Brooklyn, NY – Several hundred people turned out on Tuesday night for a town hall meeting with Mayor Bill de Blasio, giving residents of Borough Park, Midwood, Kensington and Bensonhurst an opportunity to discuss their concerns directly with city’s top brass.
The meeting, likely the first of its kind to have ever been held in Borough Park, took place at FDR High School and was hosted by City Councilman David Greenfield. The mayor was accompanied by twenty five agency heads who came to the meeting in order to directly address participants’ issues.
According to Greenfield, the event went very well, with a standing room only crowd of more than 500 in the main room and well over 100 others watching a live stream in a designated overflow room.
“The mayor was very engaging,” Greenfield told VIN News. “He knew the issues and people appreciated the fact that he came down there and he addressed them.”
Having represented Borough Park during his time as on the City Council, de Blasio was well acquainted with many in the room and while not all were fans of the mayor, most seemed pleased with the meeting.
Watch below the replay of the event:
“I had a fellow who came over to me after the event and said ‘I voted for Donald Trump, I am a big Trump supporter, I disagree with most of the mayor’s politics but it meant a lot to me that the mayor came down here and is willing to listen to us and to work on our issues.’”
The town hall was scheduled to begin at 7 PM and ran for approximately two and a half hours, with several commissioners staying as late as 11 PM to give those in attendance a chance to speak about the problems that were foremost on their minds.
The questions during the night ran the gamut, with quite a few addressing sanitation and transportation problems.
One Borough Park resident asked the mayor about the scheduling changes that dramatically curtailed women’s swimming hours at the Metropolitan Recreation Center in Williamsburg, noting that attendance at the pool has dropped dramatically since those modifications were implemented.
de Blasio acknowledged that trying to accommodate both those who prefer mixed and segregated hours at the pool has been an extremely complex endeavor and admitted that he was unaware that attendance had fallen.
“You’ve raised information I did not know and I am going to go back to talk to people about what that means,” said the mayor.
The hottest topic of the night was Ocean Parkway, with numerous questions popping up regarding the 25 mile per hour speed limit and recent changes that have banned turns at certain intersections.
It was an extremely emotional moment when a woman who arrived at the town hall meeting three hours early asked the mayor for help finding her 22 year old daughter who had fallen victim to drug trafficking, earning embraces from both de Blasio and Captain David Wall, commanding officer of the 66th Precinct.
Avi Greenstein, director of the Yeshiva Principal’s Association said that he hopes that last night’s town hall meeting is the first of many similar community forums.
“It was the first time the mayor and the city took the initiative to say we want to work with you and we want to understand you,” said Greenstein. “As a strong, patriotic and vibrant entity, we felt very good about being approached that way. It is encouraging to see that the mayor seems to have a listening ear and wants to work with us.”
Equally inspiring, said Greenstein, was the diversity of the crowd, a true melting pot that reflected the many different faces of South Brooklyn.
“It was an opportunity to witness the coming together of all aspects of Borough Park,” observed Greenstein. “There was a sense of mission and unity and camaraderie, not just between the various Jewish groups that were there, but also between the Asian, Hispanic, Catholic and other different groups, having everyone sitting together saying we want the system to work for us, to be contributing partners in terms of making New York City great.”