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, October 31, 2013

111 Clarkson - The New Owner Of Haunted House Speaks From Beyond the Grave!

Sven Carlsson wrote a great piece on the Haunted House of Clarkson - 111 to be precise. And he talks to the new owner. From the article:

For Seth Brown, the investor who bought 111 Clarkson in September, the choice is a stark one: tear the house down, or make it financially viable. Brown said market forces will decide its fate. “The question becomes, can the house be restored and rented out or sold for more than what it would cost to restore it?”
Since the piece is a super read, I'll leave the question unanswered. Go to the Brooklyn Inc and you can read the whole ghost story.

Sven Carlsson takes pictures too


Tonight - Join the Safe Walk Trick or Treating - All Invited

Doesn't that haunted house in the flyer look suspiciously like the haunted house they're tearing down on Clarkson near Bedford? Oooooh. Spoooooky.

Don't forget - if you see some little ones walking up and down the avenue who look like they don't know about the safe walk, please alert them. It's a really nice, sweet experience for the kiddies, particularly those who haven't had the fun of walking residential door to door rather than bodega to bodega to 99cent store.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Victory on Ocean! Tree Guards!

Thanks to the tenacious dedication of Amy M., Ocean Avenue is getting tree guards. She simply wouldn't take no for an answer, and we can all thank her for a more purty street along the park.

And thanks to Jesse at the Borough President's office for pushing it through. And Marty too, of course.




Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Zoning Issues Addressed At CB9 Meeting

The Q was encouraged to see such a large turnout for a ULURP Committee Meeting at the Community Board 9 office on Nostrand near Carroll. I counted nearly 30 people. There haven't been that many folks at a committee meeting (by my recollection) since the proposed shutting of Crown Street for a Medgar Evers greenspace.

While the pic here is not from this particular meeting,
Mike Cetera, who looks a little like the guy in front, led the meeting.
it is representative of the direct opposite experience of last night's meeting of neighborhood minds, since the conversation was frequently stimulating and led by thoughtful questions and answers from many longtime residents of the Lefferts area.

Stan and Jackie Myers were there, they of the petition that on the Lefferts Listserv elicited some rather skeptical responses. Jackie and Stan are celebrating 49 years of marriage, and they're going for the Gold folks! It was clear that they've done their homework, as Jackie came prepared with a bevy of documents that helped elucidate the response that the committee eventually drafted. Given the tenacity evident in their expression of feeling on the issue, I don't doubt that they could in fact compile "hundreds" of signatures against the 626 Flatbush project, regardless of the utility of such an effort.

In a nutshell, it would appear that community opposition to the height of the planned building at 626 is quite significant. No one at the meeting seemed to be in favor of the project as is. Whether or not there's anything to be done about this particular building remains unclear. Certainly were enough of NYC's power brokers and neighborhood elected officials engaged (de Blasio as Public Advocate cum Mayor, Adams as State Senator cum  Borough President, Tish James Council cum Public Advocate, Mathieu Eugene Council cum Council, Hakeem Jeffries (Assembly becummed Congress), Yvette Clarke (Council becummed Congress), Karim Camara (Clergy becummed Assembly) etc etc 626 could certainly be held up in bureaucratic limbo. It would seem that there is significant enough passion on the issue that such an effort could be mounted. However it's pretty late in the game, and it's probably a longshot at best. Still, given how many people I've spoken to who favor the project, had I been at this meeting only I'd judge near universal opposition to the currently planned development.

So the topic turned to current zoning in the neighborhood, and the question before the committee was how best to proceed to make changes. Some argued for an immediate request to rezone the Flatbush/Ocean corridor, while Cetera favored a District-wide effort. An intern with the CB has been asked to map the entire district, which is full of various zoning numbers and letters that could be jumbled a la alpha-numeric soup to create a vision of the neighborhood going forward. One thing is perfectly clear - the current appetite for Development in Brooklyn is reaching into the area quickly, with whole houses and buildings being razed for new projects. If the community wants to take action on how this will play out, now is clearly the time. It may be that some favor a laissez-faire approach. Their numbers were not represented last night.

Letters have been written to the NYC Planning Board requesting an immediate survey and reconsideration of zoning in the neighborhood generally. Some in attendance vowed to take their fight to elected officials.

Oh, and a dude from Planet Fitness was there saying they would be operational in the Phat Albert building by January or February. They'll have 3,000 sf on the ground floor (next to the Car Wash) and 16,000 sf on the second floor. The community seemed enthused about this development and the motion to grant permits for a "Physical Culture" facility passed unanimously. FWIW, the Physical Culture designation and needed permits grew out of concern for the rise in "massage parlors" etc in the '70s. The rep from P.F. assured us that there will be no offerings of a sensual nature permitted at their facility. P.F. is known as a no-frills center that is generally quite reasonable...from $10 a month he said! Wow. There goes that "it's too expensive" excuse.

Monday, October 28, 2013

New C.O. for the 71st Precinct

In a developing story, it would appear that Deputy Inspector Lewis is out as head of our precinct. I'm not speculating, so don't ask just yet...

STRONG possibility it will be Inspector Fitzgibbon from Canarsie.

A quite interesting take on the changeover comes from the Lubavitcher side of the precinct. It's worth a read both of the article and comments on the informative and always culturally enlightening Crown Heights Info blog.


