From The New York Shitty Inbox: Monitor Street (de)Construction

January 25, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Jay (who sent me the above item) writes:

These flyers were distributed to all residents on Monitor St between Nassau and Norman. I’m just a renter so only got to hear about the plan from my landlord. There was an all-block meeting a couple of days ago and it sounds like the people who own property on this block are going to fight this all the way to city hall. I can’t imagine why the city would want to go through with this… if 5 feet of sidewalk are added on each side then the sidewalks will be wider than the street!

Here’s the deal: I do not profess to have any knowledge whatsoever about this kind of thing. However, this does strike me as being a wee bit ridiculous. Follows are two more avenues the folks on Monitor Street should consider:

  • Contact  City Councilman Steve Levin’s (who, it should be noted does not live too far away from the block in question) office. This can be done via email at Slevin (at) council (dot) nyc (dot) gov
  • Keep a watchful on the Community Board 1 calendar— both the public meetings and the Transportation Committee meetings (which are also open to the public!).
  • In closing, I would like it to be known that I have dialogued— albeit via email— with Ms. Nieves on a number of occasions. She is not only very dedicated to addressing the manifold number of transportation issues hereabouts but she’s a really nice lady to boot! Do not hesitate to contact her.

    UPDATE, 10:30 a.m.: Jay has been kind enough to provide some visual aids so as to help us understand what is being proposed.

    UPDATE, 11:39 a.m.: Here’s what our Transportation whiz, Karen Nieves, has to say!

    Dear (excised),

    Thank you for your email concerning the Nassau Ave/Monitor Street reconstruction project.  At my last CB#1 Transportation Community Meeting many of your neighbors attended and has shared your concerns.  We are working with Assemblyman Joseph Lentol’s office to get a meeting with NYC Department of Design and Construction(DDC) to go over everyone’s concerns for sometime in February.

    Please understand this Capital Improvement Project has been in planning stages for many years and the Community Board is not in charge of the project.  We are only advisory and try and mitigate the concerns of the community during the process.

    Although the Community Board does support Infrastructure Improvements in our community we do not support lack of outreach in which clearly DDC has not provided in your case.

    Please be assured we will do everything we can to have all your voices heard and try to get a meeting together with the appropriate agencies as soon as possible.

    In the meantime if you have any questions please contact Mr. Shane O’jar (718) 391-2358 at the NYC Department of Design & Construction regarding this project .

    Miss Heather

    New York Shitty Photo Du Jour: Just For Fun

    January 21, 2011 ·
    Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

    If there is one thing working at the junk shop— and interfacing with one customer in particular*— has taught yours truly it is this: when confronted about one’s, um, proclivities don’t be apologetic. Be loud and proud! Which brings me to the above array of items. They can be found in the window of our local novelty store: Just For Fun. After I took the above photograph I heard a familiar voice.


    He said. I turned to my right and sure enough, I knew this person. He is rather active in our community. I have bantered with him on occasion. Without missing a beat I looked him in the eye; pointed at the candy jock strap and said:

    Valentine’s Day is coming.

    His reply was as follows:

    I’m on the Public Safety Committee. I cannot comment.

    Me: As it would happen I am heading to your establishment to buy some juice!

    He seemed both pleased and puzzled by this by this proclamation— but proceeded to enter Just For Fun nonetheless. For what reason(s) is anyone’s guess. God help me but I think I actually made the man blush.

    UPDATE, 5:40 p.m.: I have finally heard back from the Mister about this!

    I think I made him feel dirty.

    I said.

    To wit the Mister replied:

    Now he knows how I feel every day.

    Then I reminded the Mister he is one lucky man— and to buy beer on the way home from work.

    Miss Heather

    P.S.: On a somewhat related note (and after giving Norman Oder’s tome in today’s Times some consideration) I think I have an idea as to how our local community board can raise a little money. I propose they create and sell a “Men & Women of Community Board 1” calendar. Is anyone with me on this?

