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Beep: Build, baby, Build! State of the Borough ’09

Borough President Marty Markowitz said last week that the time has come to build the Atlantic Yards project.

Speaking about the issue in his State of the Borough address delivered at Kingsborough Community College, Markowitz said, “If Brooklyn ever needed a project like Atlantic Yards, the time is now.”

The $4 billion, 22-acre project at the Atlantic/Flatbush avenues includes an arena to house the NBA’s Nets as well as market-rate and affordable housing along with commercial and retail construction.

“As the one who originally came up with the idea to make Brooklyn a professional sports city again and the one who insisted that the project include affordable housing, I believe what’s most important now is the thousands of union jobs it will create right when we need them most,” said Markowitz.

“When it comes to ambitious, shovel-ready projects,  we say, ‘build, baby build.’ Atlantic Yards -- yes we can and yes we will,” he added.

Markowitz also envisioned that when the Atlantic Yards project is completed, it will generate offshoot jobs and economic activity by bringing more visitors to the borough’s bars, restaurants and growing hotel industry in Downtown Brooklyn.

Also in his speech, Markowitz said he favored ‘smart zoning’ and supported the landmarking of parts of Sheepshead Bay, Fiske Terrace, Midwood Park, Prospect Heights and DUMBO. He said that his administration is committed to doing the same for a new extension of Park Slope, Ditmas Park West and Crown Heights North.

Downzoning is another area of continued concern, he said.

“I enthusiastically supported downzoning in parts of Carroll Gardens and Dyker Heights, and am urging the same for    Brighton Beach, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, East Windsor Terrace, Sunset Park, North Flatbush, East Flatbush and Canarsie,” said Markowitz.

Markowitz also urged residents to continue to ‘Shop Brooklyn,’ which while was one of his holiday initiatives.

“We’re not strip mall after strip mall,” said Markowitz. “Brooklyn’s authentic mom-and-pop shops offer unique variety and personalized service on retail corridors from Broadway to Kings Highway, from the Fulton Mall to Flatbush to Fifth Avenue.”

Ironically, while praising these small businesses, Markowitz also urged chain stores to anchor some of these shopping districts, suggesting a Trader Joe in Mill Basin/Bergen Beach, a Barnes & Noble in Bay Ridge and an Apple Store in Williamsburg.

Markowitz also took swipes at those critics who call his office a meaningless position and a waste of taxpayer money.

“Despite what you may have read in editorials in some of our tabloids, which don’t have a clue and would like nothing more than to see the elimination of borough presidents,” said Markowitz, “the real story is that every single day my office fights  to make sure Brooklyn gets its fair share, and that means whatever we get it’s never enough.”

Markowitz praised all the elected officials in the borough, but maintained that only his office looks out for Brooklyn in its entirety.

The borough president’s office led the fight against City Hall when they mayor planned to consolidate senior centers, he said.

“Their plan would have closed senior centers, cut back on hot, freshly-prepared meals and forced our elderly to travel long distances to what the city called ‘hubs,’” said Markowitz. “I fought that plan alongside Council Speaker Christine Quinn and the Brooklyn delegation, and it stayed on paper where it belonged.”

Markowitz’s speech was preceded by several renowned Brooklyn entertainers, including Eastern European singer Avraam Russo, the P.S. 127 McKinley Park Elementary School Chorus from Bay Ridge, the Central Brooklyn Jazz All Stars and dancers from the La Salsa De Hoy Dance Studio.

Markowitz was finally ushered to the stage by the Coney Island Burlesque Bombshells, and his speech was peppered with introductions of famous and infamous borough residents and businesses.

These included everyone from Jim Donnelly, whose Precise Continental Printing company printed President Obama’s one million inauguration invitations, to fifth-grader Kemoy Gourzang, who returned a wallet he found with $500, to Anthony and Vincenza Napoli, who have been married 63 years.

“Brooklyn is my home,” said Markowitz at the reception after the speech which featured several tables of Brooklyn food and drink. “There’s no other place I’d rather be.”

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