New York Shitty Day Starter: Daniel Squadron Wants Our Support!

Per an anonymous tipster:

If the name Norm Brodsky seems familiar, gentle readers, here’s why:

  1. He was a founding member of Open Space Alliance.
  2. He owns the CitiStorage storage facility which is a colossal cash out blocking our brave march towards open space in Greenpoint. To the amount of $200,000,000 if Rami Metal is to be believed (skip to 8:03 and hear his words for yourself)

And three pillars of our community; Adam Perlmutter, Steve Hindy (Brooklyn Brewery) and Evan Thies (Open Space Alliance members and former Community Board 1 members all) are hosting a rally for Mr. Squadron at his home (READ: CitiStorage)!

A Reception for Daniel Squadron
May 17, 2012 at 6:30 p.m.
The Home of Norm and Elaine Brodsky (on the Williamsburg Waterfront)
5 North 11 Street
Brooklyn, New York 11211

Spotted On Franklin Street: Illegal Advertising On Public Property

It would appear that OSA, Open Space Alliance, is employing illegal “street art” advertisements on street signs for their concerts. In a landmarked district, no less. Given the litigious nature of this organization and the fact it is a “private/public partnership” I find this very interesting. The fact this was erected by Leviticus is pure gravy. When I want to feel dirty I read those passages.*

Miss Heather

*The best pornography I have ever read is found in the Bible. Period.

Greenpoint Audio/Visual Presentation Du Jour: The American Playground

Given that we are embarking upon a holiday weekend (celebrating our nation’s birthday, no less) I feel it is only fitting to showcase Greenpoint’s very own American Playground. Rutila wrote regarding the above image (which I posted June 20th):

There was a homeless man sleeping in the jungle gym this morning when jumping rope in one of the handball courts. He was coughing, and I wasn’t sure if he was sick or clearing his throat to let me know I was interrupting his sleep. Should I have apologized?

Oh, and one of the trees/bushes that flank the storage shed/bathroom was pulled — roots and all — from its planter and dragged to the middle of the basketball courts. I don’t see how this would be possible without a vehicle.

I have been keeping a careful watch over this park ever since.

It isn’t pretty.

But what I was most puzzled by was the womens bathroom’s “new arrangement”.

I have no idea why the Parks Department, in their infinite wisdom, would do something like this. And here’s why:

1. This bathroom is located at a playground. Children will invariably get dirty and need to wash their hands. Most of the children I have observed at this park are tended to by their mothers. Thus, they will need to use the womens bathroom. And if someone is using it they are shit out of luck.

2. This kind of open space (with added privacy) is an enabler for all manner and variety of criminal activity. Foremost in my mind is drugs, as heroin addicts seem to have taken a shine to this park.

And then of course, there is this.

A detergent bottle (Tide, methinks, this brings a whole new meaning to Tidy Bowl) being retrofitted for some hitherto unknown purpose.

Here’s a close-up of its contents. And on July 1st, dear readers, I finally got the wherewithal to flush said toilet and film it.

It appears to be collecting water from the faulty plumbing. Incoming or outgoing I do not know. What’s more, it’s not important. This is yet another (and exemplary) half-assed solution to the manifold problems our parks “comfort stations” face. On that note I have word via a tipster/leaked email that port-o-lets are one the way. Four to be precise:

  • One for Bushwick Inlet Park
  • One for Barge Park
  • Two for McCarren Park

In regards to the lattermost, here’s what one board member of Open Space Alliance North Brooklyn— not the Parks Department— had to say:

They’re portable so, if you or other parks users have strong feelings about their placement, they can probably be moved. Personally, I think it’s a good idea for the condo-dwellers on Bayard to fundraise for the park.

This statement is in regards to a Bayard Street resident calling 311 and complaining about public urination; getting a letter from Adrian Benepe advising him/her to talk to our Parks Administrator, Stephanie Thayer, only to be asked by Ms. Thayer if he/she would be interested in fundraising for more garbage cans and bathrooms in McCarren Park (via Open Space Alliance, which is Ms. Thayer’s other employer). Fundraising for amenities one would presume (hope) would have already been paid for via our tax dollars. But I suppose I am being old fashioned.

