Marty Markowitz delivered news and zingers in his final State of the Borough speech

April 12, 2013 Helen Klein
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There were fireworks, literally, as Borough President Marty Markowitz delivered his final State of the Borough address inside Barclays Center.

And, that was not the only surprise as the hardly retiring borough president spent the second half of his speech playing talk show host on his very own “late night show” – “Tonight with Marty” – ably seconded by “Talk Stoop” star and Brooklynite Cat Greenleaf.

There were celebrities – among them, Miss America Mallory Hagan, who introduced Markowitz to the crowd; actor Tony Danza; singer Jay Black (of ‘60s rock group Jay and the Americans); Food Network host Sunny Anderson; the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir; and Travel Channel host Samantha Brown – but the real star of the show was unquestionably the unquenchable beep, who presented a last group of new initiatives as he reminisced about what had been accomplished during his 12-year tenure.

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So, what did Marty have up his sleeve for his grand finale?

Coney Island’s iconic parachute jump will finally be lit this summer with “so much bling on it that it’ll be visible from outer space,” said Markowitz, promising, “It’ll be Brooklyn’s Eiffel Tower, another must see on every tourist’s list.” The eye-catching programmable LED lighting, he added, will take place “with the help of Zamperla U.S.A. [the owner of Luna Park] and the New York City Economic Development Corporation.”

Coney Island will also get Markowitz’s long-coveted amphitheater, which will be the location of his annual Seaside Concert Series (started when Markowitz was a state senator). The amphitheater will be housed inside the historic building that once housed the Child’s restaurant on the boardwalk at West 21st Street, and is in the design stage.

There was also big news for Sunset Park, which is going to get a gorgeous ornamental arch from Beijing’s Chaoyang District. The arch, Markowitz said, is planned “to celebrate Brooklyn’s vibrant Chinese community, the fasted growing ethnic group in New York City,” and will fittingly be placed in “America’s fourth largest Chinatown.”

In the jobs arena, Markowitz announced that this spring his office – working with City Hall and “several public and private partners” – “will launch B-Tec, the Brooklyn Technology and Education Consortium, a task force aimed at preparing our borough’s most underserved communities for the tech jobs of today and tomorrow.”

In addition, Markowitz announced that the Empire State Development Corporation and the city will start the process of converting Crown Heights’ “Under-utilized Bedford Union Armory into a valuable community asset that enriches the lives of [the] residents.”

With all this, Markowitz stressed that there are things still undone. “I’ll admit, I wasn’t able to do it all,” he remarked. “Hey, I had to leave something for the next borough president.”

So, what hasn’t the borough president checked off his to-do list? “I want the next administration, and every level of government, to make public housing a top priority,” he announced, adding, “Our public housing has deteriorated significantly since the days when I grew up in the Sheepshead Nostrand Houses. We must restore public housing to its former glory, the safest, best maintained housing in the country.”

Markowitz also said he would like to see his successor lure a major manufacturer into Brownsville, Cypress Hills or East New York, to provide a significant economic boost, and that he would like to see a renewed focus on the cruise ship terminal in Red Hook, which he said that has become less used since it opened. “Last year, more cruise ships than ever stopped on the west side, while fewer and fewer have docked in Brooklyn,” he stressed. “The Brooklyn Cruise Terminal should never be under-utilized.”

In addition, Markowitz emphasized his commitment to keeping LICH, which has been financially struggling and which the SUNY board has voted to close, open for the future, while pitching the idea of bringing affordable assisted living and communities for active seniors to the borough.

Overall, though, he contended, “Over the last decade, we’ve accomplished so much and undergone such an amazing transformation, beyond even my wildest dreams. So, there’s no question that Brooklyn will never be in anyone’s shadow ever again. We are New York’s main attraction, and, you know what? We’re only getting started. Our best days are now and for generations to come.”

Not too much earlier, State Senator Eric Adams, one of two candidates currently running to succeed Markowitz (the other is former Councilmember John Gangemi), stepped on stage.

Asked by the borough president, “What are you doing here?” Adams responded, “To escort you off. I’ll be back,” Adams added, to laughter from the crowd, “in 264 days and four hours.”


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