The new park underneath the Kosciusko Bridge will be ready in July, Assembly Member Joe Lentol announced on Monday.
Under the K Bridge Park will open in an area of the city known for a major lack of green space and around the same time that New York City is poised enter Phase 3 in the reopening process following last winter’s cornonavirus shutdown.
The nearly seven-acres of space is under the management of North Brooklyn Parks Alliance and is intended to bring public arts programming and recreation along the shore of Newtown Creek, which is a Superfund site with a long history of industrial pollution. Continue reading →
Emily Gallagher is no stranger to assuming the role of David against a political Goliath. In 2016, she lost a race to unseat an entrenched district leader in North Brooklyn who had served the district longer than Gallagher had been alive.
Now, Gallagher is running to represent North Brooklyn in the New York State Assembly against someone who—again—has been in office longer than she has been alive: Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, beloved by many during his half a century in elected office.
Greenpointers spoke with Gallagher ahead of the June 23rd primary elections to discuss how her campaign has changed in the midst of a pandemic and to get her take on the citywide protests that have erupted after the killing of George Floyd.
To voters who don’t know you, can you introduce yourself and explain why you’re running for election to the Assembly?
I am a 14-year resident of Greenpoint. In my second year in the neighborhood, I became involved with activism around the environment. Additionally, I became very involved in activism around safe streets and transit advocacy, pushing for better subways, pushing for bike lanes, pushing for justice for pedestrians and cyclists.
Throughout all of this activism I started learning how important it was to have allies that both were willing to champion the causes of the neighborhood but were also able to push for forward-thinking policy in advance. I’m a survivor of sexual assault. I love the idea of pushing for public hearings and for trauma-centered and victim-centered discussions. I saw a lot of hesitancy to participate from our Assemblymember, and then I learned he’s been in office nearly 50 years. I decided it’d be worth it to challenge him and to the very least have a conversation about these issues and at the ideal get someone in there who—me—understood the story of the community.
The death of George Floyd has reverberated across the nation, with protests erupting across New York City. Do you think police brutality is an issue in North Brooklyn, and if so, what policies would you support to combat it?
I think that police brutality is an issue in North Brooklyn. I have seen in my own community people receiving poor treatment by the police, especially around the issues of cycling. I think this is an issue for our whole country, and North Brooklyn could be a leader in changing the tide. A big part of my platform is actually shifting from being police-centered to thinking about how policing is the band-aid solution for every other problem that we have.
I think we should start shifting to solving the roots of the problems. We see so much interaction between the youth and the police. We’re also seeing jobs programs being cut. We’re seeing after school programs being cut. A lot of times, we are using the police as a way to hide the poor services that we are giving to vulnerable community members, and I think that we can actually shift the power in a way that benefits everyone.
I’ve also been calling for the repeal of 50-a for months. There’s a lot that we do to protect bad-acting cops, when what we should be doing is protecting vulnerable people and making sure that they have the resources that they need and are protected.
No one could have anticipated COVID-19 when the race for the 50th Assembly District began. How has COVID-19 changed your campaign and what pandemic-related issues would you focus on if elected to the Assembly?Continue reading →
In 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a young, progressive upstart, defeated Joe Crowley, a career politician and longtime U.S. Congressman, to win a seat in the House of Representatives representing Queens. Echoes of that narrative, an upstart candidate running an uphill campaign against a party mainstay, have reached North Brooklyn.
Lentol is an institution in North Brooklyn with more than 47 years in elected office, fighting for more green space in the 50th Assembly District and pushing for criminal justice reform at the state level. Greenpointers spoke with Assemblyman Lentol to discuss how his platform has changed in the midst of a pandemic and protests against police brutality ahead of the June 23rd primary elections.
The interview has also been edited and condensed for clarity.
To voters who don’t know you, can you introduce yourself and explain why you’re running for reelection to the Assembly?
I’ve been in office for a while, and I have a long record of accomplishment. Especially now that I’ve gained a lot of seniority, I’ve been able to do things that I wasn’t able to do as a junior member in the legislature. That not only helps enact good legislation, but it also helps our district. I intend to continue in that vein.
A post shared by Joe Lentol (@joelentol) on Jun 3, 2020 at 12:21pm PDT
The death of George Floyd has reverberated across the nation, with protests erupting across New York City. Do you think police brutality is an issue in North Brooklyn, and if so, what policies would you support to combat it if reelected?
I don’t know if it’s an issue in North Brooklyn, but it is an issue in New York state, and I represent the entire state. I think the time has come to finally repeal 50-a, a statute that was passed that protects the police officers’ personnel record from being used against them in court. It’s an anachronism now and I think the events that happened in Minneapolis show us that we need to repeal that statute.
Then there are also other reforms that I’m championing, like the STAT Act, for example, that I believe we should fight to pass, which gives statistics for who gets arrested and what race they are. Right now, there is no law throughout the state or even in New York City that requires racial information to determine whether or not people who are arrested have been arrested in a way that’s been discriminatory.
No one could have anticipated COVID-19 when the race for the 50th Assembly District began. How has COVID-19 changed your campaign and what pandemic-related issues would you tackle if reelected to the Assembly?
