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Congress Members Keep an Eye on New York Stimulus Funds

Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (NY-11) and Rep. Edolphus “Ed” Towns (NY-10), Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, held a town hall meeting at the Brooklyn Academy of Music today to discuss the local impact of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). This economic stimulus legislation that provides $787 billion in tax cuts and federal spending to preserve and create jobs, assist those most harmed by the recession, and reinvest in the nation.


To assure that Brooklyn fully benefits from the massive infusion of economic stimulus funding, Reps. Towns and Clarke combined efforts and called on state and local agency heads to provide comprehensive information to those most impacted by the economic downturn, including constituents, community leaders and local businesses.

“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has been initiated to provide immediate stimulus to our nation’s economy and is a crucial component of a comprehensive strategy to turn our economy around,” said Rep. Clarke. “It was crafted to help create and maintain jobs and make long-term, targeted, and responsible investments to keep our nation’s economy growing for years to come. There has been unprecedented transparency and accountability in recovery spending, and I am here today to give my constituents an opportunity to ask questions and to reaffirm that the funding provided from the stimulus will provide an immediate infusion of funding to projects in the district that will benefit the communities I represent.”

“As an original c o-sponsor of the economic stimulus package, I worked with my colleagues to include strict accountability and oversight language that will help protect American tax payers’ dollars from waste, fraud and abuse,” said Rep. Towns. “We have the monumental challenge of ensuring that stimulus funds are spent wisely so they help jump-start our local economy and help reduce the massive job loss currently plaguing Brooklynites and people across the nation. I hope my constituents leave today’s meeting knowing how to maximize on critical stimulus dollars that will impact our communities, provide immediate economic opportunities, and lay the groundwork to transform our economy.”

New York State is expected to receive $24.6 billion to modernize infrastructure, renovate school buildings, and provide training for unemployed residents. City representatives from various agencies were on hand to explain in detail the resources that will be allocated to Brooklyn, with special emphasis on the 10th and 11th Congressional Districts.

“I’m glad I attended the town hall, it was very informative,” said Mercedes Narcisse of Bedford- Stuyvesant. “With so many people out of work, it was good to hear about all the opportunities that will open up. Some of us are very afraid of what we are going through as a country, but I think the solution is to learn from the past and to do things more wisely next time— with obstacles, comes new light of what we can do for ourselves; today’s town hall gave me more hope that there is a new vision and good things will come.”

Among several other benefits, the Brooklyn Congressional Delegation assisted in delivering $261 million to leverage the $1.1 billion dollars for infrastructure and transportation improvement projects, creating over 30,000 jobs. Projects include: $382 million dollars for the rehabilitation of the Brooklyn Bridge; $12 million for the Reconstruction of Eastern Parkway from Washington Avenue to Grand Army Plaza; $23 Million for Streetscape Improvements on Flatbush Avenue; and, $9 million for the Improvement of the Bedford Stuyvesant Gateway Business District. (Reference the presentation handout for more details)

Today’s town hall meeting was the first in New York City that brought together representatives from the offices of Governor Paterson, Mayor Bloomberg, and various New York State and New York City Commissioners to discuss how stimulus dollars are being distributed in New York City and which projects are eligible for funding. Over 700 constituents and representatives from more than a dozen city and state agencies attended the event.

Dr. Eda Hastick of Medgar Evers College and wife of Dr. Roy Hastick, President of the Caribbean American Chamber Of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (CACCI) said, “This was fantastic… very informative. Today, we were able to get so much information from so many different agencies in one place. It was great to hear from our congressional Members. Instead of going to Washington to find out what’s going on, they brought all the information to us. This was a great meeting and a great idea.”

New York State Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, who also attended the event said, “Job creation and protection, as well as sound economic development, are absolutely essential to the long-term economic growth of our state. Through the prudent use of federal stimulus funds, we can start to build the foundation of a new economy – one that from Buffalo to Brooklyn, Syracuse to Staten Island, will put New Yorkers back to work and help to maintain our status as the Empire State. The potential benefit to New York communities is enormous and it is essential that New Yorkers understand how this money will impact them.”

Other guests included: Timothy Gilchrist, Senior Advisor of Infrastructure and Transportation, Governor Paterson’s Cabinet on The Recovery Package; Linda I. Gibbs, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services of the City of New York; and, Robert Walsh, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Small Business Services.