Spotted At 80 West Street: Sidewalk

SIDEWALK

Ever had one of those moments when you say to yourself:

Wait, something has changed here?

Well this afternoon on Greenpoint Avenue I had just such a moment.

hole

Then it hit me:

more

(80 West Street, April 12, 2012)

There is sidewalk here and I am walking on it!

I cannot tell a lie: it was a wonderful feeling! I am not 100% certain what brought about this most fortuitous event (which came to pass last week)— but I have a creeping suspicion who had a hand in it. Thus I am closing this post with a shout-out to members of our local Community Board (you know who you are) and Assemblyman Joe Lentol. Thanks!

TOMORROW: Community Forum Regarding The “Respite Center”

January 23, 2013 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

The one thing that irks me about this weather is not that the fact it is really fucking cold. It is. Rather, it is how it makes my digital camera go completely nuts. Nonetheless, I have managed piece together the announcement for tomorrow night’s “community meeting” (as spied on the gates of the Greenpoint Reformed Church):

January 7, 2013

Dear Neighbors,

I want to take this opportunity to apologize for the way in which information regarding the respite bed program at the Greenpoint Reformed Church was handled. It was not our intent to deceive or mislead you, or to not take your feelings or concerns into consideration. We want to be a good neighbor, and we recognize that what we do has an impact on those who live nearby.

Initial concern regarding the 10-bed program at the church was voiced to Assemblyman Lentol and Councilman Levin, and so they, along with the church, are sponsoring a community forum at 7pm on January 24, 2013 at the church – 136 Milton St. This will allow everyone an opportunity to communicate with one another regarding this situation.

Before Christmas, you may have received a letter that appeared to come from me. Whoever sent the letter excerpted some of what I had written on the church’s website, so it sounded like something I had sent, when in fact I had not. The letter included some factual information, but also some falsehoods.

To clarify, we are providing space for a 10-bed respite shelter program for Greenpoint’s local homeless population that is funded by the City and operated by Common Ground, a non-profit that specializes in working with homeless individuals. Before this program began, these men would sleep in American Playground, on Greenpoint Ave., or in McCarren Park. The program houses the same men each night, and they receive comprehensive case management through Common Ground.

The program operates from 9pm to 6am. To limit congregating along Milton Street, the men meet on the steps of St. Anthony’s at 9pm and are escorted down the block to the church. In the morning, they are escorted off the block. Two professional housing managers are with the men at all times and the men do not leave the church property during the night.

The city has allocated $100,000 for the whole program, the bulk of which goes to pay for two full-time employees being present with the men at all times. The city is only reimbursing the church for building-related costs to host the program. This amounts to 44% of utilities and some small expenses related to hiring someone to clean each day. This is no “windfall” for us.

We did not ask to house this program. For years, Father Czok allowed homeless men to sleep in the basement of St. Anthony’s at the top of Milton St. Upon Rev. Czok’s retirement, this option ceased to be available. The Church of the Ascension was going to host this program, but at the beginning of the fall they entered into a contract with a developer on their parish hall, which caused them to have to back out from hosting the program.

We recognize that our hunger program impacts the street. When it began, we could not have anticipated the number of people in need of food. Over the years, we have tried to learn from mistakes and to adapt in ways that lower the impact this has on your quality of life. Because of some of the concerns we have heard, we are making the following changes:

  • We will not receive large shipments of vegetables from City Harvest unless we are able to process and distribute them in less than 8 hours.
  • We are working with the Food Bank to ensure that our weekly delivery does not arrive before 9am. This may take several weeks to implement, but we are working on it.
  • To keep the line for the pantry as short as possible, we are going to try distributing food as quietly as possible earlier in the day. We do not know if this will work, but we will try it.
  • During the times when people come to the church for food, we will have someone walk the block to ensure that no one lingers or relieves him or herself.
  • We have asked all meetings that use the church not to congregate in front of the church and to enter and leave quietly.

