Quicklink/Op Ed: Turdpedo Shuts Down McCarren Park Pool?

Yes folks, it would appear this is indeed the case. Or was an errant piece of feral furniture in need of a dip to beat the summer heat to blame? In this respect CBS’s account is rather ambiguous.

In all seriousness: why is this news? Sure, I’m always open to Caddyshack/Baby Ruth jokes (as the video opening this tome attests). But really?

We all know how the adage goes: shit happens.

And occasionally it happens in our public spaces. This is nothing new. I have seen all manner and variety of effluvia in our subways, streets, stoops, etc., over the years. However, any and all incidences involving our newly re-opened pool seem to merit media scrutiny. Why is this so? I can assure you, gentle readers, there are much more pressing matters here. I do my best to cover some of them on this site.

Nonetheless since this site is— albeit in petite form, media— I feel compelled to direct some scrutiny of my own to the matter of our pool. Without further ado, here it is.

Last Thursday when I walked by there were to my recollection no less than two squad cars, a “meter maid” vehicle; a van commandeered from the 83rd Precinct (which I can assure you has problems of its own*), and a North Brooklyn Task Force vehicle. Given there were no crowds to control, simply a family of four peaceably entering this facility and an entrepreneur who had set up a table selling locks for $5.00 and (amusingly enough) diapers I have to wonder if this presence was a mite bit excessive.

But then again, our Finest follow orders. Their mandate is to protect and serve. My question is exactly who they are protecting and serving?

No one seems to be the least bit outraged that a “secret” meeting was organized to discuss the matter of our pool. One in which our City Councilman, Assemblyman Joe Lentol, the head of the 94th Precinct, and Christine Quinn were involved (among others). You should be. Among the manifold number of things I learned were:

  • Mayoral candidate Ms. Quinn seems to have organized this meeting. The sign-in sheets had her name on them. She does not reside in this community. This raises an eyebrow.
  • D.I. Hurson noted that all of the individuals apprehended had extensive criminal histories. He told me personally that one of the men involved in the “tear gas” incident (in which he himself was shoved) had been arrested— but not prosecuted— for a shooting at the Cooper Park Houses. The reason he was not prosecuted was because the victim (or witness) would not cooperate (probably because he/she was scared out of his/her wits). Given the number of 94th Precinct Community Council Meetings I have attended I am hardly surprised by this. Representatives of the Cooper Park Houses attend and speak at them regularly. They do so because they are tired of the violence and want it to stop.
  • Parks Enforcement Officers (who should be the “first line” of defense, if you will) were not allowed to attend this meeting (but the Lifeguards’ Union apparently was). I find this quite troubling.
  • The matter of registration cards was posited by our City Councilman. Apparently this practice is employed at the pool on Metropolitan Avenue. While it might— might— deter “evil-doers” from patronizing the pool, it would probably also discourage otherwise law-abiding citizens as well. For example: those who are not fluent in English or are uncomfortable filling out such paperwork (because they are recent immigrants, be they legal or otherwise).

Let’s assume for a moment registration cards do deter “bad guys (and girls)” from using the pool. This will simply send them somewhere else. Preferably from hence they came. If some the really ugly commentary** I have seen on Facebook and elsewhere is any indication this what a great many of my neighbors want. Not me.

The conclusions I have drawn, albeit with what little information I do have, are as follows:

  1. The real issue with the pool is the fact that crime (and the criminals which engage in them) which have become commonplace elsewhere in our community have made themselves manifest in an affluent, “hip” area.
  2. The pool is simply a new location for an already extant problem. (Although Parks/OSA made a number of mistakes and for these they should be held accountable.) Had, for example, the fellow who was involved in the tear gas incident been actually tried for the shooting two years previously would that “fight” have transpired? I think this is worth considering. (As is this woman’s take on what happened, which differs greatly from all other accounts of what happened— but I digress.)
  3. Thus, it would only be logical (if not politically expedient) that attention be paid to law enforcement in general as opposed to a small army being posted at the pool. It clearly was not needed when I walked by.

Like I said: I have little information from which to work. Most of the people reading this tome are in the same proverbial boat. Hence why the matter of the pool should be explored in a public/town hall forum. One in which our elected officials, police department and community board members are present to ask and answer questions. And most importantly of all: listen to us, the public.

Some semblance of transparency and dialogue is going to do a hell of lot more for this community than yet another tome about turds. CBS and their ilk have no vested interest in what happens here. Their sole concern is clicks (READ: revenue). Shit sells. (I should know.)

