Western Brooklyn

Charles Ragusa Has A Few Ideas For Calvert Vaux Park

Calvert Vaux Park
Calvert Vaux Park (Photo by Rachel Silberstein/Bensonhurst Bean)

Charles Ragusa, 47th District Leader, has proposed a plan take advantage of Calvert Vaux Park’s rich ecosystem, which would create both jobs and educational opportunities in Brooklyn.

Ragusa noted that the shorefront park — as well as others, like Kaiser Park, Marine Park and Jamaica Bay — are perfectly situated for field biology programs.

“As an educator, I know how important it is to capture students’ interest. While formal classroom instruction is essential, I believe that field studies are important adjuncts to education, especially for STEM (science,technology, engineering and mathematics) programs. Southern Brooklyn can not only provide a superb natural laboratory but the foundation for ecotourism, which will provide a wide variety of jobs,” he said.

He added that southern Brooklyn also has the potential to become a center for ecotourism in New York City, especially for bird watching enthusiasts. Ragusa referred to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports which showed that bird watchers spent $15 billion on trips and $26 billion on equipment in 2011.

Turning Calvert Vaux — which is known for attracting more bird species than Central Park and its horseshoe crab habitat — into a mecca for bird enthusiasts, tourists, and naturalists would be a boon to Brooklyn’s economy, Ragusa continued.

“Ecotourism provides a significant portion of the economy of other states, for example, Alaska, as well as for the nation of Costa Rica. New York City is sitting on top of a financial and educational bonanza that is literally at our doorstep.  Local birding lists often have enquiries from out of state and international tourists about local birding hot spots.”

Photo by Daniel Frazer
Photo by Daniel Frazer

As we’ve reported, Calvert Vaux — which is largely constructed out of landfill from the building of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge — was tapped in 2007 for a massive revitalization project by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, one that would turn the green space into a regional park. But after recession-related budget cuts hit, followed by a required environmental cleanup that turned out to be pricier than expected, the plan was thrown to the wayside.

Though the $40 million plan included three baseball fields, six soccer fields, kayak launches, picnic areas, a central lawn, a bicycle path, nature trails, an amphitheater, a playground, and a recreation center, the park ended up with just two soccer fields and a parking lot.

Ragusa — who is running for re-election against Billy Thai and has been criticized by foes for being a no-show district leader for the last few years — added that he has already discussed some of his ideas with local environmental groups and plans to meet with local elected officials in the coming weeks.

“We have everything to gain and nothing to lose”, said Ragusa. “Everything is already in place — transportation, eateries, and a large workforce. Ecotourism would provide jobs for not only naturalists and scientists, but jobs for landscapers, bus drivers, restaurant workers and tour guides. There is even an opportunity for art and photography programs.”

The election for district leader takes place on September 13. Read more about the race here.

Comment policy


  1. This guy has been “in office” for how many years and *now* he’s got ideas!? Funny how a primary challenge will make you suddenly wake up and start doing your job. Unfortunately for Charlie it’s a case of too little, too late. Thanks for the snacks, Charlie Boy but methinks it’s time for the Asian Persuasion.

  2. Wow, suddenly idea pop out when elections are coming and a powerful candidate challenging him.

  3. Nevermind ideas popping out of nowhere. It’s possible that there really is a Charles Ragusa. I figured they’d find D.B. Cooper living in sin with Jimmy Hoffa before they ever found Ragusa.

  4. All you haters don’t know Charlie. He’s been out here for years working quietly with everyone and has done a lot of good things. Plus he ALWAYS had many good ideas which he gets going. Someone gives him a little credit and recognition and you can’t stand it. You should be ashamed of yourself!

  5. This guy is a is not in “office” he is a district leader who has no power in votes that effect any of you. just who do you think he is? He is a leader of the local Democrats, like every district has both Republican & Democratic leaders to help keep their parties in power, that’s all, he’s not a congressmen, a senator, a city councilmen, or a assemblymen. he is a political district leader.

  6. He was elected. Therefore he is “in office”. You are clueless as to how GOOD district leaders work with the community. And if this office has no power, then why do you think that other people are trying so hard to get this position?

