City is ‘stalling’

Members of the Greenpoint⁄Williamsburg Community Advisory Board (CAB) said that the city has made progress regarding open space and parks construction, but has moved too slowly to enable affordable housing development in the neighborhood.

“They’re stalling on the Greenpoint Hospital, they’re stalling on a bunch of things, and they’re not giving us much information,” said Will Florentino, a liaison for City Councilmember Diana Reyna. “We have made some progress in some areas, but the affordable housing portion is the problem.”

At the last CAB meeting three months ago, members walked out of a session with city officials after they failed to reach an agreement regarding anti−displacement and tenant harassment assistance. Funding for these programs has since been secured, though it is set to expire on January 31 next year.

Felice Kirby, owner of Teddy’s Bar and Grill (96 Berry Street) and a member of CAB, hopes that the mayor will find a way to continue the project.

“My workforce all came to me from walking distance and now they can’t afford to live here,” said Kirby. “We can’t even afford to open a business as things stand now.”

Parks advocates such as Open Space Alliance Executive Director Stephanie Thayer were more optimistic, saying she was happy that the city has broken ground on the Bushwick Inlet Park (North 9th and North 10th Street and Kent Avenue), provided interim public access to Transmitter park, and begun environmental testing at 50 Kent Avenue.

The city Parks Department has also completed a feasibility study for demapping Lorimer Street and Driggs Avenue near McCarren Park and construction of a skate park at McCarren Park Pool is expected to be completed by next summer.

According to Thayer, Parks officials have been meeting with the mayor’s office once a week to push North Brooklyn projects forward, despite the proposed $57 million in budget cuts the neighborhood is expected to sustain over the next few years.

“There are a lot of projects in the neighborhood and I think we’ve made a tremendous amount of progress since the last CAB meeting,” said Thayer.

Community leaders such as Evan Thies, a candidate for City Council who has been critical of the consequences of the rezoning, strongly criticized the city’s actions regarding the delay of several environmental capital projects that have had the effect of stymieing affordable housing development.

“The only way to truly protect lower income and middle income families in the area is by creating affordable housing. The city was supposed to do that already. They haven’t even started,” said Thies. “Middle−income families are at risk. Rents are going up and they have nowhere to go.”

Thies said he did not know why projects were delayed but he felt that the city has let down the neighborhood regarding its housing commitments. To this point, Kirby agreed with him.