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Archive for the tag 'Vincent Gentile'

Gentile's new office was previously Ellen Fish Market. New signage is on the way. (Source: Google Maps)

Gentile’s new office was previously Ellen Fish Market. New signage is on the way. (Source: Google Maps)

Councilman Vincent Gentile has announced new digs for his district office, now open at 8018 5th Avenue, bringing it several blocks closer to Bensonhurst and Dyker Heights.

The office operated for years out of 8703 3rd Avenue, but the new space opened up this Monday as the old one shuttered its doors for good.

According to Gentile spokesperson Justin Brannan, the new location is still a work in progress, with signage and more on the way. Brannan notes it’ll be fully up to speed within a few days, and then a grand opening party will follow.

While the finishing touches might take some time, the office is fully operational when it comes to assisting constituents. Phone numbers and hours are staying the same, so you can call (718) 748-5200, e-mail vgentile@council.nyc.gov or stop by the new storefront for help.

gentile

Gentile (Source: Gentile’s office)

Councilman Vincent Gentile of Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst confirmed to the New York Observer that he is considering a challenge to State Senator Marty Golden, and told the paper that he sees the Republican’s support drying up.

If he runs and wins it will be a sort of homecoming for the pol, who represented the district in the State Senate between 1996 and 2002, before being unseated by Golden. After losing office that year, Gentile ran in and won the special election for the City Council seat vacated by Golden – meaning the two effectively swapped seats.

Gentile told the paper that the recent show of support for restoring Democratic control of the State Senate is galvanizing his interest. The Observer reports:

“It would take a lot to pull me away but certainly I understand the bigger issues in our state and the goal of getting a Democratic State Senate so based on that I am getting the input I should be getting and we’ll see in a week or two,” Mr. Gentile said at City Hall yesterday. “I am enjoying my job but I’m saying there are bigger issues here.”

The Observer’s story came on the heels of another report that a coalition was emerging to flip Republican seats in the Senate, and was eyeing Golden in particular. The coalition was birthed during the Working Families Party convention, during which Cuomo pledged to support Democrats running for the legislative body and to break the power-sharing alliance between the Republicans and the Independent Democratic Caucus in exchange for their nomination.

NY State of Politics was the first to report that the coalition was floating Gentile as a challenger, but it had not been confirmed until the Observer report. A source told the outlet that approximately $1 million has already been earmarked to unseat Golden.

Gentile is optimistic that the Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst portions of the Senate district are increasingly Democratic, boosting his chances – although he also slipped in a slap at the incumbent Senator for gerrymandering the district to rope in as many Republican enclaves as possible.

“I think my area has become more Democratic and eventually there will be smaller and smaller pockets that Marty Golden can rely upon so if it’s not this cycle, there will be a cycle very soon where he will not have the same deep support that he used to have in the same district that he drew, that he drew the lines for,” Gentile told the Observer.

While that may be true in Bay Ridge, Golden remains popular in Marine Park and Gerritsen Beach – conservative-leaning areas where Gentile is relatively unknown.

What this means for another Democratic challenger to Golden, Jamie Kemmerer, is not yet known. Kemmerer told this outlet last month that he decided to run only once Gentile personally urged him to do so. Kemmerer could drop out and throw his support behind Gentile if he chooses to run – or he could squabble with his former backer in a primary.

cb11

June’s Community Board 11 meeting focused on three main points: the curb-cutting ‘crisis’, the new Bensonhurst BJ’s location, and the Shore Parkway promenade changes soon happening in the neighborhood.

Assemblyman Peter Abbate and Councilman Vincent Gentile joined Community Board 11 at Thursday’s meeting at the Bensonhurst Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare to give share their thoughts.

Curb-Cutting Crisis

Councilmen Gentile spoke passionately about his proposed bill to end what he called “the epidemic of illegal curb cuts,” a situation where non-approved parking spots are created by residential owners.

