In Conversation with Art Chang

Eric Adams is in the lead for the mayoral race, with Maya Wiley and Kathryn Garcia following behind him. However, as the spotlight shined on them, a lesser-known candidate named Art Chang led his own impressive grassroots campaign.

Chang may have only earned 0.7% of the vote, but he still had strong plans for New York City and interesting insight about the process of running for the city’s highest office. For these reasons our paper decided to sit and talk to him to learn more about his ideas and experience.

“I’ve always kind of been open to changing myself, I came from a domestic violence household,” Chang told the paper in a recent interview. “And one thing that is true about people who grew up in violent families is that it’s a cycle, it happens generation after generation.”

“So if you want to break it, you actually have to start with yourself to change. You have to recognize what it is and you have to set a different vision for who you want to be.”

With this mindset, Chang went on to do many things for New York City. For example, he was a co-creator of NYC Votes, a campaign to improve transparency in the government which is where those famous “I Voted” stickers come from. He is also the creator of Casebook, the first web-based software platform for child welfare. He also helped build Queens West in Long Island City, one of only two waterfront developments to not lose power during Hurricane Sandy.

“I did Casebook and NYC votes, not as an employee of the government,” said Chang. “And if you can make those changes from the outside, imagine what I could do from the inside. I’ll be the leader actually making the decisions about how we actually do these things in the city.”

Chang’s experience outside of government gave him room to explore how to transform New York City, especially regarding public safety

“Cutting the budget is not going to change the NYPD,” said Chang. “I can guarantee you that. Unless you actually change the city’s charter, it will do absolutely zero.”

Chang had plans to cut $1.3 billion from the police department’s budget to demilitarize the NYPD, and to focus on communities in crisis. The idea starts with re-framing the use of CompStat to be used to signal where we have potential community distress and to direct intensive and coordinated responses from the different components of government that would decrease that community’s pain and lead to healthier communities.

“If you want to actually change the NYPD, you have to get the state legislature to remove the sole disciplinary powers of the police commissioner and only the legislature can do that with the governor,” Chang elaborated. “And then you have to have real accountability which can only happen through the city charter.”

Along with cutting the budget, Chang proposed the creation of two new offices, an Office of Police Accountability that will allow for increased accountability and enforcement of independent review. The second office would be an Office of Police Discipline that would control the release of data to promote transparency and accountability.

As a baby boomer with fluency in technology, Chang noticed that many small businesses were “Cash Only” and were unable to adapt during the pandemic. He proposed working with the NYC tech industry to create an NYC delivery app as well as create a user-friendly online and mobile service to enable all retailers to post their openings and closings.

“Internet technology is one of the best ways of having resilience because the stores that I know who actually had online presences before the pandemic, flipped over to ecommerce,” said Chang. “Even if they were selling baked goods, they flipped to ecommerce because they were able to do things like DoorDash and things like that.”

Not only were small businesses unable to adapt to the new reality that the pandemic brought, but they also struggled to pay rent and support themselves was another problem. However, that’s another problem Chang had a solution for.

“The city controls property taxes and they can do something that’s called forbearance and eliminate the penalties that people pay on property taxes for landlords who are willing to pass advantage through to their tenants because what we want to do is we want to keep people in their homes, right, and small businesses in their stores,” Chang said. “And that’s the primary thing, because it costs us so much more as a society, if we let people become homeless and let stores go out of business.”