    *about whom I will write about in the second and final installment of “Stupid Customer Tricks“. I do intend to conclude this tome. I have simply been sidetracked by a fit of downright divine artistic inspiration. More about the latter later. Here it is!

    Quicklink: Powerless In Brooklyn

    This morning I had the pleasure of reading an excellent Op Ed by my colleague, friend and author of the Atlantic Yards Report: Norman Oder. I encourage each and every one of you to give it a read as I found his take on the plight of our local Community Boards spot-on. Here’s a snippet/teaser:

    …Not only are city agencies mostly centered in Manhattan, but community boards, the purported voices on local planning issues, have tiny budgets and only advisory votes, though they serve areas larger than some upstate cities. Some at the charter hearings have suggested that community boards deserve larger budgets and professional planners, with the City Planning Commission giving greater weight to their advisory votes. The charter commission chose not to take a deeper look….

    This is only the tip of the iceberg. I suspect I speak on the behalf of many a north Brooklynite when I opine that the Community Board’s feedback regarding the issuance of liquor licenses should be binding, not advisory. You can read Mr. Oder’s tome by clicking here.

    Miss Heather

    New York Shitty Day Ender: Scott Avenue

    January 5, 2011 ·
    Filed under: 11237, Bushwick, Bushwick Brooklyn, Street Art 

    Taken January 5, 2011.

    Miss Heather

    P.S.: Oh yeah, here’s something else I found of interest on Scott Avenue today. Enjoy!

    To bastardize Tallulah Bankhead*:

    It’s as pure as the driven slush.

    I really like the muffler. It is a nice touch!

    *Who yours truly venerates in a big, big way. FACT: an autographed photo of Ms. Bankhead graces Chez Shitty.

    From The New York Shitty Inbox: Snow Woes On Vandervoort Avenue

    January 3, 2011 ·
    Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

    (Or: The DOT Builds a Snow Fort!)

    Tara on Beadel Street (who forwarded me the above photograph) writes:

    Hi Miss Heather

    I have been reading your blog for years and enjoy it. I live on beadel street and vandervoort ave. I don’t know if you have seen the huge pile of snow the city started dumping last Thursday on vandervoort which has caused a ton of honking and horrible traffic.  It’s now Monday and the ave is still shut down. The city has been loading garbage trucks filled with snow and dumping them in front of key span on vandervoort – the actual street itself for more than 5 days now. Why would the city do this?  Seems very unproductive.  Thought  you could solve this riddle.

    Aside from basic municipal incompetence I honestly do not know what to say. But then again, it was on Vandervoort where I once saw this:

    The above photograph was taken March 10, 2010. A month or so later the DOT saw fit to stick a street cone in it. I can assure you this was truly a vision.

    My advice:

    Update, 5:35 p.m.: unlike a lot of the Snowmageddon posts I have erected over the last week, I have some very good news to report! After receiving Tara’s email— but before I wrote this post— I advised her to contact a number of people. This list included Community Board 1’s Transportation Committee Chair, Karen Nieves. Tara writes:

    I got in touch with Karen and she has been a great help today. We had called 311 on Thursday night as well… She came and took pictures of the snow pile.* I wish I had taken pictures on Thursday when it was a complete nightmare.

    You rock, Karen!

    Miss Heather

    *Here are a couple!

    What were these people thinking?

    Christmas With Q

    (Or: Drinking On Duty)

    Last night a good friend of mine— one who I do not see as often as I’d like to— came over for Christmas dinner. The reason I do not see her much is she is a bartender and as a result keeps “vampire hours”. Nonetheless my friend, who we will call “Q”, usually has a host of work stories to share when we do see each other. Some of them are very funny, some of them are not. Which brings me to the subject of this post: as we supped and were getting caught up the subject of the 94th Precinct arose. I found what she had to recount downright disturbing.

    Q recounted to me numerous occasions when those who ostensibly protect and serve us would drop by her place of employment seeking something to drink. In uniform. On duty. When one such public servant requested a margarita Q felt compelled to point the beverage in question had alcohol in it. To wit he replied:

    A margarita has alcohol in it?

