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.

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

From The New York Shitty Inbox: The East River State Park Lights

October 7, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11211, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn 

This item comes courtesy of a very nice lady named Jackie. The residents around East River State Park have a problem; very simply put, it is the solar lighting which was installed at said park to keep it lit at night. To this end they have been remarkably effective! In fact, they have been described to yours truly as “lighting up East River State Park like Yankee Field”. Hence why an online petition has been created requesting a more sensible solution be put in place. Here’s what Jackie has to say:

I am told the State used the $200,000 OSA donation towards the solar lights.The state was addressing community chatter  a few years ago about wanting more access to the Park, longer days, and for that the State requires lighting. But there was no public forum that I know of. If the state had spoken to the community they would have realized that in the summer the park closes at sunset which is around 9pm, but all folks really wanted was to be able to stay in the park and watch the sun set, instead of being asked to leave 10 minutes prior. There is sufficient light during dusk to allow this. In the winter when the sun sets early, the Park is usually very cold, extremely windy and sparsely attended, so night access is not a big issue. In addition, the city installed a soccer field adjacent to the East River State Park, with large stadium style soccer lights that also light up the entire State Park and beyond and bounce off of THE EDGE building, causing a lot of light pollution. These lights are suppose to be turned off at 10:15PM. It seems the State and City do not work in concert so this was not factored in. In addition, the stadium lights stay on well past the 10:15PM time frame, as the timer is not reset to adjust to the shorter days and often is on until midnight or all night. These are electric lights that cost taxpayers dollars, that are on during snowstorms when there is no use of the soccer fields. These lights blare into bedrooms and also ruin the evening city skyscapes. But I digress.

Now these towering industrial solar poles in the park close off what was OPEN SPACE. Frisbee anyone? Williamsburg is a central hub of print and film shoots and a popular place for the industry to film. Yea, you can retouch out a pole or two in print, but not in film. “They ruined it”, said a location scout. The sun panels on top of these poles have a mirror quality and on sunny days it throw 50 rays of molten light into people’s homes. One sun is enough, thank you. Visually,  the amount and placement makes the park look like a DOT parking lot, or some have described it as a UFO center. Many were placed next to trees that will overshadow the solars and render them useless.

There are many solutions to this problem, and the petition is meant to be a calling card so that the community can get a meaningful dialog going with the State.

Those of you who are interested can add your signature to this petition by clicking here.

PHOTO CREDITS: the solar panel photo comes courtesy of Blue4Rose.

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: A Plea From The McCarren Dog Run

The headmistress of the McCarren Park Dog Run, Christine, writes:

Good afternoon Heather,

I can’t tell what a soul crushing pain in ass this project has been … This week we got the news that we need another $4k for it.   After months of asking our contractor to include every cost into their budget and such, we found out the they didn’t include excavating the dog run of nearly a foot of chips and such from the whole dog run before they could start.    It is gonna cost another $4k … not being one to give up BUT feeling pretty defeated and actually having some very dark thoughts … I reached out to the dog run community … Can you help spread the word?  …We are in a challenge grant period right now raise a $1k get $1k from Must Luv Dogs.  We have got 36 hours to do it.   Must Luv Dogs is the latest of supportive pet stores to help.  Others who have helped are PS9 and NYC Pets.  These 3 stores have shown a level of generosity that is amazing.

Here’s the deal (once again), folks: this project, which has all the necessary permits in place, can either break ground this month or be postponed due to a lack of funds. As Christine has made clear, a few local businesses have stepped up to the plate to help make this (much overdue) project happen. One such establishment is Must Love Dogs and to this end they are offering a matching grant of $1,000.

The deadline is midnight, October 2nd— that’s tomorrow, so time is of the essence! You can tender your donation(s) via the McCarren Dog Run’s ChipIn widget on their web site or via PayPal at:

brooklynassociationfordogs@gmail.com

Let’s make this happen, Greenburg dog lovers!

Photo Credits: billy l.

 

 

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?

Quicklink: Today In The New York Times

May 29, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11211, Culture War, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn 

I knew this story was in the works for some time but as of this morning it is online! My favorite sound bite:

You can’t hear yourself think. Not only do they come feeling good, they leave feeling better…

Read it for yourself. Closing on a related note, I am pleased to announce a new “friends of” group has been established for East River State Park! Here’s the announcement I received from a very nice lady named Julie Lawrence.