*These stats are from 2010. Note the asterisk point about the 81st Precinct.

Here’s a comparison of the 83rd Precinct’s CompStat numbers to the 94th’s.

And for the simple sake of comparison here are the 90th’s (which, it should be noted was recently rated as #5 in the entire city regarding the use of “Stop and Frisk”).

**Which can be, at best, politely described as thinly veiled racism.

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…

LAST GASP: 239 Banker Street Gets SWO’ed (again)

July 2, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Perhaps this has something to do with the pile of debris this fellow saw at this building’s “open house” last weekend? Among other things. Follows are a few complaints about this property I found interesting. Enjoy!

From The New York Shitty Inbox, Part II: McGolrick Park, Worse Than Ever?

In an email addressed to Assemblyman Joseph Lentol’s office, the 94th Precinct’s Community Affairs Office, Brooklyn Parks Commissioner (Kevin Jeffrey), Community Board 1’s Parks Supervisor/Open Space Alliance North Brooklyn’s Executive Director (Stephanie Thayer); City Councilman Steve Levin’s office and 50th Assembly District Democratic Leader (Lincoln Restler), among others a lady named Holly writes today, July 2nd, 2012:

I am writing this as a follow-up to the December 9, 2011 meeting concerning conditions at McGolrick Park.  While it was said that a subsequent meeting would be held in April 2012 to readdress the issues presented, that of course never happened.  And now seven months later, McGolrick Park is in worse shape than ever.

I will try to keep this letter as brief as possible, because I am very tired. . . tired of constantly volunteering and fundraising for a park that is continually destroyed, tired of continually pointing out problems that need to be addressed only to have those concerns fall on deaf ears, tired of being forsaken by the Parks Department and local politicians (with the exception of Lincoln Restler) who obviously do not care about the well-being of the park itself and the community that surrounds it.

I am attaching pictures I took today of the degenerating conditions of the park, and they should speak for themselves, but I would like to make the following important points:

1) The middle entrance on Monitor Street between Nassau Ave. and Driggs Ave. has become a residence for local drunkards.  The area reeks of urine and alcohol and there are copious amounts of garbage and liquor bottles strewn about the area.  They have literally lived in that unmaintained, isolated “meadow” for the past two weeks.  It is disgusting and absolutely unacceptable. (Photos attached. I have taken the liberty of assembling them into a slide show which graces the beginning of this post. — Ed. Note.)

2) The benches at the center of the park have been destroyed for probably the tenth time since the December meeting.  Graffiti is rampant. The Belgium stone surrounding the Monitor statue has been vandalized. The bulletin board has been broken – again.  Garbage is openly thrown around the center of the park by the group of destructive and abusive teenagers that continue to haunt the center of the park.  (Photos attached.)

3) There are trip hazards throughout the park.  My group, The McGolrick Park Schools Alliance, donated and laid 1 ton of new top soil in the spring, filling in several of the larger trip hazards, but many remain.  The other day my 2 ½ year old son was running through one of the lawns and suddenly fell directly on his nose.  It was a large hole obscured by grass that made him fall.

4) Many people of this community blame the seasonal workers for the poor maintenance of the park.  It is true that you can often see these workers sitting in the shack or on the benches.  But let me be clear that the park workers are NOT to blame.  If they are not working to their full potential then it is only because they are not receiving sufficient supervision and guidance.  Moreover, after volunteering with some of these workers I was appalled to discover that they don’t have one functioning pincer and no work gloves – they have to buy their own safety supplies, and that is a travesty.  So I gave them a bag of work gloves which is apparently more than their employer is willing to do.  Also, I want you to be aware that these workers are verbally abused by aggressive teens and drunks on an almost daily basis.  These workers, who literally have to clean the shit of the park, are treated as such, and they are given no support or power to improve their working conditions/our park.  There should be a protocol put in place whereby workers are given the ability to call for police support at even the inkling of being threatened, or as soon as they see vagrants or vandals.

5) As has been true for years, the bathrooms of McGolrick Park are absolutely disgusting.  Parents resort to allowing their children to relieve themselves on the perimeters of the playground rather than risk exposing their kids to the horrible bathroom conditions.  This of course presents another set of health and safety issues.  Moreover, urine and feces from resident drunks can still be found/smelled throughout the park.

