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De Blasio Takes Aim at Opioid Use, Proposes Indoor Pool on Staten Island

By Nicholas Rizzi | April 21, 2016 10:06am
 The mayor announced new programs to tackle opioid abuse and money in the budget to build an indoor pool.
Mayor Bill de Blasio Staten Island Town Hall
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CONCORD — An indoor swimming pool is coming to Staten Island, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced during a town hall meeting where he also fielded residents' questions about what he's doing to address rampant drug abuse and homelessness.

De Blasio, who has an especially low approval rating among Staten Islanders, spent more than two hours at P.S. 48 in Concord hearing residents who say they haven't gotten enough attention from the mayor.

"When does Staten Island become a priority?" asked Linda Baran, president and CEO of the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce. "How do we get on your radar and get to be a priority of your administration?"

De Blasio assured residents that they had his full support and kicked off the town hall meeting by announcing several new programs aimed at addressing opioid abuse plaguing Staten Island.

He announced a plan to build an indoor pool somewhere in the borough, though the reason for this particular push by the mayor wasn't immediately clear.

"The City of New York needs to right another wrong," he said. "This borough deserves an indoor swimming pool."

De Blasio also noted that he has fully funded the NYPD and Borough President James Oddo's "Too Good for Drugs Program" which targets young students for drug use prevention.

The program will now include every fifth grade class and will work to add more treatment centers for addiction in the borough and the city, he said.

"This problem has become bigger and bigger," de Blasio said. "We need to move very quickly, very intensely."

In addition, de Blasio took full blame for allowing a plan — involving Salvation Army's Kroc Center community center taking over a vacant Stapleton building — to fail. 

"I want to take personal responsibility because I don’t think my administration did all that we could have done," he said. "I think there is something that can get done but I think it's going to take work."

De Blasio also promised to tackle the borough's transportation and traffic issues, pointing towards several studies being done to improve it — including Oddo's plan to install a bike lane on Richmond Terrace — but he didn't announce any set plans.

Concerns residents raised during the Q&A with the mayor included safety issues in hotels being used to house the homeless and the lack of programs focusing on dyslexia in the borough.

They also asked the mayor to consider turning the Mount Manresa condo development into a park.

"Please find us the money, find eminent domain, do something for us," said Loretta Drogo of the Committee to Save Mount Manresa. "Staten Island deserves that park at Mount Manresa."

While the developer, Savo Brothers, currently owns the land, de Blasio vowed to reach out to them to see if they would be willing to sell it to the city.

"This was a tremendous lost opportunity,” de Blasio said. “The reason that it was lost to you is greed, plain and simple."