Tonight's Meeting on Zoning

A repost, lest anyone miss it:

As promised, the Q is here to tell you that months of bickering about the who, what, where, why and how around TALL buildings in Lefferts is leading to this: a community-voted assessment of how we'd like our neighborhood to grow. The only way to influence that meaningfully is to work with the City on zoning. And the only way to influence the Community Board's decision-making is to show up at Committee meetings on the issue. Let me be very clear: it is usually too late to wait til the day of the actual vote, which will happen on the fourth Tuesday of some month - an actual Board meeting. Committee meetings are where the details and wording of any proposal get worked out, and they are also open to the public, and are held at the CB9 office, and are generally small enough for your voice to be heard. The committee then recommends action to the full board. Many members of the Board will assume the committee has done its due diligence, and will likely vote with the committee's recommendation. Some, but not all of course. And some may even be swayed by public comment on the day of the vote. So if you can't make it, you should be sure to show up for a final vote and sign up to speak.

BUT...

This Monday the 28th at 7PM, the ULURP (Universal Land Use Review Process) Committee will meet to discuss zoning changing to Lefferts and Dodgertown (a cute micro-nabe east of Kings County Hospital before Utica).

AND if you act now!! On the same agenda, we'll be discussing whether to let Phat Albert's open a gym. Apparently Mr. Albert Srour will need various permits that require approvals. I've heard many people say they're excited about the proposed Planet Fitness at that location.

Here's the agenda with the deets:

Watch Debate at LPT at Rescheduled Date and a Banksy-esque work in Caledonia

Mary S. sent me word that a bunch of folks are organizing a Debate Watch Wednesday night (Oct 30) at Lincoln Park Tavern at 6:15 in order to get a buzz on before the 7pm kickoff. Should be fun, especially if Jimmy "Rent Is Too Damn High" McMillan is at the podium. The first 30 people to arrive get...um...a seat!

And what's this?


Caught on film by Elizabeth C. this sweet piece of art isn't funny or audacious enough to be an ACTUAL Banksy, but it seems quite apropos for its 123 on the Park (formerly Caledonian Hospital) location. The Q may not know a lot about art, but he know what he likes. And I likes.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Q Northbound - You Can Take It Anymore!

Explorer Duck says the Q will be back in action on the City-bound side starting Monday. Good news for those chilly morns...southbound to shut down soon.


Friday, October 25, 2013

The Q Can't Take It Anymore

Is the below INSANE video related to the neighborhood? Really?

You bet. Not only is there a Micky D's right across from my beloved Q, the neighborhood is literally teeming with fast food joints that all pay the same. I'll let the vid speak for itself, but if this doesn't get your dander up then try Selsun Blue...


Must Reading: That Building Across From the Pop-Up Halloween Store That Used to Be HSBC

Montrose Morris, as brilliant as ever, on a building I'd always noticed looked neat but never took the time to examine closely. At 818 Flatbush.

And how 'bout that Pop-Up Halloween store right across the street, where the HSBC bank used to was? Kids love it! And the prices are...scaaaaaary...my daughter's Dorothy costume is made of a material not much more durable than tissue paper. And the dang dog in a basket came separately! And no ruby slippers! How can you call it a Dorothy costume without Ruby Slippers? That's like a hot fudge sundae with ice cream sold separately. I know I know we live in Brooklyndia, we're supposed to hand-create our costumes out of hemp cloth and radical creativity. Y'all knock yourself out, I'm going to Ghouls and Gourds with plastic and polyester and I'm getting a good night's sleep thank you.




Thursday, October 24, 2013

Now's the Time to Weigh In and Be Way In To Rezoning

As promised, the Q is here to tell you that months of bickering about the who, what, where, why and how around TALL buildings in Lefferts is leading to this: a community-voted assessment of how we'd like our neighborhood to grow. The only way to influence that meaningfully is to work with the City on zoning. And the only way to influence the Community Board's decision-making is to show up at Committee meetings on the issue. Let me be very clear: it is usually too late to wait til the day of the actual vote, which will happen on the fourth Tuesday of some month - an actual Board meeting. Committee meetings are where the details and wording of any proposal get worked out, and they are also open to the public, and are held at the CB9 office, and are generally small enough for your voice to be heard. The committee then recommends action to the full board. Many members of the Board will assume the committee has done its due diligence, and will likely vote with the committee's recommendation. Some, but not all of course. And some may even be swayed by public comment on the day of the vote. So if you can't make it, you should be sure to show up for a final vote and sign up to speak.

BUT...

This Monday the 28th at 7PM, the ULURP (Universal Land Use Review Process) Committee will meet to discuss zoning changing to Lefferts and Dodgertown (a cute micro-nabe east of Kings County Hospital before Utica).

AND if you act now!! On the same agenda, we'll be discussing whether to let Phat Albert's open a gym. Apparently Mr. Albert Srour will need various permits that require approvals. I've heard many people say they're excited about the proposed Planet Fitness at that location.

Here's the agenda with the deets:


Please Get Back In Your Car and Remove Your Vehicles: Now

On Tuesday, Community Board 9 voted to request that MTA remove the vehicles parked daily near our beloved trees at Flatbush/Empire/Ocean. As you recall, this is part of a grand plan to redesign the entire plaza, starting with a soon-to-be launched Kickstarter campaign to aid the David Eppley artwork affixed to the Flatbush Trees. We're now looking for PLGNA to send its own letter in support of the same.

The letter's draft is below and was approved near unanimously. Btw, we need everyone's help in the coming months and years to make this vision happen. We're on the path.


