Maria Thomson
by Lisa A. Fraser
Mar 20, 2012 | 3323 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Anyone who is active in the Woodhaven section of Queens is familiar with Maria Thomson, the long-time community activist with many civic titles to her name.

She is an active voice on many issues and concerns of the neighborhood, from graffiti and business concerns to rezoning and actively fighting to save the Forest Park Carousel.

She wears many hats – she is the executive director of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation (GWDC), the president of the Woodhaven Business Improvement District (WBID), president of the 102 Precinct Community Council, a Woodhaven Residents' Block Association board member, and a 25-year Community Board 9 member.

The civic-mindedness was always with her, but didn't really kick in until she moved to Woodhaven from the Bronx 43 years ago. Thomson moved to Woodhaven after she married her husband.

“I loved the neighborhood and what it offered,” she said. “But when a fire at the Woodhaven Library broke out one year, it drove me to get involved. It was a rude awakening for me.”

Before that fire, she was already active within the 102 Precinct, but it forced her to become more involved in the community. She soon became president of the Woodhaven Residents' Block Association and as president was able to secure a building where the block association could have a permanent home.

Shortly after, when she became executive director for the GWDC, she said she was able to further serve the area.

“Through the GWDC, we've been able to clean up graffiti, paint the elevated J Train platform, receive funding to renovate the Forest Parkway Plaza, and push to landmark the carousel,” she said. “We've been very instrumental in getting a new concessionaire for it.”

Thomson is also behind the Wonderful Woodhaven Street Festival each October and hosts holiday gatherings and promotions in the neighborhood.

Now, one of the main issues she continues to push for is the rezoning of the area to maintain its character and funnel development toward the commercial corridors such as Jamaica and Atlantic Avenues.

And being involved in so many community organizations doesn't slow her down.

“The satisfaction of stabilizing the community, keeping it safe and preserving what we have here keeps me going,” she said. “I want this neighborhood to stay good and make sure it's attractive to new families.”
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