    The last time I checked they do. Or should. In any case I can personally attest that my buddy Q makes ’em strong!

    Another time Q overheard one officer say to another:

    What if (excised— supervisor) smells this on my breath?

    Inasmuch as I understand it this issue was quickly resolved and they proceeded to imbibe. As you can imagine my friend does not feel very comfortable being asked by officers on duty to serve them alcoholic beverages. Can you blame her? After all, we are talking about a group of men and women who have to think on their feet and let us not forget: bear firearms. But as the evening wound down I came away with the distinct impression drinking on duty is a fairly common practice.

    Why don’t they go to the Turkey’s Nest? Everyone knows they’ll give you drinks to go. That’s where the police go.

    Q mused. This is a very good question. Perhaps someone should posit it to our new Commanding Officer?

    Miss Heather

    New York Shitty Day Ender: Live From The Town Hall Meeting Part I

    I just back from the Town Hall meeting organized by Steve Levin and Senator Martin Malave Dilan. I will be uploading footage throughout the evening so check back in! In the meantime, I will leave you with this image (from the Polish Slavic Community Center) to contemplate.

    So slowly— but surely— the footage is uploading!

    Part I: Stephen Levin explains why this Town Hall meeting is being conducted and why neither the DHS nor HELP USA are present. Synopsis: This was intended to be a “community meeting” to form a strategy to fight said homeless shelter. (Curious given NY1 was present replete with a van and reporter.) Mr. Levin also touched upon the “fair share” issue and in so doing mentioned our waste water treatment facility. He stumbled a bit as to how much and whose shit we get. My answer— and mind you, this is a hobby for yours truly: a lot. As to whose poop we process. This following map (which can be found at the Visitor’s Center at the Newtown Creek Waste Water Treatment Facility).

    We get Wall Street’s shit. The Empire State Building (from whose observation deck which our most famous landmark is purported to be seen): their crap, is our crap! We also get the merde and vomitus from the East Village and Lower East Side. Be it from “uppity bohemians”, the “frat folks” they allegedly oppress or otherwise. All I’m saying is much of Santacon 2010 puke’s and piss found its way to my backyard. Simply put: we get a lot of shit.

    • Mr. Levin clarifies what an “assessment center” is. E.g.; homeless men will be bused in or travel here by subway, spend anywhere between two weeks or a month (so as to be “assessed”) before they dispatched elsewhere. As he put it: a big revolving door.
    • Mr. Levin talks about the homeless/unhoused problem here and why HELP USA’s shelter will not help our local homeless problem. In fact, it will exacerbate it.
    • Mr. Levin speaks about a proposal he made to the former head of the Department of Homeless Services regarding our homeless population.

    Part II: Stephen Levin goes into the 3/4 house (as opposed to halfway house— I honestly didn’t know there was a difference) at Clay Street as being problematic in and if itself and continues to explain how the homeless shelter as proposed by HELP USA will not help our unhoused.

    • Levin mentions that he has met with residents of the Greenpoint Hotel/SRO 3/4 house— whatever you want to call it— and they have made it known their living conditions are appalling.
    • Steve Levin takes a hands-up vote as to who is for and who is against this shelter. I refused to film this— but I can attest not a single person present was for it.

    Part III: Miezsko “The Coffee Man” Kalita (who is also the Public Safety Chair of Community Board 1) speaks and gives a recap of how Community Board 1 has tried to initiate a dialogue with HELP USA repeatedly and to no avail.

    Part IV: Levin explains how the building in question, 400 McGuinness Boulevard, falls under the loft law.

    Part V: Rent stabilization is an abomination— or this guy is very confused. I honestly cannot tell which.

    Part VI: I am concluding this post with this clip because what this woman, who hails from Community Board 3— in Bedford Stuyvesant— has to say about their dealings with the Department of Homeless Services is illuminating. We should be very grateful she took the time to share her experience with us. Seriously.

