Community Town Hall Meeting 2014, Speaking up for FAHP

Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas Thanks Agency Representatives For Showing Up

Last night I attended the Community Town Hall Meeting 2014 at the Museum of the Moving Image. Co-hosted by the United Community Civic Association, this is a unique opportunity to speak directly to all of our local elected officials and to representatives of all of the local and city wide agencies responsible for governing Astoria. This was a fascinating experience and I plan on attending these from now on. For now, here’s a quick update on my experience.

First things first. I got there ten minutes early and the event started late. I used the time to gather my first 16 signatures in support of the Friends of Astoria Heights Park Mural Project What I learned during this is that people (a) don’t like signing things without having a clear idea of what you’re talking about and (b) a picture saves a lot of time. I happened to have my iPad with me and when I showed people the before and after pictures, they immediately “got it” and signed right away. ERGO…. we’re going to want to get print-outs of before-after pictures into the hands of petitioners. It will make your signature gathering more efficient. So please contact me if you’re serious about petitioning and we’ll arrange to get you a full-color visual aid.

Also, I spoke at the open mic. I had prepared remarks, but I re-thought the overall tone of them, which I thought was a bit too harsh in light of all of the positive momentum I feel we have going for us right now. Here is what I ended up saying:

  1. Friends of Astoria Heights Park is a group of neighborhood volunteers who want our park to be among the safest, cleanest, and most beautiful and most inspiring in NYC.
  2. We appreciate the upbeat responses and earnest engagement in our cause of our local politicians and the Parks Department.
  3. We are concerned that things appear to take a very long time to happen and we think this in and of itself is a problem. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and our park’s issues would have been easier and less costly to address if they’d been addressed sooner. So, I expressed my hope that Parks and Transportation will look into what might be internal obstacles to local issues being addressed in a more timely way.
  4. I ended by reiterating how excited and optimistic we are, appreciative of local politicians getting involved in our project, and that I hope a year from now, there will be real progress to report at the 2015 meeting regarding speed bumps and stop signs on our Park’s adjacent streets, real progress on the West slope erosion problem, real progress addressing buckling concrete, real progress on child safe gates, and real progress on keeping the park safe and clean.

After the meeting, which seriously was fascinating— the spectrum of issues addressed at this meeting is breathtaking— I got face time and exchanged contact information with Parks and Transportation and Forestry and Police representatives. I reiterated my talking points and expressed my appreciation for their help. And they all seemed honestly enthusiastic about improving our park. I feel like I made real headway with the Department of Transportation person. I described the particularly bad situation at 30th Road and 45th Street in detail and she took notes and said she would look into it. And finally, I thanked Costas Constantinedes again for his support of our undertaking. He comes across as an earnest and enthusiastic advocate of our group’s concerns and goals.

Costa Constantinides Answering Question about Revitalizing Astoria Park At Community Board Meeting

That’s all for now.

Mural Project Advocacy— Write a Letter of Support, Become a Petitioner

We need to demonstrate to the powers-that-be that we have broad and enthusiastic support for our mural project.

Here’s how you can help!


Download the official ‘invitation to write a letter of support’ PDF by clicking HERE. Then, write your own letter in support of this project and remit it to the Chair of Friends of Astoria Heights Park at lynnk at, and forward the invitation PDF to anyone you think would be willing to write a letter, too. Spread the word! We would love to have letters of support from as many people as possible. Make your letter personal and feel free to borrow from the invitation itself, too.

Download the mural petition by clicking HERE. 
We want to collect as many signatures as possible between now and April 25th in advance of a presentation Friends of Astoria Heights Park will be make to the Park Department to win their approval and support for this initiative. Collecting signatures sounds daunting, but fellow Astorians will be happy to show their support and this is also a terrific way to build awareness of what we’re trying to achieve. Team up with another enthusiast to collect signatures outside of heavily trafficked locations, such as in front of post offices and grocers. All you need is their name legibly printed, their signature, and their zip code (11102 and 11103 are preferred), and then if they’re willing to share it email addresses would be great, too. If you download the petition and sign it yourself and then collect one page of signatures, that would just be incredibly great.

Your level of commitment is entirely up to you, of course, and we really would appreciate anything you’d be willing to help with vis-a-vis the mural project, so please feel free to come and spend some time with us and figure out what part you can play!

Looking for more ways to get involved? Great!  Here are some ways you can help.

Thank you for helping build support for the Astoria Heights Park Mural Project!