October 23, 2013

METROPOLITAN TRANSIT AUTHORITY
MARKETING AND CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS
347 MADISON AVENUE, NEW YORK, NY 10017-3739 – 5TH FLOOR
RE: TRANSIT AUTHORITY EMPLOYEE PARKING (OCEAN

AVENUE & FLATBUSH AVENUE, BROOKLYN)
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN

COMMUNITY BOARD 9, BROOKLYN, AS A RESULT OF NUMEROUS COMPLAINTS RECEIVED REGARDING THE “ILLEGALLY” OCCUPIED TRANSIT AUTHORITY EMPLOYEE PARKING LOT LOCATED ON THE VACANT LAND OWNED BY THE CITY OF NY, (DCAS) AT THE INTERSECTION OF FLATBUSH AVENUE AND OCEAN AVENUE, ADJACENT TO THE PROSPECT PARK Q-TRAIN SUBWAY STATION, THAT SERVES OUR DISTRICT; IS WRITING THIS LETTER TO REQUEST THAT THE TRANSIT AUTHORITY EMPLOYEES DISCONTINUE PARKING ON THIS PROPERTY TO FACILITATE THE BEAUTIFICATION OF THIS HISTORIC GATEWAY TO FLATBUSH, BY NYC DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION’S PUBLIC  PLAZA PROGRAM.
THIS SITE IS IN PLAIN VIEW OF THE SOUTHEAST ENTRANCE TO BOTH PROSPECT PARK, AND THE BROOKLYN BOTANICAL GARDENS, AND BOTH INSTITUTIONS WOULD GREATLY BENEFIT FROM THE REMOVAL OF THIS INCONSIDERATE EYESORE, OF A CHAIN LINK FENCE WITH RAZOR RIBBON.

PLEASE NOTIFY THE COMMUNITY BOARD, AS TO WHEN THE COMMUNITY CAN GAIN ACCESS TO THE SITE, SO THAT INSTALLATION OF THE PEDESTRIAN PUBLIC PLAZA BY NYC DOT CAN COMMENCE.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH THE MTA, IN PLANNING FOR FUTURE UPGRADES TO THE FLATBUSH AVENUE, Q SUBWAY STATION WHICH WOULD BE SERVED BY THE PROPOSED PUBLIC PLAZA.

RABBI JACOB Z. GOLDSTEIN, CHAIRPERSON
COMMUNITY BOARD 9 – BROOKLYN
XC: BROOKLYN BOTANIC GARDEN, NYC DEPARTMENT OF PARKS, PROSPECT PARK ALLIANCE, PROSPECT LEFFERTS GARDEN NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION, NYC DOT, COUNCILPERSON EUGENE, COUNCILPERSON JAMES, ASSEMBLYMAN ADAMS, BORO PRESIDENT MARTY MARKOWITZ, MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG

Must Viewing: Flatbush at Church Fashions

Must to click!

NYTIMES on FLATBUSH/CHURCH

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Great Googama Moobama

Stealing a page from the Q's penchant for mangling the phrase Grape Google Moogle, Delson Schmelson brought to my attention with the above phrase earlier in the day the closing of Prospect Park for the President's visit to P-Tech High School, which is located in what essentially could be called our neighborhood, in the sense that it takes place within the Greater Central Brooklyn area, of which the Associated grocery store near Ebbets Field is the acknowledged capital.

Some Q readers will undoubtedly ask whether it's actually overkill to close the  entire Park. Hardly, and here's why.

In order to handle the ENORMOUS propellers of Marine One (some say this bird's wingspan reaches 800 feet), the only two logical places to land were Greenwood Cemetery and Prospect Park, and securing the perimeters of either would be necessitated by the needs of the leviathan vehicle. Knowing that landing in Prospect Park would upset thousands of potentially UNdead just days before Halloween, the White House chose Prospect Park where the most vocal opponent will likely be A.O. Scott of the NY Times whose barbs are witty and terse, but rarely grotesquely fatal.

In the below picture it is impossible to gauge the actual enormity of Marine One, except to say that the copter in the photo is actually A HALF MILE AWAY from the man at the podium and he's STILL being blown over by the sheerocity of the wind.


Warning: The noon to six time period on Friday would be a terrible time to fall asleep somewhere quiet near the Nethermead only to awaken to Secret Service and handcuffs. Stay clear folks. The Great Bama Mama is coming to town, and he wants to feed some ducks!

Ghost Costomers

courtesy of C. Starr

If the 7-Eleven isn't even open yet, for whom is this sign intended? And is anyone actually going as a 7-Eleven for Halloween? Or does 7-11 now make custom costumes for customers?

I think we may have a Spell-Check problem here. Costumer is an actual word, and I know a couple accomplished costumers right here in the neighborhood.


And did you know that 7-Eleven was the originator of the convenience store concept? It says so right here:

Despite the fact that the above document looks awfully official, I'm wondering...was Joe C. Thompson really the first person to sell Eggs, Milk and Bread on Sundays and evenings? Was there nowhere in NYC or Boston to purchase these items in tandem after church, or early eve after quaffing a round or two of hooch at the local doggery?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Halloween Safe Walk

Doesn't that haunted house in the flyer look suspiciously like the haunted house they're tearing down on Clarkson near Bedford? Oooooh. Spoooooky.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Halloween on the East Side

CONFIRMED ROUTE AND TIME: 71st Community Council Precinct and the 71st Precinct Halloween Walk is Thursday October 31st @ 5:30pm on Rutland & Flatbush.

Route: Walk will begin on Rutland Road & Flatbush Ave & will proceed in Rutland Road to Rogers Ave to Midwood Street to Bedford Ave, left on Midwood Street to Bedford Ave, right on Bedford to Maple Street, right on Maple Street to New York Ave, left on New York Ave to Empire Blvd to the 71st Precinct.