To recap: a 311 complaint seems to have been employed as a recruitment tool for a not-for-profit org which, theoretically, has nothing to do whatsoever with a public urination complaint. But I suppose that’s what happens when you have a public/private partnership which is out of touch with the very people it purportedly serves. Here’s my advice for anyone who has issues with our public parks:

  • Call 311. Repeatedly.
  • Document and send your complaints to our local Community Board.
  • Don’t bother with our local Parks people, copy the head honcho: Adrian (dot) Benepe (at) parks (dot) nyc (dot) gov
  • It criminal activity is involved, go the the 94th Precinct Community Council meetings and make D. I. Fulton aware of it.

Miss Heather

P.S.: If our Port-O-Potty point person at OSA is listening (because it’s become all too apparent this organization holds the purse strings, not our Parks Department), you might want to toss one WNYC Transmitter Park/”Playground’s” direction.

It’s very popular.

Albeit not by not children.

When I saw this gent walk away from a secluded part of this “playground” a few days later I decided to investigate.

Yup.

New York Shitty Day Starter: The OSA Trilogy Part 2

It’s dull as dishwater— unless you paid attention to the last segment. Wherein I stated “OSA Presents Inc.” was created by:

…certain members of the Board of Directors of OSA…

and noted the org in question was headquartered at 79 North 11 Street: the Brooklyn Brewery. OSA Presents Inc. was created without “Community Committee’s” knowledge. It was OSA’s ostensible attempt at claiming community feedback/input. If the buzz I have heard is correct a great many people were unaware about OSA Presents Inc. Including so-called “board members”. Which is why I find this filing for an extension so interesting.

New York Shitty Analysis: When an organization takes this long to file a tax return (I hail from a bloodline plagued by accountants) it makes me wonder. This is what happens when millionaires, people with monetary interests and the “powers that be” which are beholden to them (Mayor Bloomberg et. al.) dictate what is in the best interests of north Brooklyn. Their interests.

Miss Heather

The OSA Trilogy: Part One

After much ado and two extensions, OSA; Opace Space Alliance North Brooklyn has released their financial statement for 2008. Of particular interest to yours truly is this:

OSA Presents, Inc. (per the New York Department of State Corporation Database) hails from 79 North 11 Street, Brooklyn, New York. The Brooklyn Brewery. Steve Hindy, Proprietor.

Now let’s compare OSA Presents, Inc. with OSA’s mission statement:

For decades the Greenpoint/Williamsburg communities have been severely under served for park space. OSA is dedicated to filling that need. By supplementing the New York City Parks Department’s basic operations with private funds, OSA proposes to initiate a large array of capital projects and community programs.

OSA will boost public awareness of the crucial role parks play in the urban environment, while gaining support from donors and volunteers for restoration and new development projects. Through a formal partnership agreement with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, OSA allows the community to have a voice in the management and maintenance of existing parks– and the creation of new parks…

Greenpoint has not fared well under OSA’s oversight. A glorified campsite with wood chips and assorted industrial detritus does not a “park” make, OSA. “Interim” or otherwise.

This sucks.

How can the “community” have a voice when “certain members of the board” of OSAnb elected— without “community” knowledge or feedback— to start an organization whose purpose seems to be perpetuating said org? Why is OSAnb (for all intents and purposes) a government-sponsored “event organizer”? It’s rather Kafka-esque and/or Orwellian when you think about it.

I’ll leave up for you, dear readers, to decide. Here’s Part I.

Miss Heather

OSA Chief Faces Criticism: Rebuttal

Last week was a hectic one for yours truly. Pet-sitting, work, Photoshop phreakiness, life: the list goes on and on. But at long last I have the time and energy to share my thoughts about the following which hails from Brooklyn11211.

brooklyn11211

If you point and click your way to this post (which can be done by clicking on the above image) you will learn that Brooklyn11211 is addressing the recent reporting by Aaron Short of the Williamsburg Courier. What was of particular interest to yours truly is the embedded link for “Its (sic) not a sell out”; this directs the reader to the (admittedly rather vitriolic) post I wrote last Thursday.

BDE31609My colleague down south is right: the fact the Executive Director Open Space Alliance North Brooklyn (henceforth referred to as OSAnb) gets just over half her salary from the city is not a “sell out”. It’s a buy out. There is a difference. Prior to being put on the city’s payroll Ms. Thayer was one of the most vociferous parks advocates Williamspoint had. As I understand it, she was a real pain the city’s butt. So they made a move that was downright Machiavellian in its brilliance: they hired her. It’s much more difficult to bite the hand if it is (in part) feeding you.*

Do I think Ms. Thayer sees it this way? No. I believe she believes (just as Brooklyn11211 does) that by being a Parks Department employee and the Executive Director of OSAnb she can and will be an “inside player/spokesperson” on the behalf of our community. I, on the other hand, do not.

