By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The new state budget will include funding for after-schools programs in New York City, according to Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, who said the money will be part of a $700 million fiscal package aimed at helping students.
“In the budget, there is new education money. I’m grateful to the governor,” Brook-Krasny (D-Coney Island-Bay Ridge) told members of the Bay Ridge Community Council at the organization’s annual luncheon on Feb. 1.
The budget is due to be adopted by April 1, according to the state’s Division of the Budget. The budget will have to be negotiated between Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature over the next two months. But Brook-Krasny said the after-school program funding is a top priority of both the governors and the legislature’s.
Brook-Krasny said he doesn’t believe there will be a long, drawn-out budget fight in Albany this year.
After-school activities often consist of sports, drama classes, homework help and other enrichment programs.
Brook-Krasny said he is pleased to see a commitment on the part of state lawmakers to after-school programs “because it’s about getting kids off the streets and giving them art, culture and history.”
It’s good for working parents, too, he said.
Remarks delivered by elected officials are a staple of the Bay Ridge Community Council’s annual Presidents’ Luncheon. Lawmakers, aware that the council’s membership includes leaders of civic groups who can help spread the word to their members and to the community at large, often use the luncheon as an opportunity to announce pending legislation they are working on.
Brook-Krasny told council members he is drafting legislation that would allow military spouses to be eligible for unemployment benefits even if they move to another state. Spouses of military personnel often work at civilian jobs while their spouses are stationed in a particular state and then find of the military spouse is transferred to another state that they cannot collect unemployment.
Brook-Krasny, who said the U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton is in his assembly district, added that he came up with the idea for the legislation after speaking with military leaders and their faily members.
“I’m proud of this bill. It would allow them to collect unemployment,” he said.
Councilman Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) also spoke at the luncheon, informing members about the de Blasio administration’s recent decision to extend the Brooklyn Army Terminal to Wall Street commuter ferry service into May. The service, which was installed on a temporary basis, had been scheduled to cease operations at the end of January. “We have extended the ferry service with the help of the mayor,” Gentile said.
The extension is a good development for Bay Ridge residents, Gentile said. “It’s a short ride to the pier. And you ride a beautiful ferry and get to Manhattan in 15 minutes,” he said. The Brooklyn Army Terminal pier is located on the waterfront at 58th Street.
Gentile also announced that a Parks Department project to renovate the dog run in Dyker Beach Park on Seventh Avenue and 86th Street is expected to be completed by this summer. The dog run has been closed since the project began last year. According to the Parks Dept., dog runs are large, fenced-in areas inside parks where dogs are allowed to exercise unleashed. The dog runs, which are created by Parks Department landscape architects and volunteers, encourage play in a safe setting.
Once the Dyker dog run is reopened, work will begin on construction of a new dog run in Owl’s Head Park on Colonial Road and 68th Street in Bay Ridge, Gentile said.
“Its wonderful news for those of you who are dog lovers,” Gentile told community council members.
Borough President Eric Adams followed a precedent set by his predecessor, Marty Markowitz, who came to the luncheon nearly every year during his 12 year tenure at Borough Hall. But Adams seemed eager to put his own stamp on the job. “No one can fill Marty’s shoes, but I’m going to bring in my own pair!” he said, referring to Markowitz’s larger than life personality.
In his remarks, Adams spoke about his “One Brooklyn” initiative; an effort to unite the borough’s various neighborhoods. “We have come together as one community,” he said. “Our common denominator is safe streets,” he said, adding that residents in all of the borough’s neighborhoods want streets to be safe for families.
No matter which neighborhood they are from, they also want economic opportunity, Adams said. “If you look under the fingernails of anyone trying to climb up the mountain of opportunity in this country, you will see the same thing,” he said.