6) The center pavilion is in absolute disrepair.  Bird nests have destroyed the woodwork and so much graffiti has been haphazardly painted over that it looks atrocious.

7) I feel it should be known that following the December 9 meeting, and announcing that I would be starting a community group for McGolrick Park, I received a call from park officials “encouraging” me to work with The Friends of McGolrick instead of starting my own group (which would target children and families of our local schools).  In addition, I was told that any police reports concerning the park should be left to Morgan Pehme (Mr. Pehme is the head of the Friends of McGolrick Park Group— Ed. Note) to make.  So essentially, I was being asked to give up my fundamental rights as a citizen to accommodate the needs of others.  Thankfully, I stuck to my guns and refused to work with “The Friends” as I clearly knew from the start that the group was impotent.  To my knowledge they have not held one clean-up or community event within the park, and what is more infuriating is that they were handed $2500 from Exxon Mobil that has not been used or accounted for.  This is money that should have been used for the benefit of our park and community and no one knows where it has gone.

This will be the last time I will reach out to those civil servants who are responsible for maintaining the health, safety, and beauty of our local park.  I no longer wish to see my hard work and energy go down the drain because the people in charge just don’t care.  However, if you are a community member reading this letter and are as outraged as I am, please forward this to others, and contact those officials that this email is addressed to.  Tell them that you agree with these words – maybe then, someone will be held accountable and our park and neighborhood can change (back) for the better.

Holly

Here’s the deal, folks: Holly is not the only concerned citizen who is disgusted with the deteriorating state of this park. It was brought to my attention after last week’s Public Safety Committee meeting by a life-long Greenpoint resident and yet another parks patron has seen fit to do some documentation of her own. Her focus was on public defecation. Without further ado, here are her findings.

I honestly do not know what I can say that I have not said many times before— but I will do so (again) anyway. Until we as citizens, our civil servants and elected officials take up the matter of the homeless (and addiction) problem here honestly and realistically, I do not see anything changing. I was both saddened and disgusted when I happened upon a man who was clearly in need of medical help today in plain view of the McCarren Park Field House and the recently (re)opened pool. The latter of which, not surprisingly, has been receiving a great deal of police attention the last two days.

UPDATE, 6:51 p.m.: There appears to have been another incident at the McCarren Park Pool. Click here for Gothamist’s take.

UPDATE, 7:47 p.m.: Holly gets a response— and responds!

Reader Comment Du Jour: A Dispatch From 239 Banker Street

July 2, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Some of you might recall that last week I posted an item about Greenpoint’s my favorite illegal residential conversion: 239 Banker Street. More specifically that this— one of Greenpoint’s more notorious “loft spaces”— was to have an “open house” last weekend (as seen at left). In this tome I wrote:

Your eyes are not deceiving you, Greenpointers. This weekend there will be an open house at 239 Banker Street! Those of you who are curious to see what an illegal residential conversion in an Industrial Business Zone looks like (or simply want to ask Mr. McHale a lot of really uncomfortable questions about the legal status and history of this building) this is your golden opportunity!

Guess what? Someone did! A commenter who calls himself/herself “gittlebass” writes today, July 2nd, 2012 (NOTE: I have taken the liberty of bold-facing my favorite passages— and there are many!):

i went to this.

1) the first broker never showed. when asked if we could see an apartment he said “if the door is open just go in and look around” which i did, and it was a horror show reminiscent of the basement scene from the burbs, i just couldn’t find the furnace. Also, they did the ol’ “This apt is on calyer and franklin” then when i got there “oh its a mistake in the ad, go to 239 banker st”

2) he said the rooms can be built out to whatever i would like. Ok, ill bite, how about…i dont know…windows and floors!? there was a huge mound of dirt in the middle of the hallway and bricks for where there should be a window. the realtor on the phone assured me that this would be ready for july 15th, which is impossible just short of a miracle in which jesus returns as the carpenter he was in order to build lofts for the poor.

3) All the apts had to be moved in by august 1st, no exceptions. i found this odd and asked them about it, they didn’t have a reason why, just that they had to be occupied. I was offered a free months rent to get me in there

4) It was a realtor frenzy there. I asked about the legality of the building because of its sordid past, and they offered to show me the documents that proved they were legal, only thing is, they had the docs in the office and had to go get them if we wanted to see them. i said i did and that i’d wait patiently, but she couldn’t leave cause there were other people coming to check out the place (red flag). She also told me that all my info was wrong and that no one was ever evicted. then there was this other broker who asked if i had a broker,  i said he didn’t show up and then the broker who was there did the “money rub” with his fingers and at that point i left

overall it’s a shit show there and i feel bad for anyone who gets duped. save your money and get a nice place to live for cheaper. hell, even the gawdy condos they keep building are cheaper and LEGAL.