Friends of East River State Park Inaugural Meeting
Thursday, June 2, 2011 starting at 7:00 p.m.
110 Kent Avenue, second floor
Brooklyn, New York 11211

Miss Heather

From The New York Shitty Inbox: Because 24 Hours Notice Is Apparently Enough*

May 17, 2011 ·
Filed under: 11211, Williamsburg, Williamsburg Brooklyn 

This item was received by yours truly from a member of Community Board 1 at 1:11 p.m. It was received by him/her, in turn, at 12:30 p.m. Tomorrow, May 18th at 6:30 p.m. the folks at Open Space Alliance will be having a community meeting regarding its waterfront concerts. Stay informed– attend the meeting!

O.S.A./Community Meeting On Concerts
May 18, 2011 starting at 6:30 p.m.
Swinging 60’s Center
211 Ainslie Street
Brooklyn, New York 11211

UPDATE, 2:36 p.m.: I have received an email from one of the co-chairs of OSA’s Community Committee. It casts this flier in a rather curious light:

As the Outgoing Co-Chair of the OSA’s Community Committee, I want to provide an important correction to the flyer.  Tomorrow’s meeting is a  previously scheduled quarterly meeting of OSA’s Community Committee.     What happens at at these meetings?  We receive updates on various parks projects and bring to attention to volunteer activities.

Not sure who the creator of the flyer is but if people are interested in the Community Committee or learning more about being involved in the park, please email me at 

I would recommend people looking for a meeting about the Concerts, should direct those inquiries directly to OSA staff  and board.  The Community Committee are just a bunch of volunteers try to improve our parks.

You can view the agenda for this meeting (which seems to have nothing whatsoever to do with concerts) by clicking here.

Miss Heather

*It isn’t.

Live From The 94th Precinct Community Council Meeting

Don’t let the above image of our Community Council hard at work fool you: it was a particularly informative and eventful evening at Greenpoint’s very own Church of the Ascension.

First, the minutes from last month’s meeting were read. Then we got down to business.

Part I: The Correspondence Secretary maked announcements, a new date and location for forthcoming Community Council meetings (as of September) is announced and Pat McDonald of Outreach Speaks

1. The Correspondence Secretary Speaks:

  • As of May 23, 2011 smoking will not be allowed in Parks Department facilities. A $50.00 fine will be levied for offenders.
  • People whose properties are afflicted by graffiti can call 311 to have it removed.
  • An admonishment against crimes of opportunity is made.
  • The program of the month is a summer camp for youths between 10 and 16 years of age. The purpose is to foster better relations between youths and our Finest.

2. The head Mistress of the Community Council makes a couple of announcements:

  • As of September the Community Council meetings will be conducted the third Tuesday of every month in the rear room of the Church of the Ascension accessible via Java Street.
  • The rally to protest the 200 bed homeless assessment center at 400 McGuinness Boulevard will come to pass May 22nd at 2:30 p.m.

3. Pat McDonald speaks from Greenpoint’s very own Outreach Program (which is located at 960 Manhattan Avenue) speaks.

  • This facility works with substance abusers of all ages (including teenagers) and has English, Polish and Spanish speaking counselors.
  • A domestic violence program (which is sorely needed) is in the works.
  • Outreach also offers 12 Step Programs.

Part 2: Lincoln Restler Speaks

  • Mr. Restler gives props to the 94th for addressing issues arising in north Greenpoint especially pertaining to drug traffic.
  • Mr. Restler mentions the (now) kiboshed moratorium on liquor licenses but notes that a more aggressive response is needed to problematic establishments.
  • An audience member inquires Mr. Restler as to the status of the Brooklyn Night Bazaar. (It isn’t happening.)

Part 3: D.I. Hurson Gives the Low-down

  • D.I. Hurson give props to the Narcotics Division and citizens for helping to crack down on drug activity.
  • He mentions a seizure of crack cocaine on Metropolitan Avenue.
  • D. I. Hurson addresses what the 94th can do in regards to problematic bars.
    • To this end they will be having a sit-down with the Department of Consumer Affairs so as to better understand the laws which govern our local watering holes.
    • D. I. Hurson gives a reminder about the MARCH Program. (Look it up, folks!)
    • Bedford Avenue is specifically mentioned. D.I. Hurson states he was at North 7 Street and Bedford Avenue May 15th 2:00 a.m. He liked it to “Times Square”. He noted that the bulk of citations issued in this area are for open containers and public urination.
  • We’re up with Park Slope with being down with crime!
  • But he notes a woman was rather violently robbed after exiting Kellogg Diner.
  • Car break-ins: eight arrests in four weeks.
  • A gent who opted for drug rehabilitation (versus 1 1/2 years jail time) opted to escape and was apprehended.
  • Then of course the subject of the OSA’s East River State Parks concerts* arose:
    • This year police officers will be on hand to ensure prompt egress from said concerts.
    • The port-o-lets will (hopefully) be relocated closer to the entrance of East River State Park so merrymakers will not relieve themselves on neighboring properties’ stoops, foliage, etc.

