2012-02-02 / Other News

Local Community Board Wants Greater Voice In Gateway II Project

By Orin Davidson

Barron standing, speaks about community concerns. Barron standing, speaks about community concerns. Community Board Five members are pushing for greater involvement in development plans within their jurisdiction, beginning with the massive Gateway II project.

At its most recent general meeting, on Wednesday, January 25th, the board passed a resolution demanding that elected officials explain their plans to the public at community meetings in-stead of dealing only with the board privately.

Board Chairman Nathan Bradley said it is disrespectful to residents not to be apprised directly by the politicians, since whatever they do affects those who live in the areas more than other stakeholders.

He said that the Gateway I project, located at Gateway Drive near Erskine Avenue, never passed scrutiny of community members when it was planned about a decade ago, and they would not allow the same to happen with Gateway II, which involves the controversial establishment of the first Walmart store in New York City. According to reports, the retail giant considered leasing a 630,000-square-foot space in East New York, north of Gateway I.

Bradley said a planned board meeting with a Walmart representative never materialized last year. They only recently received a late explanation for the representative’s no-show.

Fiery City Councilman Charles Bar-ron, who attended the meeting, said he will assist the board with vital information on Gateway II to allow pertinent questions to be asked of those in-volved. Barron pointed out that many of the disclosures made to the public about Gateway II by elected officials are inaccurate, as he attended previous meetings with the project’s developers.

In a brief presentation, Barron also expressed concern for the future of schools in the district and slammed Mayor Bloomberg for not acting in the best interests of students.

He condemned the planned phasing out of W.H. Maxwell High School at 145 Pennsylvania Avenue, claiming that the mayor’s office and the teachers union are hurting education with their political games. According to reports, the school received a Grade A on its annual performance report but was still placed on the list of possible closures.

“How could you shut down a Grade A school,” he said. “It is a travesty! We must end mayoral control of schools.”

His wife, Assemblywoman Inez Bar-ron, envisages tough times ahead for education in New York City and attacked Governor Andrew Cuomo for not fully honoring funding obligations She said that a planned four percent increase was not in effect, claiming that the state owes the city $3.7 billion. The Assemblywo-man also promised to keep fighting for for the city and also criticized plans to close Brookdale Hospital and the Kingsborough Psychiatric Center.

The presence of a homeless shelter near Van Siclen Avenue is another cause of concern. Strong measures are being taken to have the facility shut down. Barron said he was at the forefront of a planned protest by residents scheduled for last Saturday. With nearly a dozen shelters in the neighborhood – and a 200-bed women’s shelter having opened a few months ago – residents feel affordable housing should be added to the area instead.

On the positive side, the councilman said he had good news for the district, as four lots around the Livonia Avenue area will be developed for commercial projects comprising of establishments that will provide modern services and employment for residents.

At the meeting it was also decided that the street from Glenmore Avenue would be named Dorothy Allen Street to honor the longstanding Community Board, who headed the Department for the Aging Committee.

In his monthly report, District Manager Walter Campbell disclosed said that GED and youth job training programs will soon be provided for anyone interested. He also noted that the fees for block parties have increased to $25 from $15.

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