by Joseph Vance
Despite the heavy downpour and the dreary cold day, the Save Greenpoint March and Rally held on Sunday, November 9th, organized by Neighborhood Roots, was a great success. From a few people huddled on a corner shivering in the cold, the marchers grew to a throng 2 1/2 blocks long marching up Manhattan Avenue. As the rain poured, protesters marched chanting, "Fix Manhattan Avenue Now," "No More Transfer Stations," "Community Board One . . . Rotten to the Core." They were cheered on by many of Manhattan Avenue's merchants. The crowd proceeded into St. Anthony's church for the rally. There, with our sincere thanks to Father Reilly, we were invited to bring the crowd of over 400 inside to hear more about the problems our neighborhood is facing.
While it was quite inspiring to see so many come out on such a dreadful day, it was even more inspiring to see and hear an event where the multiple cultures that make up our neighborhood were represented. Father Reilly of St. Anthony's and Rev. Mabel Lewis of the Church of the Ascension delivered benedictions and speeches followed in Polish, Spanish and English. Speakers included Annette and John Kupiec, Neighborhood Roots; Tadeusz Chabrowski and Renata Jablonska, Polish and Slavic Center; Edwin Perez, Hispanos Unidos de Greenpoint; Michael Pajak, Polish American Political Action; Marie and Robert Leddick, Greenpoint Civic Council; Steve Adams, Greenpoint Youth Organization and myself, a member of Neighborhood Roots. Each spoke about the many projects critical to this community, from the Manhattan Avenue Reconstruction, the cuts to our G train service, the relentless increases in waste transfer stations, the stalling of Greenpoint's rezoning on our vacant waterfront, and the lack of public access to our waterfront. All of the Greenpoint community's Capital projects such as the Manhattan Avenue Shopping Strip Revitalization Project, McGuinness Blvd. Reconstruction Project, WNYC Waterfront Park Project, and McCarren Park Restoration have been stalled (some for over 12 years) while millions of dollars of funding have been and continue to be spent in every other section of north Brooklyn.The march and rally brought attention to the deplorable discrimination this community has had to bear under the representation of its local elected officials and Community Board One.
Time and time again, our local Community Board turns up either speaking out against something that would benefit Greenpoint, electing to not pursue projects that would benefit Greenpoint, or aggressively supporting something that would be detrimental to Greenpoint. Six to eight of the key members of the community board are the driving force behind these actions. It is important to note the only way to get on the community board is to be appointed by Borough President Howard Golden or by Councilmember Ken Fisher. There are no terms limits. Several of those who have come out against Greenpoint have been on the board for 20 years. Some of our local elected officials have been less than helpful over the years, and have more recently endorsed the community board plan to take tree funding away from Greenpoint. In addition, some not-for-profit organizations that happen to be located in Williamsburg and receive funding from the elected officials, use the environmental problems in Greenpoint as a means of obtaining money from grants, yet do nothing to remedy those problems. (continues on next page)