Mark Your Calendars: Open Space Alliance Community Committee Meeting April 16th!

Per a tipster:

Did you know that the OSA Community Committee meeting is open to everyone? come on out! For this meeting, OSA CC HAS A very special guest – Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey – OSA CC is honored that he would like to visit and hear from the community he serves, so please come with questions, concerns or ideas for him and the Parks Department. WHERE? Lindsay houses, 30 Montrose Avenue (between Union and Lorimer), Brooklyn, NY 11206, 718.782.9000

Our Borough Parks Supervisor (that being Kevin Jeffries) answering questions at the behest of a not-for-profit Parks Conservancy group (this being Open Space Alliance)? Sadly this is not as far-fetched as it seems. Last month the Manager of Community Board 1 himself, Gerry Esposito, after  being questioned about why Open Space Alliance (a not-for-profit organization) has a moment of his time (as opposed to our local police departments, the 90th and 94th Precincts respectively) explains it all. Start watching the following at 1:10 and hear Mr. Esposito’s words for yourself.

…Basically they are the Parks Department for our area these days… in times past we have worked it through the OSA systembecause of the issues arising from the concert series I felt it was so important to open that door with OSA… So that, you know… so there would be full disclosure and transparency in what they’re doing… I can guarantee you since I sat down with OSA, I sat down with Steve Hindy (owner of Brooklyn Brewery and not a government employee) and Stephanie (Thayer Executive Director of OSA, our Parks “Advocate” and New York City Parks Supervisor) and, and I told them if you agreed to do this, you’d have to be here. You have to be at every meeting and they agreed…

And therein lies the problem. We have to go through a Parks “advocacy group” to get the ear of our Borough Parks Department. Because “public” and “private” have become more or less the same.

Open Space Alliance Community Committee Meeting
Monday, April 16, 2012 starting at 6:30 p.m.
30 Montrose Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11206

UPDATE: I have since been advised of the following via a Co-chair of OSA’s Community Committee:

OSA’s Community Committee is made up of 30+ parks groups (“friends of”and the like…), and this is the membership’s quarterly meeting. The public can come and observe, but only members can participate. The agenda’s always tight, and items are submitted by members two weeks before our meetings.

 

LAST GASP: More Dumping At The Manhattan Avenue Kayak Launch?

January 13, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic, Newtown Creek 

As some of you might recall, a lot of noise has been made, well, about the noise emanating from the property adjacent to the Manhattan Avenue Kayak Launch. For those of you who are not in the know, you can get up to speed by clicking here. I have not heard any complaints about this matter— or piece of public space— for several days. No worries, now I have a new one. Laura writes:

Hi Heather!
These pictures aren’t the greatest because Mike used his cell phone to take the photos. But Mike saw a Parks Dept employee dump a bunch of bushes in the Newtown Creek. (He’s not sure if there was anything else). He called ST (Stephanie Thayer, Parks Supervisor for all parks in Community Board 1 and Executive Chair of Open Space Alliance— Ed. Note.), who says something will be done.

Was this the handiwork of a Parks Department employee? Quite frankly it is too hard to tell given the photographs. However, this is one piece of foliage that didn’t make it to mulchfest!

From The New York Shitty Inbox: Now At Java Street Park!

December 28, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

An anonymous tipster opines of the above-depicted item:

Art or vandalism – you decide!  I’m leaning to the art side of the fence.

I’ll leave it to you, gentle readers, (and our Parks Department) to make the call. In the meantime I prefer to see the tar bucket as being half-full— in a manner of speaking.

The long-awaited opening of this piece of public space appears to have motivated the powers-that-be to collect all the rubbish gracing the northern side of this street!

New York Shitty Photos du Jour: HUMBUG!

