Greenpoint Gazette

Rami Metal: Man About Greenpoint

BY Juliet Linderman

If you live, work or hang out in Greenpoint, chances are you’ve seen Rami Metal. Over the past year, Metal has worn multiple hats here in North Brooklyn—and as of Monday morning, he has taken on yet another role, as freshman Councilmember Stephen Levin’s Greenpoint/Williamsburg community liaison. For the last year and change Metal had served as Councilmember David Yassky’s community liaison, and he will continue his duties—and expand his responsibilities—under Levin’s service. Though he’s mostly a behind-the-scenes kind of character, you might catch him at a community board meeting or a ribbon-cutting, an elementary school play or a meeting at Newtown Creek.
“I knew nothing—no, less than nothing—when I started working for Yassky,” Metal said with a chuckle. He joined Yassky’s team as an intern, in June of 2008, before being officially hired as community liason in late August. “But, I met with community members and asked questions, but mainly I just listened. In this neighborhood especially, there’s a lot to listen to. And I learned.”
But what does a “community liaison” for a councilmember actually do? Much more than you might think. In addition to the day to day dealings with constituents—that is, working on North Brooklyn neighborhood issues like tenant harassment, parking tickets, noise complaints, street cleaning—Metal assisted Yassky in researching and crafting legislation, and rallying for important changes throughout the neighborhood. During his tenure with Yassky, Metal spearheaded the effort to remove the fences that separated Northern Greenpoint streets from the waterfront, worked tirelessly to secure more open space in the Broadway Triangle rezoning proposal, and worked in conjunction with the North Brooklyn Public Arts Coalition to bring public art to the neighborhood, beginning with the India Street mural project.
“This job is very much about problem solving,” Metal said. “I spend a lot of time on the phone, trying to gain an understanding of where community members stand on issues, in order to determine how best to approach a problem. And in the north, the problem is the terms of the 2005 rezoning—open space, parks, affordable housing—we haven’t gotten the basics that the community was promised.”
“I used the 2005 rezoning document as a guidebook for what needed to happen in this community,” Metal said. “But I only had a year and a half.”
Luckily, Metal will now have the opportunity to continue the work he started last council term under the brand new councilmember. In the next four years, Metal pledges to continue to put pressure on the City to realize the terms of the 2005 waterfront rezoning and bring them bare.
“We are not out of the rezoning woods as of yet, and we will continue to press the city to fulfill its obligation,” Metal said. “The issue is also density, affordable housing percentages with regard to new development. It’s a longer, broader conversation that we will continue to have in the next four years. There’s a lot of unfinished business that I was to see through.”
A native New Yorker, Metal has lived in several neighborhoods throughout the borough, many of which within the 33rd district. Though, Metal attests that he feels most at home right here in Greenpoint.
“I love Greenpoint,” Metal said. “If the streets are cleaner, it’s nice to know that I might have had something to do with that, something to do with making the neighborhood better. Also, I’ve met some incredible people here. That’s the most impressive thing—people are so passionate about this community. It’s inspiring.”

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