Pslope (pronounce pslope) might have the biggest and most historically hyped Halloween parade in B-town, but if you have little ones and aren't hip to the Lefferts "Safe Walk" Trick or Treat route, let me dial you in. The 71st Precinct shuts down traffic on a few blocks on Halloween night with the help of the Lefferts Manor Association, and all the lucky single-family homeowners in the district get to pony up the booty for a truly sweet and sugary good time for all. Tell all the kids nearby that if they want to get off the main drags, where bodega owners reluctantly scoop out goodies, that they are ALL more than welcome to participate. I heard a group of kids asking last year if they were "allowed" to trick or treat on the Safe Walk streets and the answer is an emphatic yes. This is an opportunity for families to experience a true door-to-door trick/treat early eve without fear of razor blades in apples or smashing pumpkins (neither gourd nor band).

The route will be announced in a few days, but it's usually a sinewy path down the Maple/Midwood/Rutlands of the 'hood between Flatbush and Nostrand. A lot of local families have grown used to being on the route and really put on a show. Having gone for the last three years I can tell you it's truly one of the loveliest nights in the neighborhood. (Eric L: Please have my Twix at the ready. And yes, Prospect Park has a lot of fun Halloweeny stuff though it's mostly to the West of us.)

This Saturday don't miss Ghouls and Gourds at the Botanic Garden from Noon to Six. It's an outstanding good time, and this year my favorite junior high school aged band Unlocking the Truth are playing! When you click the below, make sure you make it to at least 50 seconds in...these guys make me SO want to be 14 and in my first band again...though this kind of music didn't even EXIST yet...



Sunday, October 20, 2013

PPA Knocks One Out Of Own Park


Dang this one's good. If you have kids, or you're entertaining having them, or you're entertaining them while they're in town, or you're pretending you're them, or you just like looking at repurposed hurricane-damaged timber, head on over to...to...that area of the park just south of the Vale of Cashmere. There you'll find the newly opened Donald and Barbara Zucker Natural Exploration Area. On the Q's third visit in a week, I can guaran-friggin-tee you that kids absolutely LOVE the unstructured aspect of the place. They're free to roam and use their imaginations, and the worlds biggest sandbox (this side of a beach) is perfect for little diggers and builders. I'm not quite sure why it works so well, except to say the five-year-old still scurrying around somewhere in my brain instantly loved it, balancing on stumps and stuff. It's somehow really refreshing, given that so many playgrounds feature the same basic forms and lawsuit-proof tableaux.

And now that we've come to the adults-only end of the post, let me warn you that the amazing Vale of Cashmere itself, with its ruins of fountains and gardens is not totally family friendly yet. It's still very much a Pickle Park, and the gentlemen whom you'll see wandering the wooded areas are not strictly nature lovers, though some are drawn to express their nature in a manner typically expressed privately. This would be perfectly harmless of course, except for the quite unnatural plastic refuse left behind after these natural expressions, and the fact that these performances often happen during daylight and can easily be happened upon quite by accident. There is also the small matter of the fact that the exchange of products or currency often coincides with these supposedly private performances, making these frequent occurrences often run afoul of local and state ordinances. So...watch where you step, and don't stare too closely unless you want an eyeful!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Precinct Says Worst May Be Behind

Sonja Sharp
Sonja Sharp of DNA Info attended Thursday's 71st Precinct Community Council meeting (it meets once a month on the third Thursday) and wrote that Deputy Inspector Jack Lewis is feeling pretty upbeat about the future. Here's what he said at the mtg according to Sharp:

"The start to the year was very, very tough,"  Deputy Inspector John Lewis, the precinct's commander, told residents at the precinct community council meeting Thursday. "I think we had the greatest increase [in crime] in the city back in April, May and June. We would get called down to headquarters to explain what was going on — we got grilled plenty of times on it."
But as of autumn, police believe they've finally stemmed the tide of mayhem that began in January and lasted through the spring. 
"In June, we were up 25 percent," Lewis said. "Right now, the crime rate is the same as it was in 2012, which means we went from a 25 percent crime increase to none."
Lewis credited the falling crime rate to a strategic deployment of extra resources from around Brooklyn South, combined with a series of critical arrests that landed longtime neighborhood troublemakers behind bars. The drop in shootings has been a particular point of pride for the precinct.
"We haven’t had a shooting since Labor Day. If you discount the incident on Labor Day, we’ve only had two shootings since June 22," Lewis said.  "Out of 19 shootings, they’ve had arrests on seven. Eleven or 12 people were arrested, and every one of those people are in jail."
If you want to peak at stats through Oct 6, here's the full breakdown.

I'm glad to hear that that the added resources are being credited for something. The Q's been falling this saga very closely and meeting with the precinct on a regular basis. I wish I could share the optimism for our neck of the precinct, or tail, depending on which side of the precinct you consider the "head."

I will say this - there has been no question that the PTB (powers that be) have heard us roar. Or at least loudly meow.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Very Wingate Halloween

From the "Friends of Wingate" and elected officials Eric "In Front of the Flag" Adams and Mathieu "Inside the Flag" Eugene comes this offer-too-good-to-pass-up. Wingate Park is a fantastic neighborhood resource, replete with exercise facilities, track and field, playground and programming that includes great concerts every summer. Just head east on Hawthorne and you'll see what I'm sayin':

Here's the Flyer:


FREE ADMISSION!! (Donations Welcome) Friends of Wingate Park will be staging the “3rd Annual Halloween Family Fun Day Event at Wingate Park on Sunday, October 27, 2013 in keeping with our overall mission to keep the “Wingate Park clean and safe for the community, to connect with our neighbors and create a friendly environment for our children". This is a family event and everyone is welcome!

The Third Time is a Charm is this year's theme, so be ready for participating with your children in creative, fun and magical activities! Adults can win prizes too like a surprise gift package sponsored by Nene's Secret hair products!

Located at the corner of Brooklyn Avenue and Rutland Road in Brooklyn, Wingate Park is an important landmark in the community. As we seek to build community activism, more neighbors join together to drive out negative influences and create positive free, fun, healthy programs.