Part 4: The Q & A session begins!

  • A lady from Noble and Lorimer Street mentions a number of unlicensed cars being present on her block. “This car is not stolen, do not tow it… mind your own business”. (priceless)
  • A woman in the audience brings up the matter of Skinheads and gangs inciting violence (because her son was beaten prior to this meeting). Not cool.
  • A Kent Street resident mentions the (recurring) homeless problem.
  • D. I. Hurson reiterates that people should call the police.
  • Ms. McDonald adds her two cents.
  • Rami Metal (of Steve Levin’ office) speaks.
    • He states that Mr. Levin has been meeting with various city agencies about this issue.
    • Not all seemingly homeless people are, in fact, homeless.
    • Mr. Metal notes that the issue Mr. Levin has with the proposed homeless intake center at 400 McGuinness Boulevard is it will not help these individuals. They are largely Polish-speaking, have roots in Greenpoint and care not to leave here.
    • All discussions with the DHS (Department of Homeless Services) has proven to be fruitless.
    • Ms. McDonald notes that one such individual did receive shelter at a 360 house because was willing to stop drinking.
    • Mr. Metal notes a number of the people in question are undocumented and as such do not qualify for assistance. To this end Levin’s office has reached out to the Polish Consulate.
    • The stalwart 94th Community Council attendee (of whom I am a big fan), Phyllis, kicks things up a notch by proposing work camps be used to employ our local homeless/inebriates and giving props to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
    • Both Mr. Metal and D.I. Hurson concur that F.D.R. was an excellent president.

Part 5: Steve Levin Speaks

  • Another attendee wants to know if there is a way our inebriates can be mandated to stop drinking (in order to get housing and work).
  • Councilman Levin points out that these men are not breaking the law and as such a program is not feasible.
  • Mr. Levin counters that community-based resources need to be employed for Greenpoint’s homeless/inebriates. Most of whom are Polish-speaking. He also notes the only homeless shelter which provides a Polish-speaking employee is located in East New York.
  • Mr. Levin talks about “Common Ground”. A homeless outreach program which has identified 40-45 “chronic public inebriates” in the Garden Spot.
  • Once again: while seeming to be homeless, a number of the aforementioned folks are not. They have family here; it is their drinking that leads them to the streets.
  • Mr. Levin notes that two homeless men died in Greenpoint last winter and presses that the Department of Homeless Services look at community-based options for helping the homeless.
  • Mr. Levin notes that the proposed assessment center for 400 McGuinness Boulevard will not help Greenpoint’s homeless/unhoused.
  • The Greenpoint Hotel, a SRO, and the neighboring 3/4 quarter house is discussed (This is interesting, folks. Do give it a listen!).
  • An attendee states that there are too many homeless shelters and the solution is work (and thus the discussion of work camps is resumed).
  • This chap asserts they should be given a plane ticket and sent back to where they came from. Mr. Levin replied this is not plausible. However, he did add when family members can be found in Poland, he is reaching out to them.
  • Phyllis reiterates the need for work camps.
  • This discussion drags on and Pat McDonald tries to steer the discussion into more productive territory.

Part 6: The Conclusion (READ: more talk of work camps)

  • Pat McDonald continues.
  • Phyllis restates, once again, the need for work camps and points out how it helped her brother (who later fought the Nazis in Italy) and that this came to pass in the Great Depression (which was before Mr. Levin was born).
  • Ms. McDonald tries to rebut.
  • Levin notes local efforts being made with St. Anthony’s Church and the Greenpoint Reformed Church.
  • Mr. Levin segues to the subject of the two hate crimes which came to pass earlier this year , notes that this seems to be part of a larger trend and implores folks that if they see something to contact the police.

And with that, gentle readers, this meeting came to a merciful end.

Miss Heather

Photo Credits: The “Clean and Sober” chaps in pink shirts come courtesy of Markuson’s Blog.

*Whose finances can be perused here.

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