Author Archive

Jumaane WIlliams

It’s no longer about the Super Bowl or World Series fanatics – New York City leaders want real American champions to parade down the Canyon of Heroes.

Southern Brooklyn representatives united in favor of a new resolution that urges the mayor to produce a ticker-tape parade for the veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, of District 45, introduced the resolution to give the war veterans a welcome home they rightfully deserve.

Williams’ resolution says the city is passing on an opportunity to uphold tradition and honor the bravest among us.

“Sports champions and near champions, celebrities, foreign dignitaries and veterans of wars and conflicts in World War I and II, Korea, Vietnam and the first Gulf War, have all marched down Broadway to a cheering crowd and skies full of ticker-tape, confetti, paper streams and the like,” the resolution states.

Councilmembers representing Sheepshead Bay and other Southern Brooklyn neighborhoods agree.

“I have co-sponsored Councilman Williams’ resolution, and am proud to have done so,” said Councilman Lew Fidler. “I have been calling upon the Mayor to have this parade for some time.”

Other’s felt this was long overdue. “I cannot think of a group that is more deserving of being honored with a parade down the Canyon of Heroes than the veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Councilman David G. Greenfield. “We owe our freedom to these brave men and women and they deserve to be recognized and thanked for their service.”

Councilman Vincent J. Gentile, representing Bay Ridge and parts of Bensonhurst, also agreed with Williams – stating priorities must be changed. Gentile stated sports teams are honored at large every year, but veterans do not receive the welcome home they deserve.

“Are [veterans] not the real giants here?” said Gentile. “Not only is it the right thing to do and it’s the least we can do for these brave men and women to honor the sacrifices they’ve made to protect our freedom abroad.”

Domenic M. Recchia Jr., the councilman for Coney Island and Gravesend, stated he supported Councilman William’s proposition “100 percent.”

With all of the positive feedback and support from local Council Members, Williams said it is now up to the mayor to make the right choice.

“A number of my colleagues, including Speaker Quinn, have expressed support for a ticker-tape parade in the past,” Williams told Sheepshead Bites. “I hope they all decide to rally behind this legislation so we can send a strong message of support to our veterans and that Mayor Bloomberg will put politics aside to do what’s right.”

The mayor is opposed to the parade, agreeing with Pentagon officials who say New York City should wait until all veterans have returned safely.

Councilman Michael Nelson acknowledged the timing issue but agreed with Williams’ resolution whole-heartedly.

“While the Pentagon may reason that it is premature to pay tribute to the veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, I firmly stand alongside Councilman Williams and many New Yorkers who feel otherwise,” said Nelson. “I certainly cannot think of a more fitting way to acknowledge our most worthy heroes, these brave veterans, than by celebrating our pride ‘New York City style’ – with a ticker-tape parade in their honor.”

A photo of a car-less Ocean Parkway, after the 2010 Half Marathon (Source: AMRosario/Flickr)

As organizers at the New York Road Runners plan to nearly triple the number of participants in the Brooklyn Half Marathon this year, which runs down Ocean Parkway, locals are fuming over potential traffic snarls and damage to the Coney Island Boardwalk.

Sizable changes were made to the route of this year’s Brooklyn Half Marathon to accommodate as many as 15,000 runners – up from 5,921 last year. The race, scheduled to take place on May 19, takes runners down a long stretch of Ocean Parkway, ending on the Riegelmann Boardwalk in Coney Island – sparking concern from residents and preservationists.

“What is the plan for Ocean Parkway? How will pedestrians be able to cross the street and how will traffic get around?” asked Allan Shweky, founder of Friends of Ocean Parkway. “The only other alternative is really the Belt Parkway.”

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The approximate location of the proposed natural gas pipeline.

Activists faced off with officials at a Jamaica Bay Task Force meeting last week, saying the government is sidelining waterfront communities in order to quietly push through major projects, including a deal to bring a natural gas pipeline to Jamaica Bay.

The Rockaway/Gateway gas pipeline outraged locals due to the fact that Transco Williams — one of the largest interstate gas pipeline systems in the country — could destroy as much as 11,000 feet of the nearby marine environment during the installation, which would ultimately connect Brooklyn and Queens to a major gas artery off the coast. After quiet approval from the U.S. House of Representatives, the plans are heading to the Senate – and no one asked Jamaica Bay’s eco-guardians what they thought.

“[The government and Transco Williams] retain information for themselves in order to issue the right of way for these gas lines,” an attendee argued during the meeting, adding that she had not previously heard of the project.

Though not necessarily opposed to the pipeline, critics of the process demanded more accountability, including information to help assess the affects to marine life and risks of a gas leak.

The concerns were expressed at the April 4 meeting of the Jamaica Bay Task Force, a group of residents, scientists, and federal, state, regional, and local agency representatives that share a common interest in the Bay.

