As it stands now, City Council redistricting brings big change for Roosevelt Island, bigger than you might think but not as big as many fear. Whatever gets burned into law stays for 10 years, starting in 2024. That’s a long haul if they get it wrong. Here’s a closer look.
by David Stone
What is New York City Council Redistricting?
It’s the process of altering Council district lines to account for population changes. The city is divided into 51 districts, each with about 220,000 residents. Once a decade, after the U.S. Census, these lines are redrawn to make sure each district has roughly the same number of people.
“The commission was tasked with dividing the 2020 census city population of roughly 8.8 million people and by the 51 districts which came to approximately 172,882 residents for each district. In redrawing the maps, they could only deviate of the 172,882 figure by 5%.” –PoliticsNY Interview with Redistricting Commission Chair Dennis Walcott.
And it’s not just simple math. City, State and Federal mandates, like the Voting Rights Act, must be considered.
So, How Did Roosevelt Island Float Into Queens?
“But it’s all based on the analysis of the numbers and the standards we had to meet, “Walcott told PoliticsNY, “and we’re trying to fit it in. That’s how we analyzed it. So we had to move on to add Roosevelt Island to parts of the east side and into Queens district 26.”
In short, it’s a numbers game, but Walcott also stresses that what we have so far is preliminary. More on that later.
First, the pros and cons.
Queens District 26 Pros
The change in City Council districts doesn’t change anything else for Roosevelt Island. The Rock remains part of Manhattan. No change in ZIP or Area Codes.
It may be a better fit because Roosevelt Island’s community profile more closely resembles that of our middle class neighbors in Astoria. Few if any of the ultra-rich relaxing in one of their several homes on the Upper East Side visit Roosevelt Island let alone live here.
Think about it. Do you think we’d get the shabby treatment we get from Albany if they did? What multibillionaire would tolerate the fumbling, bumbling RIOC crew or the grinding decline of Main Street?
The Pros for Manhattan District 5
In our connection to the Upper East Side, we draw on the best and the brightest in New York politics. Lappin, for example, during her two terms, brought The Tram into the MetroCard system, championed Cornell Tech in competitive bidding and so helped Four Freedoms Park get started that she was asked to sit on their board.
Gifford Miller became City Council President, and Julie Menin has leaped into the fray over multiple struggles on behalf of the community in just six months.
The Upper East Side holds no exclusive franchise on the best and brightest, but experience suggests an incubator there.
So, Where To From Here?
Answering specifically about the District 5 move, Walcott said, “And we look forward again to hearing the feedback and if people have a better sense of how things should be done, we want people to respond that way.”
The next round of public hearings is scheduled for Aug. 15, 16, 17, 18 and 22. A month later, the Commission reports its recommendations to the City Council.
“We value the sensitivity that people bring to their respective communities,” Walcott stressed. “And that’s the process again, we want to emphasize to the public, we want that engagement and that helps us make those type of decisions.”
Similarly, Menin urges constituents to get engaged. Hearings are just a few weeks away, but you needn’t wait that long.
Anyone who would like to submit testimony on the 51 city council maps can write to the commission at email@example.com., right now.