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This is a paid announcement from the Midwood Development Corp.:

shop-midwood

shop-midwood2Shop local this holiday season! The Midwood Development Corp. (MDC) and the Midwood Merchants Association (MMA) present Shop Midwood WeekDecember 14-28, 2014.

Participating merchants on Avenue J, Avenue M, and Coney Island Avenue are offering special deals and discounts for everyone on your list. For example:

…and much more! Click here for a list of participating businesses.

In addition, MDC and MMA will introduce the Shop Midwood customer loyalty card, which will entitle the bearer to special deals and discounts valid through June 30, 2015!

Please visit the MDC or MMA websites for more information, or call 718-376-0999.

Shop Midwood Week and the Shop Midwood customer loyalty card are sponsored by Astoria Bank.

#shoplocal  #staylocal  #smallbiz

The above is a paid announcement by the Midwood Development Corp. Sheepshead Bites has not verified the claims made in this advertisement. If you own a business and would like to announce a special offer to tens of thousands of locals, e-mail us at advertising [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

Photo courtesy of Lisanne Anderson

Photo courtesy of Lisanne Anderson

As we reported last week, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) had planned to remove 98 sites from its list of potential landmarks today, an effort to clear a backlog of applications. On the list for almost 50 years was the historic Lady Moody’s House in Gravesend. Fortunately, thanks to pushback from politicians and preservationists, the vote was postponed until after January. Lady Moody’s House remains safe on the calendar – for now.

In the meantime, we’ve reached out to historian Joseph Ditta, author of “Then & Now: Gravesend, Brooklyn” and a reference librarian at the New-York Historical Society, and asked him to share the history of the house, how it acquired its name, and why it is worthy of protected status. Here’s what he told us:

The house at 27 Gravesend Neck Road has had many names in its long history. Although it stands on property that originally belonged to Lady Deborah Moody (c. 1586-1658), the founder of the Town of Gravesend, there is no definite proof that the house is the one she occupied. Continue Reading »

Photo by Ned Berke

Photo by Ned Berke

by Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz

Back in 2008, my Assembly colleague, Alec Brook-Krasny, and I were able to secure $10 million in capital funding for the repair of the Riegelmann Boardwalk. The purpose of this money was to give the Boardwalk the rehabilitation it deserves and ensure that generations of New Yorkers will have the opportunity to enjoy this iconic wooden structure.

One thing this money was not supposed to do was destroy the Boardwalk as we know it. That’s why I’m outraged by the city’s decision to rebuild the Boardwalk out of concrete and plastic, effectively turning our Boardwalk into a sidewalk. To repurpose the money and change the scope of the project is an underhanded misuse of funds by this administration, and it’s something I won’t tolerate.

Since the start of this new Mayoral administration I have attempted to open a dialogue and stress the need to rebuild the Boardwalk out of wood. Unfortunately, the city has chosen instead to fast-track the destruction of our iconic landmark and has been unwilling to listen to the people of our communities. We’re the ones who have a vested interest in the Boardwalk. We’re the people who know how badly the concrete sections were damaged during Sandy. Clearly this is not a material that promises flood resiliency.

The contract for the funds I allocated is set to expire on December 31, 2014. The city is hoping to extend this contract but I have other ideas. I am committed to doing everything in my power to block the extension of the contract and rescind the money that was allocated.

Thank you for your letters, emails, tweets and calls. My confidence is strengthened with the knowledge that I have the support of my community and activists like you.

Please remember that I’m here to help you with any issue or problem and I’d like to hear your thoughts and ideas. My district office is located at 1800 Sheepshead Bay Road and we’re open Monday through Thursday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Fridays until 5 p.m. Feel free to call me at (718) 743-4078 or email cymbros@assembly.state.ny.us.

Steven Cymbrowitz is the 45th District’s representative to the State Assembly, representing the Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach and Gravesend.

This is a paid announcement from Brokelyn, a webmag devoted to living the best possible life in Brooklyn regardless of one’s means:

beer-book1

What’s a better gift than a pocket full of free beers at the best bars in Brooklyn?

The South Brooklyn & The Rockaways Beer Book offers 28 beers of your choice for $28 at 28 of the best bars in Bay Ridge, Coney Island, Gerritsen Beach, Gravesend, Marine Park, Sheepshead Bay, Sunset Park and the Rockaways.

