Bushwick children were playing in the street after work, holding impromptu barbecues in their courtyards, and popping fire hydrants to stay cool Wednesday afternoon.
But inside the Hope Gardens Senior Center, the neighborhood’s community leaders got down to business before breaking for the summer — and chowed down on a party sub featuring four kinds of pork.
“Our longtime caterer went out of business, but we have sandwiches,” explained Community Board 4 District Manager Nadine Whitted. “We will always try to have something for you to nosh on.”
Academy of Urban Planning’s Adam Schwartz drops by to mention that the school has started a 3,000 square foot farm on Putnam and Irving and Woodbine Garden director Sean-Michael Fleming is the chief gardener. What patch of grass in Bushwick hasn’t Sean-Michael dug a spade into or opened a farm on top of?
Also, Chairwoman Julie Dent is absent today, lobbying in Albany on behalf of her day-care center.
6:45 PM: Two candidates for the 54th Assembly District, Jesus Gonzalez and Deidra Towns are in the house tonight. The third, Rafael Espinal, is not and is instead down the street at his Putnam Street campaign office hosting a meeting that likely has more people in it than tonight’s community board.
6:50 PM: Whitted calls the meeting to order and introduces Pratt’s Eve Baron (formerly of the Municipal Arts Society) to lead a 15-minute presentation about the Family Services Network’s Bushwick Brownfield Opportunity Area Study.
About two years ago, Family Services Network’s Raul Rubio gave a preliminary presentation about redeveloping Bushwick’s brownfields and vacant lots into new businesses, markets, housing, and parks — but that project is still in phase one as funding for the study has stalled.
Today, Baron and her students are talking about reviving the retail corridor of Broadway. So far, 15 percent of stores on the strip are vacant, and the group wants to create a merchants’ association, as well as add benches, more greenery, and better lighting under the train.
Most intriguingly, the students presented three specific initiatives for redeveloping brownfields: an all-day outdoor market and flea market near Myrtle and Broadway, converting two vacant lots to a mixed-use development to house disabled and low-income residents with a pedestrian bridge to the Halsey J train, and converting a lot near Chauncey into a jobs- and workforce-development center with housing for formerly incarcerated individuals.
A board member expresses concern about the ex-con housing idea — and Whitted reminds her that the presentation is a “concept” with “no money.”
Whitted also adds that bringing new businesses to Broadway is a challenge and some businesses that opened on Fulton Street, Queens Boulevard, and Knickerbocker Avenue should be lured to the corridor to open new locations.
7:25 PM: Whitted opens the meeting with roll call, asks electeds to introduce themselves and gives a long list of announcements.
7:45 PM: Whitted asks for old and new businesses, of which there is none, so we’re moving to announcements. I’ll summarize.
*A librarian with the Brooklyn Public Library notes that new laptops are coming to branches but the city could still close 16 branches if the budget gap isn’t solved.
*The DA has a new unit to help anyone who is a victim of sex trafficking.
*Jesus Gonzalez, a prospective candidate for assembly, introduces himself but board member Robert Camacho interrupts him, complaining that he was campaigning. Whitted lets him continue.
That’s all for now. Have a great summer!