Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Community Board 1: Welcome Back


6:15 PM: After a long summer hiatus, Community Board 1 is back in the Swinging Sixties Senior Center for the first meeting of the school year. There are 19 people in the room right now, or as it is otherwise known, Lincoln Restler’s election margin. Unlike the Restler-Cohn election, whether this meeting will be an interesting one is not too close to call. On the agenda tonight includes an appearance by Brooklyn Great Names All Star and Facial Hair Hall of Fame member Jack Hammer, who will give a presentation about the Northside Town Hall, a number of liquor licenses, and a St. Nicks Alliance’s award for the Chairman Emeritus Vinny Abate.
Also, there is a very important announcement on some of the tables: All Bingo Players- We will now have Big Bingo every Tuesday this week. All Bingo Players get FREE Grilled Hot Dogs with Sauerkraut AND Coffee. Wow.

6:22 PM: Holy crap! There’s food? There is! Maybe four dozen wraps are from Food Bazaar's Michael Chironno and Chris Sung. I haven't seen food at a meeting since 2008! Mr. Chironno and Mr. Sung are immediately in the running to be MVPs of the September meeting.

6:30 pm: District Manager Gerry Esposito reads the roll call andChairman Chris clears up some rumors that there will be a discussion about the planned men’s shelter and assessment center on 400 McGuinness Bouleveard. “That’s not going to happen,” says Chairman Chris. Apparently HELP USA! did not confirm.
In the meantime, there will be a special joint committee Public Safety, Human Services Committee on Sept. 27, at the Polish National Home, Driggs and Nassau Avenue, just on that one item. A representative from the Department of Homeless Services will be there, but the CEO of HELP USA! has not confirmed his attendance.

6:33 PM Sadly, Jack Hammer did not show up. I can’t tell you how deflating this is. Instead, we have Eunice Su, a project manager from HPD and Felice Kirby, VP of the Town Hall Board, to speak about the non-ULULRP UDAP. Let’s go to Felice.

“I am thrilled and proud to be on the board of the nonprofit. I am so happy to be here on behalf of so many supporters on whose shoulders we sat to save this project. We are thrilled through the hard work of the community board, we were able to stop this building from going to luxury housing and instead it’s going to be a gem for the community. The plans discussed are very rudimentary. We have to raise $2 million and we have raised $1.2 million to date.”
Del Teague, chairwoman of the board at Town Hall, just entered, to applause, which was also meant for the money that was raised. Or maybe they're just big fans of Tea With the Queen.


Felice adds more context and Su explains that the city hopes to be done with all public reviews by January and notes that this is the first closed firehouse going through the public review process. Felice continues:
"I don't think that the city will put a gun to our heads if we don't raise all of the money. We've heard we have this project. It was a competitive process and we won that contest among 54 competitive bids including complete theatrical companies, which were very impressive...
The council money won't materialize until 2012. We need everyone in the community to tell Marty Markowitz, Joe [Lentol] and Steve Levin that this is an important project.
That building is happening now. It is unstoppable. We're using it every month. You should see the artist projects that we do."

6:53 PM: Chairman Chris plows through a bunch of agenda items from presenters who are not here, skipping to Jose Leon of St. Nick's Alliance and Lisa Bamonte who will present an award to represent an award given to the Chairman Emeritus, who is 92 years old, on behalf of his work with Settlement House and the School Settlement Association. The award is a framed copy of a Greenline newspaper article about Abate's achievements. The framed picture of Abate will hang in the lobby of this building. Let's go to the Chairman Emeritus:
"This is the first time in my adult life that I have not run an organization. It was always busy at times. Now I have a lot of time on my hands. I feel I've walked off the planet. Nobody calls me. They think he just wants his peace. The only peace I could find is if the big guy says come on up or if the other guy says come on down. I have to be very careful what I wish for."
Chairman Chris: Thank you very much, Vinny. You're very dear to our hearts.

7:03 PM: We have a presentation from a representative with the Taxi and Limousine Commission, who is not TLC Commissioner David Yassky, to speak about a new service called the Group Ride Vehicles Pilot Program along the former B39 bus route from the Williamsburg Bridge Plaza over the Williamsburg Bridge into the Lower East Side.
Esteban Duran, who lost a District Leader race to Vito Lopez yesterday, asks whether the the limos will have service to the disabled, and it's
Also, the service will be cash only. And driven by this man.

7:18 PM: Diane Jackson gives a short presentation to update the community board regarding Greenpoint Renaissance Enterprise Corporation and its subsequent meetings with Housing and Preservation Development after it awarded the bid to another developer.
Jackson: "It is said there is still possibility that the city has stopped discussions with the winning bidder."
Unfortunately for GREC, HPD confirmed it is still awarding the Greenpoint Hospital project to TNS-Great American, and not GREC.
Jackson notes several additional events at Cooper Park and arts events in Bushwick
Frank Lang, Housing from St. Nicks Alliance

7:26 PM: New board member Maria Viera arrives, chatting briefly with Levin liaison Rami Metal. Standing in the doorway is Lopez superstar intern Andy Marte who is checking out the scene. Will try to find out what his reactions are to a busy day of campaigns during a break in the action. Meanwhile, Chairman Chris closes public session and we're into the board meeting. Motion to adjourn is approved and we go to the second roll.

