Mayor Bloomberg’s new liaison to CB4, Sam Pierre. — Photo by Aaron Short
Bushwick’s Community Board 4 meeting is actually starting on time, so let’s get right into it:
6:30 PM: Hope Gardens is tricked out in enough orange and black Halloween decorations the place looks like a Wawa. Chairwoman Julie Dent calls the meeting to order, noting that due to Mayor Bloomberg’s new policy seeking to prohibit the use of food stamps for soda, there will be no soda. Instead, we have bottled water. And there’s only enough for board members. But there’s still tap water in the kitchen. Goodbye neon-colored Western Beef soda. We’ll miss you.
On a side note, we’ve got a few more representatives from the media here, including Columbia and CUNY Journalism School students, plus Ken from the RBSCC-published Bushwick Observer and a writer from Bushwick Today, something in newsprint from the owner of the Jalreign Institute – a mixed martial arts school on Stanhope Street. Perhaps next month we can have a press table.
6:53 PM: District Manager Nadine Whitted calls the roll. Despite the absence of soda, I have to say the food is excellent tonight. Chicken parmesan, potatoes and sausage, sautéed green beans, and wild rice pilaf. Sharon Robinson, you’ve outdone yourself.
7:00 PM: Dent gives her report, introducing representatives of elected officials — we have a few new faces.
New Vito Lopez staffer Laurie Wheelock appears to have replaced the gaping hole left by Allison Frost. Welcome Ms. Wheelock.
Maritza Davila, not a new face, introduces herself as the female Democratic district leader and gives the address as the Democratic Club (at 279 Wyckoff Avenue) and notes that she also works in the Ridgewood Bushwick Housing Department.
Sam Pierre is the new liaison from the mayor’s office.
Dent begins her report noting that Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council will begin accepting applications for income-restricted apartments at 239 and 348 Melrose St. and 395 to 297 Jefferson Street [pdf] and you can pick them up at 299 Wyckoff Avenue — RBSCC’s temporary headquarters.
This was the project used by Lopez and Davila to smear Council member Diana Reyna before 2009′s Council election — they claimed she was holding up funding for the subsidized projects being built by her allies, while she claimed these other projects were simply ahead in the pipeline. There’s even video from City Hall a few months later when Lopez said that Reyna was not a “team player.” In any event, the project is ready to go and it seems Reyna sent a letter to her constituents highlighting the availability of the new units.
On an unrelated note — the Federal Bureau of Investigation will be making a presentation to Community Board 4 on national infrastructure security next month.
“When the individuals from the FBI come, they will go more into detail about this,” says Dent. Hopefully the al-Qaeda bogeymen don’t want to blow up the new Ridgewood Bus Terminal.
7:13 PM: Whitted begins with her report summarizing the damage due to last month’s tornado, while also noting that Council member Erik Dilan (D-Bushwick) gave $300,000 from his capital budget to repair Maria Hernandez Park and Irving Square Park.
“Erik Dilan was the only Council member who did that,” said Whitted, to applause.
Whitted has an interesting report about the Post Office and zip codes. Williamsburg will be receiving a new zip code due to the “gentrification” that has occurred in recent years, but Nadine asked post officers in a meeting why Bushwick has pieces of four zip codes instead of one distinct zip code — which would help with data collection and analysis of trends. She was told that that will “never happen.”
Whitted notes that new Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey will be visiting the board in December but there is no word whether the board’s parks committee will continue to have a say in the highly controversial baseball field permit process.
Finally, she reflects on a meeting she had with the 83rd Precinct and the State Liquor Authority where the SLA Chairman noted more aggressive regulations that will be coming up meant to curb unlicensed sidewalk cafés and bars abusing existing licenses.
“I believe that we in this community are oversaturated. How are we going to approach that change? I’m not sure.”
7:35 PM: Mary McClelland’s drives full-throttle into her Health and Human Services Committee report, regarding a local clinic, the ribbon cutting ceremony at Wyckoff Hospital, and that soda in the board meetings has been switched to water because it’s healthier. Mary is wearing her trademark red beret, turquoise-colored stretchy slacks, and a crimson hoodie jacket. She continues on a six-minute story about senior citizens being denied water at the ribbon cutting, since the water was reserved only for politicians. Also, Flu Week is coming. I think Mary means flu awareness week. Actually, I don’t really know.
8:02 PM: McClelland has two recommendations: ban sugary sodas at the meetings in perpetuity and contact the mayor’s office about collecting data on teenagers selling “loosies” (single cigarettes) from corner stores. Also Barbara Smith recommends that the board does not approve a liquor license for a nightclub at 360 Jefferson, due to tenant outrage at a Public Safety Committee meeting.
Cyril Joseph objects to the water recommendation because people want to drink mildly sweetened juice and soda at the board’s annual Christmas Party. Chairwoman Julie notes that the party happens after the meeting, so it doesn’t apply. Thank God. The recommendation is adopted.
So is Barbara’s recommendation on 360 Jefferson, whose liquor license is not approved, but 302 Irving is approved.
8:15 PM: Old Business. Laura Braslow presents a new Arts and Culture Committee to coordinate arts events, facilitate public artwork projects, and connect local arts groups with city and state resources. The committee would also be responsible for engaging public libraries, parades, and heritage events, cultural events, and holidays that occur throughout the year.
Dent explains to the members that a vote will add the committee to the board’s bylaws, noting the new committee is a “wonderful opportunity” for the community and its children. And the board agrees. The committee is approved unanimously.
8:32 PM: Reverend Ray talks about how newspapers are “pushing, pushing showing how money is being misused. Why? Couldn’t somebody, say the legislators put money in Broadway to Myrtle…”
This appears to be a rambling rant about public corruption but it diverges into terrorism, mosques, and a bunch of other things. Chairwoman Dent deftly cuts him off.
8:39 PM: Adam Schwartz has new business about landmarking Bushwick Avenue. You can read more about it here.
8:40 PM: Announcements. Let’s be brief.
*Calabazafest! will be held in collaboration with pretty much damn everybody at Maria Hernandez Park on Oct 30.
*Noel Allain from The Bushwick Starr announces a youth theater program is launching on Tuesday afternoons.
*There’s a new art studio at 286 Stanhope Street providing arts programs for kids and a weekend market featuring indie designers from Bushwick.
*Barbara Smith notes the 83rd Precinct is raising money and cans for its Thanksgiving drive and if you have cash, you can drop it off with her.
Let’s close with mayoral community liaison Sam Pierre’s list of favorites:
Favorite restaurant: Ambiance Restaurant (Canarsie)
Favorite book: George Bush’s A Charge to Keep
Favorite Brooklyn neighborhood: Canarsie
Favorite non-New York public official: Nancy Pelosi
Favorite New York Yankee: Jose Posada
Favorite New York moment: Getting pushed in the subways
Favorite non-sugary refreshment: water
Favorite song: Frank Sinatra, "New York., New York"
Favorite lyric of favorite song: "New York, New York"
Least favorite pest: Bedbugs
Bushwick’s Community Board 4 meets on the third Wednesday of every month (except July and August) at Hope Gardens Community Center, 195 Linden Street at Wilson Avenue. To contact the office any other time, call 718-628-8400 or visit 315 Wyckoff Avenue, 2nd Floor.