This event provides an opportunity for agencies and other businesses to provide helpful information about jobs, community boards meetings, health care and apprenticeship programs for the members of our community. We project an attendance of 200 persons and would therefore like you to consider donating or partnering with us in any of the following Wish List items:

- 100 Pumpkins
- Refreshments
- Face Painting
- Sound/DJ
- Live Entertainers
- Magician/Clown
- Party Supplies: Decorations; Noisemakers; Balloons; Pens; Crayons; Paper; Tables; Chairs;Special prizes and give-aways

Monetary contributions can payable to: Friends of Wingate Park.

We are very excited about this year’s event and look forward to your usual kind support and participation. For further information or clarifications, please do not hesitate to call me at 917-627-7690 or email: friendsofwingatepark@gmail.com
.

Best Regards,

Vivia Morgan Executive Director Friends of Wingate Park



Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pedestrian Hit At Treacherous Intersection

Parkside and Flatbush, about 8:45am. Anyone witness?

Elizabeth C

Mathieu Eugene Plans Community-Building Forum - Next Thursday Oct 24

Your Councilman and mine for the 40th district, on the ballot as the Democratic Party candidate on November 5 against Sylvia Kinard (Rent is 2 Damn High Party) and John Kelly (Conservative Party), is holding a Community-Building Forum over at MS2 on Parkside near Nostrand. Should be a chance (as the press release states in three separate but equal sentences) a great chance to meet with folks from various agencies and have your voice be heard on a whole host of topics. The Q is a big fan of these sorts of get-together, and hopes you will show up and be a part of the magic. If you haven't met Mathieu yet, this will be a great chance - turnout is not generally huge and you should have a chance to chat. Plus, if you have an issue that is near and dear, you can bring it up here, talk to his aides after, then follow up on the phone (this is also known as "hounding" to those in the biz).


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Help Q Gardens This Saturday

Think on this:

and this:

Exactly!
 
More to the point, that little triangle of post-apocalyptica behind the Church Ave Q/B station could soon be sprouting fresh Truffula thanks to some enterprising greenthumbs from South Caledonia/North Dimas/Mid Flatbush/East Kensington/West East-Flatbush/SW PLG. If you've ever walked down or up East 18th Street you'll surely have noticed Makari de Suisse, the shop directly across the street from the lot in question, and wondered what the heck? Well, the shop and the name on the sign have nothing to do with each other, as Makari de Suisse is a natural skin lightener and the market is...not. Star bellied Sneetches. Follow the logic?
 
From the Q Gardens crew:

This Saturday from 12 - 5pm, we will be working together to make signs to hang on the future Q Gardens fence. We will be meeting on the sidewalk next to the lot (at East 18th Street and Church Avenue, behind the Church Ave B/Q subway entrance). We will provide as many materials as we can and invite folks to bring food to share if they would like. Everyone is welcome to come by at any point from 12 - 5pm to meet others/learn about Q Gardens/help decorate the signs, etc. 

We have made great strides with the MTA and hope to have access to the space very soon! We look forward to making the garden a welcoming place for everyone in the neighborhood!

Anne and Ali
  For more information about Q Gardens, please call 503-866-7195 (se habla espaƱol) or email alimhaggerty@gmail.com

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Two Things

Item one, regarding 626 Flatbush, the hot-button topic of the nabe recently...

Back in 2008 a letter was drafted to the Planning Commission to downzone Flatbush and Ocean between Empire and Parkside. That would have limited future building in the 'hood. So those who say their protest of the proposed glass building on Lincoln Road was successful, it was...but only to a point. After CB9 sent it, no one followed up. The request was never acted on. Had it been, 626 never would have happened at 23 stories. That's right folks. I don't know who was leading the charge, but perhaps due to the fact that the Glass Cathedral was never built made folks assumed things had changed. There was that messy little affair called by some the Great Recession...

So now, there will be a vote coming up to resend the letter, because it was never given the proper review and back-and-forth. You read that correctly. Resend. There was no need for PLGNA or any other group to pen the letter, because it had already been written. The resend WILL however be put to a vote to ascertain community sentiment on the matter five years on.

That is just so weird I can hardly believe it, except to say that's what happens when you don't have effective...and here's that word again, leadership.

Itemo Numero Dos, we now have 9 people signed and fingerprinted to ride around in those C.O.P. cars. Please join! The NE part of the precinct has a program with 31 people! C'mon now, if the Lubovitchers can handle that many, the Leffertsonians ought to be able to get to 15!!

Look for the C.O.P. cars to start rolling near the end of this or beginning of next year. Hey, those Priuses aren't gonna drive themselves!


More Bang Bang on Winthrop

Last night around 3am, shots were heard on Winthrop, though exactly where they came from has been hard to determine. No one was hurt, or at least not to the point of alerting the authorities. Some thought it was Winthrop 2; some Winthrop 1. Please know that any and all info you may have could be useful in retrieving evidence. Please comment or email me.


