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Thumbs up for rezoning

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In a strong show of support, the executive committee of Community Board 7 voted unanimously to recommend a comprehensive plan for the revitalization of Sunset Park’s waterfront at a public hearing on Tuesday night.

“This plan has broad support not just from the community but also from [the Department of] City Planning,” said Randy Peers, the chair of CB 7. “From their perspective it doesn’t make sense to do all this work and then submit a plan that is going to have so many problems that it doesn’t move forward.”

At their next meeting, scheduled for June 17, the entire board will vote on the action, but Peers expects that it will again pass unanimously.

The 197−a plan will target the vast stretch of waterfront from 15th to 65th Streets. Its primary goals are to preserve current waterfront industry, promote environmentally responsible industrial development, create jobs, increase access to the waterfront, improve transportation conditions and celebrate Sunset Park’s maritime heritage.

“There will be no changes to zoning laws. It is a business−friendly plan and there are businesses there already,” said Peers. “The unique characteristic of our waterfront is that it houses close to 40,000 jobs and most of those jobs go to people who live in this community.”

The plan also maintains that the waterfront development should improve the overall quality of life by retaining affordable housing to prevent displacement, increasing community partnerships and balancing active and recreational public needs.

CB 7 initiated the plan in 1996 and now, after more than ten years of persistence and dedication, members are glad that it is getting closer to becoming a reality.

“I think the waterfront could be a benefit to all the working families here in Sunset Park,” said resident Daniel Murphy. “I think to open up the waterfront as an open space for some of those families as well as retaining the industrial corridor is like having your cake and eating it to.”

The 197−a plan is also expected to significantly affect the community through the development of public parkland, specifically the creation of a waterfront park between 43rd and 51st Streets.

“We won’t have to go to Bay Ridge to go the park, we will have our own park right here,” said Fred Xuereb, second vice chair of CB 7. “Kids could go and play games and play sports.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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