Community Board 2—covering the neighborhoods of Boerum Hill, Bridge Plaza, Brooklyn Heights, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Clinton Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, Dumbo, Farragut, Fort Greene, Fulton Ferry Landing, Vinegar Hill and Wallabout-- held its first monthly meeting of the fall season on Wednesday, September 10, at Brown Memorial Baptist Church, led CB2 Chairperson Shirley McRae.
The chair, District Manager Robert Perris, committee chairs, along with State Assemblyman Walter Mosley, Kings County D.A. Kenneth Thompson, City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo and representatives from the offices of City Councilmember Stephen Levin and State Senator Daniel Squadron, gave update reports on activities over the summer.
Newly elected State Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon (taking the place of Joan L. Millman) also was in attendance.
Highlights included new recommendations for the re-design of Willoughby Square Park; a new direction for the Shirley Chisholm State Office Building on Hanson Pl; the upcoming affordable workshops to help fill the new developments in DUMBO and downtown Brooklyn; and D.A. Thompson's successful efforts in overturning wrongful convictions.
District Manager's Report: Over the summer, Robert Perris
- Attended all of the National Night Out events in the CB2 command district, connecting with commanding officers on being kept abreast of all crime issues.
- Attended a briefing on Local Law 29 where agencies will be asked to work harder to get people registered to vote
- Met with Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Diana Reyna. He stated, "It looks they will be an excellent partner with us on issues and concerns within the district."
- The Metrotech and Fulton Area BID boundaries will be expanding in an effort to take responsibility for certain public spaces that need more maintenance. This will be happening further down the road
- Moving forward, there will be staff assigned to every CB2 committee , all of whom will be at all of the meetings. "They are here as a resource if there's any questions you have on the agenda," said Perris.
Chairperson Shirley McRae
- One of the summer's hot topics was the re-design of Willoughby Square Park, which is scheduled to be placed atop a robo-garage building located at Willoughby Ave and Duffield Street just south of Flatbush Avenue. A public hearing brought out concerns about the need for adequate restrooms and a safe children's environment. CB2's executive committee came up with a recommendation (in a 9-2-0 vote) to support the redesign, on the condition that public restrooms are constructed and that the children's environment is made more secure and cameras and foot patrol are included. The recommendation will now go before the Public Design Commission.
- The next item for action will have to do with the sanitation bins for clothing. The committee submitted introductory legislation to the City Council to begin regulating publicly accessible clothing collection bins, requiring owners of bins to register them so the city will have a record of who owns them. If residents complain about their upkeep or origin, sanitation will come by and ticket. The owner will have to move them and will be given 30 days to respond.
State Assemblymember Walter Mosley said he and a coalition of other elected officials are helping to support the Fort Greene Senior Council in securing a responsible developer for 30 new units of affordable senior housing at the Jackie Robinson Housing complex.
- Additionally, he and other elected officials are in talks with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, developers and key stakeholders regarding the Flatbush Avenue Corridor, where more affordable housing will be erected. They have effectively consolidated that process whereby the application, process and criteria for approval are uniform. As a result, also, they have set up a series of symposiums to make make sure that all of the designated affordable housing will go to the residents that need it most. The first symposium was so packed, it turned away 400 would-be participants.The next one will be held on November 13 at the 7th Day Adventist Church on Hanson Place.
- Mosley and other elected officials were able to change the State's mind about selling the Shirley Chisholm State Office Building and are now allowing developers to submit various proposals for its utilization. So there are a group of stakeholders that are meeting to give their input, and there will be complete transparency. "We're giving away too much land. And any time we can maintain assets, it's a good thing for the state of New York," Mosley said.
- He created a lactation room in his office (the second in all of Brooklyn). He will be holding a forum soon with the Department of Health about women knowing their rights to breastfeed in public.
A representative from the office of City Councilmember Stephen Levin reported that the Participatory Budgeting Program was expanded in the council this year, from 9 districts to 23 districts that participated in the cycle. They have had a lot of success in bringing community boards on board. The first assembly will take place on Sept 24.
Councilmember Levin has proposed legislation that will ban the discharge disposal or sale of wastewater products through the use of hydrofracking. Hoping that this will set a precedent that demonstrates local communities do not want hydrofracking.
Kings County District Attorney Kenneth Thompson said he has been in talks with NYC Police Commissioner Bill Bratton regarding the problem of escalating crime in Brooklyn and across the Bronx. They have created a new unit called the "Crime Strategies Unit," designed to identify those individuals to courts who are committing repeated acts of violence so they can do a better job of keeping repeated offenders off the street.
Most recently, the D.A. has also done a great deal around reviewing and overturning wrongful convictions: "We have over 100 cases involving claims of wrongful convictions. Under the former D.A., there were only 2 prosecutors out of 550 working on wrongful convictions," said Thompson. "Now they have 10, and we are providing them with resources to do their jobs. So far, we have gone through 25 cases and have concluded that 8 men were wrongfully convicted. So we have moved to vacate all 8 of those cases."
Laurie Cumbo announced that she has passed her first piece of legislation surrounding ACS, which will now require ACS to report the ages and graduation rates of foster care children, so they will know where to provide additional support.
Also, a new resolution she authored will help apply pressure to the Federal Senate to finally approve creating the first Women's History Museum on the Smithsonian Mall. She said two of her priorities moving forward will be addressing the irrigation issues at Fort Greene Park and the continual development of Commodore Barry Park.
The next Community Board 2 meeting will be held on Monday, October 6, 6:00pm, at Ingersoll Community Center, located at 177 Myrtle Avenue at Prince Street. The commanding officers of the 84th and 88th precincts, Housing Bureau PSA3, and Transit District 30 will brief the community board and guests on issues in their respective service areas.