According to Gentile, the bill would require that the Department of Transportation (DOT) commissioner have an illegal curb cut restored at that property owner’s expense.

“It takes away legal spots,” Gentile said. “It is a huge quality of life issue.”

The bill received overwhelming support from attendees at the meeting, with many nodding in agreement and expressing their own frustration.

“We need to get this bill passed to [get] the blight away from our community,” said District Manager Marnee Elias-Pavia.

The Board previously expressed frustration with the curb cuts in 2013, when Chairman Bill Guarinello asked the Department of Transportation to look into the problem, and then appealed to mayor-elect Bill de Blasio to make it a priority.

New BJ’s Location

Bensonhurst’s BJ’s is opening on July 12 at 1752 Shore Parkway and the company is hiring — fast.

Elias-Pavia and Gentile are teaming up to co-host a Job Information Night at 6 p.m. on June 17 at the Sephardic Home Auditorium at 2266 Cropsey Avenue.

According to Gentile, there are 250 jobs available at this store and “we should give these jobs to the community.” Currently, 100 positions have been filled, leaving 150 opportunities still open, including those for clerks, cashiers, stock assistants, merchants, sales representatives, and more.

Shore Parkway Promenade

The stretch from Shore Parkway and 19th Avenue to Bay Parkway has been renovated. The redeveloped path is now open, paved, and accessible to the public. There are 15 new benches, freshly planted foliage, and new drainage systems that prevent massive puddles and flooding.

“You don’t see those moon craters when you walk any more,” Gentile said. “In two weeks, it will be fully ready to enjoy.”

According to Gentile, the project cost half a million dollars to complete.

Happenings This Summer, Save The Date:  

  • Bensonhurst Green Market: Sundays, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. at 81st Street and 18th Avenue
  • BJ’s Job Information Night: 6/17 at 6 p.m. at the Sephardic Home Auditorium at 2266 Cropsey Avenue
  • Free Family Movie Night, Frozen: 6/22 at 8:30 p.m. at Seth Low Park
  • Grand Opening & Ribbon Cutting of the Second 47th Council District Office: 6/22 at 11:00 a.m. at 2015 Stillwell Avenue
  • Casino BBQ Night: 6/26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Bensonhurst Center for Rehabilitation
  • Free Family Movie Night, Wizard of Oz: 6/29 at 8:30 p.m. at Colonel Marcus Park  

Other Announcements:

  • There has been a small spike in neighborhood robberies. 62nd Precinct Captain, William Taylor, advises residents to not walk alone when it’s late, to be more aware of surroundings, and to keep cell phones and other electronic devices safely tucked away when walking in the dark.
  • Residents at Independence Avenue and 15th Avenue submitted over 100 signatures supporting the conversion of the two-way street at that corner into a one-way street due to poor visibility and dangerous driving conditions.
  • There are emergency sewer repairs at 67th Street and 18th Avenue, due to a pipe break. Currently, 300-feet of sewer pipe is being repaired, set to be completed by June 30th.
  • Elias-Pavia reported that she will be sitting on the planning committee to determine how to allocate $3 million of block grant funding as part of a Post-Sandy Gravesend/Bensonhurst community reconstruction project.

Source: DOT

Streetsblog managing editor Brad Aaron wrote a post last week claiming that a Department of Transportation rule change fought for by Councilman Vincent Gentile is making streets less safe, but the councilman is standing by the decision.

The rule in question was adopted in 2009, allowing drivers to park at T intersections, and making it legal to block crosswalks where there are no traffic signals, painted lines or stop signs.

In addition to creating more parking spaces, Gentile argued at the time that it made the streets safer for pedestrians, since there were no indications to drivers that a crosswalk was there and thus no reason to slow down.

But according to Aaron, the unmarked crosswalks are statistically safer, and by allowing cars to block them off the city is pushing pedestrians to more dangerous crosswalks.

