In a room packed with over 200 residents, she stood tot-to-toe with the Queens commissioner of the Department of Transportation and detailed why their latest harebrained scheme would adversely impact Woodhaven.
She didn’t yell or scream, she didn’t need to. She used gentle humor and common sense to drive home the point that DOT’s plan to convert 89th Avenue into a one-way street was a bad plan.
One month later, she made the same points in front of an overflow crowd at a Community Board 9 meeting. Later that evening the board, which had been poised to vote in favor of the plan just weeks before, changed their minds and voted against it.
It was a great victory for Woodhaven and Peggy Finnegan was a huge part of it.
“When I see something wrong, I speak up,” she told me. “I can’t just sit back and do nothing, I need to get involved.”
And getting involved is something that Peggy has been doing throughout her life, particularly over the last four-plus decades she has lived here in Woodhaven.
She was a block captain, handing out newsletters and collecting dues from her neighbors. She was very active in St. Luke’s and her son’s school.
And whenever the neighborhood needs her, Finnegan is there to fight the good fight.
One of her greatest strengths is her sense of humor. You have to be able to laugh when you live in New York City. Her other strength is, as she puts it, her ability to be a pain in the [rear end].
When she went up against DOT at the hearing, she laid out in great detail how the new traffic patterns were going to make it nearly impossible for drivers on her block to reach their homes.
The commissioner tried to salvage DOT’s plan by pointing out how the residents would be able to navigate their way home, but Finnegan just smiled and shook her head.
She then gently pointed out to the commissioner that the maps DOT were using were outdated and, in fact, incorrect.
The room fell silent for a moment until the commissioner nodded and conceded the point. The residents burst into applause and it was all downhill from there for DOT.
For all that she has done, Peggy Finnegan will be recognized as Woodhaven’s Woman of the Year by the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association at its 47th annual fundraiser on Friday, October 26, at Roma View Fine Catering at 160-05 Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach.
This yearly event is an opportunity for residents to dress in their finest and celebrate another successful and eventful year for the WRBA.
Adult tickets (12 and older) are $70, and tickets for children over five are $35. Tickets include a full buffet dinner with soda, beer, and wine. The event kicks off at 7 p.m. and concludes at 11 p.m.
Besides Finnegan, this year’s Woodhaven Man of the Year is Jose Vazquez, a longtime resident of Woodhaven, and the Business of the Year is Dexter Wines and Spirits at 75-13 Jamaica Avenue.
And the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association will induct the late Maria Thomson into its Hall of Fame. Thomson was a longtime director of the WRBA, as well as executive director of the Woodhaven Business Improvement District and the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation.
This annual event provides a major source of funding for the organization's operations. When you purchase a ticket for this event, you aren’t just getting a great night out, you are also supporting an all-volunteer organization that is good for our community.
The people on the WRBA board are volunteering on behalf of our community seven days a week, 365 days a year. This is a good opportunity to support and thank these people for their efforts.
For the record, they are president Stephen Forte and vice president Giedra Kregzdys, and Arlene Annunziata, Vance Barbour, Janet Chan-Smith, Martin Colberg, Janet Forte and Sherman Kane. Thank you to all of them for their continued and ongoing efforts on behalf of Woodhaven.
You can purchase tickets at the next monthly town hall meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 18, at American Legion Post 118, or you can call the WRBA at 718-296-3735. You can also purchase tickets online.