"The First Thanksgiving 1621" by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1899) | Source: Wikipedia

“The First Thanksgiving 1621″ by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1899) | Source: Wikipedia

We’re taking a long weekend, so we here at Sheepshead Bites, Bensonhurst Bean, and Corner News Media wish all of our friends a Happy Thanksgiving. We are thankful for so much, particularly our friends, family, and our family of readers who continue to make community journalism… a thing to be especially thankful for.

Just a reminder to those of you who aren’t traveling, here is what’s doing with government offices, parking, sanitation, transportation and libraries. Basically, everything is closed, not happening, or running on a holiday schedule, so kick back, relax (unless you’re doing the cooking), watch some football, enjoy time with your loved ones, and most importantly, stay safe! We’ll see you back here on Monday morning.

electeds and principals ps11 national blue ribbon school awards
Sheepshead Bay’s PS 254 (Dag Hammarskjold) and Clinton Hill’s PS 11 (Purvis J. Behan) schools’ 2014 National Blue Ribbon School Award wins were honored on November 20 with a ceremony at Brooklyn Borough Hall. School principals Alonta Wrighton (bottom left) and Linda Alhonote (bottom right), as well as Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Assemblyman Walter Mosley, and Council members Laurie Cumbo, Chaim Deutsch, and Education Committee Chair Daniel Dromm were all in attendance at the event to celebrate two outstanding Brooklyn learning institutions.

“[I]t is my privilege to celebrate this success,” Councilmember Deutsch, whose district covers PS 254, told the crowd. “Together they are an example of excellence and I commend Principal Alhonote and Principal Wrighton, as well as the staff and students for exemplifying a quality that can be upheld as a model for others.”

“The academic excellence of [these schools] is a direct reflection of our community’s unwavering commitment to… the success of our administrators, faculty, parents, but most importantly our students,” Councilmember Cumbo said at the ceremony, during which students from the chosen schools performed. “The designation of these two institutions as the 2014 National Blue Ribbon Schools… recognizes the hard work of the staff, the dedication of the parents, and the strong leadership of [these ] Principals… it is important that we continue to support our schools and inspire the future leaders of our city, state, and nation.”

Principals Wrighton and Alhonote each received special citations at the event, and PS 11 and 254 were presented with New York City Council Proclamations.

Congratulations again to all the students, faculty, and other supporters of this year’s Blue Ribbon schools, and keep up the good work!

Photo courtesy Councilmember Laurie Cumbo

chipotle-2

I spent way too much time making this happen.

First Starbucks. Then Red Mango. Now Chipotle Mexican Grill is headed to Kings Highway, replacing longtime clothing store Beverly Boutique at East 14th Street.

Wooden fencing recently went up around 1325 Kings Highway, and permits were issued in late September allowing the interior to be reworked for the establishment of a Chipotle Mexican Grill. Since then, additional permits have been issued for interior and exterior demolition and signage.

It’s the second Chipotle in Southern Brooklyn, with the first being at Kings Plaza. There is one in Bay Ridge as well.

Chipotle is known as a healthier fast-food alternative, selling burritos, tacos and salads that might make you need to buy special products from Billy Mays’ ghost.

Kings Highway itself seems to be on the way to a remarkable turnaround. When the economy tanked in 2008, vacancy rates along the strip skyrocketed. Now national chains are stepping in to fill the gap alongside mom-and-pop businesses, including T.J. Maxx, and several new commercial developments have popped up. Perhaps the largest one currently underway is the construction of a commercial and office space on the block-long stretch between East 16th Street and East 17th Street.

Are these chains good for Kings Highway, and the mom-and-pops that have historically fueled the strip’s growth? You tell us.

Leonid Fridman (Source: Handout via DailyNews.com)

Leonid Fridman (Source: Handout via DailyNews.com)

The boss of a Brighton Beach-based construction firm was convicted of ripping off his own workers, failing to pay them required wages on a job at JFK Airport, and will now have to dole out $200,000 in backpay as part of his sentence.

Leonid Fridman, 60, owns Millenium Commercial Corporation, located at 200 Brighton 15th Street. The company was hired as a subcontractor for tile restoration in the renovation of the TWA Flight Center at John F. Kennedy Airport in 2009 and 2010, where he was required to pay employees prevailing wages on the taxpayer funded project – $50 per hour for laborers and $70 for tile setters. Instead, he doled out as little as $10 per hour, according to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

To hide the deceit, Fridman made phony documents, including payroll reports and fake paychecks.

“Mr. Fridman is being held accountable for stealing wages from workers who renovated parts of JFK,” said Schneiderman in a statement. “My office will continue to take strong action, including filing criminal charges, against employers who violate New York’s labor laws, steal taxpayer dollars and violate the public trust.”

