The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

After All the Bluster, Bedford Union Armory Takes Shape

As many of we onlookers predicted, the Bedford Armory Project has become a reality after the tweaks necessary for all elected officials to feel satisfied they'd fought the good fight. The Q doesn't mean this cynically (well, maybe a bit.) The process played out like these things do in NYC. A bold plan is announced (nearly 5 years ago). Various factions protest and maneuver for political or activist advantage only to have the finished product look very much like the opening volley.

Then, there's that odd American tradition of the Big Shovel Pic. You know, the silly looking photograph of a bunch of well-dressed professionals smiling with a shovel. These photos take a lot of work to set up, from getting the implements to creating a pile of dirt adequate for the photo op. In this case, due to the nature of the project and its potential for good recreation opportunities in the neighborhood, I give it a thumbs up. In fact, shoveling itself is an excellent exercise, is it not? I mean, have you ever seen an unfit gravedigger?


Laurie Cumbo was attacked by our friends at...well, you know...for her part in this. And for all the sturm und drang, here comes this, courtesy of the very developer (BFC Partners) that put together the proposal.


My fave quote from the Kings County Politics article, which was part of the BFC proposal from the git-go, I might add:

The project will offer affordable space for non-profits and other civic organizations that will permanently call the Armory home. Ten organizations, including New Heights Youth, Imagine Swimming, Globall Sports Concepts, Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy, Digital Girl, Inc., Brooklyn Community Pride Center, West Indian American Day Carnival Association, James E. Davis Foundation, Carey Gabay Foundation, and Brooklyn Medical Plaza Center will have space for offices and programming in the Armory.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Cowboy Hit and Run

Such a wild story you'd think the Daily News would've bothered to get the details right. When a dollar van hit a B41, then sped off, it left part of its chassis wrapped around the back of the MTA bus.

Makes for an interesting moment in the lives of all involved. But the article? Get your facts straight y'all. Dollar Vans are licensed, the drivers insured, unLESS (and it's a big distinction) they're so-called "cowboys" who drive without registration or parent company. These have become few and far between since the DV companies upgraded to the much-larger 20-40 person mini-busses. It's much harder to ride bareback with a $100K vehicle. Bottom line, the dollar vans are a treasured facet of Flatbush life, and even though there's a rogue now and again, it's not worth bashing the whole lot.

Amazing picture though, no?



Friday, November 15, 2019

The Massive Tower at 123 Linden Will Include - A Charter School

When the nursing home at 123 Linden, and its beautiful front-facing former home to Council-Dud Mathieu Eugene's offices, sold property and aerial rights for the giant 23-story tower now nearing completion, the question on the minds of some (like me for instance) was...what's going to go into the huge "community space?"

Now we know.

It'll be an Ascend Charter School. Whatever your opinion of charter schools, it's a fact that Ascend serves a predominantly black population across its 15 schools in Brooklyn. Families give it high marks, and students achieve at well above the district standards. And so, in the spirit of civil open dialogue, the Q welcomes your thoughts on Ascend, on charter schools generally, and on the inclusion of one into an all market-rate building on Linden Boulevard. I know the zeitgeist scuttlebutt around integration, G&T, charter...but when you include the families of those attending charters like Ascend, sometimes the conversation becomes less one-sided. That's been my experience. How about you?



Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Dismantling and Mantling of Flatbush Continues Unabated

Did you know that mantling means to spread over a surface? That's actually kind of what's happening to our neighborhood. Dismantling is happening everywhere, of woodframes and townhouses and old "taxpayer" cinder-block commercial buildings. But a new surface arises, a vastly different veneer of new construction, much of it ugly, some it less so, all of it remarkably efficient to the task of gentrification. There is no plan - just outdated zoning laws and the whims of the marketplace.

Case in point. One by one, parcels that the Q identified years ago as "soft spots," properties perfectly suited for developers, have been snapped up. Sometimes it's for the better. Take the enormous building rising where the old Caton Market was. That building will bring hundreds of truly affordable units to the area, with priorities to current residents. Since the large parcel was City owned, it was possible to create an all-affordable building with relatively little pushback.

