Join new local podcast The Hook next Tuesday, January 10 at 7pm at Pete’s Candy Store for their inaugural episode of a new, live, one-on-one talk show. The first episode will kick off with NYC City Council member Stephen Levin for an intriguing sit-down with questions like:
“Is there hope in politics?”
“Are there other cities you are envious of, politically?”
“What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?”
And… “When you played bass for an indie- rock darling of college-radio, named after a $10 toy synthesizer, was it awesome?”
Levin is one of the city council’s youngest members and part of the 33rd District which includes Greenpoint and Williamsburg. Recently, Levin was a key player in the city’s acquisition of the final parcel of land to complete Bushwick Inlet Park, a victory which took years of hard work and collaboration between residents and local government. Though, it should be noted that the process isn’t over, and we still have a long way to go until the day we see the park fully realized on our waterfront land.
According to The Hook, it is “a new political speakeasy, in which people of idealistic distinction are interviewed before a live audience, with ample space for interaction, surprise, and discovery. Moderated by former Open City Dialogues host Jamie Hook in the venerable back-room of Pete’s Candy Store, The Hook is an experiment in the politics of the local, an incubator for new community ideas, and a subscriber to the notion that all you have to do to belong is participate. Join us!”
Audience members will have ample opportunity to ask questions and participate, so bring your best inquiries for a chance to find out what’s what from a local politician in this era of political uncertainty.
This past Saturday, December 17th, Mayor de Blasio came to Bushwick Inlet Park to praise the community activists who after ten years of strugglefinally prevailed and forced the city to purchase the twenty-seven acre site for the park. De Blasio continually referred to the community’s victory and praised the local group Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park for their tireless advocacy for the park. In his remarks the Mayor laughed about the persistence of local City Councilman Stephen Levin, who incessantly nagged him until the park was purchased. The Mayor spoke of the high cost of acquiring the land ($150 million just for the final piece), but said that the city was fulfilling its promise to the community to acquire the waterfront site.
A number of other local politicians spoke. Borough President Eric Adams mentioned that the park was proof of the city’s commitment to provide waterfront access to all the people of Brooklyn, not only those with the means to purchase luxury waterfront real estate. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney also addressed the gathering saying that the actions of community groups in gaining the park would serve as a future model. State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol reminded people that he had been an advocate for the park for a decade.
The mood at the gathering was celebratory, almost euphoric. Many of the people in the crowd had done the hard work of advocating for the park for years. They had made phone calls, signed petitions, and even slept out in the rain to gain the parkland, and they were in the mood to celebrate. As they walked home to Greenpoint, Stephen Chesler, Scott Fraser and some of the other people who fought the hardest to gain the park posed for pictures by the fence, which recently read Where’s Our Park? but now reads triumphantly, Here’s Our Park. Those words said it all.
This Thursday at the Automotive High School Auditorium (50 Bedford Avenue) from 6:30–8:30pm, local City Council Member Stephen Levin has organized a meeting in response to community members’ post-election concerns. The purpose of this meeting is to keep momentum going by connecting local organizations with folks who are ready to get involved. Levin says, “We need to reassure our community that if the new administration tries to roll back the progress we’ve made as a city that we are prepared to fight back!”
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 →
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.
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%.
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 →
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?”
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
“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
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 →
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 →
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 →