QUEENS — In an emotional speech, long-time Queens Borough President Helen Marshall delivered her final State of the Borough address Tuesday morning, summarizing her three eventful terms in office, including ongoing recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy.
During the speech at Queens College, Marshall showed a lengthy presentation on the deadly storm's impact on the borough and the long recovery process that has followed.
"Superstorm Sandy revealed the awesome force of nature. It was the biggest natural disaster to hit New York City in decades," she said.
At one point, she honored Michael McDonnell, who helped rescue six neighbors in Belle Harbor along with another neighbor, Dylan Smith.
Smith died in December in a surfing accident in Puerto Rico. On Tuesday, Marshall announced a $10,000 grant in his name to the Swim Strong Foundation.
"[Hurricane Sandy] ravaged communities but neighbors like Dylan and Michael McDonnell showed that no force of nature is stronger than the force of compassion," Marshall said.
When she took over the office in 2002, the city, including Queens, was still struggling after 9/11, she said.
The borough had been suffering from deep city budget cuts and many development projects in Queens were frozen.
But “we’ve come far since then,” Marshall said, including various rezoning projects that have become an important part of her tenure.
In addition to more than 6,300 blocks rezoned so far, she said she was working on another 1,000 blocks.
“When we are done, we will have rezoned almost half of the entire borough,” she said.
Attending the speech were most of the candidates vying for her seat, including councilmen Peter Vallone Jr. and Leroy Comrie, former councilwoman Melinda Katz, state Sen. Jose Peralta and Barry Grodenchik, a former state assemblyman and a longtime staffer at Queens Borough Hall.
When asked whether she is planning to endorse any of them, Marshall said: “I don’t want to.” She added, however, that she is “going to all of their events, and I’m giving all of them a donation.”
She said she had already given donations to three of the candidates but declined to name the recipients.
As for her plans for the future, Marshall said she is planning to spend time with her family and on renovating her house.
“While I’m doing that, I’ll be thinking which way I’ll go,” she said after her speech. “But you can believe me, you gonna hear from me.”