Creating more jobs, a continued crackdown on crime, beer distribution in Red Hook, rezoning in Flatbush and a new Kensington library branch.
All were promised in Mayor Bloomberg’s election year “State of the City” address held at Brooklyn College last week.
The event had a distinctive Brooklyn flavor featuring Borough President Marty Markowitz, the choir from P.S. 206 on East 22nd Street and Gravesend Neck Road, the Dodgers Sym-Phony Brass Band, and Midwood High School student leader Toni Mackenzie, who introduced Bloomberg.
Bloomberg reminded listeners that there is a silver lining to the recession and loss of jobs, noting that Brooklyn College was built during the Great Depression.
“Our plan has three main parts: one, spurring and supporting job growth in all five boroughs. Two, strengthening the quality of life in every neighborhood, so recession does not lead to disinvestment and abandonment, as it has in the past. And three, stretching every dollar further and holding agencies accountable for delivering results for the New Yorkers who need them now more than ever,” said Bloomberg.
Bloomberg then outlined a nine-point plan that he said would retain and create 400,000 jobs over the next six years in all five boroughs.
One way to stimulate the economy is through infrastructure work including the construction of a new library branch in Brooklyn, Bloomberg said.
This paper later learned Bloomberg was speaking about a new Kensington branch to replace the current one on Ditmas Avenue between East 4th and 5th streets. The $11.5 million project is slated to break ground in June at 4209-4211 18th Avenue.
A second point toward job creation, Bloomberg said, was for the city to invest in diversifying the economy, and with this, made mention of the new beer distribution terminal on Pier 11 in Red Hook that he said would bring 600 jobs.
Other points in Bloomberg’s plan to stimulate the economy include fostering small business growth through emergency loans and tax breaks, launching more Business Improvement Districts (BID), and opening more Workforce Career Centers.
Bloomberg said that keeping quality of life crime and all crime down remains a priority not only for health and safety reasons, but because that in itself helps the economy.
“It all begins with public safety — the bedrock of society that makes economic growth possible,” said Bloomberg, noting that crime in the city is at a 40-year low.
Bloomberg pledged to keep crime down by employing new and old technologies such as cameras in problem locations and using GPS technology to enforce court orders keeping gang members out of public housing.
Bloomberg said part of his administration’s quality-of-life efforts will go toward building affordable housing and preserving the character and quality of neighborhoods to keep a strong middle-class tax base in the city.
The plan to rezone Flatbush to create more affordable housing and protect its Victorian character is an example of that, he said.
Following the address, opinion of the speech was mixed, as those in attendance generally liked it, while those on the street just outside Brooklyn College were more independent with their thoughts.
“We are proud the mayor chose Brooklyn to launch such an ambitious recovery economic effort. The mayor’s continued commitment to invest in public infrastructure projects is particularly important to Brooklyn as private construction cools in the borough,” said Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carl Hum.
“However, we encourage the mayor to look in neighborhoods and communities in addition to Red Hook as there are many sites in need of public investment. Additionally, we must make sure his public infrastructure projects are tied to the Obama stimulus package and the Chamber stands ready to work with the mayor to make that happen,” he added.
John Isgrow, a graduate student from Bensonhurst, said he thinks the state of the city is reflective of the country and is going through tough economic times that require unfortunate budget cuts to keep things under control.
“In my particular position right now, being a full-time student and making money in a part-time job, it (recession) doesn’t affect me, but I assume in the next six months when I graduate, I might feel the crunch at that time,” said Isgrow.
Isgrow said he favors the extension of term limits, but remains uncommitted in who he will support for mayor come the November election.
“I have to see who the other candidates are when they come through,” said Isgrow. “As of right now, he (Bloomberg) has done an okay, but not spectacular job.”