Before I proceed I want to make it clear my opinion is not informed by a degree in architecture or landscape design; experience in public administration (although I have considerable experience with facilities management) or by being a Williamspoint “power player”. It is grounded purely by observing human nature.

I do not blame Stephanie for not “thumbing her nose at the Mayor”, e.g.; limiting attendance to the Bushwick Inlet Park “groundbreaking”. Just like the rest of us she has bills to pay. To be overtly critical of her employer will jeopardize the roof over her head. Who in his (or her) right mind, in these times, would do such a thing? (All I can’t understand is why Steve Hindy was given a shovel— but we’ll get to that in a bit.)

But this doesn’t make the conflict of interest any less troubling. The fact of the matter is one person cannot serve two masters. In this respect I find the 51%/49% breakdown of her salary very instructive; as a Parks employee she is, in fact, working for us. The taxpayers.

It’s the other 49% I worry about. Aaron Short writes in this article:

After a long day of contemplating North Brooklyn’s open space problems and navigating the intricacies of city bureaucracy, a community leader could be forgiven for wanting an ice cold beer. And as neighborhood power players expressed their doubts about the purity of the organization’s motives, now might be a good time to grab one.

Fortunately, Open Space Alliance (OSA) Chairman Steve Hindy, also the owner of the Brooklyn Brewery, doesn’t have to go very far. He originally founded the Open Space Alliance (OSA) with Adam Perlmutter and Joe Vance in 2002 as a way to buy the Bushwick Inlet (North 12th and Kent streets) for public use. (Not the case: OSA incorporated in January of 2003. Here’s a jpeg of their paperwork. It lists the founders as follows: Joe Vance, Steve Hindy and Norm Brodsky. For the curious— or incredibly bored— here’s a jpeg of their Registration Statement on file with the State Attorney General’s office. It too dates to January 2003— and lists Joe Vance and Steve Hindy but now Adam Perlmutter is listed as OSA’s Secretary. Fascinating. — Ed. Note.)

Those plans stalled that year when Motiva, the company that owned the site, was reluctant to sell. So, Hindy and the board turned their attention to raising money to maintain McCarren and McGolrick parks and create new open space in North Brooklyn on street ends along the Williamsburg waterfront…

Let’s deconstruct this. You have a lawyer (Perlmutter) who is on record in this article from NY1, dated April 4, 2005:

…But protestors say the incentives come with no guarantees.

It’s not enough to just tinker with this plan, said City Councilman David Yassky. We’ve got to just start over and get a much better plan; one that’s for the neighborhood, not the developers.

So far, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and the local Community Board have voted down the plan, while the City Planning Commission voted last month to approve it. Now it’s moved on to the City Council, and all sides want to be heard.

Without rezoning we will have power plants, transfer stations and industrial uses that will forever close the door for our community to recapture its waterfront, said community activist (and hired representative of Greenpoint Landing LLCwhich would very much like to develop the Greenpoint waterfront*— be sure to watch NY1’s video to hear him say just this— it’s a HOOT!) Adam Perlmutter.

In the clarity that is four years hindsight I suspect most of us agree that David Yassky, Perlmutter, and Markowitz have done little for “the neighborhood”— but plenty for developers. As for Joe Vance, entrusting an architect to be a community advocate in neighborhood facing a radical residential re-zone is sort of like asking the fox to guard the hen house. From the New York City Campaign Finance Board Database:

joevance

And last, but hardly least, Steve Hindy:

HINDY

As you can see Mister Hindy, a resident of south Brooklyn, President of Brooklyn Brewery and “co-founder of OSAnb”, has seen fit to donate $100 to Evan Thies’s campaign. Which brings me to the following (as gleaned from the aforementioned article from the Williamsburg Courier)…

“So far OSA is not on a track yet, said one CB 1 member who wished to remain anonymous. “They’re negotiating contract deals for concerts and that’s not what an open space organization should be doing. This was always my fear as they were setting up the organization.”

