New Year brings new funding for some – Non-profits benefit from Velazquez ‘bacon’

By Stephen Witt

Forget the North Pole — Santa Claus resides in Washington, D.C. in the person of Rep. Nydia Velázquez. The congressmember brought home $3.2 million to 10 non-profit organizations and two medical centers largely based in Brooklyn. The funds cleared both houses of Congress last week in a compromise vote that would be veto-proof should President Bush decide to invoke that power. “By securing this important funding we have taken a crucial step toward the increased success of our communities,” said Velázquez. “These funds benefit a wide range of programs – from educating our youth and providing them with quality after-school programs, to improving our environment and meeting the health care needs of our residents — and I am pleased that we have made this investment in the future of our neighborhoods,” she added. The biggest winner financially was the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, 374 Stockholm Street in Bushwick, which will get $400,000 for the development of a full-service family practice medical office targeted for low-income Brooklynites. Woodhull Hospital, 760 Broadway, also in Bushwick, will receive $321,000 for equipment to be used in a hospital based radiologic technology school. The Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy (BBPC) was the biggest of the non-profit recipients getting $282,000 to expand ongoing education and stewardship programs to teach at-risk youth about the waterfront’s history, habitat and ecology. The BBPC is heavily involved in the planning of the proposed 85-acre waterfront park stretching from the Manhattan Bridge to Atlantic Avenue. The Southwest Brooklyn Industrial Development Corporation (SWBIDC) will receive $250,000 to fund the “Red Hook Green Roof Project.” The project’s aim is to demonstrate the use of green roof design as a cost-effective and viable strategy for increasing energy efficiency, and reducing heat reflection that contribute to the greenhouse effect. According to SWBIDC Executive Director Phaedra Thomas and Chris Shepard, the agency’s business development manager, the project started after one of the manufacturing companies in the Industrial and Empire State zone needed a new roof and inquired about putting on a green roof. The company in question is the Linda Tool Company 163 Dwight Street. Under the plan, part of the federal money will go toward the installation of the roughly 12,500-sqaure-foot roof. The Project for Public Spaces (PPS) will get $235,000 to revitalize the beleaguered Moore Street Market, otherwise known as La Marqueta de Williamsburg. “The market hasn’t been actively managed,” said Chris Heittman of PPS. “It’s like anything, where if you don’t pay attention to it, it starts to languish. We want to work with vendors and neighborhood residents to come up with a collective vision for the market.” The Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC) will receive $188,000 to expand its Arts in Education program for at-risk public school students. The BAC designs its curriculum by forming a needs-assessment by meeting with school principals and teachers. El Puente, the renowned Williamsburg community organization, will get $214,000 to launch two clinics to prevent and treat obesity, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS. Both clinics will be based out of El Puente’s headquarters at 211 South 4th Street, but will also offer services at all of El Puente’s satellite offices. Another recipient of federal monies was the North Brooklyn Development Corporation, 148-50 Huron Street in Greenpoint, which will get $100,000 to continue to provide after-school youth activities for neighborhood children. “We have a serious problem with ‘latch-key kids,’ who have no supervision from the time school got out until their parents come home from work,” said Executive Director Richard Mazur. Boricua College will receive $150,000 for improvements to the North Side of its Williamsburg campus. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will receive $100,000 to continue an ongoing study of the Gowanus Canal Restoration Project. According to Army Corps of Engineer Project Manager Mark Lulka, the $100,000 will go toward an ongoing study since 2001 to look at feasibility of a federal ecosystem restoration program along the canal. The Police Athletic League Miccio Center at the Red Hook Houses will get a $100,000 federal allocation going toward youth programs through the Red Hook Rise organization. The programs include organized basketball, baseball, touch football, flag-football, a basketball camp, performing and creative arts including dance, art and design clubs. Additionally, the organization works closely with the employment services in the community to seek job opportunities for qualified youth. –With Matthew Wolfe & Greg Hanlon

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