stephen levin

The Participatory Budgeting Results Are In!

Councilmember Stephen Levin discusses participatory budgeting.
Councilmember Stephen Levin discusses participatory budgeting.

Earlier this spring, the office of Stephen Levin, Greenpoint’s council member, provided the opportunity for residents to vote for how the district’s money would be used for community projects during the upcoming year.

The results from the community vote are in! Below are the projects that District 33 chose. The ones directly affecting Greenpoint are in bold. As construction information unfolds, check back with Greenpointers for more details. All quotes courtesy of Stephen Levin’s newsletter. Continue reading

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Speed Metal Speed Dating & the G Train Shocker — The Hook-Up 4/8

Photo via Nicole Disser, Bedford + Bowery
Photo via Nicole Disser, Bedford + Bowery
What are you doing next Saturday? If you can stomach planning more than two days ahead, come help clean up the neighborhood with Curb Your Litter and NAG on April 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you like your environmentalism with a touch of interactive data, check out this cool map.
What are you doing this Sunday, actually? If you’re single and metal as hell, come to Speed Metal Speed Dating at St. Vitus. This, from the same people who brought you Morrissey-themed speed dating night at Black Rabbit.
Transparency could soon be imposed upon the film industry thanks to a bill sponsored by Councilman Stephen Levin, which would require the city to provide monthly reports detailing when and where filming goes down (as well as the companies involved).

Do we smell another passive-aggressive Cuomo/de Blasio standoff? A state audit found that the MTA fudges its numbers on how often subway trains show up on time, and that service sucked more in 2015 than it did in 2014. But wait! Want to know the real shocker? The G Train performed better than any other line in terms of meeting target wait times: a rate of 81.3%.

The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce is teaming up with the Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce, allowing all BCC programs to trickle down to GPC members.
Have you met the North Brooklyn Democratic District Leader? He can serve you a drink at 151 on the Lower East Side, where he tends bar.
Jonesing for a tree? You have until May 5 to register for the Greening Greenpoint Tree Giveaway. It’s free! And it’s a tree!
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Greenpointers Can Vote Today on How District 33 Spends Its Money in Neighborhood Election

Councilmember Stephen Levin discusses participatory budgeting.
Council member Stephen Levin discusses participatory budgeting.

From March 28-April 3, Greenpointers can vote for or against many proposed neighborhood projects for District 33—which includes Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Williamsburg, DUMBO, and Vinegar Hill—giving residents a say in how the district uses its yearly budget.

The ability to vote on how the district uses its money is called Participatory Budgeting, and it gives residents the opportunity to speak out about which projects are important to them. Greenpointers will vote at the Greenpoint Library on Norman Avenue. You only have to be a resident of the neighborhood (not necessarily registered to vote) to cast your ballot. Continue reading

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At CitiStorage Rally, Various Words that Amounted to ‘Where’s Our Park?’

This should have been a park by now: Photo by Steph Koyfman
This should have been a park by now

Yesterday was the year anniversary of the 7-alarm fire that razed the CitiStorage warehouse on the Williamsburg waterfront.

At a rally held near the site on N. 11th Street and Kent Avenue, more than a few attendees wondered why the Williamsburg waterfront never saw massive, suspicious fires prior to its 2005 rezoning into a lucrative development opportunity.

But the event wasn’t held in service of a whodunnit mystery. Instead, open space activists brought in local representatives to drive home the message that the local government still owes the city one (1) Bushwick Inlet Park.

To be clear, the 28-acre park has been in the works for nearly two decades. In 2005, when the Williamsburg waterfront was rezoned, the open-space promise was part of the deal Bloomberg cut with neighbors and local politicians in exchange for all those pricey condos and added congestion. With the CitiStorage building aflame (which sits atop a major parcel needed to complete the park), fears were reignited that the land would go to another developer, and though de Blasio recently said he would deny a residential rezoning in the area, activist group Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park isn’t about to rest easy until the city acquires the land via eminent domain.

After years of beating the same (hopefully not dead) horse, there’s little to say aside from “where’s our park?”

But really though
But really though

And that was, indeed, the rallying cry at yesterday’s meeting.

Here are a few more versions of this from yesterday’s demonstration.