Fascinating!

UPDATE, 11:45 p.m.: It would appear 239 Banker Street was served a Stop Work Order this weekend. Click here for the deets (they’re interesting to say the least).


 

From The New York Shitty Inbox: A Dispatch From The McCarren Park Pool

A person we’ll call “E” writes (in an email entitled “McCarren Pool/Hot Tip!” at 6:33 p.m.):

the pool is lovely. up until the lifeguards tried to get someone to stop doing something. lifeguard jumped in the pool. another got pushed in. fracas! punches were thrown, not too many people involved. they kicked everyone out and closed the poop an hour early. 2 squad cars and 2 unmarked cars were on the scene. alas, no photos.

Interesting/relevant fact: We used to have a Parks Enforcement Police “PEP” Officer in our district. The powers-that-be got rid of him. Happy Friday.

UPDATE, 8:33 p.m.: Here’s the 411 per 94th Precinct’s Community Affairs office:

No riot… Just a fight involving 3 people and then a lifeguard tried to intervene (and) got hit by accident (no injuries).

Thus, the person witnesses saw taken away in an ambulance was a lifeguard— and the above missive from the 94th intimates his injuries were not severe. Does this mean this incident isn’t worrisome? It is. What transpired today raises (in my opinion) a very important question:

Exactly what IS the protocol at the McCarren Park Pool for handling emergencies— be it a fight, a medical emergency, accident, etc.?

Unlike McCarren Park (or any park here, for that matter) pool users probably do not have cell phones handy to call 911 if /when an emergency arises— so who does? Thoughts/information, anyone?

P.S.: While I am fairly certain “E” meant “pool” in the third sentence, it gave me an opportunity to share one of my favorite parts of Caddyshack (and there are many). Such is one of the perks of being one’s own editor.

P.S. #2: Why is it whenever something bad happens at McCarren Park it is located in Greenpoint?

I’d really like to know.

 

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!

New York Shitty Day Ender: Cognitive Dissonance

June 21, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Under the Brooklyn Queens Expressway at Morgan Avenue.

From the Jefferson Street stop of the L train.

P.S.: For those of you who are keeping track this is what this homeless encampment looked like as of May 31, 2012.

On June 8th I was personally assured by our City Councilman, Steve Levin, that it has been taken care of. Taken care of = the homeless have been rousted and the Department of Transportation has added admonishments via neon orange spray paint that trespassing is prohibited. In other words: the homeless problem in our community has not been solved.

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: 239 Banker Street, Revisited Once Again

June 4, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Once again, a word from our City Councilman:

Heather,

I have noticed your posts and am glad you continue to bring light to the issue of lofts in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. The Loft Law was designed to protect residential tenants who, knowingly or unknowingly, moved into manufacturing or commercial spaces and it may grant rights for tenants to save and stabilize their housing and avoid the excessive costs associated with being vacated.  With regard to 239 Banker Street, I cannot say whether they will be covered by the Loft Law.  However, when the building was vacated in 2009, many tenants suddenly lost their living spaces as well as thousands of dollars in rent and security deposits.  I do not want to see a repeat of that event.  I will work to ensure that all building code issues at 239 Banker are addressed, but I hope to avoid seeing another vacate order if possible.  All I can do is try to spread the word about the Loft Law so that tenants in such spaces can apply for coverage that they may be legally entitled to.  Of course, the Loft Board will make final determinations about each application individually.

And I suppose “ensuring all building code issues are addressed” includes doing work without a permit on a Sunday?

New York Shitty analysis: they ain’t doing pointing.

You can view this, the latest advertisement for the “lofts” at 239 Banker Street on Craigslist by clicking here.*

*A casual search of this phone number netted this gem:

Alas this apartment is no longer available. I have little doubt the availability of “bras” is to blame. In closing, here are a few screencaps of advertisements from StreetEasy for 239 Banker Street for your viewing pleasure:

  • NYS Flickr Pool

    MagnoliaOnderdonk HouseRear-door onlyOne Step at a TimeSocial DistancingUrban CowboyFace mask in the RainSocial Distancing
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