April 10, 2011 By Christian Murray
Community Board 2 passed a unanimous resolution Thursday night asking Mayor Michael Bloomberg not to sign into law the controversial renaming of the Queensboro Bridge to the “Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge.”
In a powerful move, emblematic of Queens residents’ outrage to the renaming, the nearly 40 member community board agreed to send a letter directly to the Mayor expressing its outrage. That message, however, might come too late, since the signing is expected to take place tomorrow morning.
The unanimous vote occurred shortly after Patricia Dorfman, chair of the “Save the Bridge” committee, spoke before the board and said that the mayor was running roughshod over the city council and the public by instigating the name change.
“To shove through this legislation is not leadership; it is an abuse of your power,” Dorfman said.
Bloomberg initially came up with the concept to honor former Mayor Ed Koch last December; however, it quickly turned into a political embarrassment for many Queens city council members who were persuaded to vote for it. The bill passed 38-12.
Save the Bridge, a protest group that has drawn members from Western Queens, has collected more than 500 signatures that call on the mayor not to sign the legislation that would sanction the name change. The petition will be sent to the Mayor on Sunday night.
The protest group has committee members from both right and left, such as Marie Koneko, who is the district leader of the Democratic party, and Frances Schimidt, the district leader for the Republicans. Furthermore, the head of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce is a member.
“Keeping the bridge name is important for business and our tourism,” said Ira Greenberg, President of the Sunnyside Chamber, who had other suggestions to honor Koch, whose popularity did not seem to be the issue. Slated to run to be the next Chamber president this month, Rebecca Barker, added, “So far, we have encountered no one in Queens who is not enraged at the renaming.”
Dorfman suggested that the bill’s passage is likely the result of behind-the-scenes politics. “Why would Queens council members, such as Elizabeth Crowley and Daniel Dromm, vote for such a bill that is so clearly unpopular?”
Luke Adams, who is on the Save the Bridge committee, added, “We are asking Mayor Koch to ask the Mayor not to sign the bill. Queensboro Bridge is a name we are proud of. This issue will not go away. If the bill goes into law, we will continue to collect signatures, and ask that a law be passed to repeal it.”