Isn’t it refreshing to see our Parks Department is taking on the serious issues manifest in our precious few public spaces? Here’s what the tree’s creator, Julian Cole, has to say about this sad turn of events:

Hey Heather,

I just wanted to say a massive thank you for covering the Brooklyn Christmas Tree, I did it as a little side project and your posts really helped it get to a much wider audience. I was sad to learn they took it down but it was good fun process. I am planning to do more small projects about Williamsburg next year so I will make sure to keep you in the loop when I do.
Happy Christmas

So there have you. If I had to hazard a guess I’d say the amount of time and manpower it took to remove this piece of holiday cheer the Parks Department could have, should have (for example) purchased and installed one toilet seat at a women’s comfort station under their care. But there I go employing logic again. Logic as we citizens know it does not apply to our civil servants. Hence why after waiting over a month for our Parks Department to replace a toilet seat at Jaime Campiz Playground, I found it more logical (and expedient) to do it myself.

What makes McCarren Park— and this community in general— worth visiting (in my humble opinion) are the random acts of kindness (and yes, mischief) its citizens choose to bestow upon it. Mr. Cole’s Christmas tree is one such example. I for one (and mind you, I write this as an agnostic) think his was a lovely project. It amused and, more importantly, engaged our community. Yet it was removed— by those who purport to serve us.

On that note it should be Known, gentle readers, that our Parks Department wants your feedback as to what brings you to McCarren Park!

“Others” can make your voice “heard” herehere, and here.

New York Shitty Cares: The No Toilet Left Behind Project

Or: When I learned complaining is futile and did it my damned self.

To Preface: I had initially planned presenting this project after the last of my toilet trifecta was deployed (preferably at a Parks & Waterfront Committee Meeting). But given recent events, this being having it made quite clear to me that our Community Board General Manager and Parks & Waterfront Chair do not give a shit (pun completely intended) I have come to conclusion this is the time. I do give a shit. And what’s more, I want to help my fellow citizens take one. That means YOU. So, here it is.

I am content with being a “Greenpoint blogger”. The perquisites (there are some), respect (next to none); and working conditions (best imaginable— I make my own hours, there is no dress code and sexual harassment is a given) which come with said sinecure reach my level of expectations. However low they may be. A very wise man once wrote:

I’ll remain below and from below I’ll spit on their social ladder. Right, spit on every rung of it. In order to climb it, it’s necessary to be forged steel-assed from head to toe. And this I am not.

As a result yours truly has become quite the connoisseur of crappers in north Brooklyn. Under my rather gruff, steely (if colorful) exterior resides an incredibly soft place: my ass. And it, I personally assure you, is not made of steel. So I pick my privies wisely. This is why I will, for example, avoid McCarren and McGolrick Park. These “comfort stations” are generally repulsive. Cooper Park, on the other hand, is generally well-maintained and clean. My only caveat is the toilet seat in the womens’ lavatory at this location is made of metal and in cooler weather the experience can be quite, well, “bracing”. However, in summer this can be can be quite refreshing.

If I, the self-elected queen of crappers, had to tender a (very general) summary of the state of women’s lavatories within the confines Community Board 1 Brooklyn it would be this: those located in the 34th City Council District are generally nicer than those located in the 33rd City Council District. I will leave it to you, gentle readers, to ponder why this is the so and test my hypothesis for yourselves. At your own risk.

Hence why I made this crapper— located in the 34th City Council District— my “pit-stop”of choice during my peregrinations. Until that fateful day.

This was what awaited my delectation on August 17th. The toilet paper strewn upon the floor is nasty to be certain, but what really bothered me was the absence of a toilet seat. This may seem trivial (and all things considered, it is) but this is a playground. Playgrounds are generally inhabited by children. And despite this being the 21st century most of the caretakers of children— be they mothers or nannies— are (still) women.

As chance would have it, Open Space Alliance (which is headed by the very same person who is also the Parks Supervisor for north Brooklyn) was conducting a “town hall meeting” that very evening. The ostensible purpose of this meeting was to ascertain what we, the people, wanted to see happen with our open spaces. Not since kindergarten (and the iron curtain fell) have I beheld such a bureaucratic attempt at crowd/mind control. Upon entering we had to sign in. Upon signing in, he/she was given a pamphlet documenting OSA’s achievements and member organizations (some of which were highly questionable) and assigned a number. This number dictated at which table said person sat (so as to facilitate “small discussion groups”). Thus family members and concerned citizens were separated.

Did I get a number? No. I exercised my right as a “Greenpoint blogger”. I sat where I damned well pleased.