In regards to housing, Chang noticed the problems with NYCHA and planned to fix the problematic housing system by converting NYCHA to some form of tenant ownership, whether that meant social ownership, limited cooperatives, or other structures that can give tenants more control and allow for debt financing to fund the essential repairs.
Chang was committed to meeting the demands of fixing the multilayered problems of NYCHA, with full data review, the use of green materials and green building methods.Chang told our paper that one of his first acts as Mayor would have been to pause every project to have a citywide discussion with constituents and local leaders, which is something that hasn’t been proposed by any other candidate. “I’m not going to have this patchwork, piecemeal, non-democratic approach that doesn’t have equity and justice at its core,” said Chang. “Where are we putting low income housing? Or how are we greening our transportation and our buildings? Where are we putting in parks?”
With Chang’s experience in transforming and adapting to the changes around him, he had plans to reframe what it means to be resilient. “If I can be the person to bring that thinking into government, then we can do all these kinds of things and that goes for systemic change, coupled with the system’s thinking.”
“I believe that I can change the city tremendously across all these different avenues by changing the design of the city and changing all of our governance structures.”
We, at the paper, believe that Chang still has a future in politics should he plan to run again or run for any other position. Nonetheless, he still works outside the state entity to make New York City better.

Queens Primary Elections Update

Last Tuesday’s primary election saw candidates go head to head in a great number of races throughout the five boroughs, including open offices for Mayor, Borough Presidencies, and many City Council seats.

However, since ranked choice voting is being used this year, the final results of many elections will likely not be known until early July when second and third (and fourth and fifth) choice votes are counted. Additionally, the board of elections is still receiving mail-in ballots that will be tallied into the final vote.

It’s a lot to keep track of, so here’s everything you need to know about the races in Queens.

Borough President
Things are tight in the race for Borough Hall! Donovan Richards, the current Queens BP who has served a shortened term after winning a special election, is barely leading with 41.7 percent of the vote. City Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley is right on the incumbent’s tail, with 40.4 percent.

On the other hand, City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer is almost certainly out of the race with a measly 17.9 percent.

District 19, Democrat
Former State Senator Tony Avella holds 37.3% of first place votes, giving him the lead in the race to represent Bayside, College Point, and the rest of Northeast Queens. However, Richard Lee — a former Budget Director for the Borough President — is not far behind with 30.1 percent.

“With ranked choice voting and over 4,000 absentee ballots requested, I am confident that once those votes are taken into consideration, we will close the gap and claim victory in this race,” Lee wrote in a statement.

District 19, Republican
In order to win a ranked choice election, a candidate must secure over 50 percent of votes. Such was the case on the other side of the aisle in District 19, where community activist Vickie Paladino won the election with 53.4 percent of first place votes. Her opponent, the young John-Alexander Sakelos, did rather well himself as well, earning 46.6 percent.

District 22
After an impressive showing in the race for Queens District Attorney, former defense attorney and progressive upstart Tiffany Caban earned 49.4 percent in the race to represent Astoria. She enjoys a nearly insurmountable lead over her opponent Evie Hantzopoulos, who earned 26.3 percent of the vote.

Rumor has it that Caban is in the running for City Council Speaker despite being a newcomer to the legislative body. Keep an eye out for this new political talent.

District 26
With over 15 candidates, it would be an understatement to call the race for City Council District 26 crowded. However, there are now some clear frontrunners in the primary election to represent Sunnyside, Woodside, Long Island City, and parts of Astoria.

Julie Won, a technology consultant and Queens Community Board 2 member, is leading with 18.47 percent of in-person votes. Amit Bagga, former deputy director of the city’s 2020 census campaign, follows close behind with 17.65 percent of the vote. Brent O’Leary, a prolific community organizer and activist in Woodside, is also still in the running with an even 10 percent.

District 29
The race to represent Forest Hills is neck and neck! Long-time community and LGBTQ activist Lynn Schulman holds a narrow lead with 22.1 percent of the vote. Political newcomer Aleda Gagarin is right on Schulman’s tail, with an impressive 20.7 percent of first-place votes.

District 30
Robert Holden, a Republican-turned-Democrat and long term representative of this Maspeth/Middle Village district, defended his seat against rival Juan Ardila. Holden won the election outright, securing 53.3 percent of first-place votes, a majority that guaranteed his victory.

