Last year I sat in a community meeting at Greenpoint Church on Milton St and listened to neighbors argue for and against the 10 bed homeless respite that had opened in the basement after Hurricane Sandy hit and the weather was getting down to freezing temperatures.
After the controversy it created, the church decided to shut it down and it moved to Ascension Church a few block north. But the respite did not reopen this winter season. Continue reading →
“The polls open at 6 a.m. and will remain open until 9 p.m. You must be a registered member of a particular party to vote in that party’s primary. And don’t expect the computerized voting system that has been in place for a couple of years and that New Yorkers were just starting to get used to. Instead, the old pull lever voting machines are back, just for this primary.”
This is an important election, especially with issues like Greenpoint Landing and
77 Commercial St, two developments on the horizon which will directly impact life
here in Greenpoint. The two recently debated and last week Stephen P. held a Save Greenpoint Rally for ”reasonable development.”
Many who attended the debate criticize Stephen P. for being ”green” and not very
articulate, and whether he can actually do anything to rezone the waterfront and
prevent the 40 story high rises at this stage in the game is questionable. One area
where he is outspoken is with regards to bike and pedestrian safety. He also was
attacked for not ever voting himself, which he regrets.
Stephen Levin, our current Council Member and brunch hero, can’t live down his association with the vile and corrupt Vito Lopez and during the
debate admitted to funding Vito’s political organization in Ridgewood, according
to contributor Gina P who was there, even though he assures that he has cut ties with him. And while Levin has been an advocate for our local
homeless population and for community safety - he was personally handing
out police sketches of the rape suspect this summer - the question of trust is on the minds of Greenpointers.
So which Stephen is right for Greenpoint? You decide today.
I should start by saying that never in my 4 years of living in Brooklyn, have I ever attended, or even considered attending, a local debate. Like the majority of Brooklynites, or, let’s be honest, people in general, (only 1 in 5 registered voters turned out in 2009), I have never gotten involved in local politics.
This could get confusing… Stephen Levin and Stephen Pierson are going head to head at the Polish Slavic Center (176 Java St) tonight, Wednesday August 21, 2013 (7-8:30pm) for an epic STEPHEN VS. STEPHEN showdown.
FYI – Stephen Levin is our Council Member for the City Council District 33 (since 2009), which covers Greenpoint, Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo, Boerum Hill, and parts of Williamsburg and Bed Stuy. His interests include transportation safety, education initiatives, and fighting against the effects of lead poisoning (he started his career by running a program for children with lead poisoning in Bushwick).
But Stephen L might have some serious competition from Stephen P, who is getting a lot of buzz lately for being young, hip and according to the NY Times, expertly dressed. Times reporter, Gina Bellafonte, wrote back in April, that Pierson “looks like modern Brooklyn.” What does modern Brooklyn look like?
When I met him for breakfast last week he was wearing low-slung skinny jeans, untied desert boots and a snug wool coat and carried with him another accessory of the moment — his 2-year-old daughter’s lunch. To support himself several years ago while he was writing a novel, he started to play poker and turned out to have a talent for it.
So this guy has written a novel, fathered a 2-year old daughter (so trendy right now), and wears tailored wool? But, wait, there’s more. He also started an art and literary magazine called Canteen, featuring contributors with tattoos (thanks NY Times, for pointing that out). AND he developed Canteen Arts, an after-school program for teens in Harlem. Conclusion? He’d do really well on eHarmony.
The two Stephens have a lot in common. They both went to Brown. They’re both in their 30′s. They’re both liberal Democrats. And they’re both incredibly white in appearance.
But the major difference lies in their allegiances. While Levin used to serve as Vito Lopez’s chief of staff (and is seen by some as Lopez’s political puppet), Pierson has voiced his opposition, criticizing Levin for never publicly condemning Lopez’s alleged sexual harassment of female staff members. Pierson even went so far as to tell the NY Observer that he believes Lopez to be”the most vile politician in Brooklyn politics.”
The Stephens have also managed to secure the alliances of two rivaling hassidic groups in Williamsburg. This could get ugly.
This debate is sure to have it all: angry Hassids, sex scandals, promising young white men, AND a Brooklyn fashion showdown. Sounds like a good pitch for a Williamsburg nightclub. But, let’s take a moment to address the real question at hand–which Stephen is the most eligible bachelor? The sweater-wearing, sensitive, artsy, Stephen P, or the classic navy suit sporting, non-profit poster boy, Stephen L? You decide, Brooklyn.
