Today’s news:

Top priority: clean up foul ‘Owl’

Reiterating past requests, and underlining one that is critical to their own ability to serve the neighborhood, members of Community Board 10 voted at the board’s most recent meeting for their capital and expense budget priorities for Fiscal Year 2010.

The board’s top capital expense priority — as enunciated at the October meeting, held at the Knights of Columbus, 13th Avenue and 86th Street — is the renovation of the Owls Head water treatment plant “to eliminate odors emanating from the plant.”

CB 10’s number-two capital expense priority is the construction of a youth/community center at the site of the current board office, 621 86th Street, that the board will soon be vacating for new digs.

The third-most important capital expense priority for the board is the rehabilitation of Owls Head Park, with a focus on the significant erosion problems faced by the park.

The board also reaffirmed its backing of installing new catchbasins on Narrows Avenue and Colonial Road, between Bay Ridge Parkway and 89th Street, to reduce street flooding during rainstorms. The new catchbasins were the board’s number four capital budget priority.

In addition, board members voted to make the construction of a science lab for local students on Denyse Wharf its number five priority, after the project – which has been spoken about for more than two decades – was pitched by its main proponent, Tom Greene, a former assistant principal of Fort Hamilton High School (see separate story in this issue). The project was originally number 18 – dead last – on the capital priority list.

The importance of the science lab project, said Greene, revolves around the value of science education, an area in which the United States is “woefully behind the rest of the world,” ranking 29th in the industrial world, Greene told the board. The lab was projected to cost around $10 million in 2001; the price tag, he said, might be up to $15 or $16 million now.

“An education project like this,” noted board member Judie Grimaldi, “has impact on the whole community.”

“I think we’re in trouble in this country,” added Bob Cassara. “I think it should be number one.”

In the realm of expense budget priorities, the board voted to make the restoration of community board funding, and the elimination of future cuts to board budgets, its number one priority., up from its original position at number four

“We’re the only ones advocating for community board funding,” Kevin Carroll pointed out. “We should make it our top priority.”

The board also moved up a request to “increase civilian personnel staffing levels” for the NYPD “to allow police officers to actively pursue criminal issues,” from number seven to number five on its expense priorities list.

“The 68th Precinct is under-funded,” contended board member Ron Gross, who suggested the change. “As the economy suffers, crime goes up.”

The list of capital and expense budget priorities is an annual compilation, which each of the city’s 59 community boards is required to submit by October 31.

The board will receive a response from the city agencies in January, 2009, before the mayor’s executive budget is announced.

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