Participatory Budgeting, Increased Police Presence, Changes To The Cortelyou Tot Lot & Other Notes From Monday’s Community Board 14 Meeting

CB 14 Greenfield

Community Board 14 held its November meeting Monday night at Edward R. Murrow High School. Here’s what happened this month:

  • Neighbors encouraged Councilman Mathieu Eugene  to become involved in the city’s participatory budgeting process, which allows constituents to directly vote on projects they’d like to see funded in their area. Residents Johanna Clearfield and William Cerf spoke to Eugene following his formal presentation during the meeting and encouraged him to get involved in participatory budgeting, which such area lawmakers as Councilman Jumaane Williams and Councilman Brad Lander have done but Eugene has not. Johanna reported that during the discussion with the legislator, he asked her if she knew how many city Council members there are and then pointed out that, of the 51 members, only about 20 are participating. “But, that doesn’t answer my question,” Johanna told Eugene. “I am asking if we can have it in our district.” The lawmaker said, according to Johanna, that having participatory budgeting in the district wouldn’t make a difference, saying that “we are all the same. We all work together. I save hospitals from closing down.” The neighbor reported Eugene went on to say that whether there is participatory budgeting or not, anyone can look into how he is spending tax dollars. “Again, I tried to explain the difference between ‘transparency’ (which is certainly important) vs. a constituent being able to impact where and how the money is allocated,” Johanna wrote to us. We have also reached out to Eugene about participatory budgeting.
  • Deputy Inspector Richard DiBlasio did not address the recent crimes that have drawn concern around the neighborhood, including the armed robbery at Ox Cart Tavern and the home invasion on Rugby Road, but he did note that neighbors “will see extra enforcement, especially in the shopping district areas” during the upcoming holiday season. He also invited everyone to the 70th Precinct’s next meeting, which will be held Wednesday, November 19, at 175 Lawrence Avenue at 7:30pm.
  • CB 14 Chairman Alvin Berk reported that the Ditmas Park Care Center (2107 Ditmas Avenue) is seeking to expand its nursing home facility, adding a little more than 41,000 square feet and 21 beds to the nursing home. The chairman pointed out that the center was not required to present information to the community board, nor is a public hear mandatory for this, but that the organization came before CB 14 members regardless. Berk noted some neighbors had questions about traffic, particularly since the center aims to add an ambulatory dialysis center, but the center said that a substantial number of those going to the new dialysis unit would already be in-patients at the center. He also mentioned that, in order to complete the expansion, the nursing home requires a certificate of need from the state Department of Health and certification from the Department of City Planning. “If there are specific questions addressing this that you’d like the board’s help with, you can call the board’s office,” Berk said. The board can be reached at  718-859-6357.
  • CB 14 District Manager Shawn Campbell reported that there will be an “ebola community education forum” at the Kings County Hospital Center, in the auditorium at 451 Clarkson Avenue, on Wednesday, November 19 at 6pm. The public is invited to participate.
  • Community board members are expected to vote on CB 14’s new bylaws at their December meeting, the chairman said. Fifteen members of the board have been working on a by-laws committee since last February to amend the group’s by-laws that Berk noted haven’t been changed since 1990. After the by-laws committee reviews the final batch of changes, the entire board will review it and the public will have an opportunity to look over them at least 10 days before CB 14 votes at its December 8 meeting.
  • The historic Kings Theatre, which, decades after it closed in the 1970s, will reopen in January as a major performing arts venue, is looking to fill a number of positions, including a marketing associate, a receptionist/administrative assistant, and an associate production manager. To find out more about the positions and how to apply, you can go here.
  • Eugene also announced that his office has kicked off its food drive for veterans. Neighbors are encouraged to drop off canned food at his office, located at 123 Linden Boulevard, until November 20. For more information about the drive, you can call Eugene’s office at 718-287-8762.
  • Thanks to an increase in city funding allocated specifically for cleanup initiatives in every Council member’s district, Eugene said his district is partnering with the Doe Fund to conduct additional cleanups on Church Avenue, Cortelyou Road, and Newkirk Plaza. Additional trash baskets will also be placed in the area.
  • Councilman David Greenfield, who sponsored the cleaning program, called Clean Up NYC, reported that he is also working with the Doe Fund to do additional street cleanings in such areas as Avenue J, Avenue M, and Coney Island Avenue in Midwood.
  • Donald Loggins, head of the board’s environmental committee, reported that the Cortelyou Tot Lot (Argyle Road and Cortelyou Road) will be undergoing major repairs to address drainage issues. “It tends to flood when it rains and snows, and now the worker sweeps water into the street, but their goal is to repair it,” Loggins said. The $1.5 million repairs from the city will include installing new piping and drainage.
  • Loggins also reported that a representative from PS 217 was at the environmental committee’s last meeting, and she reported that they have been successful in creating buffer zones around the school’s garden. She’s trying to replicate it at other schools in the area but is “having trouble getting principals on board,” and Loggins said CB 14’s district manager is working with her to help get the school leaders on board.
  • The Transportation Committee reported that, with the Kings Theatre nearing completion, there have been concerns about how traffic will be impacted. Some changes to lane markings and signal times will be made at Church Avenue, though nothing has been finalized yet. Additionally, 18-wheel trucks are expected to be loading and unloading for performances, and there is the possibility that, to mitigate the trucks’ impact on traffic, it will enter through the Sears parking lot.
  • The Flatbush Nostrand Junction Business Improvement District unexpectedly lost its director this summer, but an intern with the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce is helping the group, CB 14 reported. If you’re interested in getting involved with the BID, or helping it while they search for a new director, you can attend the BID’s meeting at Astoria Bank (1550 Flatbush Avenue) at 12:30pm this Thursday. Anyone is welcome to attend.
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