District 32
Things are tight out in the Rockaways! The race for District 32 (which includes parts of Breezy Point, Howard Beach, Ozone Park, and the Rockaways) has found two clear frontrunners in Felicia Singh and Michael Scala. Singh is leading by the narrowest of margins with 36.8 percent of first place votes. Scala follows closely behind with an equally impressive 35.5 percent.

Second, third, fourth, and even fifth place votes will likely determine the outcome of this nail-biting primary.

Frank Sinatra School of the Arts Students Remake ‘Fly Me To The Moon’

Ten students of Frank Sinatra School of the Arts were featured in a unique remake of the famous song ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ in collaboration with Bulova, the watch brand.

The students performed a remake of the song with a jazz-like sound and a Spanish verse to add diversity. “It was actually Alexa’s, one of the vocalists, idea to have the Latin version,” said Andre Vasquez, Production Manager. “Students of color want to see representation in this industry and this was one of the ways they did it, especially since we started the student-led anti-racism initiative”

The ten students featured were a part of the school’s yearly Concerto Competition and so they were the “top ten students of the entire school,” added Vasquez. The music video of the unique version can be found on Bulova’s official YouTube channel here:

The collaboration with Bulova was to celebrate the watch brand’s new Frank Sinatra collection. “Our commitment to music includes many talents, many genres, and many voices. Who better than ‘The Voice’ himself, Frank Sinatra, to continue to showcase our dedication and appreciation for the art of music and its ability to transcend time,” says Jeffrey Cohen, President of Citizen Watch America.
Bulova’s connection to Frank Sinatra began in the 1950’s during The Frank Sinatra Show television program, also known as Bulova Watch Time, of which the brand was the sponsor.
Frank Sinatra’s daughter, Tina Sinatra, adds, “No one respected time more than my father, he never liked to keep an audience waiting. He often said, ‘If you’re not early, you’re late.’ Dad’s association with Bulova spans over six decades and we are proud to continue the relationship into the 21st Century.”
The singer was known to be a wearer of Bulova timepieces throughout his life. Paying tribute to the legendary performer, Bulova draws design inspiration from the 1950’s and 1960’s with unmistakable branding elements of the famed musician. The Frank Sinatra collection features an assortment of ten timepieces in a variety of case shapes and designs, each of which are named after some of his most beloved songs.
To learn more about the Frank Sinatra Collection now, please visit

