Dolan's energy, activism will be missed
Nov 22, 2011 | 6303 views | 0 0 comments | 129 129 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With tragic passing of Patricia Dolan last week, it’s not only Queens that lost a great civic leader, but all of New York City.

Dolan was hit by a car while crossing Hillside Avenue last Tuesday night. She was rushed to nearby Jamaica Hospital, but died from her injuries.

Fitting her life of community involvement, Dolan was actually on her way to a Community Board 8 Transportation Committee meeting when the accident occurred.

Up until her death, Dolan was president of the Queens Civic Congress, an umbrella organization of over 100 civic and community organizations that advocated on behalf of Queens residents.

But the issues that Dolan was most concerned with – overdevelopment, transit, open space, to name just a few – affected all New Yorkers.

Dolan moved with her family from Bay Ridge to Kew Gardens Hills when she was just a little girl into a newly constructed home. She would live in that home the rest of her life.

It was Dolan who first recognized that out-of-scale development was ruining the neighborhood that she loved, and she began petitioning the city to rezone the area to better match the existing housing stock.

The city finally agreed, and in 1992 rezoned 39 blocks in Kew Gardens Hills. At the time, it was the largest rezoning the city had ever undertaken. Up until to that point, any rezoning that the city did was generally done on a case-by-case basis, and in almost all of those cases the rezoning was meant to benefit a developer.

This was the first time the city contextually rezoned a neighborhood to protect its unique characteristics. Now the phrase “contextual zoning” is part of the urban planning vernacular, but without Dolan it’s unlikely the city would have the very large contextual rezonings – form Jamaica to Greenpoint & Williamsburg - or the smaller-scale preservation efforts that you see today.

As president of the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Conservancy, Dolan was also a staunch advocate for one of the city’s largest parks, especially when it involved preserving the natural aspects of the park that are so overlooked because of all of the activities that take place there – from recreation to the U.S. Open to the New York Mets.

Dolan had an unique ability to make big, global issues – like the economy and the environment - local. Throughout her life, Dolan was a true trailblazer. She was an inspiration to those who knew her, and she will be sorely missed.

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