Yes to Club, No to League

Board 4 Approves Bushwick Fitness Ctr., But Soccer Teams Given Boot

Brooklyn Community Board 4 had plenty of votes on the table at its Wednesday Mar. 21 meeting at the Hope Gardens Community Center in Bushwick, including one permitting the opening of a new fitness center and another one advocating the end of an area soccer league’s presence in the parks.

Attorney Joshua Rinesmith detalis Planet Fitness’ plans for a new location near Woodhull Medical Center in Bushwick at Brooklyn Community Board 4’s Wednesday, Mar. 21 meeting at the Hope Gardens Community Center.

The good: a new Planet Fitness

Attorney Joshua Rinesmith gave Board 4 an overview of plans for a new Planet Fitness, currently in construction at Broadway and Sumner Place, across from Woodhull Medical Center and near the board’s border with neighboring Brooklyn Community Boards 1 (covering Williamsburg) and 3 (covering Bedford-Stuyvesant).

The 18,700 sq. ft., three-floor facility will be open 24 hours a day, and will feature exercise equipment and classes. Both this location and another location in the works, near the Myrtle-Wyckoff Avenues train station in Queens Community Board 5, will hire employees exclusively within the neighboring communities in line with the company’s policy, Rinesmith stated.

To open the establishment, the fitness center needs a Board of Standard and Appeals permit for a physical culture establishment. Rinesmith asked for the board to vote its support for the permit, which expires every 10 years. Board 4 voted in favor of the permit.

The bad: soccer league booted

Board 4 voted on a resolution asking the Parks Department to prohibit a local soccer league organizer from gaining any more permits. According to Parks Committee chairperson Robert Camacho, the league was once booted from Morrow Park for allowing vendors to operate.

After a plea from the league’s organizer, they were allowed to return to the park, but Camacho claimed that the NYPD and Parks Department found that the same issues persisted.

According to District Manager Nadine Whitted, recent photos from the Parks Department found that the league “sold everything but the kitchen sink on that field.”

Camacho warned all leagues in Bushwick to refrain from selling merchandise, food or anything else on parkland.

HIV/AIDS prevention

Christobal Jacques of the Department of Health’s (DOH) Bureau of HIV Prevention presented an overview of his agency’s efforts to curb the spread of the disease.

According to Jacques, someone in the U.S. is infected with HIV every 9.5 minutes. In New York City, 110,000 people have been diagnosed with the disease as of 2010, and another 50,000-60,000 are estimated to be HIV-positive without knowing it.

Last year, 759 new cases were di- agnosed with HIV at the same time they got a diagnosis for AIDS. “People are not getting tested early and not getting care early,” Jacques would later state.

The disease accounted for 1,695 city deaths in 2010.

In Brooklyn, 27,087 individuals are living with the disease. In 2010 (the last year for which statistics are available), 904 people were diagnosed, 71 percent of whom were male and 78 percent of whom were African-American or Hispanic.

“It has found a home in communities of color,” Jacques warned.

In addition, 25 percent of city residents infected with HIV also have Hepatitis C, greatly increasing the likelihood of liver disease.

Jacques told the crowd that having both conditions make treating them more complex.

A big issue, Jacques claimed, is that people are not being tested for the disease; to combat this, the DOH is beginning a campaign called “Brooklyn Knows” with the intention of getting anyone who hasn’t been tested for HIV to do so. The campaign will use social media as well as “station domination” advertisements that will see billboards plastered throughout subway stops.

Jacques noted that new tests can offer results in 20 minutes.

Whitted announced plans for a future “Testing Day” event to help Bushwick residents get tested for HIV.

Transportation and road issues

The district manager also announced that the Department Of Transportation is looking into possible traffic mitigation and pedestrian safety measures in the area of Noll Street and Bushwick Avenue, adding that at a recent meeting between local residents and city officials, one person called Bushwick Avenue “our Queens Boulevard.”

Whitted claimed that residents are asking for “countdown clocks” at traffic stops the area. Such traffic lights can be found along Queens Boulevard and on Steinway Street in Astoria.

Later in the meeting, she added that traffic issues also persist at Broadway and Halsey Street, near the border of Board 4 and Brooklyn Board 16.

She also announced that Willoughby Avenue from Broadway to Cypress Avenue, Stanhope Street from Bushwick to Cypress avenues, Harman Street between Bushwick and Wyckoff avenues, and Madison Street from Broadway to Ridgewood Place will have new roads milled and paved. (For more information, see the Traffic column on Page 28).

The repaving will occur about 15 days after the milling.

Other news

Board 4 passed a resolution condemning planned cuts to child care and afterschool services in the city budget, at the urging of Chairperson Julie Dent, who called the services “very crucial to many families in our community.”

“We are going back to the latchkey children,” she warned.

A hearing will be held on Apr. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Bushwick Community High School, located at 231 Palmetto St., on a proposed “turnaround” plan for the site. Under the plan, the school would close and be replaced with a new school to open at the same site.

Whitted also announced that board members have received a survey asking for their opinion on area housing needs, as the advisory body gears up for rezoning later in the year.

Elvena Davis announced that the Civic and Religious Committee remains hard at work on the area’s seventh annual Bushwick Pride Parade, with this year’s theme being “Bushwick Stomps out Bullying.”

This year, the parade will begin at Hecksher Playground, at Linden Street and Central Avenue.

A representative of the Bushwick IMPACT family resource center announced that the group has moved out of its Central Avenue location and is now located at the Grand Street Settlement center, at 783 Knickerbocker Ave.

A petition was available during the meeting for residents who wish to place a dog run in Irving Square Park.

Brooklyn Community Board 4 usually meets on the third Wednesday of each month at the Hope Gardens Community Center, located at 195 Linden St. in Bushwick.

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