A Forest Hills Independence Day in 1921

The Forest Hills Gardens once hosted lavish Fourth of July Festivals from morning until evening in areas including Station Square and the Tea Garden, along Greenway Terrace, and Olivia Park. This tradition was organized and sponsored by the Men’s Club of Forest Hills in 1914. Festivals were under the jurisdiction of The Fourth of July Committee until September 13, 1920, when the Celebrations Association of Forest Hills Gardens was organized.
It is time to turn the clock back a century to July 4, 1921. Opposite the Seminole Avenue clubhouse, a celebration was in full swing. A flag raising ceremony began at 10:30 AM. “Up the Greenway they marched, and then down the Green until they came to the Flag Pole – Town Criers, members of the American Legion, and distinguished citizens. The Crier, in old-time garb, called the people to attention, the Flag was raised, the Choral Club sang the ‘Star Spangled Banner,’ and every man, woman, and child stood at attention,” read the Forest Hills Gardens Bulletin. A prayer was recited by Rev. W.P.S. Landers of St. Luke’s Church. The Choral Club performed, and then pastor, Dr. David Latshaw of the Church-in-the-Gardens stated, “There is a new love for the Flag in this country since the World War. It is a symbol, standing for freedom, liberty, and justice.” He continued, “With a Flag which stands for service and sacrifice, which sometimes calls for the citizens to die for it but more often demands the harder thing, that we live for our country’s ideals, we have an inspiring symbol. May we never fail the Flag!” Attendees pledged allegiance.
The Welcome Home Committee had F. Clark Thompson present to famed sculptor Adolph Alexander Weinman a testimonial designed by the notable industrial designer and illustrator Walter Dorwin Teague. It honored Weinman’s patriotism and talent in designing the WWI Soldiers & Sailors Memorial on Flagpole Green, which commemorates 102 community residents. The Choral Club then led the number, “America.”
Prior to The Inn Apartments (20 Continental Avenue) existed the Inn tennis courts, which is where the “Inns” were defeated by the “Outs” unanimously. E.H. Conway, Captain of the Inns, chaired the committee. The tournament consisted of three sets of singles, where Stewart Gayness won over Raymond Bell, Dr. Davenport, Jr over William Dunklin, and Charles Orr over Fred Koschwitz. For the doubles, Gayness and Jack Ortgies defeated Dunklin and Bell, and Davenport and Orr defeated Koschwitz and Albert Wright, Jr.
Children had a ball as resident Fred Andrew Stone, a vaudeville star, circus performer, and Broadway and film actor performed, along with his friends. Stunts were underway with a lasso, and Fred cracked a whip that was seemingly full of firecrackers. A traditional “Punch and Judy” puppet show followed. Adults participated in various contests, where gold, silver, and bronze medals were awarded. The program featured a leap frog race, the Affinity Race, and a wheelbarrow race.
The Hon. Job Hedges, a producer of epigrams and an after-dinner orator, delivered an Independence Day address in Station Square, which was considered a stimulating call to the higher ideals of citizenship, an unflinching application of the test of common sense to many political catchphrases, and an appeal for political honesty and lofty idealism.
As the afternoon was underway, attendees participated in a grand circus parade throughout Forest Hills, which was accompanied by a forty-piece regimental band. Then a circus in regulation ring featured vaudeville and acrobatic troupes.
A total of one hundred servicemen were invited as special guests of Forest Hills. As a result of the American Red Cross’ Forest Hills branch’s role, wounded veterans were entertained on the north, in addition to within Forest Hills Gardens. Chair Mrs. Lawrence Abbott of the Lest We Forget Committee wrote, “When the men assembled at Deepdene Road and Underwood Road after the play, it was a delight to see their happy faces. None of them seemed unduly tired and all expressed themselves as having had a great time. They all were courteous and profuse in their thanks on leaving. Each man was given a box supper, a box of candy and a ticket entitling him at some future day to get a supper at the Service Club and go to a movie show.”
Olivia Park, a natural amphitheater, became center stage for “The Flying Door Mat,” a masque by Ralph Renaud for the Gardens Players. All age groups found it entertaining, as it featured a man-eating mosquito among its characters. Jewel Aldrich and Lyla Wilson sang from the elevations of the park, “We are the voices that call you into delight out of the arms of care.” The play included dances; a Morris dance, a Greek dance, and a Russian rhapsody, arranged by the well-known Louis H. Chalif, where students contributed seven divertissements pertaining to a sylvan setting.
A regimental band concert took place in the evening. Guests began dancing and observed dancefloor stunts in a dance pavilion. The publication read, “Myriads of soft yellow lights mingled with the red, white, and blue bulbs and hundreds of flags festooned from the poles, with the large yellow standards bearing the insignia of Forest Hills Gardens, at each one of the four corners of the Square, the scene presented was one never to be forgotten.” The Celebrations Association purchased 150 US Navy signals and 50 US Flags. It continued, “The Station Square was a fairyland at night when young (7 to 9 PM) and older danced to their hearts’ content (until 1 AM). It was a day of joy and pride, thanks to the public-spirited people of the town, who worked and gave generously to make it so.” The Choral Club presented patriotic music with leader Bruno Huhn and Mrs. Charles Scammell on piano, with bell-like vocals by Jewel Aldrich.

104th Police Blotter

Monday, June 14
Tatyana Cooke was arrested at Metropolitan Avenue and 64th Street for aggravated unlicensed operator by Officer Simone.
Isaias Hernandez was arrested at 64-02 Catalpa Avenue for criminal contempt by Detective Lodato.

