Councilman Vincent Gentile Writes:
Even during these tough economic times, this was a banner year for our great city. My colleagues and I came to a $68.5 billion balanced budget deal five days before the deadline. The budget, which will go into effect on July 1, comes without tax increases and staves offpreviously proposed cuts – including all of our firehouses, senior centers, libraries and after-school programs.
I proudly commended Mayor Bloomberg, Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Finance Chair Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. and all of my colleagues in the New York City Council for coming together and delivering a grand slam for hardworking families all across New York City. Not only will this budget protect our firehouses and our after-school programs but it will restore an unprecedented $90 million in proposed cuts to New York City’s libraries while saving 637 library jobs with no service disruptions or changes.
This budget is a huge win for Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach and Bensonhurst. The neighborhoods I serve don’t qualify for many city services but we stood our ground, banded together and made sure the Mayor didn’t cut the few services we do qualify for.
In addition to saving Heartshare’s Beacon program at McKinley I.S. 259, some 1,500 children across four schools within Community Boards 10 and 11 have also been spared as after-school funding for the programs at PS 102/The Bayview School, PS 186 / Dr. Irving A Gladstone School, PS 229/Dyker and PS 200/The Benson School has all been restored. New York is one of the most expensive cities to live in and after-school programming and childcare is of utmost concern for most working parents. The new budget will increase the number of teachers in the school system by roughly 1,000 while adding $75 million more to child care and out-of-school programs than the previous year’s budget.
Additionally, all the firehouses in our community were saved. This welcomed news comes on the heels of a terrible four-alarm blaze in Bay Ridge that left four families displaced. Our community knows firsthand that the FDNY is invaluable and I am very proud to say that even in times of fiscal uncertainty, public safety remains our city’s top priority.
Speaking of public safety, I have also secured $3 million for capital improvements within our community. These improvements will include state-of-the-art security surveillance cameras for the 68th Precinct to mount around the neighborhood where necessary. Currently our district does not have any of these permanent “eyes” on the street but now we’ll have several permanent cameras and they’ll all be monitored by the NYPD’s Technical Assistance Response Unit (TARU).
In the areas of education and recreation, I proudly teamed up with my colleague Councilman David Greenfield to fund a $500,000 renovation for the library at PS/IS 180 SEEALL Academy. I was also able to allocate $1.2 million towards the renovation of Patrick O’Rourke – Dyker Heights Playground on 81st Street between 10th and 11th Avenues. Yet probably the biggest project that is fully funded in the budget in the $2.1 million renovation of the McKinley Park ball field at 78th Street & Fort Hamilton Parkway. With the help and support of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, this ball field will transform from its current cracked asphalt surface to a new state-of-the-art synthetic turf and when done will serve as home base for the youngsters of the St. Anselm’s Little League.
I was also able to secure expense funding for local groups – first time funding allocated to new community groups like the Francesco Loccisano Memorial Foundation and the Shore Road Parks Conservancy as well as continued funding to our Veteran’s Groups, Parent-Teacher Associations, Senior Centers, Scout Troops and many others. Altogether, over 120 groups that provide services in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach and Bensonhurst received funding.
In 2009-2010, I secured capital funding for the new recreational Eco-Dock to be built and opened in the next year at the 69th Street Pier. This year I added to the new budget funding to coordinate programming at this exciting new location in Bay Ridge. This Eco-Dock is the first one built in the City and will help open up the shorefront for boating, kayaking and more.
This budget did not arrive without many difficult choices but all in all this was a great year and I am very satisfied with the FY 2013 budget because it addresses and includes support for many priorities shared by the Mayor and the Council. I believe we’ve put together a budget that is fiscally responsible but one that also shows our unwillingness to sacrifice our most fundamental services even during difficult economic times.
Have a safe and happy July 4th and a wonderful summer!