This was the response from the 71st:

There were numerous 911 calls last night. There are conflicting reports to where the gun shots actually came from so I cannot say for sure an exact location. Unfortunately we have no witnesses or ballistic evidence. DI Lewis has assigned the Special Operations Lieutenant to do  a follow up investigation and call all 911 callers back in an attempt to gain more information and possible witnesses. We will be increasing plain clothes units in the area in an attempt to stop any further gun violence. We will also be doing extra targeted patrols in to the area. - Vinnie at the 71.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Wherein the Q Eats His Words And Some Delicious Lollipop Lamb Chops

I don't even recall anymore when I got the reputation as the guy who doesn't like Lincoln Park Tavern, up on Rue de Lincoln. It was called Enduro at one point, and before that Fly Fish. Back in those days I wasn't too impressed with the food but nonetheless I pretty much always enjoyed myself there. I was a bit surprised that I didn't like it more, since owner Jim Mamary had been an owner at Smith Street pioneer Patois, a place Mrs. Q and I frequented and loved during our long courtship. But whatever. Then I started writing a blog, and happened to call up the often cited Landlady of Lincoln, Rong Ge, to get her side of an ongoing series of accusations I'd heard about her. So I listened to her and printed her take on things. This was the post, going back nearly two years now. I got some hate mail as a result, since supposedly I shouldn't have given her a public forum. I caught some flack for saying Enduro's food was lackluster or something to that effect, and calling them out for bad health grades, then I started hearing that me, the guy who SHOULD be talking up the neighborhood (to whom exactly I don't know - future renters?) had dogged the one good sit-down restaurant and that I was somehow a traitor to the cause of upscaling Lincoln Road. Nonsense. It was a flip remark or two, and all I was doing was giving Rong a chance to speak. I asked for a rebuttal from Enduro, but no one took me up on it. Once the name changed and the bar opened, I happened to have another fateful dinner in which my burger arrived charred to core. The bun was stale and the service, that one particular night, was terrible. And I'm not hard to please, really I'm not. I mentioned it on the blog, and from then on it was official. The Q hates LPT.

Well, I've been a couple more times in the last year and really enjoyed it. A couple weeks ago, a friend took me out and I tried a bunch of the off-menu specials, and the food was great. I've since learned that Alfredo, the expert chef from the Mexican state of Puebla, famous home and birthplace of mole poblano. He was out during an extended illness around the time I was posting the above stuff, so I guess my timing was off, though a restaurant really can't afford a serious downgrade in the food or it loses its luster. So I had a nice sampling the other night (full disclosure I did not pay for the meal and it was late so I was very hungry) and everything was absolutely above par, from the lamb chops to the arugula salad (thank god it wasn't kale, which if you hadn't noticed is DEFINITELY having its time) and calamari and so I can honestly say that I like LPT, or Enduro for you old timers, pretty darn well and I'm glad it's here to stay, even if we hear rumors from time to time that it's for sale or this that and the other.

Below is a picture of manager Laura and chef Alfredo from just the other day. Thanks y'all for the nice time and a good meal.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Don't Throw Away Your Old Electronics - Dump Them In the Park!

From the good folks at the Prospect Park Alliance and City Parks Foundation, comes this highly useful and laudable event, the Upcycle Fest. The short and the long of it is that you get to bring your old tech crap to various locations in Prospect Park and dispose of them properly. How many of you, knowing full well that it's way wrong, have simply dumped a cell phone, battery and all, into the household trash? Or how about that fax machine? Or printer? C'mon now, be honest...

One last question, since the press release uses a couple names for entrances to the park that I've never heard of, and had to ask - how many of you know which is the Willink entrance? And the Bartel Pritchard lot? In case you didn't, Willink is the "Wendy's Entrance" and Bartel Pritchard is the "Pavillion Movie Theater Entrance."

I plan on bringing my various useless old plug-in-ables to the Willink...how 'bout you?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 8, 2013

~
UPCYCLE FEST LAUNCHES 
IN PROSPECT PARK

RECYCLE YOUR OLD ELECTRONICS &  
HELP SUPPORT PARKS - OCTOBER 27 & 28

Clean out your desk drawers, closets and office shelves and join thousands of New Yorkers for Upcycle FestTM! Bring your outdated electronics to Prospect Park, Sunday, October 27th, and Monday, October 28th and drop them into the designated trucks where they will find a new life after being Upcycled. This sustainable solution to the buildup of old electronics helps to decrease the negative global impact that throwing out devices has on our environment, all while helping to support City Parks Foundation and Prospect Park Alliance.

"Every New Yorker I know has old cell phones and electronics that they don't know how to dispose of," said Alison Tocci, President of City Parks Foundation. "We are thrilled to be able to offer a safe and environmentally friendly option for people to recycle these items at no cost and by doing so support the work City Parks Foundation does throughout the five boroughs."  

The Upcycle program is run by Causes International, a green cause company committed to environmental stewardship and charitable giving. Upcycling creates funding for non-profits and charities by extending the life cycle of donated consumer and corporate IT electronics. The process is safe, secure, and guarantees 100% data destruction while preventing items from going into landfills, poisoning the planet and all that inhabit it.

"Prospect Park is the perfect location for Upcycle Fest™ and we are very excited to be an integral part of the first one in New York City," said Emily Lloyd, President of the Prospect Park Alliance.  "Upcycling in Prospect Park allows New Yorkers an opportunity to recycle their old electronics sustainably, while at the same time raise funds that help the Alliance maintain ball fields and playgrounds, restore historical structures and landscapes, and protect wildlife habitats."

Sunday, October 27th 9am - 2pm
            3rd Street Entrance off Prospect Park West - walk-ins
            Willink Entrance -Drive-in drop-offs
            Grand Army Plaza safety zone - walk-ins

Monday, October 28th 8am - 2pm
            3rd Street Entrance off Prospect Park West - walk-ins
            Willink Entrance - Drive-in drop-offs
            Grand Army Plaza safety zone - walk-ins
            Bartel Pritchard Lot - walk-ins on Monday only

City Parks Foundation (CPF) is the only independent, nonprofit organization to offer park programs throughout the five boroughs of New York City. We work in over 750 parks citywide, presenting a broad range of free arts, sports, and education programs, and empowering citizens to support their neighborhood parks.  Our programs and community building initiatives reach more than 600,000 people each year, contributing to the revitalization of neighborhoods throughout New York City.