First we had to sit through a presentation extolling upon the manifold benefits this, our, private/public partnership has bestowed upon my community. Speeches from our local elected officials followed. Then, with the assistance of a minder from OSA, each discussion group was assigned to make a list of ten things we would like to see happen with our parks. After these findings were announced by our respective groups— and noted on poster-board— we were each given three green stickers. These three green stickers constituted our vote towards any given project/idea we fancied and were to be applied accordingly.

ASIDE: The first memory I have of a sticker-based economy is a getting gold star for simply telling my Kindergarten teacher I brushed my teeth on any given morning. I didn’t fancy such micro-management then and I certainly didn’t like it three decades later.

If I am going to be treated like a child,

I thought to myself

I might as well have the pleasure of acting like one.

So I brought the missing toilet seat matter to everyone’s attention. A chap named Joe Garber—  a man, I will add, who is renowned in the Community Board 1 circle — backed me up.

Is a toilet seat too much to ask?
I made the call for a toilet seat. Was it heard? Absolutely. Did it get any “stickers”? No. Should such a modest request— one a reasonable person would presume to be a matter of routine maintenance— require a sticker? No.

Yet, over a month later (and despite our Parks Supervisor informing me after the aforementioned convocation that they had fixed the roof in said crapper and to wit I replied “Yes, and now it needs a toilet seat.”) nothing was done. That’s when I crossed the Rubicon and became an outlaw. You read me right O-U-T-L-A-W.

Fuck this shit!

I grumbled. I noted the make and model number of said crapper…

and proceeded to the closest hardware store without delay.

At Crest Hardware I purchased a top-of-the-line toilet seat— but I did not stop there. I wanted this bequest to be <em><strong>special</strong></em>. I wanted it to be something its patrons would enjoy. I am of the firm belief (as a former and current child) that little things matter. On one fateful evening while strolling along Manhattan Avenue inspiration finally struck:</p> <p><a href=” http:=”” www.newyorkshitty.com=”” wp-content=”” uploads=”” 2011=”” 10=”” biedronka.jpg”=””>

LADYBUGS!

They’re cute, easy to render and are shaped like toilet seats! Who doesn’t like ladybugs? Really?

A “ladybug” I did make. I took the added measure of preserving my “artistry” with coat of plastic resin (which also makes it easy to clean).

This lass’s installation, however, proved to be problematic. I, an aspiring good Samaritan, unwittingly breached said playground’s etiquette. I left the gate open instead of securing shut with a bike lock. For this offense I was questioned:

You have children, yes?

My lady Inquisitor inquired.

No.

I answered. I was then advised that I, a child-free woman, was technically violating the rules of this playground by simply being there. But she added I’d “probably” be okay. Nonetheless, the bathroom was locked and I had to go back to Greenpoint. With my ladybug. On the way I stopped by McCarren Park’s lavatory (so as to relieve myself):

Only to discover it too was lacking a toilet seat!*

So many toilet seats, so little time.

I thought to myself. Long story made a mite bit shorter…

The “ladybug” was installed October 13th. As of the writing of this post (okay, Monday afternoon), I have no idea whether she is still there or not.** This is because the lavatory in question was locked.

My educated guess is the ladies, delightful women both, who staff(ed) this playground were laid off “for the season”. This is a shame as they kept the premises and my “donation” quite tidy (the first photo being the exception to the rule). Conversely, I gave McCarren— our Parks Supervisor’s “Flagship Park”— a heaping helping of love.

By “love” I mean glitter, rhinestones and a melancholic expression. Would YOU want to be a McCarren Park toilet seat?

I didn’t think so.

Deployment Date: October 23, 2011. I am pleased to report that as of December 5th, she’s still there!

A reasonable person would presume the amount of time and effort Open Space Alliance North Brooklyn— a “parks conservancy group” which has boasted their concerts (that ostensibly benefit our community’s open spaces) have grossed $250,000 could see fit to allocate funds/manpower for something as simple as a toilet seat. But alas, our Parks “Advocate(s)” (and Parks Supervisor) are not reasonable people.

