New Utrecht High School teacher Mark Treyger, an aide to Assemblyman Bill Colton (D–Bensonhurst), says he wants to replace the term-limited Domenic Recchia (D–Coney Island), whose district encompasses the People’s Playground, Gravesend, Sea Gate, and parts of Bath Beach and Treyger’s native Bensonhurst. We talked to him about the issues that move him, and how he’ll overcome the bumps on the campaign trail ahead — which include two Democratic rivals and the fact that he’s not currently living inside the recently redrawn district lines.
Will Bredderman: So what do you believe is the most pressing problem facing the district?
Mark Treyger: The city’s plan to put a waste transfer station on Gravesend Bay at the end of Bay 41st Street. It presents a danger to our community and will be a very big issue for me. A recent study found Mirex — an insecticide they used to spray down the old incinerator that used to be in that location to kill roaches, and which has been shown to be highly toxic— as well as arsenic in the sediment there, along with other chemicals. The dredging the city will have to do will unearth and release 30 years of pollution, and God forbid we get another storm, mold will have company in people’s basements and homes. It isn’t just a Bensonhurst issue, it’s a Southern Brooklyn issue. It will pollute the beaches of Coney Island and Sea Gate, and it’s more dangerous than people know. I’ve been on the frontlines of the fight against this for several years, and I’ll continue that fight in the City Council.
WB: How do you feel about the city’s plan to convert the Coney Island Boardwalk to concrete and plastic? And about the proposal to build a casino in the neighborhood?
MT: How can you have anything but a wooden Boardwalk? That’s my childhood and the childhoods of so many other people. We can’t build a sidewalk there. And I oppose the casino because I think it’s too risky for the neighborhood. Right now we need less glitz and glamor in Coney Island, and more meeting the basic needs of the people. We need improved sewers and focus on beach restoration to protect against another storm, we need to repair the police stationhouse and bring people back to normalcy, and we need to clean up Coney Island Creek.
WB: Your opponents, activist Todd Dobrin and Council Speaker Christine Quinn aide John Lisyanskiy, have already accused one another of being unfit to hold the seat. What makes you a better contender than either of them?
MT: I’m not going to attack the character of anyone I’m running against, but I believe my experiences and credentials working as an educator, leading the United Progressive Democrats, and working with Assemblyman Colton uniquely qualify me for the job. My approach has always been to work with the whole community to solve neighborhood problems. Going to City Council is just a continuation of the work I’ve been doing all these years.
WB: If I’m right, though, you don’t currently live inside the district. How can you run if that’s the case?
MT: I’ve lived in the Waterview Towers on Cropsey Avenue for 30 years, which were just cut out of the district this year. I’m currently looking for another apartment in Bensonhurst, and should be moving soon. But regardless of where the lines are drawn, the issues remain the same.