Fridman pleaded guilty to grand larceny in the second degree, and agreed to pay $200,000 in restitution. He’s also banned from working on public works projects for five years, and is sentenced to five years of probation.

 

Thanksgiving Turkeys via Brooklyn Public LIbrary

Thursday, November 27 is Thanksgiving, and if you’re headed out of town, here’s hoping your travels are safe and easy despite the crummy weather. If you’re sticking around the neighborhood, here’s some information you might need to know:

Government Offices, Parking, And Sanitation

Government offices, post offices, public libraries, courts, and the Department of Motor Vehicles are closed.

There is no mail delivery.

Public schools are closed Thursday, November 27 and Friday, November 28.

Alternate side parking and meters are suspended. No stopping, no standing, and no parking regulations are suspended except where those regulations are in effect seven days a week or at all times.

There is no garbage or recycling pick-up. If Thursday is your regular garbage collection day, put your items out after 4pm Thursday evening. If Thursday is your regular recycling day, wait until next week to put out your recyclables.

Subways And Buses

All trains and buses will be running on a Sunday schedule — remember that means no B train.

Libraries

All branches of the Brooklyn Public Library will be closed on Thursday.

Photo via Brooklyn Public Library

Photo by Savva Svet; Click to enlarge

Don’t be offended, other photographers – I frequently embrace hyperbole as a literary device.

From the photographer:

Phantom 2 drone and a GoPro Hero 4. Stitched two photos together. It was taken from Corbin place… To the right you can see the bay on Emmons ave, and to the left Brighton 15th boardwalk.

Sweet!

Photo by Savva Svet

nypd-1

Car break-ins remain one of the biggest drivers of crime in the area. Thieves smashing car windows to steal sometimes as little as pennies from a cup holder are one of the reasons for the spike in crime recorded in the latest Compstat report from the 61st Precinct.

While motorists should feel comfortable parking their car wherever they like, the reality of the situation is that thugs take advantage of dark streets and look for indications that the car might have valuables inside. The local precinct’s Crime Prevention Unit recently sent out a batch of tips to help reduce your risk, and the area’s crime stats.

To make sure you’re possessions are as safe as possible, here is a list of safety tips:

  • Do not leave satellite radios, portable GPS system, or suction cup on windshield whether temporarily parking or parking overnight.
  • Do not leave wallets, purses, backpacks, jewelry, credit cards or any other valuable property in your vehicle while it is parked.
  • Do not leave cell phones or other electronics in the glove compartment.
  • Activate any theft deterrent devices you may have.
  • Do not leave packages or valuables in the vehicle.
  • Do not keep your license, registration or title in the vehicle.
  • Make certain that your vehicle is locked.
  • If possible, park in a bright, well lit area.
  • If you have a garage, use it. Lock both the vehicle and the garage.
  • Install video surveillance within the vicinity of the garage or driveway where your vehicle will be parked.
  • If you have video surveillance conduct periodic maintenance to make sure they are in good working condition.
  • Position the cameras so that it will be able to capture a good image of an individual’s face but secure enough to prevent any possible tampering.
  • Install wheel locks on your vehicle to help deter theft of tire and rims.
  • Contact the 61st Precinct Crime Prevention Officer to have your vehicle VIN etched.

You can learn more about the 61st Precinct’s VIN etching and other crime prevention programs by calling the Crime Prevention Unit at (718) 627-6832.

The Parks Department says it can avoid routine maintenance by replacing wooden planks that warp over time, seen above, with concrete and plastic. (Photo by Ned Berke)

A site trailer and construction fence were installed at Brighton 15th Street this month – a first step in a controversial plan to replace the Riegelmann Boardwalk’s iconic wooden planks between Brighton 15th Street and Coney Island Avenue with cement and plastic. But several elected officials are expressing outrage about the work, and at least one is threatening to cut off funding to the project.

Construction on the Coney Island Boardwalk officially began on November 11, the Parks Department confirmed, despite fierce objection from community members, advocates, and local politicians who disagree with the plan to replace the boardwalk with artificial materials.

“I remain very disappointed that the Parks Department is moving forward with this major change to the boardwalk without completing any safety studies to determine the impact it will have on the community,” said City Councilman Mark Treyger. “The Parks Department is also ignoring the will of the local state lawmakers who allocated this funding for repairs, and not for a new concrete road down the middle of the iconic boardwalk.”

The state lawmakers in question are Assembly members Alec Brook-Krasny and Steven Cymbrowitz, who together allocated $10 million to the Parks Department in 2009 for general repairs and improvements to the 2.5-mile span. The funding can be cut off at the lawmakers’ discretion – but only before the contracts are signed. That time has passed, but Cymbrowitz said he’s still going to find a way to close the funding spigot.