    • Do not fool yourself; what happened in her neighborhood can happen in ours. What’s more, it looks like we will have a rather nasty fight ahead of us.

    The rest the the footage from tonight’s meeting can be found here.

    Miss Heather

    From The New York Shitty Inbox: Disambiguation About “The Petition”

    October 8, 2010 ·
    Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

    A person I call CHAT writes:

    I have found resistance to the petition because people are not sure whether they are signing against it or signing because they want more information.  I don’t have the answer.  I have contacted John Liu’s office and have received a call today from Jorge, who is I believe in charge of public relations.  He has told me that the comptroller only gets the contract after it goes through other agencies, in this case being the Department of Homeless Services.  He claims that they only yay or nay it depending on if it is legal and financially sound.  They are not a liaison for the community in this capacity. He said that while he is happy to answer questions and point people in the right direction to obtain info or to voice their concerns and that as far as his office is concerned this is non-existent because they do not have any contract in their office as of yet.  He suggested that I contact DHS, our councilman, assemblyman, and senator and also attend the community board meeting (while it is not obligatory for HELP USA to attend as they are not a city organization).  I emailed Seth Diamond at the DHS with my questions via this site.

    To disambiguate:

    1. The petition is against the shelter.
    2. The notice I wrote emphasizes the fact HELP USA seems not to be interested in dialoging with our community. A community which has (as many have observed) a homeless problem. To put it country simple: how can a Representative of DHS, Department of Homeless Services, assure us that having a 200 bed homeless intake shelter will not effect our quality of life when even he does not have any specifics about it? How will our homeless problem— which let’s face facts— is quite unique in nature be addressed if HELP USA won’t come to the table and discuss it with they very people who are familiar with it? The answer is: it won’t be.
    3. HELP USA has been asked, no less than three times, to meet with the community where their shelter will located. And while it is HELP USA’s right to refuse, does this foster much faith if/when their shelter graces our community? It doesn’t.

    For the above reasons I would advise anyone who wants an open dialogue with HELP USA (regardless of their stance on the shelter) to make it known! To them, our elected officials and Community Board. On a closing note, here is a notice about said shelter in Spanish. I created this because quite frankly I was very disturbed by the lack of awareness about this shelter in our local Latino community. They, above all others, will be impacted by this shelter more than anyone.

    Miss Heather

    Notes From The Joint Public Safety/Human Services Committee, Part III: Wrapping It Up

    September 29, 2010 ·
    Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

    After much toiling I have managed upload a little more footage. Methinks moving forward I will continue adding have added them to this post* for the sake of simplifying an already nightmarish problem (in other words: check back!). Otherwise, I have also decided to use this post to answer a reader question and air my feelings on this subject. Without further ado, here we go!

    *NEW September 30, 2010* A Clay Street Resident Speaks

    *NEW September 30, 2010* An Old School Greenpointer Speaks— About The Greenpoint Hotel, Mostly

    Note: despite his cantankerous nature I rather liked this guy. If for no reason because he was/is responsible for this. When I asked him about it he told me there was  a woman who constantly let her poodles crap on his flowers.

    *NEW September 30, 2010* George Diaz Speaks

    *NEW September 30, 2010* Jennifer of the Greenpoint Business Association Speaks

    Observation: Jennifer has clearly not read my blog. Or bothered to follow— much less attend— Community Board meetings. Had she done any of the previous she’d know the new owner of the “Hotel” has attended a Human Services Subcommittee meeting, wants help from the police and made it pretty well known he wants to hear from local residents. So it goes.

    *NEW September 30, 2010* A Rebuttal & Rundown of the proposed Shelter’s P’s & Q’s (including a 10:00 p.m. curfew)

    Ann Kansfield of the Greenpoint Reformed Church Speaks

    A Representative from the Department of Homeless Services Responds

    The Subject Of Property Values Arises

    A Representative of Nydia Velazquez Office Speaks

    Community Board 1 Member Esteban Duran Speaks

    Note: I can’t argue with him, save perhaps adding that while New York City’s track record for addressing homelessness might be subject to debate, this administration’s success in creating homelessness is difficult to dispute!