[A]ccording to an NYU Langone Medical Center study of Bellevue trauma patients, more pedestrians are injured while crossing in crosswalks with “walk” signals than while crossing mid-block or against the signal. Data mapped by Transportation Alternatives’ CrashStat show that, between 1995 and 2009, there were no pedestrian-involved crashes at Seaman and Payson, while the two closest signalized intersections saw a handful of injury crashes each.

Has blocking unmarked crosswalks — which are natural walking paths — stopped people from using them? No, but it has worsened sight lines, making it harder for drivers and pedestrians to see each other. What the city should be doing is daylighting space next to pedestrian curb ramps — the opposite of the Gentile rule.

The data cited appears to suggest that unmarked crosswalks or crossing in the middle of the street is safer, but a closer look at the source material seems to upend that. The data was pulled from 1,400 pedestrians and cyclists treated at Bellevue for collisions between 2008 and 2011. As the New York Times reported:

Of those injured on the street, 44 percent used a crosswalk, with the signal, compared with 23 percent who crossed midblock and 9 percent who crossed against the signal.

But the research makes no correlation, and seems to only suggest that pedestrian-related accidents happen where pedestrians are more likely to be – ie. marked crosswalks with a signal. It does not suggest that crossing mid-block is safer, just that less people were treated for injuries sustained doing so – which makes sense since fewer people are likely to do that in the “busiest corridors” in Manhattan and western Brooklyn, where most of the patients were injured.

Aaron didn’t turn to Gentile for a response, so we did.

Back in 2008, Department of Transportation engineers took a long hard look at unregulated “T” intersections. Even though these areas had been outfitted with pedestrian ramps, there was no denying their dangerous design due to the lack of marked crosswalks, signals, signage or other traffic control devices. In addition, inadequate sight distances made these intersections extremely unsafe, especially for the disabled. As a result of these findings, the Dept. of Transportation amended the rules which also allowed for drivers to park in these newly redefined areas. Since then, I have done my best to promote and publicize the existence of this obscure rule change because it first and foremost helps keeps pedestrians safe and creates a few more parking spots in the process. I continue to work closely with the Dept. of Transportation towards making our streets a safe place where pedestrians, cyclists and drivers can all co-exist responsibly.

Source: Natalie Maynor / Flickr

Source: Natalie Maynor / Flickr

The Bensonhurst Greenmarket at Milestone Park will celebrate its seasonal grand opening this Sunday at 11:00 a.m.

The market kicked off its first year in 2012, brought in by Councilman Vincent Gentile and GrowNYC. This year, every Sunday from June 8 until November 23, they’ll be packing Milestone Park (18th Avenue between 81st Street and 82nd Street) with a slew of vendors selling fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, honey and candles from farms located just miles outside of New York City (and one from inside of it!).

Here’s the full list of vendors setting up shop this year:

  • El Poblano Vegetables and specialized Mexican herbs and vegetables from one of the last remaining farms in the city of New York, in Richmond County.
  • Goodale Farms Vegetables and dairy from Suffolk County, NY.
  • Kernan Farms Vegetables from Cumberland County, NJ
  • Nature’s Way Farm Honey and candles from Chemung County, NY
  • Williams Fruit Farm Orchard fruit from Ulster County, NY

“I like to refer to the weekly greenmarkets as our very own town square. This is where long-time residents and people new to their neighborhoods come to shop, share recipes, catch up with their neighbors and meet new friends,” said Gentile in a press release. “There are many unofficial starts of the summer but, for me, the official unofficial start of summer is the exciting weekend when we kick off the popular Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst Greenmarkets.”

The market accepts WIC and FMNP checks, EBT, food stamps, debit and credit cards. The market is open every Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The Bensonhurst Greenmarket previously won the seal of approval from Slow Food NYC for improving the sustainability and quality of the food supply in the area.

Aside from the food, there will also be weekly cooking demonstrations, seasonal celebrations and family-fun activities all season long.

