“A Big Win for Bushwick”

“This is the biggest we’ve been able to bring back,” says Sandy Nurse, the somewhat new Bushwick city council member who joined the majority of her colleagues in voting to advance a final budget at city hall, her third so far since beating old school politico Darma Diaz for the job in 2021. It had been one of the more contentious budgets in the recent years; “we were on round seven of cuts, we’ve been clawing back money and fighting with the administration to restore basic levels of funding for so many programs that New Yorkers rely on,” Nurse reports. 

More pertinently, Nurse says she wants to draw attention to what her office estimates is a $10.4 million “capital funding” haul that she says she’s struck for Bushwick and some of the surrounding neighborhood, something that one of the former founders of Mayday Space says has been a big priority for her at city hall.    

“For my three budget cycles now, every year we’ve grown the amount of capital we’re bringing home,” says Nurse. It’s a “big win for Bushwick.”

Among the places this money is going include a $4 million planned renovation of the playground at Irving Square Park, something that Nurse describes as a political necessity, given her move during last year’s budget to get a $1.2 million dog run installed there too.   

“The dog park was controversial and so, we wanted to make sure that the playground also got addressed, so that these differing groups got something that they really wanted,” she says. According to Nurse, complaints about the current state of the playground have been at the top of the local community board’s “District Needs Survey” for some time.

But she defends making the move on the dog run too. 

“The dog park is, I think, an essential piece of infrastructure that was needed because of the damages that dogs often are doing,” Nurse says, with the one-time Occupy Wall Street activist telling me how these budgeting fights also fit into the larger picture of organizing into a broken system. 

“We’re not getting any more enforcement because [New York City Department of Parks & Recreation] never gets the funding it needs,” she says. The dog park we would get. Plans for that are currently in the works, she says. Ditto the playground upgrades, which will have to go through various community boards and parks department bureaucrats. “It’s a very iterative process,” she says. 

Other iterative projects fit within this mold of retrofitting current infrastructure too; $3.8 million to continue updating the maternity ward at Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, something Nurse tells me will eventually result in mothers there getting private showers, at some point.  

“It’s like a $9 million project that we’ve been chipping away at it, a few million at a time. And so, it’s really great to get a big chunk of it,” she says. Another $1.3 million is going to various improvements at public schools (important “upgrades to water fountains,” she says) and renovating a handful of rent stabilized buildings operated by the St. Nicks Alliance, a Brooklyn nonprofit. 

There’s also an $800,000 going to constructing new entrances at Morrow field on Knickerbocker Avenue, so named after the founder of a local football league.    

“There’s really a lot of drug and alcohol activity after hours at that park because the gates keep getting opened,” says Nurse. “Entrances to the field are really busted, people set up basically a bar there and there was a stabbing near there a while ago.” 

Images provided by Sandy Nurse.

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