This smartly-designed, limited edition, pocket-sized bar passport is a great gift for friends, lovers, dog walkers, babysitters, teachers, coaches, bosses and local news bloggers, among others. Sheepshead Bites and Bensonhurst Bean readers get a 20% discount on orders of four or more books. Enter the code Sheep5 at checkout. 

beer-book2

The book includes Sheepshead Bay’s own Brass Rail Bar (formerly Log Cabin) and Anyway Cafe, along with Bay Ridge mainstays Lock YardBean Post Pub and Windy City Ale House.

Explore the beer Valhalla that is Gravesend’s Draft Barn, or get down with some meatloaf and some football at Marine Park’s Third & Seven. Don’t make the same mistake as Leo: order more than cranberry juice at Sunset Park’s Irish Haven, where THAT bar scene in The Departed was filmed. Or explore 3rd generation family-owned marina-side watering hole Tamaqua Bar & Grill in Gerritsen Beach.

Order the South Brooklyn & The Rockaways Beer Book here, and check out the full list of neighborhoods and participating bars. Remember to enter Sheep5 at checkout to get 20% off orders of four books or more, making it an even better deal. Happy Cyber-Monday, people.

The above is a paid announcement by Brokelyn, a webmag devoted to living the best possible life in Brooklyn regardless of one’s means. Sheepshead Bites has not verified the claims made in this advertisement. If you own a business and would like to announce a special offer to tens of thousands of locals, e-mail us at advertising [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

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

Igor Vaysberg, a staffer for CM Treyger, listens to ideas from community members at an October 20. Photo by Aliza Chasan

Staffer Igor Vaysberg listens to ideas from community members at an assembly on October 20. (Photo by Aliza Chasan)

By Aliza Chasan

When the small group of community members was asked if they were happy with the way the government spends their money, the room was silent. Hands shot up moments later when residents were asked what changes they wanted to see in their communities.

On November 10, Councilman Mark Treyger wrapped up the last of three community assemblies as part of District 47′s progressive participatory budgeting [PB] initiative. Treyger has allocated $1 million of discretionary funds for residents’ ideas. District 47 - which includes Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Sea Gate and Coney Island – is among 24 of the city’s 51 districts to sign up for PB.

At the meetings, residents filled yellow posters with Sharpie-scrawled ideas. They want street repairs, traffic cameras, bus and crosswalk countdown clocks, covered trash baskets, Wi-Fi and charging stations for parks, and bus shelters. Schools need technology upgrades, air conditioning, speed bumps, and stop signs.

“This exercise is really about empowering residents, so that residents have a direct say on how their tax dollars are at work,” says Treyger, who cites his experience as a high school teacher as his motivation for joining PB. “Equally as important, is that it’s been a great learning tool for the public to learn about the city budget process.”

The next step is for a selected group of volunteers to act as budget delegates, developing pitches into fleshed out plans and deciding which are financially feasible. Each plan will cost at least $35,000 and no more than $1 million – more expensive than replacing a stop sign, but less than building a new park from scratch. Finally, in April, constituents will vote on their favorite project.

“I want to make life easier for people in the neighborhood,” said Robert Whittaker, 40, a volunteer budget delegate. “This is the best way to do that – come here and get involved in the process.”

Another assembly goer, Maria di Graziano, 47, told us her neighborhood has been working toward PB for some time. Treyger, she said, is eager to help, which is a change from the past.

“Now it’s the community that has to get used to being present and involved and voicing their concerns,” she said.

Treyger says the goal of PB is to involve underrepresented voices in the democratic process, such as immigrants, the elderly, residents in public housing, and high school students.

Those efforts include translating flyers for the assemblies into many languages, reaching out to community organizations, and having community organizers like PBNYC and Community Voices Heard spread the word by canvassing door-to-door. Residents as young as 14 are invited to pitch ideas. To vote, community members must be 16 and have some relationship to the neighborhood, whether through work, school, or residency.

“There’s no monopoly on good ideas,” says Treyger.

To find out how you can get involved in PB, see the PBNYC website.

[With additional reporting by Rachel Silberstein]

Photo by Jesse Coburn

Photo by Jesse Coburn

By Jesse Coburn

Mayor Bill de Blasio called the day “transcendent.” Senator Charles Schumer predicted “a glorious future” for the neighborhood. Shola Olatoye of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) dubbed the plans “a triumph.”