The huge stretch of 86th Street slated to see extensive pothole repairs this summer just grew by several more blocks. Councilman Vincent Gentile announced yesterday that he has allocated money to fund repaving the commercial corridor, adding a quarter mile to the project that will now see every street from Stillwell Avenue to just past the Gowanus Expressway with a fresh layer of asphalt.

The Department of Transportation had agreed last month to repair most of that stretch. According to a press release from Assemblyman William Colton and Councilman Mark Treyger, issued in early May, that agreement came about after they made requests to the agency. But the plan, covering everything from Stillwell Avenue to 14th Avenue, fell short of covering the section of roadway that passes through Dyker Heights. Gentile has now announced that the agency is on board to do the additional stretch, and his office has helped direct money towards getting the project done.

Here’s the press release:

Southwest Brooklyn continues to recover from a wicked winter and it has the battle scars to prove it. Miles of pockmarked roadways and thousands of frustrated drivers take their lumps every day over the bumpy mess that Old Man Winter left behind.

Thankfully, Deputy Leader Councilman Vincent J. Gentile has successfully brokered a deal with the Department of Transportation to repave 86th Street, one of the major commercial corridors in all of southwest Brooklyn.

The Department of Transportation has agreed to repave 86th Street from Gatling Place in Bay Ridge to Stillwell Avenue in Bensonhurst. Councilman Gentile allocated $400,000 in this year’s budget to help fund the paving.

“This is literally where the rubber meets the road,” Gentile said. “After a harsh winter, and so many potholes, 86th Street looks more like the surface of the moon than one of our most popular commercial corridors.”

The Department of Transportation plans to repair the rocky road in three separate segments this summer with repair crews working overnight in order to mitigate disruption to traffic and commerce.

“This street has been damaging cars and causing headaches for drivers for months. I am happy that the Department of Transportation is finally addressing this problem.”

If the Department of Transportation keeps to the schedule laid out in May, work should begin in August.

waterfront-repair

Contractors are now on-site, tearing up and reconstructing a broad swath of the Shore Parkway Greenway near Ceasar’s Bay, also known as the Bay Parkway promenade.

We were first tipped off to the work by Councilman Vincent Gentile’s office, who, along with former Councilman Domenic Recchia, allocated just north of $500,000 to get the much-needed repairs done.

Work began last week, when city contractors tore up the asphalt from 19th Avenue to the edge of the fields. Here, the Parks Department will repave the asphalt for bicyclists and pedestrians, who have long suffered through crater-like terrain and trip hazards.

As that wraps up, a second and more intensive phase will kick off, stretching from the ball fields to Bay Parkway. The city will reconstruct the bike path, down to the very drainage system serving it. Work will include asphalt replacement, added drainage, installation of 15 new benches, and some landscaping.

The two phases of work. The blue stretch, currently underway, will see the promenade repaved. The red stretch will be repaved and have new benches and drainage installed.

The two phases of work. The blue stretch, currently underway, will see the promenade repaved. The red stretch will be repaved and have new benches and drainage installed.

The construction means cyclists and pedestrians will lose a bit of the waterfront stretch for the early summer. But it’ll be back, and better for use, by the end of June when the project wraps up, the Parks Department told Bensonhurst Bean.

It won’t cure all of the promenade’s problems. Even though some of the greenway saw repairs after Superstorm Sandy using federal money, much of the span still needs repaving, and portions continue to suffer minor flooding after even light rain. But Gentile said it’s all a work in progress.

“The stretch of our popular waterfront path between Bay Parkway and the Verrazano Bridge is still a work in progress but this is a sure-footed step in the right direction,” said Gentile. “I thank Marnee Elias-Pavia, District Manager of Community Board 11, and of course the NYC Parks Capital Projects Unit for helping to make this happen and just in time for summer!”

See that puddle? Yep, that's why the promenade is getting some new drainage.

See that puddle? Yep, that’s why the promenade is getting some new drainage.