“On this date, there was a huge warehouse fire that would not be put out. Today, there is also a fire that will not be put out in any of us.” Kim Fraser, Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park

“It is very important that we keep our word as a city, very important that we keep our word as a government, and very important that we keep our word as a community to one another. Because that means something — a commitment means something. So we need to continue to fight for this, we need to continue to remind our city and our mayor, respectfully, that this is something they committed to.” Councilman Stephen Levin

“I want to point out that this park is not a gift. It was a negotiated trade. It was a contract. It was a contract between the community and the city of New York. And this contract said, ‘you vote and support upzoning on the waterfront, and we will give you this park.’ It was a hard and fast agreement in exchange for the rezoning that has led to massive density and population increases. And if they do not follow through on this agreement, they’re telling communities all over the city that their word is worthless. That they cannot be believed or trusted.” State Rep. Carolyn Maloney

IMG_1917“I started in politics when we were talking about Bushwick Inlet Park. As an intern. And I stand here today as your Deputy Borough President, working with Eric Adams as your Borough President, committed to this 20-year plan, and committed to what is bringing dignity back to this community. Because I grew up not going to parks. Because in Williamsburg, when you went to a park, there would be a shootout. We are long past those days. We’ve worked hard to make sure we have a safer neighborhood. But it is not fair that after all that work, that we have to stand here again calling for the same negotiated contract that was already negotiated.” Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Diana Reyna

“Open space is as much of a [deciding factor] for people I know as to whether they can make a life here [as schools and property taxes]. It’s not a luxury we’re asking for. This is not a little cherry on top. This is part of what any person who ever thinks about the life and death of cities knows is a necessity when a city grows and changes.” State Senator Daniel Squadron

“A lot of people believe this is all about money. And I guess it is all about money, because either the Bloomberg administration or the de Blasio administration has said ‘we’re not gonna spend the money that’s necessary in order to give us a park.’…We’re not responsible for the cost of this park. This park could have been bought for pennies compared to what it costs today. The East River Park was purchased for $10 million. This park could have been purchased for less than $10 million back in 2005.” Assemblyman Joe Lentol

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It’s No Fun Living Next to a Superfund Site as Dubious Plans Move Forward at Former NuHart Plastics Building

Since scaffolding was erected last week on Dupont Street, complaints to 311 and NYC Council Member Stephen Levin’s Office have been rolling in.

Greenpoint’s former NuHart Plastics manufacturing facility is partially a state-managed Superfund Site and is divided into 10 parcels spanning an entire acre on Clay, Dupont and Franklin Streets. Two of the “uncontaminated” lots are scheduled to undergo demolition in the coming weeks.

Scaffolding on Dupont Street in Greenpoint lacks visible permiting and stretches far beyond Lot 57; A. Simon
Scaffolding on Dupont Street in Greenpoint lacks visible permiting and stretches far beyond Lot 57. Photo by A. Simon

At press time, the scaffolding lacked visible street-level permits and extends far beyond Lot 57 to include adjacent Lot 17. This is the latest in a series of well-documented missteps by the Dupont Street Developers and their rotating cast of contractors. Continue reading

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The Locals Have Spoken: We’re Not out of the Woods yet with the Clay St. Shelter

Louis Molina, Senior Advisor at the DHS, fields some questions. Photo: Julia Moak
Louis Molina, Senior Advisor at the DHS, fields some questions. Photo: Julia Moak

The swell of crime in North Greenpoint is still not the type of thing we’re discussing in yesterday’s terms, but things, on some level, appear to be happening. The fact that city officials scheduled a followup town hall meeting so soon after the last one is testament to the notion that they’re taking things seriously, even if residents are pretty firm on their stance that they haven’t gotten serious enough.

As many God Bless Deli II loyalists can attest to, the corner of Clay and Manhattan is frequently a hub of aggression, and some residents feel that it has to do with the homeless shelter at 66 Clay Street that moved into the neighborhood about a year ago. The tension that’s erupted in the months since can be traced to anything ranging from “quality of life concerns” to actual assaults on people who live nearby.

It’s unfortunate no matter how you slice it. Though the violence tends to stay between the clients (it’s a couples shelter, so domestic violence disputes come with the territory), there have also been reports of muggings, assaults, and sexual harassment afflicting the neighboring community. Greenpointers are also pretty unhappy about living with the constant shouting, aggression, and drug dealing that goes on, especially insofar as their children are concerned.

