Today’s news:

Board Sets Budget Priorities for Next Fiscal Year

For those who have attended Community Board 10 budget hearings over the years, the board’s choice of priorities will come as no surprise.

Of the top five items on the board’s capital priority list, three -- renovating the Owls Head Water Treatment Plant to eliminate troublesome odors from its tanks (number 1, and currently underway), rehabilitating the lower pathway in Owls Head Park, to address significant erosion in the enclave (number 4), and designing new, larger catchbasins for Narrows Avenue and Colonial Road between Bay Ridge Parkway and 84th Street (number 5) -- have been there for numerous years.

One -- the creation of a science lab for public school students on Denyse Wharf, in the shadow of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge -- has been one of the board’s priorities for several years, gradually moving up on the list.

That in itself is not surprising. Tom Greene, one of the chief proponents of the facility, is extremely persistent, as board Chairperson Dean Rasinya pointed out before the board voted to move the lab up to the number two slot on its list of capital priorities for Fiscal Year 2011. Last year, it was number five on the list, and the year before that, number 18. A former assistant principal at Fort Hamilton High School, Greene was the force behind the creation of that school’s pool, and that took about two decades to accomplish, Rasinya remarked.

Greene’s effort to get the city’s Department of Education (DOE) to establish the new lab for students in kindergarten through grade 12 has been going on for almost 20 years, Rasinya noted. “You must be getting close,” he told Greene.

But, so far, not close enough, as DOE has not yet moved forward with the plan, despite the clear need for science labs to help city students keep up with their peers in other countries, said Greene.

The location, on the water’s edge, is a key to the lab’s potential benefit, said Greene who pointed out that it would be an ideal place to study not only oceanography and marine biology, but alternative energy technology and science research.

“Not only basic science but also basic lifetime skills” could be nurtured at the facility, Greene urged.

While construction of the lab had been estimated to cost approximately $10 million in 2001 (and likely would cost more now), the cost to lease the land on which the lab would be built -- which is owned by the Department of the Army -- would be just one dollar a year. And, Greene stressed the lab could be used by area students in public, private and parochial school during the week, and by the community on weekends.

The other item in the board’s top five capital priorities is the creation of a youth/community center at the site of the old board office, 621 86th Street. The board moved into new digs earlier this year, and has been pushing for the establishment of the facility from before it made the move, citing a significant lack of such facilities in the neighborhood.

Besides identifying its capital priorities for FY 2011, the board also voted on its expense budget priorities for FY 2011 during its October meeting.

Topping the list of capital expense priorities was to “restore and preclude cuts to community boards,” no surprise given that the board has fiercely battled efforts to cut their small budget, fearing that a decrease in revenue would hamstring their ability to fulfill their charter-mandated responsibilities.

Funding to “maintain additional basket collection trucks in the commercial corridors” in the neighborhood came in second, a specific response to cuts in pickups put in place by the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT).

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