The Prospect Park Alliance (PPA) partners with the City of New York and the community to make Prospect Park the beautiful place Brooklynites know and love. We care for the natural environment; preserve historic design; provide facilities; and host events, programs, and activities throughout the year for all New Yorkers.

Causes International (CI) Causes International is a green cause Upcycle company, that turns e-waste into funding for non-profits, charities, and foundations without anyone writing a check. Causes' Upcycling programs bridge environmental stewardship, sustainability, and philanthropy and provide organizations turn-key solutions at no cost.

What can you bring to Upcycle Fest™?  Below is the scope of products collected:
  • Apple products (all)
  • Cellphones (all makes and models)
  • Smartphones
  • Computers (desktop and laptop)
  • Cable/Satellite Receiver
  • Commercial Printers
  • Computer Peripherals (Keyboards and Mice)
  • Consumer Printers
  • Cathode Ray Tubes
  • CRT Monitor
  • CRT TV smaller than 40 inches
  • CRT TV 40 inches or Larger
  • Digital Picture Frames
  • Digital Converter Box
  • DVD Player
  • DVR/Tivo
  • E-Reader
  • Fax Machine
  • Flat Panel Monitor
  • Flat Screen TV smaller than 40 inches
  • Flat Screen TV 40 inches or Larger
  • Gaming Consoles
  • Video Games
  • Handheld Audio/Video
  • iPod/MP3 Players
  • Notebooks (Laptops)
  • Scanners
  • Monitors
  • Mice
  • Keyboards
  • TV's
  • Cameras
  • Video Cameras
  • Small Server
  • VCRs
  • Wire (Cords from Compliant Devices)
Contact: Nora Lanning / City Parks Foundation / NLanning@CityParksFoundation.org /
(212) 360-8205

Contact: Eric Landau / Prospect Park Alliance / elandau@prospectpark.org / (718) 965-8953

Contact for information about Upcycling: Julie Shane / Causes International / julie.shane@causesinternational.com / (781) 444-8800






Friday, October 11, 2013

Come Clean and Weed and Plant Bulbs at the Parkside Playground Tomorrow Morning!

Just got wind of this, so sorry for the late notice. The Parks Dept itself organized it, but their organizing of their getting the word out was a bit on the rushed side. No matter...it should be another great morning in this superb neighborhood amenity. Basically, the lead gardener will be out their weeding and planting and cleaning and mulching and stuff. It's a great way to share the world of gardening with youngsters, and an excellent way to work on your deep knee bends and stretches if you're a creaky adult. C'mon down!

It's My Park Day At Parkside Playground

at Winthrop Street between Rogers and Bedford Avenues (in Parkside Playground), Brooklyn

9:00 a.m.12:00 p.m.
Please support local volunteerism at Parkside Playground. Enthusiastic volunteers will weed and mulch garden areas and plant bulbs.Free!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Dismantling and Zoning - Changes Already Underway

On my block there stood three old houses. Generally nicely kept, these old frame Victorians stood out, not just because the block is mostly big apartment buildings on that east end, but because of the yards and porches and big parking lot out back (probably once yards) rented for many years by neighborhood residents. The houses were on the market intermittently individually then collectively. You could have bought one for about $700,000 two years ago. But when the owner sold all three, she sold to a developer who plans a large building, as large as they can build successfully given the R6 zoning. One little hitch involves a covenant written into a deed that limits what can be built, so the developer is going to have to negotiate a settlement with the big buildings to its left and right. We'll see what happens. Basically, the whole block wonders what will happen when this thing goes in. Talk about change! Not much to be done but wait I guess. Right now, you can see the workers taking down the roof (pictured), often without the proper safety gear. Typical practice. There are slum developers and slum contractors just as their are slum lords.



Now as for the R6 thing that I just layed on you like I'm some sort of City Planner guy, I had to look that up on a map, a map that's available to any of you wanting to know what your zoning is. Just plop your address in here and you'll get a key to the map that shows your nabe, or rather part of OUR nabe. Then you'll need a glossary of the various zoning designations like the one here. It's not too hard to figure out from there, though they throw a lot of jargon at you that gets easier to decipher if you read ALL of the designations to get a sense of how they differ. The Residential districts start at 1 and go up to 10, and were you to DOWNzone a district you would move it from say R7 to R6. If you were to upzone it you'd go, say, R4 to R8 etc. Urban planners and architects are rolling their eyes, but hey, most of us have no clue about this stuff, so I'm explaining as I learn okay?

The area of Flatbush to the Park is zoned R7-1 (the one having to do with how much off-street parking you must provide). Lefferts Manor is an R2 - low buildings, low density. My block's an R6. The Flatbush Trees plaza is surprisingly the dumpiest of commercial designations, C8, which is like car washes and auto body shops. I guess there used to be a gas station there at some point, that's probably how that happened, or rather WHY that happened. Now it's a parking lot, used by the MTA, which has no right to be there (hey, we're working on changing that over at the CB, starting with a letter to vamoose from PLGNA)

What's it all mean, Mr. Green Jeans? Well it means that buildings like 626 Flatbush and the original big ol' glass tower that was going to go at 31 Lincoln a few years back are perfectly legal, because their FAR, which is basically how high you can build on a certain size lot, gives you the option to build pretty darn high. Were the neighborhood to decide, through the proper process, to CHANGE that designation, you'd only be able to build so high. There are actually ways to build higher in an R6 than the roughly 6 stories associated with it (the 6 stories and the R6 designationare kinda coincidental, but it makes it easier to remember) that have to do with creating a plane from street to sky, an angle as it were, but I'll leave that to those who know better about such things. Beyond just size of buildings and type, the City Planning folks can create incentives to developers to build certain kinds of housing. That could be very useful to proponents of more affordable living options.