“There’s an aggression that comes out of 66 Clay,” said one local man at the meeting, which took place Dec. 7 at the Polish & Slavic Center at 176 Java Street. “We can feel it; we can sense it; it’s a totally different vibe. The BRC guys [at a neighboring shelter on McGuinness] say ‘hello, how are you.’ [The residents at Clay Street] come at you, block the sidewalk. It’s just a constant aggression and different kind of person.” Continue reading

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A Tree Grows in Greenpoint, and We’re About to Get 499 More

Kids and trees! The young saplings of our future.
Kids and trees! The young saplings of our future.

Last Friday, Greenpoint took a small step in the direction of better living up to its name.

With one tree planted out of a proposed 500, the “Greening Greenpoint” project is well on its way to transforming our corner of Brooklyn into the verdant oasis we always knew it could be.

Neighbors, local officials, and students from the nearby St. Stanislaus Catholic Academy looked on during a tree-planting ceremony that took place Nov. 6 near 189 Driggs Avenue. There, a Hackberry tree was planted: a native shade tree that’s popular with the birds. Thanks to the students, the block then received over 300 new daffodil bulbs. Continue reading

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How Did a Massive Halloween Rave Almost Go Down in One of Greenpoint’s Most Dangerous Buildings?

Roux answered for what seem to be the sins of multiple parties at Monday's NAG meeting.
Roux answered for what seem to be the sins of multiple parties at Monday’s NAG meeting.

By now, most of you are familiar with the story of the Cityfox rave that never was. To sum it up briefly, a club promoter sold thousands of tickets to an all-night Halloween fête in Greenpoint’s toxic NuHart Plastics building. Due to intervention from the Fire Department, the party never quite made it to witching hour, but many residents are super pissed that something like this almost went down at a state Superfund site — and across the street from a senior center, no less.

Beyond that, the details are somewhat difficult to follow, which makes it hard to know exactly where to point fingers, even if the impetus is hardly in short supply. Cityfox issued a public apology yesterday, and organizers at Monday night’s NAG meeting made a point to save any rave-related questions for last, but the Q&A session quickly became a sounding board for public outrage. As one resident summed it up, the whole thing was a “huge slap in the face” for a community that’s been impacted by the building’s toxic history and is now grudgingly attempting to trust developers who claim to have its best interests in mind.

Fielding many of these questions was geologist Michael Roux, the environmental consultant for Dupont Street Developers LLC, which bought the NuHart site in 2014. He was joined by Yi Han, a representative of the group. Together, their account was confusing and at times seemingly contradictory to some of the other things we now know about the incident (for instance, Han said the owners never signed a contract, but NAG has supplied copies of the signed party permit on its website. To be clear, the building is owned by multiple parties). Additionally, Roux said that he wouldn’t be “totally forthcoming with everything [he knows],” as he’s been put on notice of potential legal action by the state.

In order to help make heads of tails, here’s a rough chronological timeline presented from multiple perspectives. Continue reading

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Investigating the India Street Ferry (Or lack thereof)

© Kristin Laughter/ Green pointers

We’re well aware by now that the imminent five-week G suspension this summer (from late July through the end of August) has many commuters spooked. Adding insult to injury, the New York Waterways ferry landing at India Street—by far the second-best option for many—has been suspended indefinitely since February, when a gangplank failed and plunged into frigid East River waters moments after passengers climbed aboard.

This looming transportation brownout has raised eyebrows for months. At an April 3 meeting organized by State Senator Daniel Squadron at the Polish and Slavic Center on Kent Street, officials addressed community transportation concerns, including the ferry, but they declined to announce a reopening date. Now, almost two months later—and only eight weeks before the G shutdown—that date is still elusive.

The road to Pulaski bridge traffic jams and sweltering MTA shuttle buses is paved with good intentions. So, for the past several weeks, Greenpointers has been investigating the India Street Ferry closure to determine whether anyone can say with confidence that the ferry landing will be operational before the G shuts down.

(The answer: very likely, but not entirely certain.) Here’s what we found out:

Continue reading

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Waterfront Construction Will Begin in 2015

Look, it's a park...overshadowed by a GIANT BUILDING (rendering of 77 Commercial St)

The notion that not one, but two parks, are coming to Greenpoint as early as 2015 may SOUND like good news. Who doesn’t love green space?

But, don’t forget to read between the lines.

On 5/2, Crain’s reported:  Construction on the first of two long-awaited parks along the Greenpoint waterfront is set to begin in 2015, spurred by money from the developers of two massive residential projects on the waterfront that were approved last year. Continue reading

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