Tuesday, June 15
– Nothing to Report –

Wednesday, June 16
Dillman Bonilla was arrested at Flushing Avenue and 56th Street for making graffiti by Officer Gutierrez.
Leandro Vicente was arrested at Flushing Avenue and 56th Street for making graffiti by Officer Gutierrez.
Tremaine Gilmore was arrested at Metropolitan Avenue and Starr Street for robbery by Officer Foppiano.

Thursday, June 17
Santiago Sanchez was arrested at Mazeau Street and 57th Avenue for robbery by Detective Fogus.
Wei Ping Lin was arrested at 82-88 61st Drive for misdemeanor assault by Detective Moon.
Juan Rodriguez was arrested at 1889 Cornelia Street for burglary by Officer Foppiano.

Friday June 18
Shenewa Mansano was arrested at 1703 Himrod Street for felony assault by Officer Bertrand.
Robert Marshall was arrested at 1674 Cornelia Street for petit larceny by Officer Kardonov.
Jesires DeJesus was arrested at Linden Street and Fresh Pond Road for criminal mischief by Officer Rosalez.
Danny Duran was arrested at 57-37 Myrtle Avenue for petit larceny by Officer Lenoci.
Hector Santana was arrested at 375 Onderdonk Avenue for burglary by Officer Hynes.

Saturday, June 19
Daniel Reilly was arrested at 72-52 Metropolitan Avenue for criminal contempt by Officer Lin.
Hosea Jones was arrested at Myrtle Avenue and Cooper Avenue for misdemeanor assault by Officer Simone.

Sunday, June 20
Luis Torres was arrested at 20-20 Bleecker Street for criminal trespass by Officer Petito.
Anibal Delgado was arrested at 754 Onderdonk Avenue for criminal obstruction of breathing by Officer Duran.
Katrina Ramos was arrested at 67th Avenue and Fresh Pond Road for driving while intoxicated by Officer Troia.
Joanne Xiang was arrested at 1727 Starr Street for felony assault on a victim 65 or older by Officer Candelaria.
Gabriel Velez was arrested at Cooper Avenue and Cypress Avenue for grand larceny by Officer Chowdhury.

Maspeth Federal Saving Renovates Forest Hills Branch

Maspeth Federal Savings Bank (MFS) had been renovating their Forest Hills branch since January of this year and it is now open with new features.

The Forest Hills branch is located at 101-09 Metropolitan Ave, Queens, NY 11375 and was constructed in 1974. The branch has served thousands of families and small businesses in the community through their convenient drive-thru lanes.
“Maspeth Federal was created to serve its local communities and I’m pleased to announce that our Board of Directors last year approved more than $1M to local charities & non-profit organizations,” said Thomas Rudzewick, CEO and President of MFS. “We are also very proud to host our community events that are so popular in Forest Hills like our summer concert as well as our Halloween festival that we’ll put back on this year.”

In recent years, the demand for drive-up services and heavier traffic on Metropolitan Avenue has led management to look for opportunities to improve our drive-up experience. The major improvements to the branch include two new drive-up lanes, a modernized storefront with beautiful landscaping, an EV charging station that will be free for customers and a more accessible parking lot.
These new improvements will allow customers to have contactless experiences while offering a more convenient and easy way of banking.
“We are proud to not only offer convenient services such as our newly renovated drive-thru to the neighborhood of Forest Hills but also host free events for our communities,”said Kristen Sapienza, Senior Bank Officer and Marketing Supervisor.

