They’re back.

After a long summer break, Community Board 4 is back in session at the Hope Gardens Multipurpose Center, ready to discuss the neighborhood’s happenings and quarrels. As always, this is a running diary.

6:30 PM: Unlike other meetings, dinner does not get served at the beginning of the meeting. Instead, we go straight into a Department of Transportation presentation about pedestrian safety near PS 299.  

The city wants to add neckdowns at eight intersections, extending the curb six feet to make it easier to cross Evergreen and Bushwick Avenues. Specifically, the intersections include Evergreen and Madison Street, Evergreen and Woodbine Street, Palmetto Street and Evergreen, Bushwick Avenue and Palmetto Street, Woodbine and Bushwick, and Bushwick and Putnam. 

A Department of Design and Construction official cited data from 1998 to 2004, showing 239 accidents at these corners, and said that the new curbs would extend six feet out and cause vehicles to slow down without taking away any parking spots. The neckdowns will go out to bid in 2012 and should be built by 2013. 

Board members have a lot of questions.  

Board member Raul Rubio wonders why there isn’t any data measured from the last seven years and why the project was put on hold. Answer: It didn’t have enough funding and now it does.  

Land Use chairwoman Martha Brown asks about the effect on the Evergreen Avenue bike lane, but the bike lane is beyond the parking lane, which is eight feet wide.  

Chairwoman Julie Dent asks whether any simulations were held in Bushwick and the answer is no, but they were held in downtown Brooklyn instead. This is met with grumbling from board members and other residents in the room. 

Another resident points to the effect of 25 feet of snow in the winter that will likely linger while Parks Chairman Austen Martinez asks why the city is spending money on the project. 

Dent sums up the board’s concerns: "The people in Bushwick are very passionate about this community. We want to make sure that we are afforded the opportunity to ask questions. I feel all the questions were very vital questions and we needed answers that we as a community board are comfortable with."

7:04 PM: We move onto a presentation by a Brooklyn Public Library representative, who notes there are 95 new computers in Central Brooklyn neighborhoods. That means new computer classes.

Also, the DeKalb Branch is now open six days a week.

7:18 PM: District Manager Nadine Whitted reads the roll call and Julie asks for elected reps to introduce themselves before updating the community about several projects. 

*The Knickerbocker Square subsidized housing project will have a new sign explaining the area’s historical significance.

*Wyckoff Heights hospital had a men’s health symposium, "Its Raining Men" on Friday, Sept. 23. I went, only to learn they were not having any walk-in prostate checks.

*And finally Dent asks for a moment of silence in the memory of those lost in 9/11, before reading a letter from a firefighter. 

7:37 PM: Whitted gives her report:

*IS 383 is undergoing its second phase of a boiler renovation project — a temporary boiler will be installed this school year. The whole project should be finished by summer 2012.

*There are some community block grants available for $500 to $1,000, and the grant application deadline is Nov. 8.

*Whitted pauses dramatically — "Has anybody had a problem with raccoons?"

Several hands go up.

"It is not a nice site to see. It’s frightening. They can hurt you, they can attack you, they can get in your fruit trees, your tomatoes, they’re not afraid of anything. They’ll fight your cat and your dog. The health department is not going to help you — you have to help yourself with a raccoon. And you better not kill it."

7:50 PM: Nadine calls for a vote on the neckdown project.

But Cyril Joseph asks the board to table this back to committee in order to get more recent safety data.

Whitted doesn’t like that idea and Martha Brown proposes asking a neighborhood firehouses to conduct some tests in Bushwick.

Parliamentarian Odolph Wright adds that there are new lights and double stop signs on those blocks, which were put in after the study was concluded and the city must update its data in the coming months. The vote is tabled. 

8:09 PM: Announcements! Thankfully they are brief.

*Councilwoman Diana Reyna is hosting a crime and safety meeting in Bushwick United Methodist parish, 1139 Bushwick Avenue, on On Oct 5.

*A life insurance salesman offers his company’s services while comparing human life to an ATM machine.

*A Post Office employee wants elected officials (Nydia Velazquez, Ed Towns and Yvette Clark) to support a bil1 to restore funding to the USPS. 

And that’s it. Let’s eat. See you next month.