“I am outraged that Mayor [Bill] De Blasio and Commissioner [Mitchell] Silver have fast-tracked the destruction of an iconic landmark in southern Brooklyn. As I wrote to Mayor de Blasio, concrete and composite plastics are a poor approximation for a boardwalk. It’s a boardwalk, not a sidewalk. There are also significant safety concerns with this project since no impact study has been done,” said Cymbrowitz in a statement. “This is an underhanded misuse of the money and the mayor knows it. I will work to make sure that the millions of dollars I allocated are cut off. I fought hard for the boardwalk to be repaired, not to fund the elimination of the boardwalk as this community and all New Yorkers know it.”

He’s backed up by both Treyger and Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who say that the funders’ intentions should be considered in how their money is spent.

“The money came from Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, and whoever gave the money for the boardwalk should have a voice in it,” Deutsch told this outlet.

Even though Coney Island’s boardwalk survived Superstorm Sandy relatively unscathed compared to the Rockaways’ concrete walk, Mayor Michael Bloomberg deemed all wooden boardwalks insufficient to withstand the ocean’s surges, and commissioned them to be replaced with concrete. That was the plan anyway, following a 2008 directive from Bloomberg’s office that city agencies would stop using tropical hardwoods – the type used to construct the boardwalk – for environmental reasons. The de Blasio administration has continued to press forward with those policies.

“Using tropical hardwoods could contribute to the climate change that helped destroy the boardwalk in the first place and it would be more expensive,” said a spokesperson for the Parks Department. Critics point out that there are other options, including sustainable domestic hardwoods such as Black Locust or White Oak, that can be used.

But the lower cost of maintaining concrete, long a part of the Parks Department’s justification for switching to cement, does not necessarily mean it will hold up better during storms, said Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who represents the Brighton Beach portion of the Riegelmann Boardwalk. He, Treyger and Cymbrowitz want an impact study that considers the performance of concrete in storm surges. Other areas, including Manhattan Beach and the Rockaways, saw huge concrete chunks barrel through the streets as they broke up during the October 2012 storm.

“[This is] about what is safer with the community in case another storm comes in,” he said. “It has to be safe, not just more resilient in terms of repairs, but what’s safe in regards to any kind of surge.”

Even before the storm, advocacy groups filed a lawsuit hoping to stop the plan, demanding a full environmental review. But just weeks after Superstorm Sandy, a judge ruled that the project did not need to undergo such a study since it would not constitute a signficant change the existing structure.

The boardwalk construction is expected to be completed in time for the 2016 beach season, according to the Parks Department. Elected officials are asking the city to terminate all construction until the concerns of residents are addressed.

Here is a map of the proposed plan via the Coney Island Boardwalk Alliance:

boardwalk-map

Click to enlarge

– With additional reporting by Ned Berke.

Tsob Tsobe! at Coney Island Avenue

Tsob Tsobe! at 2817 Coney Island Avenue

It was with great dismay that we noticed Back to USSR pulling down its signs over the summer, after two years in business. The kitschy, Soviet-themed restaurant at 2817 Coney Island Avenue was a great place to bring people from outside of Sheepshead Bay, pulling back the curtain a bit on the area’s Russian-speaking cultures with a tongue planted firmly in-cheek.

But the storefront didn’t stay empty long. Some time in the past few weeks Tsob-Tsobe! took its place, declaring itself a”cafe lounge bar.” They redid the entire storefront, interior and exterior. Unlike its predecessor, which elevated the atmosphere with a large statue of Vladimir Lenin with kielbasa in hand, Tsob-Tsobe! is tastefully decorated and is earning kudos from Yelpers.

The online directory says it’s serving Mediterranean, Turkish and Middle Eastern cuisine, but we’ve learned that with local restaurants, that could mean Turkish, or it could mean the menu is a smorgasbord of Turkish, Uzbeki and Russian foodstuffs. With their website not yet built and no menu available online, we’ll just have to wait to visit to find out.

As for the name? We’re having trouble tracking down its provenance. Some Googling suggests it’s something Cossack cowboys yelled at their cattle, or farmers upon receiving a good harvest – but we can’t say for sure. Anybody able to fill us in?

Nostalgia Train via MTA on Flickr

Nostalgia Train via MTA on Flickr

If you’re looking for fun outside of the neighborhood this weekend, and have a young (or old) train fan in your life, be sure to catch the MTA’s Holiday Nostalgia Train, running along the M line between 2nd Avenue and Queens Plaza on Sundays (10am to 5pm) through December 28.

The cars, originally in service between the 1930s and 1970s, ran along the lettered lines from the Grand Concourse to Coney Island and have everything from ceiling fans and padded seats to incandescent light bulbs and vintage advertisements.

It’s definitely a great (and inexpensive…there’s no admission outside of your normal subway fare) family activity to check out this holiday season.

For more information on the nostalgia train, and other special events taking place this month, visit the MTA website.

Photo via the MTA

- Christine Bush