I look forward to meeting with you on Jan. 24. If you see me on the block, feel free to talk with me. You can call me at 718-383-5941 or email ann@greenpointchurch.org. Like many of you, we are currently experiencing issues with our phone and email service thanks to Verizon. But I will do my best to respond to you as soon as possible.

Sincerely yours,

Ann Kansfield
Co-Pastor

Speaking as someone who has lived in this community for 13 years:

  • and has seen these men, our “local” (READ: Polish) homeless perhaps not literally, but figuratively— as long as I can remember
  • has read way too many stories about our “local” homeless dying of hypothermia or being beaten almost to death for simply being “homeless”

Let’s just say I have some very strong feelings about this endeavor. Let the voice of reason— not politics— prevail Greenpointers! Show up and speak up.

Community Forum Regarding the Respite Center
January 24, 2013 starting at 7:00 p.m.
Greenpoint Reformed Church
136 Milton Street
Brooklyn, New York 11222

REMINDER: Transportation & Traffic Town Hall Meeting Tonight!

November 19, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

This is a quick reminder that this evening our City Councilman, Steve Levin, along with a number of elected officials, the 94th Precinct and Department of Transportation will be conducting a Town Hall meeting regarding the manifold number traffic “issues” which concern our community. Show up and speak up, Greenpointers!

Greenpoint Transportation & Traffic Town Hall Meeting
November 19, 2012 starting at 6:30 p.m.
Polish & Slavic Center
176 Java Street
Brooklyn, New York 11222 

Mark Your Calendars: Transportation & Traffic Town Hall Meeting

That’s right folks: next week a host of our elected officials along with the Department of Transportation and our very own 94th Precinct will be conducting a transportation town hall meeting right here in Greenpoint. As you can see, our very own Boulevard of Death has received top billing on this rather intriguing agenda. Mark your calendars, be there and have your say Garden Spotters!

Greenpoint Transportation & Traffic Town Hall Meeting
November 19, 2012 starting at 6:30 p.m.
Polish & Slavic Center
176 Java Street
Brooklyn, New York 11222 

From The New York Shitty Inbox: Endorsed!

That’s right folks: our Assemblyman Joe Lentol has come forward to endorse Lincoln Restler! Those of you who have the opportunity to do so (and given this is last minute, I suspect there will not be many) should swing by Jerzy Popieluszko Square today thank Mr. Lentol for doing the right thing— and of course show Mr. Restler your support!

Rally For Lincoln Restler
Today, September 6, 2012 at 12:30
Jerzy Popieluszko Square 
Brooklyn, New York 11222 

Quicklink: Registration Cards?

July 26, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11211, 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Officials from the City Council, the State Assembly, the NYPD, the Brooklyn DA’s office, and the lifeguards’ union joined community leaders at the McCarren Park Pool last night for an under the radar meeting concerning the violent incidents that have marred the $50 million facility’s grand reopening. A well-placed source tells A Walk in the Park that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Assemblyman Joe Lento(l), and Councilmember Steve Levin convened the meeting, during which a proposal was floated to require registration cards for all those who would use the pool… (You can view this article in its entirety by clicking here.)

I wouldn’t exactly call this meeting “under the radar”. I got a tip about it the evening of the 24th. After doing some asking around (and not getting any answers) I decided to email the 94th Precinct yesterday morning.

I never received an answer. Hey, I understand the police have a lot on their plate— but wouldn’t a little transparency on the behalf of our elected officials and public servants be nice? This is a public matter and such a forum should have been, well, public.

UPDATE, 7:17 p.m.: Apparently our Community Board 1 Public Safety Chair was present— among others. Mr. Burrows (chair of said committee) writes:

There was a meeting that started with Steve Levin and Joe Lentol chairing and then Chris Quinn arrived. The sign in sheets were from the Speakers office. The Community Board was represented by the Chair (Chris Olechowski who, it should be noted, is running against Lincoln Restler for 50th Assembly District Democratic Leader), the District Manager (Gerry Esposito) and the Chairs of the Parks (Phil Caponegro) and Public Safety Committees.

