It’s a beautiful spring day outside — which means there’s definitely a community board meeting happening.
It’s a packed meeting with a lot of new faces. There’s an update on the Knickerbocker pedestrian plaza, Bushwick Open Studios, and a special election coming, now that Assemblyman Darryl Towns finally stepped down and took his commissioner’s job. No fewer than three candidates are here tonight.
6:40 PM: Chairwoman Julie Dent calls the meeting to order, and hands the mic to a landscape architect with Abel Bainson Butz, who explains that construction will begin on the pedestrian plaza at Knickerbocker and Myrtle Avenues a year from now and should take about six to eight months to complete.
The $800,000 pedestrian plaza will increase the corner south of Knickerbocker Avenue at Myrtle Avenue from 3,800 square feet to 5,400 square feet, adding about 50 percent more space. Knickerbocker is staying one-way, but you won’t be able to make a left turn from Knickerbocker onto Myrtle Avenue.
The plaza itself will have space for sidewalk vendors, kiosks, bike racks, new pedestrian lighting, and even a pixilated section of concrete that will resemble a map of Bushwick, but they’re not touching the stairways leading to the M-train because it’s too expensive to fix them. The Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council, which is administering the plaza with the Department of Transportation will be responsible for its maintenance.
And Greenpoint artist Luis Gispert has been selected by the city’s "percent for art" project, but has not created a design for the site yet.
7:10 PM: A crew of seven well-built guys in suits from Cypress Hills has joined my table. I ask them who they are and one guy says they’re community leaders with a police advocacy group called the Zone 2 Advisory Board. He asks me if I’m with Vito Lopez’s office. I don’t think these guys have been to Community Board 4 in a while.
7:13 PM: Dent introduces elected reps, and Roy Sawyer, formerly from Darryl Towns’ office says that confirms Towns left his assembly seat and the office is closed. Sawyer is staying in town because Towns’s baby sister, Deidra — who is here tonight — is running for the seat. Officially.
7:21 PM: Dent begins her report by reading data from Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group for residents who don’t drive. If a car hits you traveling at 20 miles an hour, you have a 98 percent rate of survival but if it hits you at 40 miles an hour, you have only a 30 percent rate of survival. So, speeding cars are deadly, apparently.
The Hope Gardens community center where CB4 meets may have been saved from state budget cuts, but day care may not be so lucky in the city’s budget. If pending day care cuts remain, there will be staff layoffs and the loss of classrooms — in Dent’s own Audrey Johnson Day Care Center, one classroom would be eliminated.
Dent has an announcement for those running for office in the room tonight:
“If you want us to support you, you need to attend our meetings all the time. Do not start attending our meetings for us to vote for you. Tell us why we should support you. There are cuts across the board. Support our community. You need to show us what you’re going to do to earn our vote,” she said.
7:38 PM: District Manager Nadine Whitted, who has a lovely new haircut, begins her report with a note about the city’s “Proactive Enforcement program” to convince landlords to make repairs on buildings in a state of decline.
She also announces the youth baseball schedule for which sports organizations are using which parks and when.
“If any of you are not satisfied, you don’t have to accept it, we will issue your time to someone else. If you are not utilizing that park when you’re supposed to utilize it, you will run the risk of losing your permits,” says Nadine.
7:48 PM: Committee reports. I’m summarizing.
*The Soul Tigers will be here again at the Bushwick Day Parade, June 2. Thank God.
*Parliamentarian Odolph Wright is wondering what’s up with a newish security guard training school in the neighborhood.
*A developer will bring a proposed homeownership project to the board soon — but Parks Chairman Austen Martinez is upset that the houses are not affordable (one-family house for over $300,000 and a two-family is $450,000).
*Barbara Smith from Public Safety on new liquor licenses:
“53 Wilson [Sabrosura restaurant] was a bad address way back, so we asked the new owner to bring in the lease, and 236 Troutman [Tandem] should have a meeting with neighbors so they won’t have so many 911 calls.”
*And there’s going to be a new CSA at Eldert Street between Knickerbocker and Irving.
8:08: PM: Hey, another potential assembly candidate, Make the Road organizer Jesus Gonzalez, showed up.
Meanwhile, the Community Board is taking up recommendations and Knickerbocker Plaza passes 27-2-1.
Public safety takes up the liquor licenses, but first the co-owner of Tandem bar has a brief statement about a meeting she had with neighbors regarding noise seeping out to Starr Street until 4 am. Not everyone in Bushwick likes hearing your second-rate karaoke skills at that hour, so she’s going to add more sound dampening in the back room.
8:28 PM: Announcements. Not a moment too soon.
*The Brooklyn Public Library is expanding hours in its DeKalb Branch, and April is amnesty month — so return your overdue books and you won’t have to deal with the Seinfeld library cop.
*New York Restoration Project is starting a new initiative, Brooklyn Beautification Project, to teach people about composting and recycling.
*The effervescent Laurie Wheelock from Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s office said that he’s still working on extending rent regulations, and it’s already passed the state assembly.
*Laura Braslow announces the fifth annual Bushwick Open Studios on June 4-6, and registration is open through the end of April.
Evelyn Cruz from Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez’s office says she wants more people of color to go to and participate in Bushwick Open Studios.
“We need to show presence. I want to visit a few of these artist homes with the congresswoman on June 3 or 4,” Cruz said.
So, all you artists out there, your Congressman is coming, so break out the classy snacks and champagne. Don’t throw a bunch of four-day old Oreos and carrot sticks on a plate like you usually do.