George’s column of potpourri, by George Fiala

Council Race

Last month we reported on rumors that Felix Ortiz was considering a run against incumbent Carlos Menchaca for the 38th Council District in the upcoming September primary. That is likely not happening, but Menchaca does have at least two opponents.

Delvis Valdes and Javier Nieves are both long time voices from Sunset Park and have begun running campaigns. Sara Gonzales, whom Menchaca defeated in 2013 for the seat, has also filed to run.

Nieves represented Sunset Park in the State Assembly for one term, but was beaten by Felix Ortiz in 1994 by 79 votes. An architect, Nieves has remained active in the community and currently serves as the Executive Director of La Casita Comunal de Sunset Park, which is associated the the Trinity Lutheran Church of Sunset Park.

Delvis Valdes is an attorney with an office in Sunset Park. He has been active in community organizations. This is his first attempt at public office.

Both candidates are opposed to plans, supported by Menchaca, to build affordable housing atop the Sunset Park library. Valdes complained that Menchaca did not do enough to warn riders of the closing of an R train stop in Sunset Park, and he spent a few hundreds dollars to pay for a shuttle bus to take riders to the next stop.

Menchaca has been maintaining his active City Council schedule and quietly holding fundraising events to prepare for the campaign.

Update – now we’re hearing that Felix will mount a challenge… we’ll see!


Nydia Velazquez
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez held a successful fundraiser in Gowanus on March 24. It was attended by Brad Lander and Carlos Menchaca.The pop-up space, hosted by caterer Linda LaViolette was packed. Velazquez has been quite busy advocating for sensible immigration and health policies in what she calls an “upside down” Washington.

Ferry Rising
The NYC Economic Development Corporation once told Community Board 6 that it was not possible to build a ferry dock in the Atlantic Basin. The community spoke out, and last week work began on the Atlantic Basin ferry landing. Service is due to begin over the summer, and Red Hook’s transportation complaints will be decreased by one, as we will be directly connected to Manhattan by water.

Two eagerly anticipated local venues for food and drink are being delayed due to the sudden revocation of well known local expediter Scott Schnall’s license by the Department of Buildings. Both Rocky Sullivan’s new location, and Billy Durney’s foray into fried chicken have had stop work order stickers posted on their buildings.

Rocky’s is due to move up the block from its old location on Dwight Street, and Hometown was working on a second location on Van Brunt Street in the former liquor store on the corner of Sullivan Street. Rocky’s needed permission to install a new gas meter, and is planning to open soon anyway, with or without the gas they use for cooking.

Update – through the grapevine it seems that Durney is giving up on the chicken venture and is looking to sell his lease for a tidy sum.
Resiliency Tour
A group of local stakeholders heavily involved in the Integrated Flood Protection System (IFPS) organized a bus trip around the proposed route. The tour was attended by Nydia Velazquez’s community representative Dan Wiley, and Councilmember Menchaca, as well as a representative of Dewberry Associates, and Jessica Colon of the NYC Office of Recovery and Resilience.

Dewberry is the consulting firm that is working on Red Hook’s flood resiliency plan. The bus route began at Smith and Bay Streets. It followed Red Hook perimeter, ending up at the gate of the Cruise Terminal, at Bowne and Imlay.

This on-the-ground tour explained the possibility and pitfalls of creating flood barriers to protect the neighborhood in the event of a future storm surge like occured during Hurricane Sandy. A true sense of the enormity of the project was gotten. It involves raising sidewalks, erecting walls of various heights, and ensuring accessibility by using “deployables.”

Deployables include things such as movable gates and guards which would close in the event of a weather emergencies, thereby sealing off the streets from the water.

Gowanus Canal
There has been a lot of speculation as to the future of the Gowanus Superfund project as the possibility of EPA funding cuts have permeated the media. However, the Superfund work is mostly paid for by those deemed as the actual polluters. The Superfund was depleted of federal dollars many years ago, and never re-funded.
The EPA has assured the Star-Revue that there is absolutely no danger of the project being halted or even delayed, as they have plenty of funding and commitments to proceed with the work on schedule.

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