  7. Because it is a step to higher office, plain & simple & I’m not clueless about how they work with the community, they are elected by the party, that’s all I was saying, If that upsets you, well too bad. You need to chill out. Your not the only one here who knows about politics.

  8. It seems to me that Zipper has an ax to grind, but he is evidently a new comer to the 47th district.
    I have not seen the Zipper at any of the anti-rally protest of the Marine Transfer Station.
    Charlie has been there many times & speaks up for the community. He doesn’t just “Go Along to Get Along “.
    Thai is just a opportunist. I have never seen or heard of him at any protest rally for the community. He’s a puppet of Mr. Chan.
    Charlie has been on the front lines speaking up for the community for over 25 years.
    He spoke up for Asian kid at Lafayette who was beaten up & it was resolved.
    You don’t have to be of Asian persuasion to know what is right in this community.
    He spoke up for the 2 police officers that were assassinated in Brooklyn last year , Officers Liu & Ramos.
    Where was Thai ? A follower maybe but not a leader.
    Charlie supported Officer Liang who was on trial this year.
    Besides these events Charlie has always been up front & outspoken for the betterment of the community.
    Charlie’s idea for a more robust Drier Offerman Park is a terrific idea , where it can & should be a important asset for the community that is under served for such facilities.

  9. Then he works too quietly (and IMO too ineffectively – Calvert Vaux is a disaster and the Transfer Station is still befowling the Bay). I’ve been in my current home in this district, and generally go Democrat, and I have never heard of Ragusa until this year. That makes him entirely the opposite of a “leader”. It is great that people like him, but he’s done nothing of any note for the community. I don’t hate on him because I don’t know him.

  10. I have no idea why you haven’t heard about him. He’s all over the place. All I can tell you is that Charlie has been at every rally against the marine transfer station and at other events too. A few years back, he formed a group with other people in the neighborhood and they went door to door collecting signatures against the project. People talk about how nice he is because when they stop him on the street, he always listens. Some people feel that the good work they do speaks for itself they don’t need cameras following them everywhere.

  11. That’s great for the average “foot soldier” political volunteer, but it’s not good for a “leader”. I’m really sorry, Marge, but as I said, CV Park is still a mess, and the Transfer Station is still moving forward. Ragusa’s just not very effective, and if he’s got any real victories to his credit, he’s not done a good job publicizing them. I can’t back someone as a party leader who isn’t actually out there leading.

    My career has taught me many things, but chief among them is that a leader is more quarterback than coach. A leader does not sit safely on the sidelines, anonymously directing traffic. A leader is in the huddle, on the field, taking hits, and getting the ball to the right players for maximum effect. Ragusa just isn’t a real leader.

  12. You said you generally vote democratic , but you haven’t demonstrated any democratic values. You are all talk and no action.
    Have you ever gone to a general membership meeting of the United Progressive Democratic club ?
    I doubt it. You are a fake, a phony & a fraud.
    Mr. Ragusa just doesn’t talk the talk he walks the walk.
    What have you ever done to help the community? NADA..

  13. I did say “generally”, but not exclusively. I am not registered to any party, nor will I ever be. Party politics is for losers, and people with nothing better to do with their time. I am about effective, rational, ethical political leadership, and I will vote for whoever seems to best represent those charateristics. Since the 1984 presidential election, that has been about 95% Democrats, but I have voted for some very effective Republicans, too.

    As for my community resume, I focus on youth leadership development. As a Scout Leader, I had a 90% rate of my Scouts making Eagle with well-developed, productive community projects. As a baseball and softball coach, I’ve spent years teaching young people how to be scholars and athletes, as well as well-rounded community participants. As a literacy volunteer at BPL, I have been teaching families in our multicultural community how to integrate learning into their everyday activites, and seeing my students excel in school.

    I’m actually out there in the community, achieving things for other people, every week of the year. And it is fine with me if I am not a household name in the neighborhood. I have nothing against Ragusa, but as I said, he may be a good foot soldier, but he is no leader.

  14. How to get an elected official to wake up and face reality? Show him an opponent in election. Otherwise, if the elected official remain unopposed. They will do absolutely nothing until someone challenge them. Our community do not want such elected official.

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