From The New York Shitty Inbox: A Word From Stephen Pierson
Filed under: 11201, 11211, 11222, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn Heights Brooklyn, Clinton Hill, Clinton Hill Brooklyn, Cobble Hill, Cobble Hill Brooklyn, DUMBO, DUMBO Brooklyn, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn
I know what a lot of you are thinking, fellow Garden Spotters:
Who the hell is this guy?
Well, registered Democrats of the 33rd City Council District listen-up. He’s running against “our” incumbent: Steve Levin. And here’s what he has to say to us. Actually, Mr. Pierson wants to hear from us— which is even better. I do not recall Mr. Levin doing this. But I am getting ahead of myself…
Dear North Brooklynites,
My name is Stephen Pierson and I am running (as a Democrat) for City Council in our district (the 33rd) against the incumbent, Steve Levin. The election is September 10. I am a 15-year Brooklyn resident, a CB2 member, a (very lucky) husband, the father of a two-year-old daughter (with another on the way), and the Director of a nonprofit that runs an after-school tutoring program for at-risk youth and produces several arts/literary publications.
For too long I’ve watched with dismay as our local politicians cut backroom deals that benefit themselves at the expense of our community. Steve Levin is the very embodiment of this unethical culture and represents the continuation of Vito Lopez’s dynasty. His symbiotic relationship with Vito—which dates back to his time as Vito’s Chief of Staff—has had been detrimental to our community. Among other things, Levin has taken money away from North Brooklyn, sending over six million of our tax dollars out of the 33rd District to Vito’s corrupt nonprofit.
North Brooklyn deserves better. Getting functional toilet seats installed in McCarren Park shouldn’t have to be the job of crusading bloggers.
Over the course of this campaign, I’ve spoken to hundreds of Greenpoint residents, attended dozens of meetings, and spent many mornings at G train subway stops and at the India Street Ferry terminal. Drawing on these (and my 15 years in Brooklyn), here are but a few proposals towards a better North Brooklyn:
- Ensure that developers build sufficient infrastructure for the rest of the community that they impact. The Bayard St. condo developments should serve as a warning: I’ve spoken to numerous Bayard St-area residents—people who have lived there for decades without problem—who suddenly, since the condo constructions, find their basements flooding with every big rain storm, costing them thousands of dollars in damages. Current residents shouldn’t have to pay for developers’ (and politicians’) shortsightedness regarding infrastructure. I will also work with the City Council to explore transportation impact fees to be paid by developers.
- Ensure that the right numbers and types of affordable units are built at Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial St. The memorandums-of-understanding (MOUs) that promise roughly 25% affordable units at both need to be legally binding (for once), and need to have significant financial penalties built in that compel these developers to follow through on their promises. Furthermore, building 50% of its affordable units at 80-to-120% AMI, as Greenpoint Landing proposes, is neither acceptable nor truly “affordable.” We need to fight for more 40-to-80% AMI units.
- Additionally, these MOUs should provide that a substantial percentage of these affordable units will be guaranteed for local residents.
- And note that this assumes that Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial St. will proceed as planned. I do believe that there is still room–and much reason–to fight for downzoning on the waterfront to prevent this rampant over-development.
- Better G-train service. Period. As a member of the Riders Alliance, I have long helped advocate for this. The MTA needs to fully and immediately implement all the recommended changes contained in their just-completed Full Line Review.
- More frequent ferry service during peak hours. Service every 20 minutes during rush hours isn’t good enough. And it certainly won’t be good enough as the waterfront becomes significantly more populated over the next several years.
- Strongly support Assemblyman Lentol’s proposed dedicated bike lane on the Pulaski Bridge, and study the construction of a dedicated bike/pedestrian bridge that runs parallel to the Pulaski. The recently-completed DOT study that suggests replacing a lane of car traffic on the Pulaski with a dedicated bike lane is a large step in the right direction. However, I do worry that it doesn’t sufficiently account for near-future surges in traffic that will accompany North Brooklyn waterfront development. With Long Island City looking to become the next big tech/startup hub, we may need a dedicated bike commuting route that doesn’t impact the Pulaski. I would advocate for a feasibility study, jointly funded by Brooklyn and Queens developers (as the building of such a bridge would also serve their interests).