Apparently the 50th Assembly District Democratic Female leader, Linda Minucci, was present as well. Notably absent were representatives of OSA (Open Space Alliance), the pool administrator and our Parks Administrator, Stephanie Thayer. The latter was apparently fired from OSA last week. OSA, as well as the Parks Department, are in no hurry to announce this. Perhaps this is because the previous’s contract with the latter expires this fall? Hmm…

From The New York Shitty Inbox: On The Subject Of Greenpoint Parks

June 28, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

In the last 24— no, make that 12 hours— I have received not one, not two, but five Parks-related inquiries. For the sake of simplicity I am consolidating them in this post. Without further ado, here we go!

A chap we’ll call “C” writes:

hey heather
who’s responsible for the park at the end of manhattan ave? they haven’t emptied the trash in a while and it’s getting messy up there

I hear the pool is awesome! have you been?

Before I proceed to my answer I would like to share what I saw with my own eyes today at this precious piece of public space in north ‘Point.

Among the assorted rubbish you just saw, gentle readers, were:

  • A “weewee” pad (used)
  • Fireworks (which are illegal in New York City)
  • Empty beer and liquor bottles (alcohol consumption is prohibited in our public spaces)
  • A great many fast food/take out containers

The lattermost I suspect are the reason rats have been spotted here recently. (NOTE: C is not the only person who has complained to me about the filthy conditions at this park.). They, as well as their winged comrades (pigeons) and raccoons (which do inhabit the area) LOVE this stuff! The previous having been written:

I have yet to make it to the pool, C— although I have heard it is rather nice. What’s more, it is interesting that you bring the subject up. You see, our Parks Supervisor has allocated a great deal of her attention and manpower towards the opening of the McCarren Park Pool. In fact, one person counted around thirty Parks employees sprucing up the area in anticipation of our fair Mayor’s visit today. Not being terribly adept at multitasking, our Parks Supervisor seems to have overlooked/forgotten about the Manhattan Avenue Kayak Launch (This its proper name, so please take note. This will come in handy shortly.).

How do I bring this matter to the attention of the proper authorities?

you ask? Well, this is where it gets interesting! You see, “C”, north Brooklyn has been graced with a very special public private partnership. As a result, our Parks Supervisor (a New York City employee) is also the Executive Director of our local Parks Conservancy/watchdog group: Open Space Alliance North Brooklyn. This strikes yours truly as being tantamount to entrusting the fox to guard the hen house but a number of people find this not only arrangement acceptable, but desirable. But I digress.

What you need to do first is call 311 and complain! At the end of the call you will be assigned a complaint number. Write this down. Last step: write an email outlining the nature of the complaint, with the complaint number you were issued by 311 and send it to:

Stephanie Thayer, Administrator for North Brooklyn Parks – NYC Dept. of Parks & Recreation/Executive Director – Open Space Alliance for North Brooklyn (OSA):  Stephanie.Thayer@parks.nyc.gov

NOTE: While Ms. Thayer supervises all parks located in Community Board 1, Community Board 1 will NOT field complaints about our parks. They will simply forward them to Open Space Alliance North Brooklyn (of which, as you will recall, Ms. Thayer is also the Executive Director). With that option off the proverbial tables, here are a few folks you should copy on the aforementioned email:

Kevin Jeffrey, NYC Brooklyn Parks Borough Commissioner: Kevin.Jeffrey@parks.nyc.gov
Steve Levin, City Councilman 34th District: slevin@council.nyc.gov

And last— but hardly least— Assemblyman Joe Lentol (whose constituent services are TOPS)! Mr. Lentol has a handy online contact form which can be accessed here.