However, catty-corner/kitty-korner to that, the once dignified bank building (I opened an account when it was an HSBC back in 2003) will come down, along with the furniture store that was a Blockbuster Video when I first moved in. I spent oh-so-many hours wandering up and down the aisles, trying desperately to find something worthy of a watch-see. This was a time before Netflix, before Hulu, before Prime Video or anything on-demand. It's hard to remember what a big part of our lives these video stores became, once we all had VCR's or DVD players. My how the world changes and the wee ones grow. To those who wonder what we did before smartphones, I'd say "a lot looking for stuff to watch," because the modern world has become mostly about finding things, anythings, to deny the realities of the modern world.

Now, 815 Flatbush has gotten even bigger. So imagine this rendering but with considerably more apartments. Read all about it in the NY Yimby, of course. The corner in question, as currently mantled, below said smaller-than-it-will-be rendering.




Monday, November 4, 2019

Q-tips. Flyers, Flyers & More Flyers

Honestly, now, is this something you want to see on the regular? Cause I get these things, you know, and I'm happy to share but I just don't know, you know, whether anyone thinks this sort of bulletin board stuff is useful. I love it for the kooky designs and occasionally the actual info. But it's up to you, Q-sters. Q-tips, or no Q-tips?




















Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Amen, Mr. "Elected Without Cheating" President

Tired of watching people tear each other apart for not saying things the right way or being aggressive enough about criticising others for their less-than-woke views? Damn that shit's annoying, and yes it happens right here in Flatbush.

Maybe it's just cause I'm (basically) of his generation, but forever-MY-president said this and I hope it takes off. Maybe he has the authority to get the message through the muck:

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Get the Shirt! The Perfect Gift

What, it's like 60 shopping days to Christmas? Or forget Christmas (actually that's hard to do but whatevs.) Get one for yourself, like I did.

I get it. Maybe you don't look good in t's. Maybe no matter how hard you try with the bench press you can't get rid of those man-boobs. Why not replace that jiggling with neighborhood jingoism?

And anyway, everyone, he-she-they, looks sexier when wearing a bit of their own life on their chest. You live where? Why not WEAR where you live? Wear here, hear?

AND HERE'S THE KICKER. PROCEEDS FROM THESE SETH KAPLAN DESIGNED SHIRTS SUPPORT YOUR VERY OWN NEIGHBOR-CREATED-AND-RUN Parkside Plaza!!

How do you get one? Send an email request to: 

shirtsplg@gmail.com

Sizes S-XXL for Men and Women ($20) and XS-XL for children ($20).

Of course, my personal favorite is the Q.  But there's a Prospect Q/B/S, a Catbush shirt and now for a limited time only, street artist Shmotchsky is in on the fun. Those shirts are going for $35. Read about "famous" Shmotchsky here. I'm thinking I know who it is, and you do too, but shhhhhhh, don't tell anyone but Banksy.


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Boyd Sues Your Neighbors, Loses, Demoralizes, Sues Again, Loses

As Sia might say, she's "got stamina."

Long after many of us gave up on the Quixotic attempt to work with the City to plan the neighborhood's future, she keeps harassing, lying, manipulating, disrupting and most of all, suing.

The Q chose to keep this one closer to the chest as he really didn't want undue publicity to cause more attention to the issue than it was worth. But now that the lawsuit has been decided, I think it's worth sharing some of the gory details. The story, as short as I can, goes like this.

A couple years ago, a group of homeowners on Fenimore btw Bedford and Rogers (just the sort of side street the Q has been clamoring to protect) became alarmed that their block might be on the chopping block, and that soon homeowners would be tempted to sell to developers who would then cut up the lots, like so many other blocks in Central Brooklyn. BUT, they had a plan and some leverage. Deep in the deeds of these south-side of the street homes was the same covenant that led to the creation of the Lefferts Gardens Historic district, a distinction that led to a lowest density R2 zoning that in effect prevents any other uses than single homes. 50 years ago, their side of the street was inexplicably left off the Historic District application.

