Bill de Blasio & Steve Levin

De Blasio doles out crowd pleasers at Brooklyn Heights town hall

New York City has already purchased two sites for Bushwick Inlet Park for $160 million. Now, de Blasio said, the city will be investing an additional $17 million to “bring it online right away.” De Blasio urged his commissioners to “speed it up.”

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
October 21, 2017

Money for parks, new schools, youth center
By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle

With Councilmember Stephen Levin at his side, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced new investments in local parks, new schools, a doubling of the Boerum Hill Historic District and funds to reopen the Gowanus Houses Community Center, among other projects at Wednesday’s town hall held at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights.

He also used the power of the mayorship to connect aggrieved residents of Levin’s District 33 (Greenpoint, Brooklyn Heights, Downtown, Boerum Hill) directly to commissioners and other officials filling almost a quarter of the seats in the St. Francis gym, ready to cut through red tape.

For example, when a Brooklyn Heights resident complained that the Buildings Department had consistently approved Saturday construction work at the site of the former Brooklyn Heights branch library, de Blasio called out to a DOB representative, who make the snap judgement that the permit for Saturday work would be ending immediately.

Parks

New York City has already purchased two sites for Bushwick Inlet Park for $160 million. Now, de Blasio said, the city will be investing an additional $17 million to “bring it online right away.” De Blasio urged his commissioners to “speed it up.”

The city will also be spending $6 million to upgrade Cadman Plaza Park’s shady north end. The last time the north end was rehabbed was in the 1950s, de Blasio said. Renovations will include landscaping, beautification, benches and working water fountains.

Roughly $6 million will go to upgrade McCarren Park’s ballfields, which haven’t been upgraded in 20 years. Another $3 million will be directed to Epiphany Playground, $8.8 million to Barlett Playground and $1.1 million to the playground on Penn Street.

The mayor also announced that Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 3 will open next summer. Additionally, the popular Pop-Up Pool will be returning to Brooklyn Bridge Park for one last summer. In response to a question from volunteer Martha Lineberger about the possibility of the floating + Pool at the park, de Blasio said there were still legal issues that needed to be decided.

If there were any opponents of the controversial Pier 6 project planned for Brooklyn Bridge Park — a project strongly backed by the mayor — they were quiet, likely because a lawsuit brought by the Brooklyn Height Association is still in court, awaiting a final ruling.

De Blasio announced new funds for parks, including Bushwick Inlet Park and Cadman Plaza Park, new schools and more at Wednesday’s District 33 town hall held at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights. Councilmember Stephen Levin is shown at right.

Parking

The mayor called the four-times-a-week alternate side parking in Williamsburg “crazy.” He received applause when he said that, going forward, this would be cut back to two days a week in Community Board 1. He also received applause from Orthodox residents when he announced more flexible parking rules on Myrtle Avenue between Nostrand and Classon on Saturdays.

Schools

De Blasio announced a 500-seat school will be built on the Domino site, and a 332-seat elementary school at Albee Square in Downtown Brooklyn.

De Blasio also discussed his plan for free pre-K for 3-year-olds, which he dubbed 3-K, and free afterschool activities for all middle schoolers.

In response to a question from a resident, he described the city’s plans to de-segregate schools by changing the admission process, and seeking legislation in Albany to end reliance on a single standardized test for admission to specialized schools. “No one test should determine anyone’s future,” de Blasio said.

De Blasio emphasized that city would not allow privatization of public housing. Some residents would be moved to smaller apartments, however, in an effort to “right size” their housing.

He announced to applause that the city has dedicated funds for the Cornerstone Youth Center, which will reopen the Gowanus Houses Community Center to youth after 10 years of being closed.

Libraries

De Blasio and Levin teamed up to defend public library priorities when resident complained that fewer books were on the shelves at their local public library. “Nobody’s abandoning the physical book,” Levin said.

Levin, who brokered the deal to sell the site of the Brooklyn Heights Library, assured a questioner that there would be more shelf space at the newer (and somewhat smaller) replacement library. His statement drew a quiet snicker from one of the Brooklyn Heights Library supporters.

LICH

“Give us back our hospital!” local resident Matthew Betteil said. He was referring to Long Island College Hospital (LICH) in Cobble Hill. De Blasio had marched for the hospital in rallies and supported it at court before his election, but dropped this stance after being elected.

The resulting emergency care center operated by NYU Langone, though excellent, “is not what I wanted,” de Blasio said. “I’m disappointed with the outcome.” However, it would be financially impossible to put a hospital back in, he said.

BQX

In response to a question from Heights resident Toba Potosky, de Blasio said the proposed streetcar system was not likely to begin to be built before 2020.

Commercial rents

In response to a question from Heights Chateau owner Matthew LaSorsa about escalating rents on Atlantic Avenue, de Blasio called it a serious problem with several underlying causes. “If you love your local stores, you need to spend your money there, not at Starbucks,” he told the crowd.

To help out small businesses, de Blasio said the city had reduced fines by roughly 40 percent; reduced taxes (two years ago); is “looking at” commercial rent taxes and is providing legal support to commercial tenants in lease negotiations.

Other topics

De Blasio arranged a number of liaisons between constituents and officials, including Department of Transportation’s Polly Trottenberg and the Department of Housing, on issues ranging from the difficulty a senior was having crossing a local street to non-removable window bars in public housing and the inability of a mother to have her child returned to her from foster care.

Photos by Mary Frost

Original article.

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