They sang these praises while announcing that $108 million in federal funding would go toward renovating a low-income Coney Island housing project severely damaged in Superstorm Sandy.

But some living in the Coney Island Houses have their doubts. “I don’t trust them,” said Judy Toro, 66, a resident since 1996. “They make a lot of promises.”

It’s been two years since Superstorm Sandy tore through New York, but many public housing tenants are still feeling its effects. The storm caused $19 billion in losses across the five boroughs, and these low-income residents were among the hardest hit. The Coney Island Houses, a five-building complex with nearly 1,400 residents at 2410 Surf Avenue, will be the first such property damaged by Sandy to undergo major repairs, and the city now hopes to acquire roughly $1 billion in additional federal funding for similar improvements in other public residences.

“My house is falling apart, little by little before my eyes, and I don’t see anything being done.”

 

–Coney Island Houses resident.

But decades of strained relations with NYCHA have left some tenants deeply suspicious of the beleaguered city agency, causing even good news to be met with wariness.

Toro’s tenth-floor apartment overlooks Coney Island’s beach and boardwalk, but the interior doesn’t quite match the view. Black mold grows in her bathroom, plaster is crumbling in the living room, and she said roaches and spiders have infested the kitchen walls. “My house is falling apart, little by little before my eyes, and I don’t see anything being done,” she said.

Problems like these have long afflicted public housing, but Toro said that they’ve only gotten worse since Sandy. A large water stain on her grandson’s bedroom floor provides a blunt reminder of the storm, which left residents of the Coney Island Houses without heat and electricity for 22 days.

The long list of outstanding repairs in Toro’s apartment is symptomatic of the ailments plaguing the housing authority, the largest such provider in the nation, with 334 developments that accommodate more than 400,000 tenants. Its 2014 projected deficit is $191 million, due largely to a steady reduction of federal funding. And though the backlog of work orders has decreased greatly in recent years, it still runs in the tens of thousands.

Superstorm Sandy only exacerbated these chronic issues. The storm affected more than 400 public housing buildings across the city and left more than 80,000 residents without basic amenities for weeks. The Coney Island Houses is one of many properties still relying on temporary boilers two years after the storm.

“The funding, design, and implementation challenges [of NYCHA's Sandy-related repairs] are unparalleled,”

 

–Nicholas Bloom, an urban historian.

As part of the renovations, NYCHA will install back-up generators, build an elevated structure to house new boilers, and replace numerous mechanical, electrical and architectural features damaged by the storm. It also will install new surveillance cameras to provide everyday security and to allow authorities to monitor the property in the event of another storm. The funding will not, however, cover repairs for storm-related damages in apartments like Toro’s that are above the first floor.

A NYCHA spokesperson said work should begin next summer. If successful, this approach to implementing Sandy repairs, which relies on funding from FEMA, may serve as a model for renovations in at least 15 other public housing developments that sustained heavy damage in the storm.

According to Nicholas Bloom, an urban historian and professor at the New York Institute of Technology, the sheer magnitude of damage at some properties has made it uniquely difficult for the authority to carry out repairs. “The funding, design, and implementation challenges are unparalleled,” he said. As for the two-year wait for extensive Sandy-related renovations, Bloom praised the city agency for not “rushing a fix.”

An authority spokesperson echoed the need for patience: “Very early on in the aftermath of the storm, once we made temporary repairs to restore critical utilities, we made a determination that it would be irresponsible to simply repair in place and rebuild for short-term expediency instead of long-term sustainability, which could potentially compromise our infrastructure and leave our residents vulnerable.”

But this protracted wait has left some residents skeptical of the authority’s ability to care for its aging buildings. “When I see it, I’ll believe it,” said Carmen Gonzalez, 61, of the planned renovations. “They’re always promising.”

Amelia Riviera has called the Houses home for more than three decades, and the 57-year-old said the problems facing the buildings predate Sandy. “We had to wait for a storm to get help like this?” she asked, mentioning longtime issues like faulty elevators, broken security cameras, and trash on the facility’s grounds. “The buildings were already corrupt.”

Photo by Jesse Coburn

Photo by Jesse Coburn

The Coney Island Houses consist of five 14-story towers that accommodate 1,398 low-income residents. The buildings were completed in 1957—one of many high-rise, low-income developments built on the outskirts of the city.