This is why we have a “pop-up park” on my fair burgh’s waterfront which— while purported to have been “ready” in June (per the Deputy Director of OSA) and available to Nuit Blanche/East River Ferry patrons in October— is still closed to the general public.***

And I had to resort to a life of crime.

In closing:

Usually I’d take someone shitting on my “work” as the ultimate insult. But in these unusual circumstances (and I suspect my college professors will back me up on this) “context is everything” and as such I interpret the above-depicted scat as high praise. It is prima facie evidence my humble creation is actually being used! The same cannot be said about aforementioned “pop-up park” or the benches— city/tax payer property all— contained therein.

If any of you toilet goers (and you know who you are) know of a womens’ “comfort station” lacking a toilet seat within the confines of Community Board 1 Brooklyn please shoot me an email at missheather (at) thatgreenpointblog (dot) com. I have a very special treat in store for you(r ass).

A seriously customized/blinged-out Magnolia** “Progressions” juvenile/adult toilet seat with patented “Gent’l Close” technology.**** (READ: it has dual seats for little ones and adults and cannot be slammed shut.)

This hippo’s getting very hungry. Let’s feed her, north Brooklyn!

*This photo was taken by a concerned toilet-goer October 1, 2011.
**It is!
***Which was mysteriously, inexplicably, open to the public the day after this post was published!
****Made in the good ol’ U.S.A. What’s more, they have the prestigious honor of being  “the official bathroom seat manufacturer for the NASA Space Shuttle”!

New York Shitty Day Ender: McCarren Park

Taken November 22, 2011.

P.S.: This post goes out to the Parks employee who saw fit to quit raking leaves and break-up this altercation (of which I only caught the very end) this afternoon.

From The New York Shitty Inbox: McGolrick Park Needs Help!

A woman we’ll call “L” writes (in an email addressed to our Parks Supervisor, Parks Supervisor for Brooklyn, the 94th Precinct, Community Board 1 and elected officials— among numerous others— and sporting no less than thirteen pages of signed petitions attached):

My name is (excised) and I am a mom to 3 boys.  We have lived in the neighborhood directly surrounding McGolrick Park for almost 10 years.

To begin, I am presenting you with a petition of 124 signatures of people who have the same concerns about McGolrick Park that I am about to voice.  While collecting these names I was surprised to learn just how angry most of these people are.  I heard horror stories of park experiences and livid complaints from every signer.  Their specific issues ranged from trepidation about lights in the middle of the park being out or off for a very long time, to frustration at having to call 911 or the 94th precinct dozens and dozens of times in the past 6 months, to a report that a neighbor was shot with some kind of pellet gun just last week while small children were also walking near him.  Although these issues are specifically focused on McGolrick Park, it is common knowledge that similar problems exist at many of the North Brooklyn parks, namely McCarren and American.  All this being said, this petition is not an indictment of park workers, that is the men and women who thanklessly clean up the disgusting and unnecessary messes of the park.  They, like all the residents and park-goers, need the support of park management to fix the greater problems that exist.

When my family first moved to the McGolrick area in 2002, the park was an absolute wasteland. . .  filled with blood, puke, abusive drunks, needles and dime bags. It was disgusting and I hated taking my young son there. At its worst, I even witnessed an 18 month old fall into an open sewage drain in the center of the park. It was all awful. But then Gardener Dave Wysocki came to McGolrick, wonderful Dave, who transformed the park from wretched to amazingly beautiful, an urban paradise that became a daily part of my growing family. 

Since Dave’s departure earlier this year, McGolrick has rapidly degenerated.  This has lead to three major areas of concern that I would like to outline:

Firstly, there are groups of homeless, drunk men who take up residence in the park or on the benches of its perimeter at various times.  I must insert here that for the past 6 weeks their presence has decreased significantly, perhaps due to the in-park suicide of a presumed homeless man in late September, which I must add is not the first violent and unnecessary death of one of these men in the park.  I am dismayed that it takes someone dying to enact change. But returning to my original point, these groups often leave garbage, glass, and most importantly human excrement and blood throughout the park, even in the playground area. There are also instances when they have been aggressive towards others in the park.  I personally was once accosted by one man who attempted to enter my car when I pressed the automatic door opener.  As I was putting my 3 kids in the car he hovered there demanding that I give him money, until a passer-by, or as my middle son called him, a super-hero, came to our aid.  This same man detained my babysitter in the same way as she sat on a bench of the park.  Plainly said, these men pose health and safety risks that should be addressed in the short-term by better clean-up and more police patrols to keep them out.  But more importantly, social services need to be called upon to offer more pro-active outreach to these populations.  Until these men receive support such as counseling, rehabilitation, and housing, their residency in the park will continue.