Julie Lawrence, a longtime Williamsburg resident and Neighbors Allied for Good Growth organizing committee member, believes that the relationship between OSA and the Parks Department has benefited the city (and businesses, including the Brooklyn Brewery, which are have received or currently have concession rights at the aforementioned events — Ed. Note) more than the community.

“It’s not about raising money for the parks. It’s about raising income for the city,” said Lawrence.

The nonprofit has not released an annual report or formed bylaws, (Not true: Ed. Note. You can read them by clicking here.) despite bringing in donations and revenues of several hundred thousand dollars per year and retaining two full time staff.** According to figures released from OSA board members, the largest contributor to OSA last year was Assemblymember Joseph Lentol (D, Williamsburg), who allocated $50,000 in state funds***

Councilmember David Yassky (Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights), also chipped in $10,000*** and Borough President Marty Markowitz’s office contributed $400,000 through OSA for renovations to Rodney Park.***

In terms of expenditures, the largest expense has been the stage built for the Pool Parties series that OSA co-sponsors with JellyNYC, a music promotion company. Last year, it cost $600,000 to put on shows at McCarren Park Pool, though the state and OSA will split expenses for the summer’s Pool Party series on the East River.****

OSA also pays for the salary of two full-time employees: Executive Director Stephanie Thayer, who makes $80,000 per year, and Julia Morrow, an assistant director as well as contributes to maintenance costs such as the resodding of park ball fields and refilling garbage bags and soap in comfort stations.

“We won’t spend money until receiving input from the community committee”, said Thayer, (BULLSHIT-***– Ed. Note.) who added that they are currently working on their first annual report. “We recorded a long list of complaints at last fall’s OSA general meeting.”

The primary role of the OSA Board is to raise money. Board members are expected to contribute about $3,000 each, making for a total of $35,000 per year, and help host fundraisers, such as a recent soiree held at a Williamsburg apartment tower that netted $1,300 $13,000.

“We’re working to build the board,” said Hindy, who would like to add eight more board members to the current 12. “I think the effectiveness of OSA will depend on the extent that the community supports it.”

What do you mean by “community”, Mister Hindy? The people who actually live here (the last I checked the median income for a family of four in Greenpoint was ~$36,000 a year) or business owners who can outlay $3,000 a year in dues? Methinks the type of “community support” you seek is a plutocracy.

Which brings me back to Brooklyn11211‘s post. He wrote in closing:

Happily, we have other groups that can fill the advocate role – and keep the City (and OSA) honest (NAG).

parksandrecTHUMBFirst off, why should we, as citizens, have to belong to/rely upon a community group to keep our civil servants honest? When I write this I mean no disrespect whatsoever for NAG— they are doing some great stuff. Rather, what I find most curious (and disquieting) is the omission of any mention of Community Board 1 in Brooklyn11211‘s post. Given that one of the writers for this blog is on CB1.

CB1’s members are ostensibly the representatives of this community. As you will notice in the screencap to the left they have a “Parks & Recreation Committee” and Evan Thies (who is running for City Councilman in the 33rd District) is member. I wonder what they have to say about all of this?

I for one would love to know. If anyone from Community Board 1 is reading this and would like to give his (or her) take on the previous please email me at missheather (at) thatgreenpointblog (dot) com. Whatever you tell me will remain anonymous.

Miss Heather

*Per the Village Voice article entitled “Super-sized Williamsburg on the Way” dated April 26, 2005:

“There is no way that you can say that 40-story towers have anything to do with the existing character of the neighborhood,” complained Stephanie Thayer, a member of the North Brooklyn Alliance, which has been battling to scale back the development.

And yet, four years later, she poses next to the developer poised to build a 40 story tower in Greenpoint and the City Councilman who enabled it. Because they gave chump change to make a mural.

**Why isn’t this org. being audited?

***These figures have since been revised. Upward. Check out the Williamsburg Courier for the 411.

****Which brings me to a tale of two dog runs. A donation was made with the expectation it would be shared. It didn’t work out that way. Although once promised— and much discussed—- the money was used for one. If McGolrick can get $13,000 for a new fence why has been McCarren been relegated to getting sloppy seconds from Sternberg? And $500 to be given to volunteers as “thanks” for assembling said fence— which has not, in fact, been assembled. One such volunteer is the Executive Director of OSA’s brother. His qualification(s): taking a welding class.


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