TOMORROW: OSA Town Hall Meeting

October 19, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11211, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn 

Although I have made mention of this already, I want to remind everyone— be they “pro-concert” series or otherwise— that tomorrow is the much-anticipated town hall meeting regarding the relocation of the Open Space Alliance concert series to 50 Kent Avenue (as seen above). Show up and speak your mind, Greenburgers!

OSA Town Hall Meeting Regarding “The Concerts”
October 20th starting at 6:30 p.m.
Swinging Sixties Seniors Center
211 Ainslie Street
Brooklyn, New York 11211

New York Shitty Day Ender: Live From Community Board 1

All in all it was a pretty dull evening at the Swinging 60’s Senior’s Center tonight. However, I did film OSA’s announcement regarding the concerts. Simply put, moving forward these will be located at 50 Kent Avenue (which is city-owned property) and they have scheduled a “town hall” meeting where concerned neighbors can voice their concerns; offer criticism (be it constructive or otherwise) and advice. Watch for yourself!

Nonetheless, very salient concerns were raised at the end of the meeting during the “public speaking” session:

New York Shitty analysis:

  1. On the surface 50 Kent Avenue may prove— at least financially— to be a better venue for the Open Space Alliance to conduct these concerts. It is city-owned property and as such they do not have to split the profits with East River State Park.
  2. This year’s concerts, per Ms. Thayer, netted an estimated $250,000. Mind you, this is before costs have been factored in and without taking into account that East River State Park gets half the take. So let’s say, optimistically, $250,000 was raised and there are no costs. This only leaves $125,000— a pittance as far as institutional funds are concerned— to ostensibly improve parks in the entirety of Community Board 1. What’s the point?
  3. Unless better crowd control and sensitivity to/coordination with public transportation— namely service suspensions by the MTA and perhaps special ferry service to and from Manhattan— are explored by OSA I honestly do not see things changing other than who will be doing the complaining. The “problem” has simply been moved.
  4. Does filming the aftermath of OSA’s “Widespread Panic” concert merit death threats? Really?

OSA Town Hall Meeting Regarding “The Concerts”
October 20th starting at 6:30 p.m.
Swinging Sixties Seniors Center
211 Ainslie Street
Brooklyn, New York 11211

TOMORROW: Community Board 1 Combined Public Hearing & Board Meeting

Among the manifold number of provocative items on the agenda for tomorrow’s meeting is a presentation by the Open Space Alliance’s Executive Director (and New York City Parks Czar Supervisor for all parks located in Community Board 1— don’t forget that our tax dollars are largely footing the bill for her salary, folks!*): Stephanie Thayer. Which hat will she wear tomorrow? Why not show up and find out! My advice is as follows: B.Y.O.N.O. Bring Your Own Nitrous Oxide!

Community Board 1 Combined Public Hearing & Board Meeting
October 5, 2011 starting at 6:30 p.m.
NOTE: You must sign-up to speak by 6:15 p.m.!
Swinging 60’s Seniors Center
211 Ainslie Street
Brooklyn, New York 11211

*Here’s the arrangement per an anonymous tipster:

hmmm…not that i really care, but that’s not entirely accurate.  she is paid 50% directly by the city, then OSA sends 50% to the city out of their operating funds and the city pays her with that money.  OSA does not get any city money.  Annual Report is coming out Oct 10th so you can check it all out there.

From The New York Shitty Inbox: Saturday Night

September 19, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11211, Criminal Activity, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn 

A woman (who shot the above footage) we’ll call “S” writes:

This is just a heads up to you guys because I am going to write a full report on the lawless nightmare that erupted on my street after Saturday night’s OSA concert. I am going to cc everyone from our community meetings, all of OSA, Lentol’s office, to Schumer’s office, the mayor’s office, the police community affairs officers, and the media. I am going to blast OSA for creating this situation which represents only a fraction of what we have been going through for the last 3 years. So keep your eyes open later for my full email.

There was not ONE SINGLE COP to be seen anywhere. Before I picked up my camera I called 911 but no one came. I had to run in my socks down to the lone cop who was directing the chaotic traffic to please send help because a huge mob had grown around the nitrous oxide balloon sellers. It was total mayhem. Inexplicably firemen were sent to clear the mob. It was a horror show and I was afraid for my safety while filming…

All I can say is… WOW! When I get a full account of what happened I will add it here. Incredible… Here you go!

