for the restoration of the historic diving pool in Astoria Park is taking on incumbent Costa Constantinides to represent the 22nd Council District.
Kathleen Springer, 58, said that she decided to run in order to give Astoria residents a greater voice in City Hall. She said that she would make sure that city officials heard the concerns of her potential constituents and would be willing to push back against various city agencies.
Springer, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1963, said that she became disillusioned with the political status quo after failing to get the City to restore the diving pool at Astoria Park. She said that she was frustrated when city officials refused to speak with her to discuss the concept.
Springer said city officials must prioritize reaching out to the community and listening to their concerns.
For instance, she said that the Parks Dept. did a poor job in notifying the public that a meeting was being held to discuss the $30 million overhaul planned for Astoria Park. She said that signs should have been put up in the surrounding area notifying residents that the Parks Dept. sought feedback.
Although Springer is registered to vote as a Democrat, she decided to run as an independent candidate because she believes that the major political parties are unable or unwilling to listen to their constituents.
“I think right now politicians are paying more attention to their lobbyists and their donors than regular people,” Springer said. “I would like to have more access to my local politicians whether or not I vote for them.”
Springer, who has been a local real estate agent for 30 years, disagrees with the city’s recent alterations of Astoria’s streets. She also believes that before the city institutes changes, such as the installation of Citibike racks, there should be more time allocated to communicating with the community and getting its feedback.
For instance, she is concerned new bike lanes have increased congestion on certain streets.
She adds that the city needs to invest more in parking to keep up with the construction of new apartment buildings.
Springer also criticizes the City’s decision to make Shore Boulevard one way. She said that she is concerned the change has made it more difficult for first responders to access the street, and that the change will lengthen emergency response times.
Springer noted that council members need to “stand up” for the community more when the City makes decisions that affect their constituents. For instance, she believes council members should have done more to prevent the closure of Riker’s Island and the opening of new prisons in Queens.
“It’s more like spreading the disease than reforming it,” said Springer.
Similarly, Springer said that the MTA’s $150 million overhaul of four Astoria subway stations should accomplish more than what she describes as “cosmetic” improvements.
Instead, the MTA should have listened to residents and included changes like installing elevators, Springer said. She adds that the MTA should have provided a free shuttle service for the duration of the project.
Springer said that she was frustrated that MTA arrived at neighborhood council meetings with completed plans and did not seem interested in adjusting the plan based on the community’s feedback.
“You have to step up,” she said of local politicians. “It was being rubber stamped.”
The election is scheduled to take place on Nov. 7.