• Did you know Greenpoint has a park called Sgt. William Dougherty Park? It’s right by the BQE on Meeker and Vandervoort Ave. Don’t get too attached, it will be closed for four years while the Kosciusko Bridge gets a major facelift (Brooklyn Paper)
• Watch out Levin, Pierson is talking nice to pedestrians and bikers. “Stephen Pierson, who is running against incumbent Stephen Levin (D-Greenpoint-Williamsburg) in the Sept. 10 Democratic Primary for the seat in the 33rd Council District, has released a nine-point transportation plan he said will improve public safety” (Brooklyn Eagle)
• “Residents of the Greenpoint Hotel are fed up with their landlord and want him fined and arrested. Tenants rallied Wednesday outside the Brooklyn Housing Court to demand a safer living environment.” (Greenpoint Gazette)
Last year local restaurants were getting fined for serving brunch on the sidewalk before noon because of an outdated law that ensured the path was clear for churchgoers. Yana was right, “brunch is the new church!” and finally the city council abolished the stupid law. According to the Daily News, Stephen Levin who sponsored the bill actually said this: “I’m egg-static that the war on brunch is over…Thanks to the City Council, the law preventing sidewalk brunching before noon on Sunday is toast.”
Update: Cancelled. Will be rescheduled to a TBA date.
The recent sexual assault in Greenpoint has many Greenpointers saddened, confused and scared. While the police are still conducting an investigation, reports have been made that the rape was a hate crime. Many residents have mentioned forming neighborhood watches or bike patrol programs to prevent future crimes.
Tomorrow – Wednesday June 25th, 2013 at 7:30pm at Greenpoint Church (136 Milton St) there will be a Community Forum on Sexual Violence. It is FREE,open to the public and all are welcome to attend.
Hosted by Greenpoint Church Associate Minister C.B Stewart, Council Member Stephen Levin and Brooklyn Community Gay Pride Center, the recent sexual assault in Greenpoint will be discussed as well as ways to create a community-based strategy for staying safe in Greenpoint – with a focus but not limit to the LGBTQ community here.
Be careful and spread the news of this incident to other residents so not only can we be on the look out for the suspect but that we can remember to be more cautious while on the streets of Greenpoint especially at night.
“We’re creating a neighborhood on the waterfront.”
These were the poorly-chosen words of Melanie Meyers, a representative for the Greenpoint Landing development. She appeared alongside representatives of the development at 77 Commercial Street and from various city agencies before a room filled beyond capacity at the McCarren Recreation Center on Monday evening to present preliminary plans for the developments threatening to deposit over 6,100 units of additional housing upon the north Brooklyn waterfront across the next decade. While it’s unclear what, if any, new information was conveyed to the public at the meeting, the response from the audience was clear: Greenpoint already has a neighborhood, thank you very much.
The details of the developments remained vague on many points, but the general outlines of their deal with the city are coming into focus. In exchange for development rights (purchased for what Ms. Meyers estimated for Greenpoint Landing at $8 million for 295,000 square feet, or about $27 per square foot) Greenpoint will be tossed the proverbial bone in the form of 631 units of affordable housing, 4.5 acres of city-owned park, about 2,000 square feet of publicly-accessible waterfront, and a 640 seat school. Part of this deal involves acquiring air rights from the MTA property at 65 commercial street; in order to use these air rights to build a 30-40 story tower instead of a 15 story tower, 77 Commercial still needs to secure an exception to allow for the soaring heights of R-8 zoning instead of its current R-6.
Aside from clarifications to these numbers, representatives of the developers did not meaningfully answer any questions or address any neighborhood concerns. Chief among those raised was the impending specter of a socioeconomically divided Greenpoint, with the waterfront belonging to the wealthy in towers whose business would be conducted in Manhattan and the rest relegated to their shadows cast on Manhattan Avenue. Transportation, which weighs heavily on the mind of any rush-hour G train commuter, was mentioned but met with a familiar response: we’ll do the studies when required by the development process. All of these non-answers served only to reinforce the main sentiment that this development is incongruous with the neighborhood and is not part of a comprehensive plan but rather is a short-sighted capitalization on valuable, newly-available waterfront.
People seemed dismayed by the lack of clear intentions coming from the developers coupled with a lack of clear leadership from representatives. Stephen Levin, District 33 representative, offered vague advice to ‘organize, organize, organize’ but appeared primarily interested in making it clear to voters that he was not in office when the 2005 rezoning was pushed forward. Similarly, Christopher Olechowski, representing community board 1, made it repeatedly clear that they had rejected in its entirety the development plans for the waterfront only to have them pushed through by the city regardless. If we wish to have a say in anything more meaningful than the placement of a park bench or two, it is clear that we will need to align the powerful undercurrents of resistance felt at this meeting, and do it quickly.
I have done my best to record all numbers accurately as I heard them, but please correct me on any mistaken details.