Happy Birthday, Woodhaven and America

This week, we will celebrate this great nation’s birthday. Let’s hope that your Fourth of July is full of good food and fun times with friends and neighbors. But did you know that this week also marks another birthday? One that’s a little closer to home.
For it was on July 1st, 1935 that the first papers were filed and the first piece of land was purchased in the Village of Woodville, which would later be renamed to Woodhaven. And so, while the rest of the nation celebrates America’s 245th birthday, closer to home we can also celebrate our own 186th birthday.
Can you imagine? Woodhaven is 14 years away from its bicentennial. We’d better start planning!
The area was well developed already by 1835, particularly around the Union Course Race Track. But the rest of Woodville was wide open. Before John R. Pitkin founded the Village of Woodville, this land was part of one giant farm, owned by Stephen Lott.
The Lott family was very prominent in our community’s early history, and many of them never left town, as they are resting peacefully in the northeast corner of the Wyckoff-Snedeker Cemetery on 96th Street, behind All Saints Church.
The community retained the name Woodville until the 1850s when, due to the growth in population, villagers applied for its own Post Office. However, this application was rejected due to the fact that there was already a Post Office for a Woodville in New York, some 325 miles north of here.
And so, we were forced to come up with a new name for our community. For a while, Edgewood was a popular suggestion for a new name. But John R. Pitkin suggested Woodhaven, and seeing as how he had gotten the whole thing off the ground, his opinion held a lot more sway.
And so, in 1853, the Village of Woodhaven was officially established meaning that, if you want to get really technical, this year marks the 168th birthday or anniversary of the name Woodhaven.
Keep in mind that the map of Woodhaven back then was quite different than it is today. The village used to stretch far south, deep into what is known today as Ozone Park. Back in those days, the village of Woodhaven was partitioned into several sections, with names such as Columbia Park (near 91st Street and Jamaica) Eldert Park (near Eldert Lane), Equity Park (near PS 60 – in fact, the playground on 88th Avenue still retains that name).
These names were created for a few reasons, but mainly they were designed by real estate agents to help sell properties in this growing community. And one of the small sections of Woodhaven was a four-block parcel called Ozone Park.
Legend has it that the name Ozone was chosen to reflect the fresh breezes and healthy air that residents could expect to breathe in off the nearby water. And the name of Ozone Park may have faded into obscurity had it not been for the fact that the Long Island Railroad set up a station with that name on Broadway (now 101st Avenue).
Over time, as the section names faded, the name of Ozone Park remained and, in time, became a full community in its own right. So, not only is it Woodhaven’s birthday, it’s really Ozone Park’s birthday as well. We have a shared history, these two communities, so we might as well celebrate together.
The big celebration lays ahead, the bicentennial in 2035. Back in 1935, Woodhaven had a giant celebration. The highlight of Woodhaven’s Centennial was a procession from Dexter Court to the Willard Theater on 96th Street (later the Cordon Bleu and today the Woodhaven Manor).
Residents carried a gigantic cake down Jamaica Avenue and into the theater, which accommodated close to 3,000 people. On this night, according to news clippings at the time, the theater was overflowing with residents, with crowds waiting in the streets to get inside. During the celebration inside the Willard, a celebratory telegram from Mae West was read aloud to cheers from one and all.
And so, as you enjoy your hot dogs and your parties, please remind your friends and neighbors that it’s not just America’s birthday they are celebrating, they are celebrating our birthday as well.
Happy birthday Woodhaven and Ozone Park!

St.Francis appoints first Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion officer

This past week, St. Francis college announced that Jeanne Arnold, Ed.D., will serve as the school’s first permanent Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer. Starting July 1, Dr. Arnold will work directly with the college’s president, Miguel Martinez-Saenz, Ph.D., to oversee programs and practices that will support the school’s diverse student body.

“Dr. Arnold will be instrumental as the College continues to embrace its Franciscan commitment to being an inclusive community where all members feel like they belong,” President Martinez-Saenz wrote in a statement. “I’m absolutely thrilled she accepted our invitation to join the SFC family.”

Dr. Arnold has previously worked as the Chief Diversity Officer at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania and Grand Valley State University in Michigan. Among her dozens of professional and leadership achievements include serving on the Board of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education since 2012.

“It is my privilege to join St. Francis College, and I am truly delighted to work with the President and the entire SFC family to elevate the College’s longstanding tradition of nurturing a hospitable environment through the development and implementation of a sustainable infrastructure to support DEI strategies,” Dr. Arnold wrote in her own statement.