TIP: Be sure to emphasize the Kayak Launch’s present conditions are conducive to harboring vermin and that criminal activity is being practiced/has come to pass there. It has been my observation these things tend to get attention. NEXT QUESTION!

A person we’ll call “A” writes:

howdy heather. hope you are enjoying this lovely summer. i am emailing to see if you happen to have the lowdown on transmitter park. i am curious as to when it opens.

I have been asked this (excellent) question by three people. Per someone in the know, I have learned that while the pier will not be ready until this fall, the plan is to open the park  in June or July (so eager Greenpointers can legally enjoy it). Obviously this has yet to happen. My advice, send an email to above-listed civil servants and elected officials and demand an answer!

I hope this post has been helpful and informative, A and C. Please keep me updated on what happens!

Reader Contribution Du Jour: Saturday At The Park

Stefano Giovannini, who took the above photograph yesterday afternoon, writes:

someone should do something about this… these are the porta potties near the track at McCarren Park. i could not believe. i’d rather pee in the bushes

And, as he later noticed, one parks patron elected to do just that…

This is inexcusable folks. Really.

P.S.: While I am on the subject of north Brooklyn’s crappers it is with sincere displeasure that I note that the Jamie Campiz Playground “ladybug”(which some of you might recall is part of my “No Toilet Left Behind Project”)  isn’t faring very well…

Upon closer examination I noticed the hinge is not broken.

Rather the nut had come loose and instead of, say, simply placing it back it was thrown away.

To be continued…

New York Shitty Day Starter: Live From The Polish National Home…

The Public Meeting Regarding The Newtown Creek Superfund Site

To preface: My footage/documentation of this hearing is truncated because;

  1. I left the battery for my digital camera at home. (Hey, occasionally shit happens at Chez Shitty!)
  2. This meeting, which was scheduled to last two hours, ended up being more or less redundant. E.g.; More or less the same complaints/concerns were raised followed by more or less the same answers. (Thus, I feel a lot less guilty for forgetting my battery.)

Nonetheless, I got the presentation in its entirety along with a few questions from the audience (which, it should be noted, became much more substantial after the conflicting meeting regarding the Nassau Avenue Reconstruction meeting was dismissed). Without further ado, here we go!

Parts I – VI: Introduction & Presentation

Part VII: The Q & A Session Kicks Off

Part VIII: Laura Hofmann Speaks

Part IX: A Bone Fide Old School Greenpointer (and all-around Garden Spot/environmental badass) Irene Klementowicz Tenders Her Two Cents

Part X: A Resident Of Oak Street Speaks

It was at this point I— and my electronics— gave up. However, I did take notes. Here they are (in no particular order):

1. It was asked by one citizen if they (being the Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Protection) have considered posting notices at local fishing supply shops. They stated they were not aware of any. To wit, he replied:

There’s one two blocks from here.

This was met with surprise by the panel of experts present.

2. It was asked if there are any grants available (via the Department of Health) which would enable community groups to conduct a more comprehensive/focused study. The answer was (essentially) “not that we know of”.

3. It was pointed out by a member of the audience— at the Polish National Home (AKA: The Warsaw)— that little to no outreach has been made by either the Department of Health or the Department of Environmental Protection to the Polish community in Greenpoint, viz a viz, through its local Polish language newspapers. It was agreed by the officials present that this was a sterling idea and solicited information as to whom they could contact. Yours truly helped with this endeavor by giving them the contact information for a reporter at this newspaper.

4. Kate Zidar, Executive Director of the Newtown Creek Alliance, reiterated that these meetings are “repetitive” and advised the civil servants hosting said forum to “take notes” in the hope that— moving forward— these convocations (and health studies regarding the manifold number of toxins manifest in Greenpoint) can move forward. Ms. Zidar was advised notes were, in fact, being taken— and this was pretty awesome given the following:

We do not want a “perfect” health study. We want a health study.

