Today’s news:

‘Summer Streets’ stretch out

Summer Streets, a citywide vehicle−free recreation program, is expanding to seven sites in Brooklyn this season, joining more than 1,500 free summer events throughout the city.

“Just because there’s an economic downturn doesn’t mean we can’t take advantage of things that make New York, New York,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg, at a press conference in McCarren Park (North 12th and Bedford Street). “The Summer Streets initiative was so much of a success, why not bring it back?”

The sites expand upon two pilot programs, Williamsburg Walks (Bedford Avenue and North 5th to North 9th Street) and Montague Summer Space (Montague Street between Hicks and Clinton Street), which were launched last year by Neighbors Allied for Good Growth and the Montague Street BID, respectively.

The city has added five new locations in Brooklyn, including Summer Streets on Vanderbilt (Vanderbilt Avenue and Dean Streets), Summer Plazas 5th Avenue (Fifth Avenue between 48th and 52nd streets), Sunday Scene on Knickerbocker (Knickerbocker Avenue between Suydam and Starr streets), Pitkin Saturday Plazas (Pitkin Avenue between Strauss and Thomas Boyland Streets), and Move About Myrtle (Myrtle Ave between Clinton Street and Emerson Place).

While Williamsburg Walks and Summer Streets Vanderbilt have already begun, several additional events are soon to begin, including Move About Myrtle on Sundays in September from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Montague Summer Space on September 13, 20 and 27 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“This is only its second year, but Summer Streets is already a New York tradition,” said Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik−Khan. “Last year, some 50,000 people enjoyed all the free fun that the original Summer Streets route had to offer and this year we’re bringing that open invitation for everyone across all five boroughs to enjoy the streets in their own neighborhoods in a brand new way.”

Gregor Nemitz−Ziadie, a coordinator for Williamsburg Walks, has been volunteering on Bedford Avenue and will be on the scene on July 4 and July 11, the last two Saturday events for the Summer Streets program. He welcomed the mayor’s appearance to Williamsburg, saying that Bloomberg’s visit helps legitimize the program.

“So far it’s been going really well. It’s as good as it gets,” said Nemitz−Ziadie. “There should be more playing in the streets on the Fourth of July.”

The events are part of a bevy of free summer programming offered in Brooklyn’s streets and parks, ranging from concerts in Prospect Park Bandshell, to a citywide volleyball tournament at Coney Island, and a free film series in McCarren Park.

“New York City’s public parks have long been synonymous with free summertime fun and thanks to our many partnerships, this year is no different,” said City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe.

Assemblymember Joseph Lentol (D−Williamsburg, Greenpoint) hopes his constituents take the time to slow down this summer and enjoy all the events that Brooklyn has to offer. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz echoed those comments and encouraged everyone to discover a variety of events throughout the entire borough.

“I can’t understand why anyone would want to summer anywhere else outside of New York City,” said Markowitz. “For the summertime, it’s not the Hamptons, it’s Brooklyn, New York.”

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