To achieve R2 for themselves, today, they would have to apply to the Dept of City Planning. With help from a capable consultant - Paul Graziano - they put together a proposal and went to the Community Board for help. CB9 was and is besieged by protests from Alicia Boyd and MTOPP, but the committee managed to offer its support of the Fenimore Block Association's request to co-sponsor the application, despite shout-downs and tantrums. By having a CB co-apply, the FBA was allowed to waive onerous fees in applying. All CB9 had to do, essentially, was sign off on the IDEA of downzoning that one block. Simple. Elegant. Everybody's happy, right?

Wrong. AB and co. concocted a twisted conspiracy theory that somehow your neighbors on Fenimore were in cahoots with DCP to turn this simple request into a district-wide planning study that they believe would lead to massive towers along Empire Blvd. I won't go into how ridiculous that is...if you haven't been paying attention til now, let me simplify. A zoning study would have LIMITED building size and downzoned inner blocks to prevent teardowns in exchange for reasonable sized buildings that are made with mandatory set-asides for affordable units. But it has NOTHING to do with this modest request, and DCP made clear that it is impossible to turn a straighforward spot downzoning request into a neighborhood-wide rezoning.

So what does she do? What she always does. Protest and sue. Sue, sue, sue. Sue me, sue you. (Lionel Richie?) Sue CB9, sue your neighbors, sue the CB9 chairperson and the head of Brooklyn DCP. Sue the way the board runs its meetings, or keeps records, or follows or doesn't follow rules. Why does she do this? To wear you down. To demoralize you. To make you question why you got civically involved in the first place. She sues for power, for supremacy, and to make up for the fact that no one in their right mind would appoint her to anything, ask her official advice on anything, elect her to anything.  I've wasted plenty of time trying to figure her out. But like #45 she's simply too mysteriously deranged to be lumped into a category. The issues are deep, and while she frequently raises good points, she drowns the good with the bad every time out. It's fascinating, unless you're in her cross-hairs, then look out! It's hunting season!

If you want the whole 12-page decision it's fascinating and incredibly well-researched - just email me. One finding in particular of note - Community Boards are not required to provide Open Discussion time. That's not what Open Meetings mean. You're allowed to BE there when public business is being discussed to be decided, and to CB meetings generally, but you're not entitled to a soap box. And Open Meeting laws don't apply when it's just informational for members or when internal information is being shared. If de Blasio calls a bunch of his advisors into his office the public is not entitled to show up. But if a vote is being held or discussed, and it doesn't involve private personnel issues, then yes the press and public are entitled to reasonable access.

So CB9. Cut her off at the mic. No more speeches and disruptions. And if she gets up to make a scene, have her thrown out. The courts have made clear that you have legal standing to take her out of the room when she keeps you from your business. For me, I prefer to save my sanity. I wish you well, new chair Fred Baptiste and company. Enjoy your last Tuesdays of the month!

My favorite bits from the decision below:





Monday, October 21, 2019

Halloween, New Asian Food, Stodios & You

If you want to be safe while you walk, be sure to keep your center of gravity low and make certain your forward foot is firmly planted before lifting up your back foot. A cane helps, but shouldn't be used to lean on, but rather to add balance and to provide support in an emergency. If you find yourself needing to lean on something, a walker is a better alternative. Nearly 90% of elderly people who fall do so as the direct result of a fall. Don't be foolish. Falling is serious business. In fact, my aunt in Tucson fell and is now in hospice. Here's a billion dollar idea for you - airbags for seniors. They open up as you teeter providing a cushion, perhaps even righting your loved one after impact.

However, if you're looking for a great place to Trick or Treat, look no further. Right here in Lefferts, Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York up in the Historic District. Just strap on an outfit and join the throngs for a SAFEPATHWALK, brought to you by the 71st Precinct once again. The route is below on this, the exact same flyer that's been used for the past dozen or so years, updated with the correct year of course.

as you can see, policeman, cat and pirate are already taken.
And if you're bemoaning the loss of Flatbush Ave's longtime Chinese not-so-Great takeout place Great Wall, cheer up. A new pan-Asian food place is opening up soon in its place at 719 Flatbush tween Clarkson and Parkside. As you can see the food will be both Delicious AND Ready. Plus you can get Bubble Tea.



Finally if you're looking for an $800 STODIO you're in luck. Stodios are perfect for rodeo clowns and bronco busters.