7:30 PM Chairman Chris announces three new board members who will be sworn in: Ryan Kuonen, Maria Viera, and Moishe Zelig. Moishe isn't here, but Ryan and Maria are.

7:36 PM: Committee Reports! The Karen Nieves Era leads us off with her Transportation Report, beginning with a summary of a June committee meeting. She's reading her notes word for word, beginning with a Nassau Avenue construction update. The community's worries so far include flooding on Nassau Avenue and Jewel Street, truck traffic at PS 84, truck traffic on Wythe and Kent Avenue, the proposed Greenpoint Avenue bike lane and proposed traffic calming measures...

While Karen continues, let's welcome Juliet Linderman of the Greenpoint Gazette to Press Row! For the past hour, Linderman has been asking hipsters in McCarren Park if they would be so kind as to put out their cigarettes because it is now illegal to smoke in parks for a story. How'd that go, Linderman?
"They were none too pleased."

Karen yields the floor to Julie Lawrence who talks about a kayaking event on the Pulaski Bridge- she must mean in Newtown Creek under the Pulaski Bridge- before continuing on other events.

7:51 PM: Karen finishes her report. Esteban has a question about Flushing Avenue garbage pickup and demands a letter. At this point it needs to be pointed out that this meeting is severely dragging... but to the rescue comes... Mieszko Kalita!

7:54 PM: Mieszko- "We only have two liquor licenses, but for the first time ever, one is a hotel license."
Gasps from the crowd.
"This is for the entire building. If it is 2 am and you desire a drink, a drink will be brought to you."
This is the Graves Hotel Project, known as Hotel Williamsburg and its cafe, Streets Restaurant. It is easily approved. Mieszko notes the Sept 27 meeting about the Homeless Shelter at the Polish National Home, also known as The Warsaw.

7:58 PM: Dewey Thomspon gives an update about the $10 million Environmental Benefits Project, regarding money awarded to the community due to the city's numerous construction delays and violations. Thompson notes that the impact area for these projects (aka the cash) must be within half a mile of the impact area in Greenpoint. City Parks Foundation is in the process of evaluating where the money will go, so we're going to have to wait a bit for that decision. Dewey has his own awesome plan to build a boat house at the end of Manhattan Avenue for kayaks and canoes, but he doesn't talk about that too much.

8:07 PM: Chairman Chris welcomes Heather Roslund as the new Land Use Chairwoman. Ward Dennis sheds a tear. Roslund says that it's been a quiet summer but notes some controversy between the Java Street Pier, aka the Impro-Pier, and a phantom RFP that the city put out which went to only one developer. Linderman has been on this for a couple of weeks, and a new article in Architect's Newspaper, "Plan for Pier Floods Greenpoint," is out too. The board wrote a letter requesting the city to revoke the RFP and begin the process anew.
Rami Metal mumbles through his says that Levin is on his way and will speak shortly.

8:13 PM: Public session
*A new event called Willifest, the international film festival, is coming Sept 23-26. 169 films from around the world will be playing for three days. Several venues include El Puente, The Knitting Factory, Brooklyn Bowl, the new Indie Film Theater on Kent and S. 2nd, and more.

*Laura Hofmann wants to let everyone know how bad an idea it is to locate a homeless shelter on McGuinness Boulevard. She acknowledges that the homeless need a place to stay, but is disturbed by its close location to the Newtown Creek Nature Walk. Also there's a chloroform cloud at Paidge Street and Hofmann says it's unfair because homeless should not be located in an area that is unfit for habitation.

8:18 PM: Old Business. Miss Heather from New York Shitty takes the opportunity to say hello and goodbye. And we should check her blog out. Done and done.

8:26 PM: Councilman Steve Levin arrives, takes the microphone, and lays out how the whole impro-pier saga went down:

"What EDC did was put out an RFP. Didn't tell me. Didn't tell community board. I don't even know if they told folks in the administration. But they went ahead and did it anyway, with Stiles LLP, who owns the adjacent land. What they get with it is a density bonus. The whole thing is very fishy. We've taken a public stance that this RFP should be withdrawn... The community gets nothing out of it. Nothing, unless maybe if you have a historic vessel..."

Mieszko asks Levin about his position on the 400 McGuinness shelter. Levin: "I have my reservations on this. It's a temporary situation with 200 beds. It does nothing to address Greenpoint and Williamsburg's issues regarding homeless. We have issues in Greenpoint with chronic homelessness. I live on the corner of Morgan and Meeker and all winter there were homeless individuals who slept under the BQE on mattresses."

8:45 PM: New Business. Esteban has a question about a negative recommendation for the rezoning on three small site projects on Bedford and S. Third, and two lots at Maujer and Ten Eyck.

Tom Burrows asks the Community Board for another letter, a stronger letter, to the city asking for the community board' support of the GREC proposal and to reverse its award for TNS-Great American Construction. As Tish Cianciotta gives an impassioned speech demanding the need for a letter, Levin shakes hands with a few community members in the back of the room and heads out. Chairman Chris asks for a motion to vote on the letter, and then asks for a copy of the RFP from GREC. There's some quibbling from several board members who don't want to do that. The letter is approved. We have a motion to adjourn. Before that, let's do a mustache-off. Vote for your favorite Community Board 1 facial hair this month.

A. Mieszko B. Gerry C. Rolando

Vote in the comments! Good night!

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