Cheap land, low population density, and preexisting poor communities made places like Coney Island and the Rockaways seem like logical places to put these new housing blocks. Since then, however, these beachside locations have proven a mixed blessing, as residents are isolated both geographically and economically from the rest of the city. Crime continues to trouble the neighborhood, although it has significantly improved in recent decades. And the area’s median household incomeremains among the city’s lowest.

But as the 2012 storm made painfully clear, natural phenomena count among the most serious threats to the neighborhood and its almost 10,000 public housing residents.

The city has received pointed criticism for its response to public housing impacted by Sandy. In “Weathering the Storm,” an independent report by a group of community advocacy and research organizations from 2013, the authors wrote: “The City’s response to Superstorm Sandy was slow and communication to residents before, during and after the storm was inadequate.”

But the report saw promise in the wave of progressive politicians and officials who have arrived in local public office in recent years. Chief among them is Mayor de Blasio, for whom housing is a central concern. And according to Judy Toro, the authority’s response time to work orders has improved in the past few months. Recently she received a new refrigerator, three years after submitting her request.

For residents like Toro, however, such developments will have to become the norm rather than the exception if perceptions of the authority are to improve. The upcoming renovations could represent such a sea change. But Toro is less than certain: “I’m not holding my breath.”

Local politicians and community advocates pose as Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson accepts his Hero Award from Mark Meyers Appel at the Bridge Community Center grand opening.

Local politicians and community advocates pose as Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson accepts his Hero Award from Mark Meyer Appel at the Bridge Community Center grand opening.

By Lillian Kneopp

New Yorkers are famous for not knowing – much less understanding – their neighbors. But local advocate Mark Meyer Appel wants to change that.

“Our mission is to stop this hate and invest in new ways for our very diverse population to work together to better understand each other and protect our children and families,” Appel said as he welcomed community members and local politicians to the grand opening of The Bridge Community Center (1894 Flatbush Avenue) Sunday evening, October 19.

The center is being opened through the Bridge Multicultural Advocacy Project and the Voice of Justice, a nonprofit organization, as an interactive facility that will host local meetings and community events to bring together the diverse communities in the neighborhood.

Appel, the president of the Voice of Justice, raised $300,000 in private funds to repair the 6,000 square-foot brick building he has long owned at 1894 Flatbush Avenue. Its renovated first floor open studio space, which can fit up to 300 people, will be lent out free of charge to nonprofits and art groups to host events.

The space will also be an art gallery. Leaders hope that communities will visit in order to learn about other arts and cultures – and that these interactions will foster understanding.

“Art breaks down barriers and helps us to uncover and discover that we are all not that different,” explained Public Advocate Letitia James in her speech.

Artists from around the world, including Russian artist Mikhail Turovsky, artist Ebony Thompson, who is originally from Sierra Leone, and Brooklyn native Sophia Domeville, exhibited pieces at the event.

Artist Robert Bery’s work reflected the spirit of the event with a piece featuring flags from around the world sewn together into a single flag.

“We are all under the same flag,” said Bery.

Rodneyse Bichotte, the Democratic nominee running for the 42nd Assembly District, left, host Mark Meyers Appel, center, and Councilman Jumaane Williams dance the hora at the opening of the Bridge Community Center.

Rodneyse Bichotte, the Democratic nominee running for the 42nd Assembly District, left, host Mark Meyer Appel, center, and Councilman Jumaane Williams dance the hora at the opening of the center.

This mentality is what many organizers hope the community center will foster.

“This opens doors to people talking to each other, which is always positive,” Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum, the spiritual leader of Linden Heights and the Director of the Rabbinical Alliance of America explained.

Local politicians, Council members and community leaders filled the new center to support the project and enjoy the kosher wine, Haitian food and sushi.

A Haitian jazz band, Buyu Ambroise and the Blues In Red Band, entertained the crowd with traditional Haitian tunes with jazz infusion.

In the spirit of the evening, the band collaborated with a Jewish group for a portion of the evening improvising together. The crowd danced the Hora to their music after symbolically cutting the grand opening ribbon.

Founder of the Bridge Community Center Mark Meyers Appel, center, presents Ezra Fieldlander, CEO of the Friedlander Group, left, and District Leader Ed Powell with the Hero's Award.

Founder of the Bridge Community Center Mark Meyer Appel, center, presents Ezra Fieldlander, CEO of the Friedlander Group, left, and District Leader Ed Powell with the Hero’s Award.