That's pretty much the simplistic version that I'm reading. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

So all this talk about one "side" wanting development and the other "side" not wanting it and how much less tall is Patio Gardens than the new building at 626 and whether people protesting the old skyscraper plan on Lincoln had anything to do with anything and whether more people are for or against skyscrapers along Flatbush and whether poor means lower middle class or what affordable actually is...it all comes down to zoning. There haven't been any zoning changes around here in decades. What IS relevant is that the process is ALREADY in motion. Some folks came to CB9's ULURP committee last month and proposed downzoning the Flatbush and Ocean areas from R7 to R6. That will go through committee and be drafted as a motion and the committee will either vote for or against and if it's approved then it will be brought before the full Community Board for a vote. It's the old ye who gets the first motion into the chairman gets to write the language thing, from Robert's rules or some such thing.

Folks, that's what's happening. You snooze, you lose. Or rather, there's still plenty of time for you to do some research about how other neighborhoods are dealing with R7 vs R6 zonings, or talk to developers about what can and can't be built to whatever specifications you may have in mind. And you can form a group in favor or opposed and perhaps wheel in some experts on the subject. Or not. But it's on the table, and probably not coming off anytime soon.

And yes, it's too late to stop 626, if that's what you want to do. No one I've spoken to who seems to know what they're talking about would disagree with that assessment. UNLESS of course, the new mayor wants to take it on as a pet project. The Mayor is the Big Cheese in this town, with all the real muscle, and could actually stop a process in motion. Quite unlikely, but that's the only scenario I can imagine.

In the meantime, let's all relax a bit, because the difference between R7 and R6 isn't so great, and isn't going to stop development. What we're talking about essentially is height. And if what you really want around here is tall buildings, not just more or better ones, then get your best game face on and get to work. You'll probably face some stiff competition from those who want to limit height. But I don't think they want to limit development itself. Or at least, that's not what I've heard anyone say yet.

And as the picture above is meant to illustrate, as well as countless posts I've done in the past, big D development is here in a big way whether you count 6, 10, 16 or 43.5% higher 23 stories into the sky.

Predatory Landlords

From the Brooklyn Eagle today comes word of a subpoena against the sort of activity that will need to be reigned in much more in the coming years due to rising rents and landlord, um, overreaching. Sometimes when I discuss the issue of people being forced out with folks they seem to think that pressure and psychological warfare on tenants in neighborhoods of rising rents is exaggerated. I only know what happens on my own block, and it ain't pretty. Here's the article and let me know if you see this happening around where you live. Perhaps it's worth calling in some complaints to get the process rolling. It doesn't have to be like this...landlords can play by the rules, profit from increased rents to newcomers, and still take care of the basic needs of tenants, and make a healthy profit. If folks were making money before, they'll certainly make MORE now.

Let's not fool ourselves...this sort of disregard to the rights of our neighbors is an affront to human dignity.

Subpoena issued against Brooklyn landlord accused of harassing tenants

From Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Office

The State’s Tenant Protection Unit (TPU) has served a subpoena on a landlord who is alleged to be violating the rights of tenants in Flatbush and Crown Heights. 

The subpoena demands documents from Homewood Gardens and seven other properties with a total of 181 units, owned and managed by Yeshaya Wasserman. Wasserman has allegedly engaged in a pattern of abusive behavior and flagrant violations of rent laws.

“New York State will not let landlords get away with profiting off of tenants through dishonest and illegal schemes,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “When we launched the Tenant Protection Unit last year, my administration established a new strong tenant watchdog to stop harassment and prevent discrimination. These subpoenas are proof that the TPU is actively fighting to ensure that predatory landlords have no place in New York.”

Darryl C. Towns, commissioner/CEO of New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), which includes the TPU, said, “In interviewing the tenants in these buildings, we understood how vulnerable they feel – some of them terrified about potentially losing their homes. As a native of Brooklyn, I know most landlords of rent-regulated housing here obey the law, dealing fairly and honestly with their tenants. Thanks to the governor’s leadership, the TPU is diligently responding to reports of harassment and unlawful behavior – and rooting out those few bad actors to hold them accountable.”

Long-term tenants at Homewood Gardens (651-667 Brooklyn Ave., 652-668 Brooklyn Ave. and 416-444 Hawthorne St.) contacted the TPU to help them with the landlord who they claim was victimizing them by failing to cash rent checks, failing to provide services including heat and hot water, pressuring tenants to vacate their apartments, subjecting tenants to frivolous housing court proceedings and doubling and tripling the rent soon after purchasing the property.

Additionally, a preliminary audit of agency records has shown that the landlord often registered rents with the agency as exactly $2,500, regardless of the amount previously registered. Doing so allowed the landlord to claim that the rent had reached the deregulation threshold – and could exit regulation. Agency records show that the landlord may have also unlawfully deregulated apartments while receiving a J-51 tax abatement, which mandates that apartments remain rent-regulated.

Aga Trojniak from the Flatbush Tenants Coalition, which worked with the TPU on the investigation, said, “For tenants who have been suffering and struggling with harassment, knowing Governor Cuomo’s agency is investigating provides immeasurable relief. But the relief is not just for the tenants of one bad landlord – it extends to other tenants who may similarly be tormented by an abusive landlord. Tenants and advocates now have somewhere to turn.”

Edward Josephson, director of litigation, South Brooklyn Legal Services said, “Landlords cannot engage in corrupt practices which threaten and endanger tenants. Harassment by landlords that violates the law will not be tolerated. We are delighted to be working with Governor Cuomo’s Tenant Protection Unit to halt this discriminatory and abusive behavior.”