In February 1997 I was elected to succeed Assemblywoman Eileen Dugan after she passed away while in office. Fifteen years later, through many changes, I remain committed to the concerns and causes of the neighborhoods of the 52nd District: Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, the Columbia Waterfront District, Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, Gowanus, Park Slope, Prospect Heights, and Vinegar Hill. Thank you for your confidence as I begin another year as your Assemblywoman!
At long last, 40 years to be exact, I am glad to announce that the east side entrance to the Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street F train station was officially opened in a ribbon cutting ceremony on February 23, 2012.
This means that finally residents of the neighborhood will not have to cross over busy Fourth Avenue just to get into the train station. Not only has the entrance been opened, but through $800,000 in funds provided by me and $2 million secured by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, the station house on the east side has been completely restored with new lights, floors, repainted walls and new turnstiles. In addition, plans for the space adjacent to the station house include retail space and newly restored exterior archways and windows. In the photo above I am speaking with MTA officials and workers about the work in progress at the Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street station along with Michael Cairl of the Park Slope Civic Council.
There was a time when the Fourth Avenue station was known as one of the most attractive in the system. Those of us who have used the station in the last few decades will be forgiven for disagreeing with this assessment. This renovation, which is part of the MTA's overhaul of Culver Viaduct, aims to restore the station completely, including cosmetic changes like removing the billboards that close in the archway across the avenue, letting light and air into the station, and a great deal more to restore this station, one of the most used in the borough, to a functional transit hub for the community.
Recently I attended a tour of George Westinghouse High School, which will be the site of the long awaited new middle school for P.S. 8. I walked through Westinghouse's extensive facilities along with my colleagues Senator Daniel Squadron and Councilman Steve Levin, officials from the Department of Education, parents of P.S. 8 students, the principal of P.S. 8 and the principals of the two schools currently located at Westinghouse. When the middle school opens in September 2012 children attending the school will have a separate entrance on Johnson Street and access to all of the school's facilities including a huge gymnasium and cafeteria and a newly refurbished library. For decades, families living in Brooklyn Heights did not have a public middle school option and I look forward to the continued development of plans for this school, which will offer much needed middle school spots to students in District 13.
Areas of my district have been poorly served by postal services for many years and I am joining with the community's effort to keep open the last full service postal substation in the Carroll Gardens/Columbia Waterfront area. The postal station at 257 Columbia Street, has been open for 17 years and allows the community to mail items and buy stamps without trekking to the main post office in Red Hook, a long walk over a dangerous highway. The station has received notice from the United States Postal Service that it will be shut down at the end of March. I welcome your inquiries about the station and encourage you to contact your local Federal officials with your concerns and sign an on-line petition regarding the closing at http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/keepritasopen.
I recently attended a Legislative Budget hearing focusing on health services. I am very concerned about the health of Brooklyn residents and the proposed closing of hospitals and mental health facilities. Alongside my Assembly colleagues Michael Cusick and Lou Tobacco (pictured at left), I posed several questions about the future of SUNY Downstate and the Berger Commission's recommendation to eliminate all of the hospital's beds.
I was so pleased recently to present certificates to seniors who completed the RAICES Healthy and Secure Computer Training program. RAICES, a program for seniors at 460 Atlantic Avenue, provides a ten-week course which enables participants who are new to computers the chance to learn basic computer systems, desktop fundamentals and useful applications as well as exploring the Internet and learning to use email. The program is hands-on and friendly and designed to take the intimidation out of using computers- instructors give an orientation, demonstrations, classroom training and participants get full use of the computer lab. Graduates are always very pleased at what they've learned and I appreciate the effort RAICES makes to empower older adults with computer literacy skills.