St. Francis College has a greatly diverse student body, with 24% of students identifying as Black and 28% as Hispanic. Women make up more than 60% of all students and the majority of the College’s full-time faculty. Ten percent of the student body consists of international students, with students from over 70 countries.

St. Francis College has also been in the headlines for its recently announced plans to move to a newly-designed campus in the center of Downtown Brooklyn. The relocation will move the school a few blocks away from its current location on 180 Remsen Street and into a new 254,699 square foot space across the fifth, six, and seventh floors of the Wheeler Building at 181 Livingston Street.

After the announcement a number of alumni expressed concerns about the future of the 162-year-old Franciscan institution, prompting our paper to speak one-on-one with President Miguel Martinez-Saenz to discuss the college’s plans.

In the interview, President Martinez-Saenz explained that it would cost more to renovate the Remsen Street property than it would to move to the new Livingston Street property. He also explained that the move would not impact any of the school’s academic and athletic programs, both of which are slated to continue without interruption during the move.

The school plans to sell a portion of the Remsen Street property, but is yet to solidify those plans. Our paper will report on the matter as soon as a decision is made.

Both the campus move and Dr. Arnold’s appointment as Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer are part of the school’s larger SFC Forward initiative, a long term plan to modernize and make St. Francis competitive in the 21-st century. Under SFC Forward, the college will offer new master of science degrees in exercise and sport science, special education, sports management and public health. The school also plans on modifying its undergraduate education to offer more global perspectives and to allow for more remote learning options.

“It’s particularly exciting to be part of SFC Forward, as we prepare to move to a new campus to serve our diverse community of students, faculty and staff in even more creative and innovative ways,” Dr. Arnold wrote in her statement.

Newtown Creek Nature Walk doubles in length

On Monday, members of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, elected officials, and community organizers gathered to cut the ribbon on the newly expanded Newtown Creek along the North Brooklyn waterfront.

The quarter-mile, self-guided nature walk is located in Greenpoint, directly behind the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. Originally opened in 2007, the nature walk revived a long-inaccessible industrial shoreline by adding trails, trees, shrubs, and artwork.

This week’s additions to the nature walk were designed by landscape architect and artist George Trakas, who began work on the project in 2019. The new sections of the nature walk add additional greenspace, ramps, and a number of sculptures created by Trakas.

“As we continue the important work of restoring the health of Newtown Creek, expanding the Nature Walk and providing uninterrupted public access to the waterfront helps us engage all New Yorkers in this critical effort,” Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Vincent Sapienza told our paper.

New York City Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Jamie Torres-Springer agreed, saying “the completion of Newtown Creek Nature Walk takes on more significance as the City opens up again after the pandemic and our fellow New Yorkers emerge and make more use of their open spaces. What’s more, the design of this project is truly innovative, taking advantage of its unique surroundings, and will be an enduring resource for the City and its residents.”

Multiple local elected officials also released their own statements praising the park and the creation of more greenspace in North Brooklyn.

“Expanding the nature walk and providing residents with public access to the waterfront area is a critical step forward in our effort to make the area healthier and safer for all New Yorkers,” said U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney.

“Today marks another milestone in the transformation of our relationship to the long-abused but always resilient Newtown Creek,” added State Assembly Member Emily Gallagher.

Greenpoint City Council Member Steve Levin also commented on the project, which is reaching its completion not long before the Councilman is term-limited out of office this fall.

“I am beyond pleased to see the expanded Newtown Creek Nature Walk in Greenpoint,” Levin writes. “Now more than ever, we must invest in green and open spaces — and the pandemic has emphasized the importance of nature, health and fitness, and disconnecting. Now, as the work continues to restore the health of the Creek, we must also ensure we are protecting the health of New Yorkers — this is something which will positively impact the physical and mental health of my constituents.”