Local community leaders were honored during the evening as Appel awarded Hero’s Awards to Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson; Ezra Friedlander, founder and CEO of The Friedlander Group, a public relations company; and Ed Powell, a Democratic district leader and New York State Committeeman of the Kings County Democratic Party, for their service to the community.

Powell will be partnering with Appel on a task force through the Bridge Community Center that will be working to train local law enforcement.

“When local law enforcement understands civilians are real human beings, not jobs they are responding to – not just 9-11 calls- there will be an opportunity for real justice,” Powell said in his Hero’s Award acceptance speech.

Appel was also awarded for his commitment to the Brooklyn community for opening The Bridge.

Rodneyse Bichotte, the Democratic nominee running to represent the 42nd Assembly District, presented him with a citation from the Brooklyn Borough president, Eric Adams, congratulating him on the opening of the center. He also received a citation from the NY Assembly presented by retiring Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs, also of Assembly district 42.

Amid the artwork and awards, community members celebrated coming together to learn to better understand each other.

Appel marked the whole evening as a turning point for the community saying, “Today in Flatbush, Brooklyn, we are extinguishing the flames of evil and lighting the flames of hope.”

This is a paid announcement from Dance & Art Academy in Sheepshead Bay:

dance-art

The above is a paid announcement by Dance & Art Academy in Sheepshead Bay. Sheepshead Bites has not verified the claims made in this advertisement. If you own a business and would like to announce a special offer to tens of thousands of locals, e-mail us at advertising [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

Assemblyman Brook-Krasny (left) and challenger Lilikakis (right). Photo by Bailey Wolff.

Assemblyman Brook-Krasny (left) and challenger Lilikakis (right). Photo by Bailey Wolff.

By Bailey Wolff

The Bay Ridge Real Estate Board hosted a “Meet the Candidates Event” Wednesday night at the Dyker Heights Golf Course. Present at the forum was four-term incumbent of the 46th District, Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, and his opponent, first time political hopeful, Stamatis Lilikakis.

Vice President of the Bay Ridge Real Estate Board Aldo Iemma and his wife Deborah organized the forum in order to establish communication between members of the community and elected officials who represent them in government.

“We want to educate, and encourage connections so that everyone is involved with the political process,” said Deborah Iemma.

Stamatis Lilikakis was the first of the two candidates to speak. He discussed the need to lower taxes to stop the “exodus” of businesses from New York State.

“I actually know what most people in this room feel,” said Lilikakis. “And I’m running for office because I’ve had enough of being a blank check for Albany and for our federal government … my goal is to try and lessen some of that burden.”

The 46th Assembly District spans the waterfront from Brighton Beach to Bay Ridge.

The 46th Assembly District spans the waterfront from Brighton Beach to Bay Ridge.

Running as a Republican-Conservative, Lilikakis said that he has united “different factions” in his party, and if elected, wants to create more opportunities for business and education in the district.

He also spoke about illegal conversions—the process of turning singe-family homes into multi-family, non-permitted housing units. “They’re illegal. They shouldn’t be here. There should be a task force, by the police department and fire department to go in and stop these things.”

Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny took the floor after Lilikakis and defined the 46th voting district as “very diverse.”

“From very liberal Coney Island to the more conservative part in Dyker Heights … you have people speaking more than 50 different languages with many different political opinions.” Because of these reasons, Krasny stated, the district needs a “balance minded politician” to represent every member of the district.

“One of the first priorities of every government,” said the assemblyman, “should be supporting the economy and increasing the number of jobs in his district.” He pointed to low state income taxes and universal Pre-K as two of his achievements, but also quoted the statistic that 70 percent of his constituents rely on government funding “in one form or another.” For this reason, he said, “I have to be very careful when cutting taxes.”

When a member of the audience asked Krasny about government funds to rebuild after Superstorm Sandy, he quoted recently announced numbers of $25 million to build jetties and $2.9 million for a seawall to protect his district’s waterfront.

“Some services, some departments, some programs—like Build it Back—they didn’t do the right job,” the assemblyman said. “I know as a private citizen what is going on with Build it Back. It’s terrible. But it’s getting better.”

These two opponents will debate at 7:30pm on October 14, at St. Phillip’s Church in Dyker Heights. The church is located on 80th Street and 11th Avenue. The General Elections will be held November 4, 2014.

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