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An update since the

Save Greenpoint March and Rally...

photo of letter

Is this true support or just spin? Time will tell.

On January 8, 1998, almost two months to the date after the November rally, Borough President Howard Golden set up a meeting with the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) to discuss the proposed construction projects of McGuinness Boulevard and Manhattan Avenue. Many community leaders asked to be included in the meeting, but were refused. Local elected officials and the Community Board were in attendance. After an additional month elapsed, on February 12, a letter was issued from the Borough President to Commissioner Tormenta of the DDC which stated, "It became clear that the technical considerations in proposing Manhattan Avenue work to begin in early 2000 conflict with the Manhattan Avenue community's immediate safety and development needs. In subsequent discussions among local elected officials, these issues and the project maintenance and construction constraints were extensively reviewed. We are all in favor of reconstructing Manhattan Avenue first, as soon as this project can be implemented, to be followed by McGuinness Boulevard. A number of considerations led to this position. First, and foremost, are the public safety considerations involving pedestrians and vehicles on Manhattan Avenue. Even with the recent roadway resurfacing, there remain vehicular and sidewalk pavement hazards endangering residents and business customers. These cannot be postponed until the year 2000."

This letter was signed not only by Borough President Howard Golden, but also by State Senator Connor, Assemblyman Lentol, and Councilman Fisher. Although this seems like an encouraging turn of events, Greenpointers must remember that the Manhattan Avenue project has been promised for the past thirteen consecutive years. Councilmember Ken Fisher, in his own Spring/Summer 1993 newsletter, declared that "the long awaited reconstruction of Manhattan Avenue from Driggs Avenue to the Newtown Creek will take place in the Summer of 1995." It was clear even in 1984 how vital the reconstruction and revitalization of our shopping street would be for our community. In a March 1984 Garden Spot News article, Democratic District Leader Steven Cohn stated that commercial revitalization in local shopping areas is a tremendously successful city program and has realized striking improvements in both the environments and business climates of many local areas in NYC, some of which started out with less potential than Greenpoint. If a revitalization program is carried out in this stable, middle-class community, which serves as virtually the only good shopping area, the results would certainly be astounding and would repay the city's investment many times over in additional tax revenues. It is curious that although six of the seven commercial revitalization projects originally proposed for Community Board One have been completed, Manhattan Avenue, the only one in Greenpoint, was never done.

The Borough President's letter calls for the Manhattan Avenue project to be expedited to begin this Fall and be completed by the end of Fall 1999. The McGuinness Boulevard contract could be phased in two parts and interfaced with the appropriate phasing of Manhattan Avenue. As our local elected officials now know, our community will mobilize to be heard. We hope the need to rally for the Manhattan Avenue project has passed, and we will soon see this shameful neglect come to an end. Local Greenpoint organizations will be requesting a full presentation of the proposed reconstruction project.

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