Activists worry that the project could set a precedent for other major projects in Jamaica Bay, letting government agencies and private companies snub the communities that live and work around the waters.

That precedent has locals eyeing the government’s actions in Broad Channel, where two ponds with aging, eroded pumping stations need replacing. But if a contract is awarded without the input of environmentalists, the work could end up disrupting the ponds’ role as a landing and grazing ground for birds and other wildlife.

The pipeline is not the only project that has both residents and elected officials concerned about the federal parkland’s environment – and the community feeling jilted.

Recent talks of a plan to expand John F. Kennedy International Airport’s landing strips, increasing its footprint in Jamaica Bay, had residents fuming.

Experts stated the airport has met its capacity, and spreading into the Bay is inevitable, but residents insist this would have devastating effects on migratory birds and other species that are natives of the land.

A nurse at Coney Island Hospital (2601 Coney Island Hospital) got a dose of recognition recently, when The Fund for the City of New York honored her public service and eminent leadership in behavioral health and palliative care.

Donna Leno Gordon won the Sloan Public Service Awards, dubbed the “Nobel Prize of City Government,” given to only six outstanding civil servants in a city of millions.

Gordon founded Coney Island Hospital’s palliative care unit, bringing together a team of doctors from different fields to address the physical, emotional, spiritual and social concerns that arise with most advanced illnesses.

This has been Gordon’s focus at Coney Island Hospital for almost two decades. But Gordon believes she deserves no credit for this award. “This award is not about me, it’s about the entire palliative care field and how far it has come,” she told the Daily News.

In 2010 Coney Island Hospital devoted a 19-bed unit to patients with advanced diseases and possibly terminal illnesses.

Her success has allowed the spread of palliative care into other city and HHC establishments, and because of this Mayor Michael Bloomberg commended Gordon, along with the other five award recipients, at the Cooper Union on March 14.

“New York City is blessed with a great public workforce and this year’s honorees represent not only the best of government, but the very best of what our City has to offer,” Bloomberg said in a HHC press release.

Coney Island Hospital is currently the local and regional leader in palliative care.

The sinkhole before repairs.

Long covered by an upside-down traffic cone, a sinkhole approximately two feet wide and five feet deep has existed for several months at the corner of Emmons Avenue and East 21st Street, near Randazzo’s. After months of complaints from neighbors, the city is finally fixing the obvious danger to both pedestrians and drivers, and repairing the faulty sewer line that caused it.

The crater sat just a step off of the pedestrian curb cut on the northwest corner, large enough for a person’s leg – or even an entire child – to fall into. That threat had some locals concerned.

“I’m scared that maybe one day I forget to look down as I walk, and step into this hole,” Tanya K., an employee at a nearby boutique, told us before repairs began.

The safety concerns spurred at least one good Samaritan to shove a traffic cone inside it in an attempt to plug the hole. At various times over the last several months, other cones were seen around it, and, eventually, a broken construction barricade.

“I’ve walked past it a couple of times these past few weeks and even though they have this caution barricade on top of it, the city still needs to get this thing patched up soon,” nearby resident Marc Schwartz told us last week.

But despite the appearance of construction, all the items were cautionary – until this week.

City workers are currently on Emmons Avenue between East 21st Street and Ocean Avenue, tearing out the sidewalk and repairing a broken sewer line underneath – the source of the sinkhole, according to one of the workers.

The repairs came after months of complaints from nearby business owners. One who requested to remain anonymous said he put in multiple complaints to 311 over the past four months. However, the 311 service map only shows one complaint – placed on February 24. It was referred to DOT, even though the DEP is the agency responsible for sinkhole repairs, which might explain the delay.

The entire project should be wrapped up in a day or two, a worker at the scene told us.

- with additional reporting by Ned Berke.

P.S. 100 (Source: schools.nyc.gov)

Public School 100, The Coney Island School, actually in Brighton Beach at 2951 West 3rd Street, is testing a new evaluation system that may be implemented nationwide in the future.

The Charlotte Danielson framework evaluation process helps teachers and administrators in recognizing good teaching habits. It runs on a basis of 22 teaching strategies teachers must practice.

Because the current teacher evaluation method has shown inconclusive results, placing valuable teachers at the bottom of the city’s teacher data report, the Danielson evaluation system is being considered as a future addition to teacher evaluations.

If this change were to occur, 40 percent of the evaluation will focus on children’s test scores and the other 60 percent will work similar to what Principal Katherine Moloney has already begun practicing at P.S. 100, observing teachers at work.

The Danielson framework evaluation was recently tested in Chicago schools and the reports showed lower rankings than those previously published. An eight percent plunge was recorded, but Danielson stands by her new method, stating it is meant for improvement, recognizing the areas an individual could use help.

Learn more about the program’s test drive at this local school over at The New York Times.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

We’re smarter than you, Futurama. That’s right, we’re so smart we even know that Futurama is a neighborhood in Brooklyn (just don’t ask us where). We also know that “than,” and not “then,” is the correct word to use when making a comparison. We think we’re ready for Jeopardy or, at least, Wheel of Fortune.

