Only three dozen residents braved the heat to hear Addabbo speak June 3, but the longtime elected official, who clearly relishes such meetings, appeared unmoved by the low turnout.
After losing his suit jacket (the tie stayed on), Addabbo jumped into a host of issues, from the Ridgewood Reservoir to the census to the elections this fall.
Community residents are battling the city over its plan to redevelop part of the Ridgewood Reservoir, the slice of overgrown wilderness on the Brooklyn-Queens border. Without referencing the Parks Department specifically, Addabbo said he opposes plans to build in the area.
“I am not in favor of any construction being done at the Ridgewood Reservoir,” he said.
A group of opponents recently met with Comptroller John Liu's office in a bid to block the city's plan, which Liu could do by freezing the Parks contract for the project.
Phase one work would upgrade pathways, fencing, and lighting around the three-basin reservoir, which is also being eyed by the state for possible protection. More controversial still is a proposed phase two plan that could include recreational fields for the reservoir's third basin.
Residents say the city should improve the ball fields at Highland Park, just steps from the reservoir, and leave the space as a nature preserve. Addabbo echoed that feeling.
“I love parkland and playgrounds, but I'm not going to destroy nature for another playground” when Highland Park is right nearby, he said.
On the upcoming election, Addabbo, who chairs the State Senate's Elections Committee, said now is not the time to make the switch to new voting machines.
The state has been ordered to do so to comply with federal legislation passed after the controversial presidential election in 2000. But Addabbo said New York doesn't have enough money to train poll workers in preparation for what promises to be a busy election season, and would be better served by waiting until next year.
“We're not ready financially,” he said. But if the state is forced to make the switch, he added, “somehow we will make it work.”