- Bring Bike Share to Greenpoint ASAP. While this needs to be implemented responsibly, in conjunction with the street-facing needs of local businesses, I strongly believe that Greenpoint significantly benefits from Bike Share—both by providing Greenpoint residents with more transportation options, and by making it easier for non-Greenpoint residents to visit Greenpoint and positively impact local businesses.
- Enforce existing truck routing laws to decrease truck traffic in North Brooklyn. Currently, the BQE is the only legal “through truck route” that passes through North Brooklyn. All other truck-legal streets (like McGuinness Blvd., Greenpoint Ave, and Kent Ave) only allow for trucks that make local deliveries. Far too many through-trucks cut through North Brooklyn to either avoid BQE traffic or circumvent the LIE/BQE junction. This is illegal, and it results in more traffic, accidents, and noise/air pollution in North Brooklyn. It needs to be stopped immediately by setting up enforcement stations and putting up signage.
- More traffic enforcement at dangerous intersections like Lorimer St. and Bayard (where the four-way stop is often disobeyed), and especially all of McGuinness Blvd. (which is, statistically, one of the three most dangerous streets in Brooklyn). Consider installing traffic cameras at these locations.
(3) OPEN SPACES / QUALITY OF LIFE
- Build a dog park in north Greenpoint! This is way overdue. The only dog run in Greenpoint is in McGolrick Park. It is not a viable option for anyone who lives north of Greenpoint Ave. Thus, dog owners are using Transmitter Park as an ad hoc dog run. This is not a viable solution for anyone. We need to build a new dog park now, even if it’s only a temporary run on undeveloped land off of Commercial Ave.
- Direct revenue back into North Brooklyn’s parks. North Brooklyn residents are already shortchanged regarding open spaces. If Brooklyn Flea/Smorgasburg are a fait accompli, the least that can be done for residents is to have this revenue reinvested into improving other neighborhood spaces, instead of being absorbed into NY State’s general park fund. At the initial CB1 liquor license hearing for Smorgasburg, pressure was placed on certain members of the SLA Committee to pass it. What is revealing is the likelihood Mr. Levin, my opponent, was trying to extract meaningful concessions from the proprietors of Smorgasburg/Brooklyn Flea.
- Enact significant changes to the process of filming on Greenpoint’s streets. Greenpoint residents are continuously inconvenienced by a massive amount of filming in their commuinity. At minimum, three proposals bear strong consideration: (1) Reduce the number of permits issued; (2) eliminate alternate side parking rules on surrounding streets during a shoot; (3) ensure that some of the revenue generated by these shoots is directly reinvested back into the community.
- Construct a better Community Board 1 (CB1) that’s more representative of the current community, and more responsive to the community’s needs. I’ve heard far too many stories of residents being told by CB1 that their complaints don’t matter. A more responsive CB1 can be achieved by instituting term limits, making the appointment process more transparent, and directly involving community organizations in the appointment and interview process (and there should actually be an interview process!).
These ideas are, of course, only a small starting point. More than anything else, I want to hear from you! I envision a City Council office that works directly with residents, actively soliciting and discussing ideas, and making its decisions in a completely transparent manner. You can contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 347-471-0388.
So there have you.
Closing on a related note, here’s a press release as issued by Mr. Pierson’s Campaign Manager, Diana Gonzalez. It is calling for a series of debates through-out the amazingly diverse district that is the 33rd.
I for one think this is a sterling idea. Anyone have questions/concerns to voice to Mr. Pierson? Contact him! Otherwise, in terms of venues and/or moderators anyone have ideas? Let’s make a debate in Greenpoint (and Williamsburg) happen!