In the mid 1940s, a memorial to veterans of World War II was planned for each of New York City's five boroughs. I was recently able to visit the only one of these ever completed - the memorial in Brooklyn, located in Brooklyn Heights at Cadman Plaza Park, making it the only official World War II memorial in the City. The memorial was dedicated in 1951 but was only opened sporadically to the public. Decades later, a group of dedicated individuals who had become concerned about the deteriorating conditions outside the memorial began raising money and spearheading efforts to improve landscaping. Now attention is being turned to the interior of the building, which contains the names of 11,000 army personnel who died in the war and were from Brooklyn. The goal of the group is to raise funds to restore the memorial and eventually have it opened for the public to attend programming which highlights local residents' experiences in the military through artifacts and educational information.
Recently I had a unique experience with the 84th Precinct of taking part in a "ride-a-long", where a constituent and I went along with police officers to get a look at what they do and their experiences. After a vetting process, Sid Meyers, a long time community activist, and I, came to the precinct to get outfitted in bullet proof vests and spent the next three hours with officers Thomas Ruggiero and Ismar Radoncic. We rode through Boerum Hill in one of the 84th Precinct's four sector cars, which are the only four the precinct has to patrol the area. On the way, the officers received several calls and responded fairly and thoroughly. Of course I was glad that nothing serious happened during our ride, but we both left with a new appreciation of the hard work of our local police officers and how responsive they are to the needs of the community.
Holidays around the community - I was so pleased to share the holidays with the neighborhoods I represent. To the left, is the Brooklyn Borough Hall tree lighting ceremony where I am with fellow elected officials and four-year-old Akeelah Freeman.
Several months ago a Request for Proposals (RFP) was issued for development of the Municipal Building on Joralemon and Court Streets. This space has tremendous potential for bringing economic development to Downtown Brooklyn. And along with the new Shake Shack, Panera Bread and other places to get great food, the Municipal Building will get a new restaurant fronting on Court Street. The chairman of the Fulton Mall Association, Al Laboz, who is also one of Brooklyn's biggest real estate players, is buying the first floor of the Municipal Building for $10 million. Along with a restaurant, the 49,000 square foot space will be devoted to several retail outlets.
The development of the underutilized Municipal Building is part of the City's effort to unload its real estate holdings, which makes economic sense on multiple levels. First, the City is able to sell space and directly make money for the City, which can help relieve the City's budget troubles, and second, developers are able to remake the spaces in various ways that bring jobs and activity to formerly half empty buildings. The Municipal Building project, for example, is expected to create at least 64 construction jobs and over 100 permanent jobs once the restaurant and stores open.
The same sort of economic sense is being exhibited by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority as it prepares to finally sell or lease their building at 370 Jay Street. In the picture at the right, I stood with community members, business leaders and elected officials to urge the City to take immediate action to utilize that building. New York University and the Polytechnic Institute have proposed an applied sciences campus at the site. The Center for Urban Science and Progress is exactly what our city needs to be competitive on the global front. For far too long the residents of Downtown Brooklyn have hoped that the MTA would proceed with the selling of this building in order to be in step with the revitalization and transformation of the area.
Beginning Jan. 9 - The holidays are a time of extraordinary generosity and our local charitable organizations work over time, but the need for food and other necessary donations continues all year. With that in mind, I am launching a food drive at my office for the Family Justice Center, a program of the Brooklyn District Attorney's office, which provides services and legal assistance for victims of domestic violence.
Energy Conservation Forum
January 19- State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and I present our 2nd Annual Home Energy Conservation Forum. Homeowners and businesses will receive information on ways to save energy, programs available to them through the state and power companies, and a briefing on a variety of environmental issues. Admission is free. 6:00-8:00 PM at the YWCA at 30 Third Avenue.