Often referred to as “The Gateway District” - the neighborhoods that comprise Community Board #18 have a rich history from the earliest days of the "Canarsie Indians" to the polyglot communities that exist within our borders today. Covering one of the largest geographical land areas of any Community Board in the City, a “snap shot” look captures the heart and the spirit of Brooklyn ... multi-ethnic, middle class neighborhoods with a solid tax base of single family, multi-family, mid-rise buildings and with a scattering of condominiums and cooperative developments. These neighborhoods have been characterized as some of the finest places in New York to live in, raise a family, start a business, or invest in future development.
The hallmark of Community Board #18 is our network of volunteer, civic, parent, religious, and service organizations. This harmonious and constant interchange between neighborhoods, groups, residents and local elected officials has built the very foundation that keeps the fabric of our communities stable while planning for future growth and development.
Within our boundaries, are several high-rise buildings including housing for senior citizens, the homeless, and three(3) N.Y.C. Housing Authority (NYCHA) Projects, Bayview, Breukelen, and Glenwood Houses, which require a “boots-on-the-ground” commitment to rehabilitation, full upgrading and extensive modernization. In light of the recent shocking revelations concerning the safety and lead paint issues in many of the NYCHA Developments, our Community Board is demanding full and complete basement to roof apartment and common area inspections to determine any and all possible code violations that may exist along with a remediation plan and “tight” time table for implementation.
Floyd Bennet Field, located in our district, became part of Gateway National Recreation Area in 1972. It is an historic treasure -- the first municipal airfield and an aerial hub for fighter planes during World War II, where the sounds of the departing aircraft of Wiley Post, Amelia Earhart, and Douglas "wrong-way" Corrigan stand as a living testament to times past and the important role that Floyd Bennet Field played in the history of aviation. Views from the Control Tower at Floyd Bennet Field gave clear vision to the crisscrossing runways of New York's first Municipal Airport.
Explore Hanger B, built in 1941 by the U.S. Navy and used primarily for seaplanes spans an enormous two (2) acres in size, where airplanes return to life. Every corner of Hangar B is filled with aircraft from literally every era of aviation. The aircraft restoration efforts are the work of the Historic Aircraft Restoration Project (HARP) created and staffed entirely by volunteers and funded by grant money. HARP works hard to meet Smithsonian’s standard for aircraft restoration. You can see any sort of aircraft going as far back as a replica of the Wright Brothers model, WWII aircraft, and a fully restored Grumman JRF-5 “Goose” flying boat, which, back in the 1930’s would have been used to transport wealthy Gold Coast clientele to Wall Street, literally landing in the river. HARP is open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am to 1pm, Saturdays from 9am to 4pm, with ranger guided tours on Sundays from 2pm to 4pm.
The dream of a restored Floyd Bennet Field for recreational use with water-access must not be forgotten. The field's coast is a polluted cemetery for destroyed boats and debris. In short - It is the disgrace of Gateway! The restoration of the boat docks at Floyd Bennet Field and at Canarsie Pier would allow for the use of on-again, off-again water ferries at peak times to facilitate the movement of participants of large outdoor events at Gateway as well as for visitors to the Park and Aviator’s Sports Complex at Floyd Bennet Field. It would also provide a ferry commuter connection with other parts of the borough and city. The current Ferry Service Plan includes neighborhoods in all the boroughs as a link to existing ferry service to Manhattan. The service for South Brooklyn is in Bay Ridge. Mayor de Blasio promised us Ferry Service at Canarsie Pier without any results. Despite community opposition, he chose, instead, to add a ferry stop for the Coney Island area.
As a result of Super Storm “Sandy,” the Canarsie “L” Train Tunnel was flooded with seven (7) million gallons of saltwater, which damaged all the electrical and communication equipment, as well as the concrete lining to the tunnel. The massive reconstruction work necessary to repair the Canarsie Tunnel is causing anticipated disruption of “L” Train service between Manhattan and Brooklyn. We will continue to work with the MTA, NYC DOT and City and State agencies to determine service levels needed to accommodate our ridership during the rehabilitation.
As we usher in another Anniversary of Super Storm “Sandy,” we remain appalled by the lack of speed and clarity in not developing a strengthened coastal defense resiliency plan for our shoreline as the first line of defense against flooding and sea level rise. The Build-it-Back Program has been an absolute failure! The hopes that all of the shore communities shared after October 29, 2012 have never been realized and have been “washed away” in a sea of bureaucracy, indifference and red tape. Long range storm protection remains one of our top priorities. We must continue to partner with all levels of Government to make this battle to protect our shoreline communities a reality rather than another report lying in a pile of reports in some agency. Future additional funding through the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013 is necessary to implement short and long range goals for rebuilding and enhancing our infrastructure to accept the potential of another super storm surge. The Army Corps of Engineers must advance their flood protection plans to fortify the seawall side of the peninsula with the erection of seawalls and gates around the waterfront that could open or close in a storm threat to divert or redirect the surge.
We continue to look to the de Blasio Administration for a “boots-on-the-ground” comprehensive program of infrastructure improvement, reconstruction and development. Shocking as it may seem, our shore communities find ourselves still re-building and recovering from Sandy. With immeasurable loss of property, businesses and lives, the approach has to be less than “Band-Aid” therapy for our arterial bleeding.
We are guardingly optimistic that the Capital and Expense Budget will be more “backbone” and less “wishbone.” Our Board looks forward to a vigorous and enlightening Budget Process in the coming fiscal year.