Bay Ridge

Gentile distributes $1.2M among 80 groups in his district

August 1, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The cast of the Ridge Chorale/Jeff Samaha Theater Productions 2015 presentation of “Mary Poppins” rehearses a number from the show. The theater company is one of several arts organization Councilmember Vincent Gentile is funding. Photo courtesy of Karen Tadross
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If you want to find out what’s on a politician’s mind, follow the money. When Councilmember Vincent Gentile announced how he distributed $1.2 million in discretionary funds from the city budget, his priorities included programs for kids, senior citizens, the arts and sanitation.

The city budget for Fiscal Year 2017 went into effect on July 1. Gentile publicly announced his discretionary budget in mid-July.

All City Council members get city funding, called discretionary funding, to spend as they wish in their districts.

Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) said his allocations will help keeping local streets clean, ensure the viability of youth arts and sports programs and support senior citizens.

Gentile pumped an additional $50,000 over last year’s budget for the Cleanup NYC program in his district, the 43rd Council District. Cleanup NYC is a council initiative that funds for street sweeping, litter pickup and graffiti removal over and above the funding for the Department of Sanitation.

After-school programs are also receiving funding in Gentile’s discretionary budget.

Gentile expanded funding of the city’s Cultural After-School Adventure (CASA) program to cover 11 schools in his district. Students from P.S. 170 and P.S. 185 in Bay Ridge will experience the Intrepid Museum’s educational after-school programs. An arts program called Inside Broadway will continue is visits to P.S. 176 in Dyker Heights and P.S. 102 in Bay Ridge and will be coming for the first time to P.S. 200 in Bath Beach.

Another program, Midori & Friends, will continue to provide guitar instruction to kids at P.S. 163 in Bath Beach and will expand to McKinley Intermediate School in Dyker Heights.

“I have always been a purveyor of enriching our youth through arts, sports and education. At the same time, we cannot forget the profound impact our seniors have had through their hard work and dedication to the betterment of our communities for the duration of their lives. As long as I am in office, I will always ensure that their quality of life continues to improve through various initiatives and support from me and the City Council,” Gentile said in a statement.

Gentile, who is term-limited, is scheduled to leave the council at the end of 2017.

Below is a list of other programs Gentle is providing funding for:

  • The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce will get funds to complete an application process for a business improvement district on 13th Avenue in Dyker Heights.

  • Money for NIA Community Services Network to conduct health workshops and computer training classes at local community senior centers.

  • The Salvation Army will get money to run the Bay Ridge Basketball League for young adults. There will be three separate eight-week basketball leagues with four teams per league, with each league reaching 32 teens and young adults.

  • Ridge Chorale, a theater group, will receive funds to continue to bringing musicals to Bay Ridge.

  • Five food pantries in Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst will carry on their humanitarian work with help from Gentile.

Karen Tadross, executive producer for Ridge Chorale, said the theater company is grateful for Gentile’s commitment to community-based arts groups.

“Over the years, his funding has been essential,” Tadross told the Brooklyn Eagle. “It allows us to keep our ticket process at a reasonable level for our productions. Our operating costs have increased and without the councilman’s funding, we would have difficulty.”

Among the costs theater groups face, according to Tadross, is licensing rights from the creators of Broadway musicals.

Last year, Ridge Chorale/Jeff Samaha Theater Productions mounted an acclaimed production of “Mary Poppins.”



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