Then she followed this statement up with the following bits of data:

  • In January of 2007 the Newtown Creek Alliance sent a letter to the Department of Health requesting a comprehensive health study of the Greenpoint Oil Spill.
  • After a meeting with the Department of Health in March 2008, the Newtown Creek Alliance (which will henceforth be called the “NCA” — Ed. Note) requested (among many other things) that a skilled Community Liaison be enlisted by the Department of Health. This has not happened.
  • After a meeting with the Department of Health in October of 2008 Ms. Zidar notes the map (and I quote) “does not include features agreed upon at previous meetings”. Which, as I intuit, would include a 1/2 mile radius versus a 1/4 mile radius (from which the Department of Health is operating currently) because…
    • a great deal of residential property is excluded by the current demarcations. Thus this current study is more an occupational/workplace study than one of long-term, consistent exposure.
    • Such a study should include/take into consideration other “hot spots” such as the “Greenpoint oil spill” and “Meeker Avenue Plume”. To date, it does not.

 5. The previous was not overlooked by our local politicians*:

  • Among them our City Councilman, Steve Levin (as seen above texting), noted:
    • He resides not only atop the “Oil Spill” but the “Plume” as well.
    • A half-mile radius study should be employed.
    • To merely focus on the creek is to focus on one part of a manifold number of environmental (and therefore: health-related) problems in Greenpoint.
  • Lincoln Restler (whose back can be seen at right) added his two cents. They were basically as follows: This is an ongoing problem. At what point will we get an honest, expanded study (and due process) so future generations of Greenpointers do not experience and/or are afflicted with what our predecessors— such as Ms. Hofmann and Ms. Klementowicz— have witnessed?

If the intransigence and “timetable” I witnessed last night— coupled with Ms. Klementowicz’s piquant observation:

By 2023, we (This being the people doing the complaining at last night’s meeting— Ed. Note.) will be dead.

this will be continued…

*It should be noted a representative of Joe Lentol’s office was present as well. I do not recall her name, but the DOH/DEP panel made note of her arrival.

LAST GASP: Protest At M.S. 577

March 28, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11211, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn 

A woman we’ll call “Q” writes:

Hi Miss Heather:

I have seen you often at the 94th precinct and the community board meetings. I am a parent of a child at MS 577 located at North 5th and Roebling in the Williamsburg section of Greenpoint. (!!! —Ed. Note) The outside of the school is under renovation and now the inside as well. If you saw the news on Monday night 3/26/2012, MS 577 was on because mold(several kinds have been identified) and asbestos has been found in the classrooms. Several children have become very ill and others dizzy and nauseous. At a emergency meeting held Monday night at the school several heads of different departments from the DOE came to say there really is no problem and your children are safe. Our children are in this building while a 10 million dollar renovation is going on. The entire building has scaffold all around it. They have not been able to open the windows because of the debris left on the platform from the nights work. As the warm weather approaches they will not be able to run the air conditioners until they can be properly cleaned and maintained.

The DOE and the Bloomberg administration were quick to judge teachers and say how bad they are well, the shoe is on the other foot now. They claim to have the children’s best interest at heart than why are they not relocate these children to clean and safe building for them to learn. Instead they brought in air purifiers but they say there is nothing wrong, do you see air purifiers in other schools.

Please help spread the word to come on Friday to MS577 North 5th and Roebling. Please come support the children who need your help.

My tipster goes on to add:

Thank you so much, we really appreciate any help we can get. On Monday, we left the meeting with no answers from the DOE, who said they had to go to tweed to get more answers. The only political representation was Lincoln Restler who spoke on the parents behalf. Thanks again.

Gladly.

Protest at P.S. 17/M.S. 577
March 30, 2012 starting at 8:00 a.m.
P.S. 17/M.S. 577
North 5th Street At Roebling Street
Brooklyn, New York 11211

Photo Credits: The screencap gracing the beginning of this post comes courtesy of News 12. Whose video you can and should watch by clicking here.

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