Secondly, there is a group of young teenagers who have caused considerable damage to the park.  They throw and break glass bottles, tip full garbage cans in order to jump them with their bikes, they have destroyed an entire row of benches, and then when repaired, they destroyed the benches again.  They have set fires, and cut down a small tree.  Again, the best way to stop this behavior in the short-term is to have more police patrols in the park, but in the long-run we need better mentoring and outreach programs for at-risk youth of this community.  These kids in particular have been running the streets for about five years which says to me that either their families neglect their welfare, or their home-life is so bad that they can’t stand to be in their houses.  In any case, Greenpoint could surely use a strong and present social action group that is specifically focused on the needs of the pre-teen and teen populations. Furthermore, we need more outdoor spaces that speak to the needs of this age group and more community centers that offer positive and safe ways for them to spend their time.

Lastly, under Dave Wysocki’s leadership McGolrick Park became a shining star of the Greenpoint, a true community asset that drew hundreds of new families and residents to this area.  Not only did he make the park beautiful with additions of many flowers, tress, and shrubs, he educated his staff on how to care for the gardens properly.  He offered nature-based workshops for the small children of the neighborhood, involved the community in the revitalization of the park, and most importantly created a strong relationship with PS 110.  By doing so he offered those children special educational opportunities and a sense of positive ownership in this land.  It is an absolute travesty that all of his hard work, so quickly went down the tubes.  McGolrick needs park management with the passion and commitment that Dave showed.  That is the backbone of the health and safety of the park, and without it I fear that one day, I’ll hear of another hanging body or see another baby’s body floating in a sewer drain.

All this being said, I’m sure that as the cold weather approaches these issues will naturally decrease.  However, I am also sure that as soon as spring arrives, residents will be dealing with these same grievances again, UNLESS the residents, park management, local law enforcement, the community board, social services, and local politicians make plans of action over the next winter months for how to improve the current conditions at McGolrick Park.

I and so many of my neighbors have been given the run-around and have been shut down in pursuing our goal of bettering the park.  Park management has said to contact the 94th; the 94th said to contact the community board; the community board said to contact the Parks Department.  This is a vicious cycle of irresponsibility that is getting us nowhere and the residents of this community will stand for it no longer.  A much-appreciated, first step in the right direction would be a well-advertized “town hall” meeting with all of you who are addressed in this letter, to happen as soon as possible.  (Perhaps such a meeting could take place at the Lutheran Church on Russell Street between Driggs and Nassau.)  We want the opportunity to truly be heard, since we have been ignored for so long.  We want to know how you specifically plan to resolve these issues. . . and I can assure you that we are ready to hold you accountable if solutions are not developed and implemented.

I, like so many people of this community, look forward to hearing your responses and hope that our concerns for the health and safety of McGolrick Park will finally be addressed.  Thank you.

I suppose this is as good a time as any to remind folks that Community Board 1’s Parks and Waterfront Subcommittee convenes this evening at 6:30 p.m.! Once again, you must sign in by 6:15 in order to speak!*

Parks & Waterfront Committee Meeting, Community Board 1
November 16, 2011 starting at 6:30 p.m.
Community Board 1 Office
435 Graham Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11211

*Apparently the Parks and Waterfront Committee’s public meetings unlike those of, say, the Public Safety and Transportation do not allow the public to sign up and speak. Mind you, this is despite the fact this right is established by charter by our fair city. Go figure.

Photo Credits: Pile of human feces with asswipe was found at this very park last week by yours truly.

Greenpoint Photos du Jour: On The Waterfront

October 19, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Here are your benches, Greenpoint!