    A Neighbor of the Greenpoint Hotel Speaks & Very Fascinating Diatribe About Bicycle Brake Theft and Cab Vandalism Ensues (among other things)

    Observation: This guy was the only one who seemed to faze the DHS Representative, which, as a friend of mine noted:

    Must have been the Captain of his High School Debate Team.

    The End (Or: My Flipcam runs out of memory but not before Georgie Diaz gets the DHS Representative to assure him that he is wiling to have Mr. Diaz pay him a personal visit lest any issues with this shelter arise)

    Observation: The laughter you hear comes from people who know Mr. Diaz.

    A Reader Question

    As I have previously mentioned I received a question from a reader on Franklin Street resident. She writes:

    Thank you for the information on the homeless shelter and the meeting. I could not attend last night. Do you happen to know if the homeless shelter is a transitional place for recently released male inmates? That would concern me. Or is it a homeless shelter for those needing temporary assistance while finding a home? Did the folks at the meeting talk about who will be living there?

    First up, I am not an expert of such matters— and Monday’s meeting was not exactly illuminating. Here’s what we were told: the proposed shelter is for homeless single men. Aside from a passing mention of some work-fare kind of arrangement, a 10:00 p.m. curfew and providing security nothing else was really said. Would I rule out that there will be ex-convicts in this group? Absolutely not.

    An Op-Ed From Yours Truly

    In closing and despite the fact I have already published the following (albeit via comments), my thoughts on the matter, I want to feature to feature it in a proper blog post— and add a few more observations. Here we go.

    Having given the evening some thought (and I needed some time to think about this because quite frankly I was pretty overwhelmed):

    1. The presentation by DHS really wasn’t a presentation at all. If I may offer some constructive criticism it would have been that DHS give an actual presentation showing people how this process works and then lead into a discussion about the proposed shelter for 400 McGuinness. This would have put everyone on the same page and eliminated a lot of duplicate questions. What’s more, when I have someone tell me (as this rep did) that studies have shown that a homeless shelter will not (or will positively) effect property values (to cite an example) I am more than a little skeptical. Show me the study. They said this shelter will help our local homeless problem. How? Once again: show me.
    2. Where the hell is HELP USA? They have been invited to speak and have declined. Repeatedly. This would indicate to me that they either do not care about the people whose lives will be impacted by this shelter— or that they have something to hide. Sorry, but merely taking our City Councilman on a tour of another shelter (and a women’s shelter at that) is not good enough.
    3. If my memory serves me correctly the reason HELP USA declined to speak is because this RFP is under consideration. Yet, the reason we had the hearing is so people could tender their two cents/concerns about it. How, may I ask, are people able to do that if they do not know the specifics of said proposed shelter? This strikes me as not only being ludicrous, but it will only make people feel more powerless/in the dark (and in the clarity of hindsight I think this was the root of a lot of the anger we saw that night) and facilitate even more speculation.

    The deal is this (and I am going to be brutally honest): I am not happy about 200 homeless men residing a few blocks from my home. I cannot think of many people who would embrace this prospect. While I am very willing to understand some of the people this shelter would serve are probably good people who need a leg up, the fact is others are on (as one attendee put it) on “the fringe of society” for a reason. I am talking about people who have serious problems— and may be prone to violence. I am hardly the kind of person who sees a bogeyman around every corner. I am simply crunching the numbers— and the fact is with 200 men the odds are you are going to have some bad apples. Which brings me to the subject of location…

