Livable Neighborhoods

Holding Reckless Drivers Accountable

Across our neighborhoods, we’ve witnessed too many tragedies where reckless drivers have killed or seriously injured neighbors and loved ones. The three young teens who were students at MS 51 (Sammy Cohen-Eckstein, Joie Sellers, and Mohammed Naiem Uddin) are not the only pedestrians killed in our district over the past few years. Others have been seniors, workers at local businesses, and young people just starting their careers.

We’ve made a lot of progress since Mayor de Blasio launched “Vision Zero” last year. Pedestrian deaths in 2014 were the lowest in a century. But there’s still a long way to go, toward our goal of a city without senseless traffic deaths. Read more »

Dark days, and brighter ones

The waning days of 2014 have been dark ones for New York City. The killing of Detectives Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu made real the worst imaginable fears for those who put their safety on the line to serve our communities. Reactions to their murders highlighted tensions among New Yorkers – around how we understand the challenges of public safety and policing – and have risked setting us against ourselves.

Just a few weeks earlier, here in the 39th Council District, we lost 14-year-old Mohammad Naiem Uddin in a traffic crash that reminded us that our efforts to improve traffic safety and reduce speeding have not yet done enough.

Still, as the year turns, I remain truly grateful for what we’ve done together. Democracy can be messy, even painful. We don’t all agree on how to understand the problems, and certainly not on the solutions. But I am genuinely glad about what we’ve achieved together in New York City in 2014. While much of the rest of the country is stuck in a place of political polarization, we have moved forward in tangible ways to make lives better for many New Yorkers. Read more »

Planning for the future of Gowanus

When we launched the “Bridging Gowanus” community planning process a year ago, we knew we were taking on a big challenge. 

We’ve seen (and smelled) the fetid water after a rainfall.  I was there when it flooded its banks during Hurricane Sandy.  And we knew these toxic waters might seem still compared to asking Brooklynites to debate too-often-polarizing questions about development, density, infrastructure, industry, and housing. 

But deciding not to engage seemed worse.  Should we just wait and let developers make plans of their own (or pretend that they won’t)?  Should we allow hotels, big-box stores, and self-storage facilities (all currently allowed “as-of-right” throughout the Gowanus) overrun the whole area?  Should we miss the opportunity to frame the community’s priorities for the new mayoral administration? Read more »

A Flood of Compassion … But Not Much Justice

By Lisa Cowan (Red Hook Initiative) and Brad Lander (New York City Council)

One year ago, Hurricane Sandy darkened the skyline and changed the lives of so many of our neighbors.  This week’s anniversary calls to mind the crowds who waited for food and supplies in Red Hook, the cars full of baked ziti and batteries dispatched to Coney Island, Staten Island, and the Rockaways, the gas station lines, and the rows upon rows of cots for hundreds of evacuees at the Park Slope Armory (and so many other places). Read more »

Remembering Sammy Cohen-Eckstein

I'll be honest. I wasn’t sure I could attend the Park Slope Participatory Budgeting Neighborhood Assembly on Thursday night. Like so many friends and neighbors, I was still shaken in the hours after the funeral for Sammy Cohen-Eckstein, who was hit by a van on Prospect Park West on Tuesday. It feels like our whole community was punched in the gut.

No words are going to help us comprehend this tragedy. But I wanted to share a little of what I’ve been thinking. Read more »