Go to the end of Java Street at look at ’em for yourself.

A lass named Sherry opines:

The “park” was open during Nuit Blanche a few weeks ago…Was the only time I’ve ever seen the “park” — in quotes since it’s so dismal — open.

Your tax dollars at work, folks!

UPDATE, October 20, 2011: I got the 411 on this situation from an anonymous tipster!

First, this is not a city park – it’s a pop up park allowed by the owner of the property and partially funded by OSA. So, no tax dollars at work.  HOWEVER, the reason it isn’t open, is because neither the Parks Dept nor OSA have anyone or are willing to delegate anyone to go over there every day and unlock it…

So there have you: public property (benches, as funded by our tax dollars) is locked up on private property and therefore unusable because our Parks Department/open space “advocacy” group cannot get their shit together.

From The New York Shitty Inbox: Where Did The Benches Go?

October 19, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

A lady we’ll call “S” writes:

Hello, Miss Heather –
I was wondering if you know where the benches on the pier on India St. went. My boyfriend and I were taking our daily constitutional with our 2 week old daughter and were planning on gazing out at the water and Manhattan for a bit, but were dismayed to find out that there are no longer benches to sit on. What a bummer!

I cannot profess to have an answer (if anyone is in the know, please share via comments or shoot me an email at missheather (at) thatgreenpointblog (dot com), however, I do have a theory. The East River has long been quite a popular fishing spot for a number of my fellow Garden Spotters.

This chap, for example, was captured cleaning his catch on Huron Street just a few months ago. I have no doubt the prospect of fishing in deeper water via the India Street pier holds a great deal of appeal to these gentleman. In fact, I know it does!

CASE IN POINT: this gentleman, who it should be noted is inexplicably wearing a shirt. I assure you this is not usually the case. But I digress. I have on more than one occasion found fish heads, assorted entrails, and other vestiges of someone’s “dinner” gracing the India Street Pier pier for everyone’s edification.

While not exactly my cup of tea, I do have to confess I am hard-pressed to think of a more appropriate “welcome” for visitors disembarking at our fair burgh than this piece of “street meat”. This item may not be easy on the eyes (or nose)— but then again many things in the Garden Spot fall under this category. In this respect a mere fish tail (and the odd shirtless man or two) is not only consistent, but downright quaint. What’s more, it is a hell of a lot better than this. WARNING/CAVEAT: view the proceeding post— and the links contained therein— at your own risk.

UPDATE, 2:21 p.m.: thanks to a lady named Rowan we have an answer! Per the folks of the East River ferry:

They’re located in the park by the entrance of the Pier. We don’t have control over where they go, as they belong to the City.

A park, I’ll add, that to date I have never EVER seen open to the “public”. Click here and behold the Greenpoint glory for yourself. Seeing is truly believing. In closing, I’ll leave you with this image of our very own Community Board 1 chair, Christopher Olechowski, patronizing one such bench on September 22, 2011.

From The New York Shitty Inbox, Part III: What’s That Smell?

This vision (which hails from the Vincent Abate Playground) comes courtesy of a chap we’ll call G. He writes (in an email entitled “Polish Drinking Garden”):

Somehow, the PDG has migrated to the McCarren park playground right behind the kids swings. Delightful.
There are three in this photo.

To quote the kids: Why do the swings smell like throw-up?

And that’s my daughter in the photo so you have my permission to run it.

Nice. Really nice.

UPDATE, 6:38 p.m.: Here’s another view courtesy of another angry playground patron!

And of course, there’s this.

The woman who took the above photograph opines:

This lovely pile of feces has been sitting on the playground next to the equipment for at least 2 days. No one has cleaned it up, I wonder how many of our kids have been exposed to Hepatitis just today. And year after year we can not figure out how to lock the playground at night. So Sad!

UPDATE, 7:55 p.m.: (Yet another) park-goer has taken notice of the situation and has news to relay!

One of them rolled over, confirming that he is alive.

I suppose if there is bird-watching and train-spotting, why not have a CPI (Chronic Public Inebriate) safari as well? Like most emerging hot trends it is clearly the rage at McCarren Park!

Miss Heather

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