In a first of its kind event for Boro Park, hundreds of people from the neighborhood and other communities in the 44th district turned out last night for a town hall meeting featuring Mayor Bill de Blasio, hosted by Councilman David Greenfield. The gathering took place at FDR High School, at 20th Ave. and 58th St., and lines stretched down the block as people waited patiently to be admitted to the meeting, which began at 7:00 p.m.
Following the councilman and mayor’s grand entrance and a student’s recital of the Pledge of Allegiance, the meeting got underway. Eric Gonzalez, the acting Brooklyn district attorney, began with a few short words about how the city seeks to maintain and increase safety and security without sacrificing the respect and dignity with which it treats everyone, equally. He was followed by Councilman Greenfield, the moderator, who began by running down a list of recent accomplishments in the district and by thanking everyone involved for putting the evening together on such short notice.
Mayor de Blasio then took the mic. He began by praising Councilman Greenfield, and then touched on the many areas in which he’s proud of the progress the city has made, including security, employment, early childhood education, special needs, reducing excessive fines, policing, and quality of life. He made particular note of the new Muni Meters that can accept payment for up to four hours before Shabbos, which are being rolled out in Boro Park and beyond.
After the introductions, the question and answer session began. The mayor listened attentively to his constituents’ various concerns, alternately responding with promises to look into the issue or explaining the city’s policies. For many of the details, he had the commissioners of the city’s many departments, who were in attendance, follow up and clarify the relevant details. Throughout, the mood remained pleasant and good humored, the back and forth peppered with laughter and applause. There were a few tense moments when some participants spoke of life and death challenges that they’re struggling with, and the crowd briefly turned on the mayor and booed when he asserted that the traffic cameras on Ocean Parkway weren’t there for the extra revenue. But they quickly came around and applauded again when he stressed how the city’s Vision Zero had cut accidents and deaths, even as the nationwide average went up.
The event concluded at 10:00 p.m., with the commissioners staying on to have more detailed conversations with community members regarding their various concerns.