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Residents Ask City to Keep Neighborhoods Intact When Drawing Council Lines

By Nicholas Rizzi | August 21, 2012 2:56pm

STATEN ISLAND — Residents of the North Shore of Staten Island pleaded with the city's Districting Commission Monday to keep their community intact when they redraw the City Council boundaries later this year.

During a public hearing at Borough Hall, a few dozen residents urged the commission not to split up neighborhoods with large African-American populations, like Stapleton and Tompkinsville.

"We're just becoming a village now," said Marilyn Brown, 38, of New Brighton and member of Community Board 1. "If you change the district lines you're going to ruin that."

It's likely that Councilman James Oddo will no longer represent parts of Brooklyn after the boundaries are redrawn, and pols say that Staten Island will have three self-contained districts. Councilwoman Debi Rose would cede some territory to Oddo, which also upset residents who know and trust her.

Because of surging population on the North and South shores of the borough, those districts would shrink geographically while the Mid-Island would grow, according to the Staten Island Advance.

"The possibility of no longer representing some neighborhoods is really upsetting to me," Rose said. "I really would like to keep all of my constituents as they are now, even though that's not possible."

Rose urged the commission to keep the borough's unique character in mind when they redraw the lines.

Residents at Monday's meeting also feared that some of the senior members of Stapleton, Tompkinsville and Clifton would have trouble traveling to voting locations if the district is moved to the middle of the Island. The commission would not say whether or not they would add voting locations to the northern part of the Island if redistricting is approved.

The city redraws Council districts every 10 years, based upon population numbers gleamed from the census.

And even though many of the residents did not want their districts changed too much, none seemed to mind dropping Brooklyn from their Council lines.

"I think losing part of Brooklyn as a district will not make a difference," said Dr. Mohammad Kalid, president of the Pakistani Civic Association and Iron Hills Civic Association. " I have no doubt that our neighbors in Brooklyn can easily manage their affairs."

The city has been holding public meetings in all five boroughs before submitting their plans to the Council in November. The last two forums will be held in Queens on Tuesday, and the Bronx on Thursday.