    Contrary to what the Human Services chair said, this shelter would not be in the middle of a residential community. Its location (in my opinion) is more problematic: it is located in a rather secluded area which straddles both an industrial and residential corridor. As crazy as it may sound, I would feel more comfortable if this proposed shelter were to be located somewhere with more foot traffic/eyes on the street. There are a lot of places someone with nefarious purposes can (for wont of a better term) “hide” in this area. In addition (and I write this as someone who has lived on Clay Street) I too have concerns about its proximity to the Hotel. While I probably take a much more moderate position on this establishment (by virtue of the fact in the early 2000’s it was much worse and I know someone who lives there. Not everyone who lives there is bad.) the fact is there are still problematic tenants there. I live and work close to this hotel. I know who these men are— if not by name— and last weekend I saw one such resident harangue a senior citizen, quite menacingly, on the street. This gentleman was clearly unbalanced. I guess what I am trying to say is I have to wonder exactly how the population of this proposed shelter is going to mix with people such as this gentleman. And mix they will. I see the potential for serious trouble in this respect and I do not find the fact we were given no details whatsoever about what security measures will be put in place at this shelter very reassuring.

    I could go on and on. But I keep coming back to one thing: where’s HELP USA? They alone are in the position to inform our community as to the shelter they have proposed and when asked to do so— repeatedly, I would like to add— they have declined. In other words, my biggest issues are a lack of transparency and a seeming unwillingness to engage the members of the community regarding a project that will undoubtedly impact their quality of life. How can I honestly believe (as was reiterated over and over Monday night) this shelter is going to help serve the local homeless population here if they very entity behind said shelter won’t have a dialogue with the very community where said homeless people are located? The answer is I can’t.

    After the writing the previous I decided to go for a walk. It was a particularly atrocious derelict construction site that it hit me:

    Greenpoint was promised a number of things during the now infamous rezone. Five years later a number— if not most— of these things have yet to happen. Do we have any new park space? For all intents and purposes: NO. Affordable housing? None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. But we do have plenty of Bloomblight and “luxury apartments”! And now we face the prospect of a homeless shelter. Am I the only person who finds this wretchedly comical?

    I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention that this makes me very, VERY angry. Not only should the city keep its promises before it demands anything else from this community, but by effectively enabling HELP USA to (seemingly) evade any semblance of community process/transparency/feedback it is a big slap in the face to the very people— many of whom were present Monday night, I will add— who made this community a place where people like me (and you) want to live in the first place. They— we— deserve better than this.

    Miss Heather

    *Save one. That being what the Chair of Community Board 1, Christopher Olechowski, has to say. You can find that one here. This way all the videos will be in some semblance of chronological order.

    P.S.: Those of you who object to this proposed shelter will probably be interested to know there is a petition in the works. As I understand it, it has just shy of 500 signatures to date and is being collected by Community Board 1. To download a printable version of this petition (for distribution and signing) click here.

    Notes From The Joint Public Safety/Human Services Meeting, Part II: A Little More Footage

    September 28, 2010 ·
    Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

    Synopsis: Our City Councilman, Steve Levin, states that he has “deep reservations” about this shelter. More specifically he makes it clear that he does not think HELP USA’s current proposal will address the Greenpoint homeless problem— and he wants feedback from his constituents. Nonetheless he plans to tour HELP USA’s current shelter in Brooklyn (which, it should be noted, is a womens’ shelter located in Brownsville).

    NEW as of 9/30/2010: The Chairman of Community Board 1, Christopher Olechowski, Speaks. Listen.

    Synopsis: Long time Greenpoint resident (and community advocate) Christine Holowacz tenders her two cents and Chairman Kalita gives a hilariously droll explanation as to how the city applies its “Fair Share” policy to Greenpoint/North Brooklyn. Jane Pool makes a very well reasoned and spot on observation. The Department of Homeless Services representative advises people to call 311 for homeless outreach services. This elicits peals of cynical laughter.

    Synopsis: Human Services Committee Chair Vincent Gangone makes it known that he too has doubts that HELP USA’s proposal will address Greenpoint’s homeless problem and clarifies what homeless services currently do exist north Brooklyn and how they pertain to Community Board 1 (this is useful, so give it a listen!). A Clay Street resident asks exactly what demographic this shelter will serve. When the DHS representative says “single men” the audience collectively shits bricks.

    More (hopefully) to come. Suffice it to say uploading this footage is proving to be an arduous process!

    Miss Heather

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