Post-East River concert drug nightmare erupts on North 7th Street, 9/17/11

This is an open letter to the Open Space Alliance, the residents of Williamsburg, our elected officials and the press.

On Saturday night, September 17, 2011 between approximately 9:40 PM and 10:20 PM the following events took place on North 7th Street off the corner of Kent Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn after the crowds let out of the concert produced by the Open Space Alliance / OSA, which was held in the East River State Park.

A lawless drug nightmare erupted on my street after Saturday night’s OSA concert featuring the band called ‘Widespread Panic.’

At about 9:40 PM the noise from the concert in the East River State Park had finally ended.  So I was about to try to get some video editing work done on my computer when my attention was drawn to loud popping sounds, sounds of gas rushing and the roar of large crowd outside on the street.  When I looked out my front window I was horrified to see a huge mob collecting.  A group of nitrous oxide balloon sellers had assembled next to a dumpster across the street.  Hundreds of people, if not more, were gathering up and down the block buying balloons filled with the gas and inhaling them.  Concert-goers already drunk from the East River State Park were becoming even more highly intoxicated from the nitrous oxide.  They were wandering around like zombies holding fists full of balloons.

There was not ONE SINGLE COP to be seen anywhere.  I called 911 and explained what was taking place.  The 911 operator was having difficulty understand the situation so I gave him the location and pleaded, ‘Just send the police now.  We need help here!’, and hung up.  Then I grabbed my camera and stepped out on my stoop.  It was a horror show.  Afraid for my safety while filming on my stoop, I used my heel to keep the door open behind me just in case I had to escape.  In one of the last clips you can see a couple of men coming toward me in a menacing way.

I shot the first video of the scene unfolding on my street– seen here.

At the end of that clip I kept rolling as I headed down to the corner to try to find a cop.

There are nine videos which can be seen here.

Desperate to find help, I ran without shoes down to the lone cop who was directing the very chaotic street and pedestrian traffic on Kent Avenue and N. 7th Street.  I pleaded with him to send help because a huge mob had grown around the nitrous oxide balloon sellers.  He had no idea what was going on.  It was dark he couldn’t see up the block, it was noisy and he clearly had too much to deal with on his own.  After pleading further, he finally seemed to get that I was serious.  He said that he would and gave me the impression that he would call for help.  But no one came.  The mayhem went on unabated for nearly half an hour.  No police came.  Not one.  Inexplicably, after about 20 minutes firemen were sent to clear the mob.

Many concerned members of the community have attended months of tedious and fruitless community meetings with Stephanie Thayer, Executive Director of the Open Space Alliance and other people from that organization. They claim they want to try to fix the problems with these concerts.  Time after time they offer the most minor of concessions and it never makes a difference.  But, there is no ‘fix’.  The truth is that OSA’s concerts do not belong here and they have abused us long enough.  These concerts have proven to be completely unmanageable in terms of community quality of life impact—the noise, disturbance, crowds, garbage, crime and so on.  I speak for many when I say that we are sick and tired of our legitimate concerns constantly being downplayed and marginalized again and again.  OSA is completely responsible for this horror show.  But now they can no longer sweep it under the rug.  These videos represent only a fraction of what we have been going through for the last 3 years.  No one petitioned OSA to bring stadium-sized outdoor events to our area.  All of this is forced upon us.

I have lived in NYC my entire life in some of the worst drug neighborhoods; the Lower East Side in the 60s, Spanish Harlem in the 70s and the Southside of Williamsburg in the 80s and I have never seen anything like this before.   And that is saying a lot.

Worse still, is the fact that the band playing that night, ‘Widespread Panic,’ is known for its followers who are heavily into nitrous oxide. So much so that their official website’s FAQ section contains a specific warning about nitrous oxide.  Seen here.

I invite and encourage you all to please look carefully at each and every one of the videos to see for yourselves what happened.  And remember, it was 100 times worse to experience in person.

Thank you for your time.


