By Paula Katinas
Bay Ridge — The Bay Ridge Community Council Presidents’ Luncheon is always a “must” on the itinerary of many major politicians and this year was no different.
U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer biked in to praise the council. City Comptroller John Liu, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz also came to the Jan. 28 affair, as did local lawmakers like state Sen. Marty Golden, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and Councilman Vincent Gentile.
Schumer arrived at the Bay Ridge Manor wearing workout clothes and explained that he was dressed that way because he rode his bicycle from his Park Slope home to Bay Ridge. Riding a bike is “a good way to find out what’s going on in the neighborhoods,” Schumer said.
Schumer said he liked what he saw when he rode on Bay Ridge streets.
“The neighborhood looks like it’s in good shape and that’s because of you,” he told the hundreds of council members in the ball room.
Schumer also spoke of the importance of civic groups to securing the rights and governmental services to the average citizen.
“The average person isn’t used to bothering the government,” he said.
Liu praised the council as a group composed of important people.
“The entire agenda for New York City gets set here at this luncheon,” he said.
Liu, who oversees the city’s finances, predicted that the rest of 2012 would be tough.
“The economy is still struggling along. There is not a feeling we are out of the recession. People are still struggling,” he said.
Markowitz chose to focus on the entire borough. He boasted about the number of new hotels opening up in Brooklyn. Markowitz said the Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn is going to be a great place, and not just for Nets basketball games. Jay-Z will headline the first concert at the arena.
Markowitz admitted he would like Jay-Z’s famous wife to sing there, too.
“I’m hoping for Beyoncé,” he said.
The Ice Capades will present shows at the arena and the New York Islanders will play at least one hockey game there, he said.
Markowitz also made a pitch for the idea of building a casino gambling industry in Coney Island.
“A casino in Brooklyn; it would really, really help,” he said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo called for a casino to be built in Queens. Markowitz said he wants one in Brooklyn.
Stringer, who joked, “I represent the suburb of Brooklyn,” said that the “issues for working people of the city are all the same.”
Stringer, who noted that bus service had been cut in all five boroughs, said, “We shouldn’t be cutting bus service for the handicapped.”
In her remarks, Malliotakis said she has been and will continue “fighting to bring back the bus services that we have lost.”
Gentile said he was excited about the plans for the “Summer Stroll on 3rd” project the Merchants of Third Avenue business group was working on with him and Sen. Golden.
“We’re working on a new concept,” he said.
Under the plan, an eight-block stretch of Third Avenue would be closed to vehicular traffic on four Friday nights in the months of July and August.
In his remarks, Golden announced that he will sponsor a forum for parents to learn the warning signs of prescription painkiller addiction. The informational forum will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 15, at Dyker Heights Intermediate School, 8010 12th Ave., at 7 p.m.
The forum is taking place in the wake of the deaths of three young men in the community from Oxycontin, the prescription pain reliever.
“Oxycontin is devastating,” Golden said. “We will have someone there for the families who lost someone.”