The following is a press release from the offices of Councilman Vincent Gentile:

Deputy Leader Councilman Vincent J. Gentile today called on the New York City Department of Finance to notify homeowners that they must reapply for the New York State School Tax Relief Program (STAR). The popular tax relief program provides a partial exemption from school property taxes.

The New York State School Tax Relief Program requires a one-time registration. For those enrolled in STAR last year, the deadline to register was April 1st; however, New York State is still accepting late registrations. New STAR enrollees will be required to register at the time they apply.

“The STAR program has succeeded in delivering millions of dollars in tax relief,” Councilman Vincent J. Gentile said. “The Department of Finance should be doing everything it possibly can in order to notify homeowners that they risk missing out on this great program if they don’t reapply.”

New York’s STAR program provides a partial exemption from school taxes for most homeowners. The program does not affect the overall revenue given to a school district because the state makes up the difference in state aid given to the school district. Over the past dozen years, actual State disbursements for the STAR program have totaled over $37 billion.

“This is a proverbial pot of gold for hardworking New Yorkers struggling to get by; it should not be kept secret. Homeowners need to be made aware of the protocols and deadlines.”

Gentile also plans to introduce legislation in the City Council which would require the Department of Finance to provide a mailed notice to property owners along with information regarding the deadline for STAR registration, instructions for late registration and the web address and phone number to register with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Home.

“We need to make sure people are being given all the tools they need to get some relief. When it comes to tax abatement programs, knowledge is power,” Gentile concluded.

vargas

Councilman Vincent Gentile honored Bath Beach boxing coach Willie Vargas last week, presenting him with a Presidential Volunteer Service Award and a Gold Lifetime Achievement Award signed by President Barack Obama.

Since 1979, Vargas has been teaching at-risk youth how to box – keeping them off the streets and teaching them discipline. Five of his trainees have become world champions.

Gentile issued the following statement:

“I was happy to recognize Willie Vargas today. Mr. Vargas is a world class boxing trainer who has been teaching young, at-risk children how to box since 1979.

In their training, these young men learn not only how to be a champion in the ring but in the game of life. In fact, five of these young boxers trained by Mr. Vargas have grown – not only into fine young men – but into world champion boxers! All of the young men trained by Mr. Vargas lead by example and help keep at-risk youth off the streets and working towards something positive.

For all of his efforts, Mr. Vargas was awarded a Presidential Volunteer Service Award along with the Gold Lifetime Achievement Award signed by President Barack Obama. Mr. Vargas is a resident of Bath Beach and we should all be proud to call him one of our own!”

Photo by William Alatriste

Photo by William Alatriste

Elected officials, community and labor leaders celebrated the 12th anniversary of the Bay Parkway Community Job Center on Friday, honoring it for its history of helping immigrant laborers attain the American dream through education, jobs, safety training and grassroots organizing.

We’ve written about the job center before, and the role it plays in providing services for day laborers and undocumented workers out of its red and yellow shack near Ceasar’s Bay. Operated by the Workers’ Justice Project, it has evolved over the year with support from elected officials, including Councilman Vincent Gentile, former Councilman Dominic Recchia and others. It took a beating from Superstorm Sandy, and the shack was replaced by a trailer – and organizers got back to work.

“While this job site has had its ups and downs over the 12 years, amazing things have happened here thanks to the Workers Justice Project – an organization whose goal is to give low wage immigrant workers a voice and protection in the labor workforce,” said Gentile in his remarks at the anniversary celebration. “I personally have met so many wonderful and interesting people here, many with great backgrounds and training in various fields in their mother country but now here to work and pursue a piece of the American Dream.”

The center, open since March 2002, keeps their more than 7,000 clients informed of their rights, and also connects them with small businesses and those in need of skilled workers. The center also secures them a better living wage of $22.50 per hour – the highest among similar organizations in the region.

In addition to Gentile, Borough President Eric Adams, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny and councilmembers Carlos Menchaca and Mark Treyger were in attendance.

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