UPDATE, September 20, 2011:
Apparently the band featured on the evening in question was (amusingly enough)  “Widespread Panic”. Curiously enough, it would appear that the sale/use of nitrous oxide at Widespread Panic’s concerts has been an issue before. Why else— may I ask— would they have a caveat about this on their website’s FAQ page?

Live From The Parks & Waterfront Committee Meeting

As I have intimated last night’s proceedings were rather contentious. Don’t take my word for it: seeing (and hearing) is believing. Enjoy!

Video 1: Dewey Thompson, Community Board 1 member, member of the Parks and Waterfront Committee kicks off the proceedings by explaining what OSA (of which, it should be noted, he is a board member and whose Executive Director also happens to be Community Board 1’s Parks Supervisor) does for north Brooklyn’s Park.

  • OSA is a conservancy not unlike Central Park or Prospect Park.
  • Mr. Thompson notes that concert/concession sales (as a result of this conservancy) will go exclusively to parks under OSA’s supervision. In other words: not into the general fund for all the city’s parks.
  • Mr. Thompson points out how OSA saved East River State Park from closing this winter.
  • Mr. Thompson notes that OSA got $330,300 in net profits (benefiting our parks) from the shows conducted last year at East River State Park. $200,000 of which went to East River State Park. That leaves $130,000 for all the parks in Community Board 1. Or as Mr. Thompson states “In Greenpoint and Williamsburg.” Make a note of this.
  • Per Mr. Thompson these concerts are delivering (and I quote) “Major value back to the community”.
  • Chairman Caponegro kicks off the Q & A session.
  • Facts: OSA employs 35-40 security people plus New York’s Finest versus 1,000 attendees.
  • Adam Perlmutter states in the interest of inclusiveness (my term) that there will be family-oriented entertainment and a “Latino show”. Among other things.

Video 2: Community Board Member (and Parks Subcommittee) Katie Naplatarski asks for some clarifications regarding weekend shows.

  • Ms. Thayer says there will be no Saturday or Sunday shows in July or August. Fridays are open.
  • A citizen speaks/complains. If she wanted to attend an East River State Park concert she can hear it from her building.
  • Ms. Thayer states it is not intent to upset the neighbors and mentions that she will be working with Officer Adamo (of the 94th Precinct) to have better policing after these concerts.
  • Another citizen notes the impact these concerts have with her neighbors and states that fifteen concerts in one summer are too many. She also notes what happened at her building when a storm hit and a mass exodus of people attempted to flood her building.
  • Yet another citizen speaks. She is VERY unhappy and likens the noise to an “x-ray” which permeates everything around her. (This is really worth watching.)
  • Caponegro speaks. Among other things he notes that OSA (or would that be 311? Or lack of complaints given to Community Board 1? This was a little unclear.) makes it seem like “no one complains”. The audience begs to differ.

Video 3: A lady named Sara asks “Why are we privatizing a park?”

  • Sara gives quick primer as to the provenance of East River State Park and reminds the representatives of OSA that East River State Park (at 7 acres) is not Central Park. Or Prospect Park. In other words: it does not have the space needed to host an event without displacing fellow park-goers.
  • Sara inquires as to how how much money OSA gives to East River State Park.
  • Sara points out the obvious: most people in north Brooklyn do not have a private backyard to enjoy. When they want to experience the outdoors it is done at our public’s parks. By closing off/monetizing East River State Park the Open Space Alliance is, in fact, denying a great many people access to open space.
  • A long-term Williamsburg resident makes it known that it was people such as himself who made north Brooklyn a desirable place to live. (This is VERY compelling stuff so do give it a listen. I cannot even begin to give it justice.)

