BROOKLYN HEIGHTS – Hundreds of Brooklyn residents turned out for a town hall meeting with Mayor Bill De Blasio Wednesday evening moderated by Council Member Stephen Levin at St. Francis College.
Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, NYS Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, and Congress Member Nydia Velázquez also attended to show their support for the mayor as well as the neighborhoods covered in Levin’s Council District 33 (Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, Fulton Ferry, Greenpoint, Vinegar Hill, and Williamsburg).
“This is a great opportunity for this district to have a real dialogue with our Mayor,” Levin said at the start of the meeting. “He’s done now 40 of these meetings around the city. He’s going to be reaching out to every single council district in the entire city of New York by the end of this year. What that says to me is this is a mayor who cares about communities. This is a mayor who cares about the issue on your block.”
Before the two-hour Q&A session with community members, De Blasio addressed the audience, detailing recent developments within the council district Levin represents.
The “updates, breaking news, and important announcements” the Mayor discussed include:
“I can say from personal experience, this is a part of Brooklyn that has a special love for our parks,” de Blasio said. “Our parks are incredibly important to our lives. We have to keep investing to make our parks better.”
As part of the Community Parks Initiative, the Mayor announced that the city has invested $3 million for the Epiphany Playground; $8.8 million for the Bartlett Playground; and $1.1 million for the Penn Triangle, all in Williamsburg.
The city will continue to invest in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The Mayor noted that Pier 3 will open next summer and confirmed that the beloved pop-up pool is guaranteed to return next summer as well.
$17 million has been committed to turning two sites at the long-promised Bushwick Inlet Park into usable park space.
$6 million has been invested to upgrade of northern end of Cadman Plaza Park. The Mayor pointed out that this park is long overdue for improvements. The last time Cadman Plaza Park received an upgrade was in the 1950s. The project will include new landscaping, new benches, and a water fountain.
Williamsburg’s McCarren Park will receive $6 million to rebuild its ballfields. De Blasio noted that it’s been 20 years since the ballfields were last upgraded.
“Always a big issue in our beloved city,” de Blasio next discussed parking issues in Northern Brooklyn.
The Mayor mentioned Williamsburg’s excessive four-times-a-week alternate side parking rule. In response to community complaints, he said that all day-time alternate side parking will be cut in half to twice a week going forward in CB1.
De Blasio also stated that in considering the many community members who observe Shabbat, the city will remove Saturday alternate side parking on Myrtle Avenue from Nostrand to Classon within the next few weeks. Upcoming changes to meter rules will also consider those who observe Shabbat and allow more flexibility on parts of Division Avenue and parts of Roebling Street.
De Blasio proudly touted that his Universal Pre-K initiative has almost doubled the number of seats in the last 3 years in Levin’s council district and has tripled the number of seats available in School District 15. Following up on this success, de Blasio said the next step is free, full-day, high-quality early childhood education for every three-year-old in New York City. He noted that the program has already begun in Central Brooklyn, District 23 and the South Bronx, District 7. It will be universal and in every school district within four years he promised
The Mayor also noted, “In this council district, we have doubled the number of after-school seats for kids in middle school.” He pointed out that not many New Yorkers are aware that sixth, seventh, and eighth graders are guaranteed free after-school programs, often in their same school or at a nearby facility.
De Blasio also announced that the city has invested $15 million for an additional 1,700 childcare vouchers to help families pay for childcare.
Regarding new schools, the Mayor announced that the former Domino Sugar site in Williamsburg, which is currently being developed by Two Trees, will include a school with at least 500 seats. He also announced that the new 332-seat school planned for Albee Square will be an elementary school for the community.
De Blasio stated that the Landmarks Preservation Commission will begin a formal process of consideration for the potential of nearly doubling the Boerum Hill Historic District. The process will consider adding 288 buildings to that district.
The opening of the Hamilton Avenue Marine Transfer Station last month removes 100 garbage trucks a day off the streets of North Brooklyn, according to the Mayor.
De Blasio also stated that the city supports Levin’s proposed legislation to cut in half the amount of garbage and waste handled in CB1 in an effort to bring fairness to the community that’s been shouldering much of the city’s trash burden.
De Blasio noted the city’s $1.3 billion investment to fix roofs and exterior conditions in NYCHA buildings across NYC. He also assured the city’s 400,000 NYCHA residents that the city will not allow the privatization of public housing.
He closed by stating that the city will invest in the long neglected Gowanus Houses Community Center, making the facility ready to accommodate larger youth programs including a Cornerstone Youth Program.
Accompanied by leaders of various city agencies, de Blasio then fielded questions from community members. Issues raised ranged from housing, schools, climate change, and development.
In response to one resident who supports the Mayor’s plan for the BQX, de Blasio said that the earliest that project would begin would be in 2020.
In response to a St. Francis College student’s question regarding policies implemented to hold police officers accountable for their actions against civilians, the Mayor promised that all officers will be equipped with body cameras by the end of 2019 and added that the neighborhood policing (NCO) program will help in developing better relationships between officers and communities.
Have a question you’d like to ask the Mayor? Council Member Brad Lander will host another Town Hall next Thursday, October 26 at MS 51, 350 5th Avenue. Doors will open at 6pm and the event will begin at 7pm. RSVP at www.nyc.gov/cd39townhall.