Life In The Big City


Greenfield and Felder Unveil New Park
in Borough Park

Councilman David G. Greenfield was joined on Tuesday, July 9 by Senator Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), Brooklyn Borough Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey, and P.S. 192 Principal Liset Issac in the unveiling of Borough Park’s brand new park space located in the rear of P.S. 192 on 47th and 48th Streets and 18th Avenue. This new park will serve thousands of nearby residents who previously lacked access to outdoor space within a reasonable proximity.

Both Councilman Greenfield and Senator Felder funded this
multi-million dollar
project – the first new park in Borough Park in modern history. The park’s amenities include a large running track, a tennis court, basketball hoops, two new turf fields, a tot lot, an area for 5-12 year-olds, and a play area specially designed to accommodate children in wheelchairs. In addition, the park has maps and games painted on the asphalt and more than
25 trees and numerous benches. To ensure that all children have a space to play, the playground will also contain ramped play equipment, ground level play features, accessible swings, wheelchair-accessible tables, and drinking fountains. This park is one of just a few in Brooklyn that include specific features for differently-abled children.

“I’m so proud that we have literally turned a wasteland into a beautiful new park in our community,” Councilman Greenfield said. “As a Councilman, funding our community’s parks has been one of my top priorities because everyone enjoys our parks. We all need open space to enjoy some fresh air, exercise and play with our kids and grandkids. I especially thank Senator Simcha Felder and Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey for working with me year-round to make sure that our community has beautiful open spaces.”.

Senator Felder, Chair of the Senate’s Children and Families Committee and New York City Education Subcommittee, added, “For many years, the standard joke was that Borough Park didn’t have any parks. Thanks to the Schoolyards to Playgrounds Program and the additional resources which both Councilman Greenfield and I secured, this park promises to be one of the best in the city.”

Legislation Creates Municipal ID Card

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation on Thursday, July 10 to create a municipal ID card for all New York City residents. The legislation paves the way for the creation of a municipal ID for all residents of the five boroughs who meet the program’s proof of identity and city residency requirements. The city will immediately initiate implementation of the program, with the goal of launching the new identification card in January 2015. The Mayor also announced today that the card will be issued at no cost for applicants during the program’s first year.

Municipal ID will be an accessible and safe document that will ensure access to city services and
grant admission to all municipal buildings. The city is also working toward having the ID be recognized by banks, as well as connecting the ID with stores, restaurants, cultural institutions, discounts and other incentive programs. The city will continue to expand and improve upon the municipal ID card program and benefits after the launch date.

To ensure broad and easy accessibility, the city will establish walk-in enrollment centers in trusted community institutions around the boroughs, and will post the application online so applicants could complete it prior to visiting a walk-in center. In addition, the city will create mobile enrollment units that can travel to neighborhoods that do not have walk-in centers. The city will also ensure that the outreach and application processes are accessible to people with limited English proficiency and people with disabilities.


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Expanded Citywide Initiative to Reduce Gun Violence

Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced on August 13, 2014 the expansion of the city’s efforts to reduce gun violence, through the creation of the “Gun Violence Crisis Management System,” a citywide initiative to reduce gun violence. The new initiative will be implemented in numerous precincts which combine to account for 51 percent of shootings across the city. The program expands on a previous system that is centered around the “cure violence” model, and now includes “wrap around” services, programs that respond to meet the needs of every spectrum in the community that is impacted by gun violence. This new strategy employs evidence-based community interventions, anti-violence
messaging, and support services in areas with high rates of
gun violence.

The cure violence model, an evidence-based public health approach, identifies and engages individuals most likely to be involved in gun violence and deploys interventions aimed at curbing that behavior before it occurs, including retaliatory shootings. The project employs “violence interrupters,” typically former gang members who have turned their lives around, to quell street disputes – intervening before escalation to gun violence – and links potential shooters to case management and supportive services.

“While New York remains the safest big city in the nation and crime has continued to drop citywide, gun violence remains a challenge,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “With this initiative, we are creating a focused effort incorporating mental health services, legal services, and after-school programs – using models of proven success and targeting the communities where nearly half of the city’s shootings occur – into our effort to reduce gun violence and create a safer New York.”

This $12.7 million initiative was funded jointly by the de Blasio administration and the City Council.

Universal Pre-K Expansion

After months of political dealing to obtain the hundreds of millions of dollars needed for expanded universal prekindergarten, 50,000 pre-K children are slated to enroll throughout the city on Sept. 4, the Associated Press reported.

The immense undertaking entails a dramatic rise in the number of pre-K students, from 20,000 last year to more than 50,000 this year. The number will soar again to 70,000 next fall. To fill those classrooms, the city unveiled a multimillion-dollar marketing blitz, hired a task force of phone operators to set up enrollments, and even used birth records to go door-to-door in neighborhoods to urge parents to sign up their children.

The city hired and trained 1,000 new teachers this year, and plans to bring aboard another 1,000 for 2015, when the program reaches full capacity. More than a dozen city agencies are involved in the effort, including the Health Department and the Fire Department, to ensure the classrooms are well equipped and safe for small children.

The city is using 600 Department of Education sites for classrooms, but since public school buildings do not have the space to accommodate the new students, over 1,100 community-based organizations – like day cares and religious schools – will also host the programs.

A team of Education Department staffers has fanned out across the city over the last few weeks and will have inspected every classroom before the first day of school, said Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, the administration’s pre-K point person.

The plan comes with a significant financial investment. De Blasio originally planned to pay for it with a tax increase on the richest
New Yorkers, a proposal that died in the chambers of the State Capitol. But with persistent pressure, the mayor persuaded Gov. Andrew Cuomo to step in and devote $300 million in state funding, which the city will supplement by redirecting an additional $200 million or so in early education funds.

The speedy rollout – New York is trying to do in months what smaller cities like Boston did in years – has worried some education advocates. Fears include community-based organizations having unsafe classroom spaces, rookie teachers being ill-prepared, and scores of religious institutions hosting secular classrooms.


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