Video 4: Del Teague, Community Board Member 1 Speaks

  • The most compelling part of this video (if you ask me) is when Ms. Teague points out that the owner of the Edge— who is apparently a supporter of OSA’s concerts— refused to allow distribution of fliers announcing this meeting.
  • Ms. Teague concurs that East River State Park is not appropriate venue for events of this scope.
  • Concerns about how neighboring properties— including affordable housing— will be impacted are raised.
  • These concerts/influx of concert goers are likened to an “invasion”.
  • Praise is given to Summer Starz and questions are raised as to when it will be scheduled this year. Apparently the organizers have been told Thursday evenings are not available.
  • Ms. Thayer replies that OSA is not done scheduling concerts (hence why East River State Park is not making Thursday evening available) and recommends that the weekends— or McGolrick Park— be used for this film series.
  • It is observed that the concerts are getting priority.
  • The specter of the Brooklyn Night Bazaar arises.
  • A recommendation is made that these concerts be conducted in the South Bronx. (What did they ever do to us? — Ed. Note)

Video 5: The Owner of Artists & Fleas Speaks

  • The owner of Artist and Fleas notes the absence of local business owners present and extols upon the benefits these concerts bring to local business.
  • A citizen presents an invoice showing the damage done to her car by a drunk driver who attended one of these concerts.
  • A woman opines that Brooklyn Brewery’s owner, Steve Hindy, benefits from these concerts— not the residents of said community.
  • It is intimated that Mr. Hindy has undue influence over our community.
  • Civil disobedience and a protest are suggested

Video 6: Steve Hindy Speaks

  • Mr. Hindy mentions his involvement with the Prospect Park Alliance and asserts neither he nor Brooklyn Brewery benefited from this relationship.
  • Mr. Hindy states a needs for fundraising for New York City’s parks.
  • Open Space Alliance is based upon the model of the Prospect Park Alliance.
  • Mr. Hindy gives a history of beer concessions at concerts. Both Brooklyn Brewery and Anheuser-Busch gave $50,000 upfront and all profits from beer sales were donated to Open Space Alliance.
  • Mr. Hindy gives a break-down of concert revenue: these netted $400,000 last year. $200,000 went to East River State park for upkeep and maintenance. $200,000 went to Open Space Alliance for operating costs including Ms. Thayer’s salary (which as of several years ago was ~$80,000 lest any of you are wondering. — Ed. Note.).
  • Mr. Hindy notes that if it was not for OSA’s efforts East River State Park would have been closed last winter.
  • Mr. Hindy tells the attendees present that if they “do not want us” he understands. An audience member replies “We want less of you.”
  • Ms. Thayer gives some additional details as to how revenue was tendered and spent at East River State Park. The parks of Greenpoint and Williamsburg get the remaining $130,000.
  • The amount of space these concerts take up— including pot-o-potties— and mentioned and a request for an annual report from OSA is made.
  • A Kent Avenue resident inquires what measures are being taken to mitigate the impact these concerts make on the surrounding community. Noise and garbage are specifically mentioned.

Video 7: A Northside resident speaks of public intoxication and urination.

  • A visual demonstration of the aforementioned behavior is given.
  • Another call is made as to what measure will be taken to mitigate the impact on the surrounding community. Chairman Caponegro notes that this question has been asked “all night”.
  • Adam Perlmutter of Open Space Alliance and OSA Presents states that he is glad this meeting is being conducted. (Somehow the rest of this footage has gone MIA. I will endeavor to find it. — Ed. Note)

Video 8: A Northside resident queries Ms. Thayer about his block being cordoned off.

  • He cites having problems parking on his block (Wythe Avenue at North 8 Street).
  • 94th Precinct Community Liaison answers this chap’s query. He states the block should not be barricaded unless a concert of letting out.
  • Ms. Thayer states that Wythe Avenue is open. This chap begs to differ.
  • The NAS concert was brought up. A woman states she saw a melee involving 30 people at North 9 Street afterward. She alleges the police ran away.
  • The need for more police presence is mentioned.
  • The question is raised as to how much money OSA spends on police patrols.
  • Mr. Adamo states that he does not have this information.
  • The question is raised as to who pays for this added police presence.

And then my memory— and wherewithal— ran out. Here’s what followed (not necessarily in chronological order):

  • A representative from Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz’s office spoke. Among other things she said he was a fan of musical events. She was shouted down.
  • Questions were raised— and not answered— regarding exactly how much money OSA/the Parks Department spend on police presence for these events (Once again: as opposed to the money raised and distributed so as to benefit our public parks. The more observant among you might have noticed even members of OSA cannot seem to be in agreement upon exactly what this figure is.).
  • Julie Lawrence, a member of Community Board 1 (and member of the Public Safety Committee) spoke. She implored for more transparency on the part of OSA.
  • Lincoln Restler spoke.
  • Chairman Caponegro made it clear that Community Board 1’s opinion is only advisory.
  • I left.