The Newtown Creek Nature Walk is open from dawn till dusk everyday, weather permitting.

Brooklyn Primary Elections Update

Last Tuesday’s primary election saw candidates go head to head in a great number of races throughout the five boroughs, including open offices for Mayor, Borough Presidencies, and many City Council seats.

However, since ranked choice voting is being used this year, the final results of many elections will likely not be known until early July when second and third (and fourth and fifth) choice votes are counted. Additionally, the board of elections is still receiving mail-in ballots that will be tallied into the final vote.

It’s a lot to keep track of, so here’s everything you need to know about the races in North Brooklyn.

Borough President
After counting first choice ballots, North Brooklyn City Councilmember Antonio Reynoso is leading the race with 28.2 percent of the vote. Bed-Stuy Councilmember Robert Cornegy is in second place with 19.2 percent of the vote, while Carroll Gardens State Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon is not far behind with 17.6 percent.

Our paper reached out to Councilmember Reynoso for comments. “I am so honored by the trust the voters of Brooklyn have placed in me with the clear preponderance of first-round votes last night,” Reynoso said.

He continued: “For two years, we’ve built a broad and diverse coalition, and we grew our support by talking about the issues that matter to Brooklyn’s working families, from affordable housing to equitable schools to jobs to safety and police reform. As we wait for every vote to be counted, I am confident that our lead will grow, I will win, and then we begin the hard work of rebuilding a fairer, stronger Brooklyn for all of us.”

District 33
As current Councilmember Stephen Levin prepared to be term-limited out of office, a large field of candidates vied to represent Greenpoint, Williamsburg, DUMBO, and the many other neighborhoods encompassed by District 33.

After just one round of voting though, Lincoln Restler — a founding member of the New Kings Democrats and a lifelong reformer — holds an insurmountable lead of 48.4 percent. Elizabeth Adams, a staffer for Council Member Levin, is in second place with 22 percent of the vote.
“I’m humbled and honored by the results. I’ve lived in this corner of Brooklyn all my life and I can’t wait to get to work representing the people of the 33rd,” Restler told our paper. “Excited to be part of an ascendant progressive coalition in the Council who will deliver for working families.”

District 34
In order to win a ranked choice election, a candidate must secure over 50 percent of votes. That was exactly the case in district 34, where Jennifer Gutierrez (an activist and staffer for current Councilmember Antonio Reynoso won the election with 80.1 percent of first choice votes. She will represent Williamsburg, Bushwick, and Ridgewood in City Hall next year.

“This isn’t my win, this is the victory of a long-standing movement to lift up and organize a Queens and North Brooklyn coalition that looks like, and represents the people of the districts,” Gutierrez told our paper. “I live here, I’m not going anywhere and I’m committed not just to this zip code, or this district, but to this city. Justice isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a life’s work — and we have a lot of work to do in City Hall.”

District 39
District 39’s current Councilmember Brad Lander leads the Democratic race for Comptroller with 31.4 percent of the vote, nine points ahead of the current Council Speaker Corey Johnson. However, an equally exciting election is unfolding in Lander’s district, which represents Park Slope, Gowanus, Windsor Terrace, and parts of Kensington.

Shahana Hanif, a Kensington native and the Director of Organizing and Community engagement for Lander, currently leads the race with 32.5 percent of the vote. Brandon West, a former City Hall Budget Staffer, is within striking distance with 22.6 percent of the vote.

“We are thrilled and honored by the first-round results that show us in the lead with the most number 1 votes in our district,” Hanif told our paper. “This is the work of our team and 1000s of volunteers who drove democracy block by block.”

She continued: “While we won’t know the final numbers for a week or so, we are deeply proud of the multiracial, multilingual, intergenerational, and joyful coalition we built that embodies our beautiful and diverse district. Our neighbors showed up at the polls in proactive support of our transformative movement. Shahana is ready to get to work in the continued fight for an anti-racist, feminist NYC and every person in District 39.”

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