But how do we know all this? Because if anyone can identify genius, it’s those number crunchers over at the Census Bureau.

According to statistics the bureau just released, the entire nation has seen some major improvements in educational attainment, a term that basically means the level of schooling achieved. Nationally, there have been significant increases in the population’s obtainment of Bachelor’s degrees, particularly in those ages 25 and older.

Even better than the country doing well? Brooklyn doing better than the country. And even better than that? Sheepshead Bay doing better than Brooklyn.

Sheepshead Bay’s 160,319 residents are above the Brooklyn average for their achievements. Sheepshead Bay’s numbers towered over Brooklyn’s, with large obtainments at higher educational levels. The above graph can give a better picture of some of these numbers.

Source: saveteenrapp.org

A program that helps 11,800 teens each year might be terminated by July of this year if funding is allowed to be slashed, and a local councilman says he’ll be fighting for its restoration.

Teen RAPP — Relationship Abuse Prevention Program — has been running in 62 host schools throughout New York City. The program provides preventative measures for teens facing bullying and dating or domestic violence, using  prevention classes, intervention counseling, staff development and training and community outreach.

But, in cutting all of its $3 million in funding, Mayor Bloomberg’s new budget gives the axe to a program that advocates believe is proven to be effective.

“We see a direct correlation between RAPP and reducing abuse in schools,” said Caitlyn Brazill, a representative for the CAMBA, a nonprofit that helped create and oversee the program. “Cutting RAPP could lead to an increase of abuse in schools.”

It’s not the first time the program has faced budget cuts. Just last year the program was slashed, but managed to regain its funding after a fierce struggle pitting education and political advocates against the mayor’s office.

But the latest loss of funding could mean a decrease in peer mentors, according to CAMBA, which would mute the program’s success at a time in which bullying appears to otherwise be on the rise.

City Councilman Lew Fidler, who serves as chair of the Youth Services committee and has been a vocal advocate for anti-bullying measures, is blasting the proposed cuts, pointing out that early prevention is key in abuse and domestic violence cases.

“I’ve fought repeatedly to protect our City’s children and most vulnerable citizens,” said Fidler. “This is part of that fight. The school-based teen RAPP program, through counseling and support, teaches needed skills and promotes healthy relationships.”

 

Part of the Murrow High School's back wall, as seen from the street.

Commuters have been assaulted by graffiti splattered along the back wall of Edward R. Murrow High School (1600 Avenue L) for almost as long as the school has existed. But cleaning it up has been a multi-year effort pitting the school against the MTA.

For starters, the cleanup of Murrow High School’s graffiti-covered wall could cost the school an unnecessarily large sum of cash, according to the school’s principal, Anthony R. Lodico. The MTA refuses to allow access to school officials — and says they must pay inflated prices to the agency’s contractors if it wants the job done.

Founded in 1974, the high school and its back wall have been the center for conflict and controversy for about two decades, according to Lodico. This graffiti has even survived the wear and tear of time and New York’s drastic weather changes. And, in his opinion, one of the biggest ongoing issues the school faces is not budget cuts or classroom sizes, but trying to get the wall cleaned up.

“It has been an uphill battle that we have not won,” he said.

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Arbuz on Sheepshead Bay Road

The future site of TreatPetite, the Arbuz spin-off.

Accompanied by the sweet smell of fresh fruits and its colorful motif, Arbuz draws the attention of even the tiniest hands—a baby—who unknowingly nibbled away at some frozen yogurt and fruits.

The dessert-filled cafe has existed at 1706 Sheepshead Bay Road for two-and-a-half years. It was a business co-owner Rovshan Danilov calls a side venture from his fulltime job in finance. Though many of his colleagues thought he was crazy, it didn’t discourage his “love for food and entrepreneurship,” and the shop opened in August 2009.

And now Danilov and his partners are proving just how far they can take the crazy side venture: all the way to Manhattan.

Danilov & Co. are opening another frozen treat venture they call a “spin on Arbuz,” and it will be right in the heart of Greenwich Village.

Named TreatPetite, the new store will carry many of the same products that exist at Arbuz – plus a new signature item: Frozen Kefir.

“Think of it as a liquefied yogurt drink! It is healthy, delicious and very dear to us,” Danilov said. “Kefir was a very popular drink in the former Soviet Union, especially in the Caucasus region republics. It is also gaining a wide popularity here in U.S.”

Danilov also hired a “talented interior designer” to help give TreatPetite its own feel. The plans aren’t finalized yet, but he said, like Arbuz, “it will still have coastal tones. We have chosen a boardwalk for our inspiration for design.”

Currently under construction, TreatPetite will be located at 61 Grove Street, on the corner of 7th Avenue. An update on the construction, and the expected grand opening, is in the works.

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