But onward it went. Here’s what one hanger-on had to say:

the committee meet with stephanie (Thayer — Ed. Note) & adam (Perlmutter — Ed. Note) sitting in …  katie (Naplatarski — Ed. Note)  looked like a force with being sure the community’s voice was heard … the resolution which aaron (Short — Ed. Note) will write up can’t really apply to this year … interestingly the committee chair did ask dewey (Thompson — Ed. Note) about him wearing many hats … don’t remember how he phrased … well put … i asked how someone could be on the task force and all you got to do is ask … from what i gather the main task is to hold osa accountable … it was a GREAT meeting … can’t wait for public safety …

New York Shitty Analysis/Commentary/Observations:

Since Community Board 1 does not have the power to place a ban on waterfront concerts at East River State Park I am not going to belabor the manner. What’s more, what transpired at last night’s meeting was not really about concerts at all. Rather, it is the growing pains of a community in transition. The battle ground (so to speak) in this case were our public parks (and to whom they belong). The answer is simple: all of us.

Inasmuch as the folks of OSA would fancy themselves as being inclusive the fact of the matter is they are not. Their events are of very limited appeal to the older, long-term — and yes— diverse residents of North Brooklyn. If they (Open Space Alliance) were forthright about who their target demographic is (20 – 30 something, younger, newer residents) at least they would have been honest and everyone— like it or not— would be on the “same page”. But this is not the case. In this respect I find touting one “Latino show” as an overture to be disingenuous at best.

Above all, I came away from last night’s meeting reminded of the serious (and depressing) disconnect there is between OSA and the older residents of the community. The latter made their grievances (like the delivery or not) and questions quite clear. In return OSA did not provide answers. Rather, they kept re-stating the same facts (and in the case of actual money raised/distributed were somewhat contradictory) and stuck to the same sales pitch. This was— and is— in no way conducive to a productive dialogue with the community OSA purports to serve. Sadly, this does seem to be their modus operandi. I am of the distinct opinion it is just this pattern of behavior which made this meeting of the minds necessary in the first place.

Here’s the deal: north Brooklyn’s public spaces belong to just that: the public. No one organization— especially those ostensibly raising money for park space and advocating on the public’s behalf* — is more important than any another other group of citizens. But it would seem that OSA is getting preferential treatment.

The chap in that third video (John Ricco, owner of Grandma Rose’s) is right: it is people such as him who have made Greenpoint and Williamsburg a place where people like them— and myself— want to live. These concerts would not be happening if this neighborhood had not been shaped by people like him. For this reason he and people like him have my utmost respect and admiration. In fact, I consider myself honored to be their neighbor. It would be nice if Open Space Alliance would follow suit. If I had to recommend a first step I would say some empathy, transparency, solid answers and yes, respect— not sales pitches— on their part would be a good start.

Miss Heather

*and in my opinion concerts are an incredibly poor way to raise money: $130,000 or even $200,000 spread over the entirety of north Brooklyn’s parks is a pittance.

New York Shitty Day Ender: From The Parks & Waterfront Subcommittee Meeting

As the above missives would indicate it was— and I am told still is— a very lively evening at the Swinging 60’s Seniors Center tonight. I did not stay for the whole affair (Sorry folks, but two hours of shouting and Ms. Thayer seemingly being unable to comprehend what nuance of the “discussion” was* is enough for yours truly. At least on six hours of sleep.) However, I did shoot footage of the first “half” and you can look forward to seeing it here, so check back!

In the meantime, here are a few teasers from before the meeting.

They were just getting warmed up, folks!

Miss Heather

*READ: Quality of life issues arising as a result of these concerts and questions about what the costs of said concerts are versus their benefits. Ms, Thayer seemed to have some problems comprehending this and extolled upon the manifold ways OSA contributes to the betterment of parks in north Brooklyn. Community Board 1 Parks Chair Camponegro put it best when he said:

She’s doing her OSA spiel again.

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