People are adopting dogs now and cats because of the pandemic. Especially in the time when they’re sick and have to stay home, they’re wanting to have an animal. We still see a persistence in the ACC [Animal Care Center] in euthanizing animals that don’t need to be euthanized. I’ve introduced a bill to stop them because I’ve seen incidents in some other publications that animals have been euthanized that have been perfectly healthy and ought to be adopted.
The most important bill that I’ve introduced that has now come to fruition is the Compassionate Helper Bill. The most terrible thing about this pandemic is that people die alone. I thought that nobody at all was addressing that problem. Fortunately, with a little bit of pressure that we put on the governor, we introduced a bill to require the hospitals to do this. And the governor and hospital association reached an agreement to have a pilot program. Beginning this week, there will be compassionate helpers who will be outfitted with PPE to sit with and care for people who are afflicted by the virus. Continue reading →
Ahead of the June primary election for the New York State Assembly’s 50th District (which includes sections of Greenpoint and Williamsburg), incumbent Joe Lentol and challenger Emily Gallagher will both hold petitioning launch events this weekend with supporters in order to get on the ballot. Continue reading →
With an uptick in complaints over chronically late mail, missing packages and unsatisfactory service, Assemblyman Joe Lentol sent a letter to the U.S. Postal Service Inspector General earlier this month asking how to improve mail delivery in his district. The letter also asks to identify the cause of USPS’s delivery woes in Brooklyn zip codes in 11211, 11222, and 11249. Lentil spoke to News 12 Brooklyn in an interview at the Williamsburg post office: Continue reading →
Assemblyman Joe Lentol is calling for the U.S. Postal Service Inspector General to “conduct a thorough audit of mail delivery and its efficiency in North Brooklyn.” Speaking for his constituents in Brooklyn zip codes in 11211, 11222, and 11249 Lentol addressed a letter to Inspector General Michael Horowitz urging a close look into the cause of mail-related complaints flooding Lentol’s office:
For the past few months, many constituents in our districts have expressed their dissatisfaction with the inadequate performance of the USPS. We have heard numerous complaints that include untimely deliveries, routine delivery to incorrect addresses and mail sometimes not being received at all.
The India Street pier entrance has been flooding for months during rain episodes and multiple people have reached out to Greenpointers with photos from last night’s flooded commute.
“I love the ferry, I feel like most people in Greenpoint who take it, love it,” said Sean Hart, a Greenpoint resident who takes the ferry at India Street approximately three to five times per week.
But Hart’s love for the ferry has come with multiple instances of dodging the flood waters on India Street next to “The Greenpoint” development, where pedestrians are prohibited from accessing the new walkway that is policed by construction workers.
“A few months ago, I went to take the ferry, it was on a rainy day as well, and I noticed a similar level of flood and I wasn’t sure what to do,” Hart said.
“I remember even stepping over to the area where the condo is and I remember there was a pretty rude angry foreman,” he said.
Following a meeting with volunteer victims advocate and Greenpointer Deborah Spiroff, State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol introduced The Safe Way Home Act this week, to provide sexual assault victims free transportation home from the hospital following treatment.
The budget would be provided through seized forfeiture funds from the district attorney’s office and the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services would be the program administrator.
Spiroff, who identifies as a survivor, has volunteered for the past two years at Wycoff Heights Medical Center in the Violence Intervention Treatment Program, working on call two to four days per month for 12 – 15 hour shifts. Volunteers like herself must go through training and a background check to volunteer their service to victims of sexual assaults.
“I’ve had more than one case where after the person has been treated they’re just released, and they literally were walking home from Wycoff Hospital at 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 4 o’clock in the morning,” Spiroff said. “And even if it’s earlier in the day depending on where an assault may have occurred, it could have been near a subway; assaults happen everywhere. And frequently cell phones are stolen, wallets are stolen, metro cards are stolen, it’s just a very overwhelming traumatic time.”
Williamsburg-based CRÈME introduced renderings of Timber Bridge at LongPoint Corridor: A 275-foot-long, 16-foot-wide, floating pedestrian and biking bridge made of sustainable glue-laminated and pressure-treated timber, to span Newtown Creek from Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint to Vernon Blvd in Long Island City.
The bridge is designed to have pivoting features to open and close in around 3 minutes for the many boats and barges on Newtown Creek, the 3.8 mile-long federal Superfund site that will undergo remediation over the next decade.
To prevent flooding, the bridges’ platform would move with the tide and have green spaces on either side. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports that the bridge was the idea of Jun Aizaki, a 20-plus year North Brooklyn resident and Pratt Institute graduate.
Construction would take approx. two years and cost more than $32 million to build. LongPoint Bridge could potentially receive city funding and additional backing from private donors, such as Amazon, who the firm is exploring as a donor. The bridge is also backed by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and State Assemblyman Joe Lentol; a newly registered nonprofit, Friends of Timber Bridge, is seeking to raise funds for the project.
A Kickstarter campaign by the design firm raised $30,266 last summer, which was short of the $50,000 goal. Momentum for the bridge may pick up with the anticipated localized tech industry boom led by the potential for Amazon to build HQ2 in Queens, bringing tens-of-thousands of new jobs and residents to the area served by the proposed bridge.