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Source: john weiss/Flickr

Q LINE

All times until early summer 2014: Coney Island-bound Q trains skip Parkside Av, Beverley Rd, and Cortelyou Rd.

F LINE

There are no scheduled subway service adjustments at this time.

Source: Wikimedia Common

Source: Wikimedia Common

Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled details of his hotly anticipated overhaul of Superstorm Sandy recovery operations yesterday, committing the administration to getting 500 Build it Back checks in the mail and 500 construction projects kicked off before the end of the summer.

In addition to getting the long-delayed aid to some of the 20,000 homeowners in the Build it Back system, the plan calls for expanding the eligibility of those seeking aid, including eliminating priority levels so that income is no longer a cause for disqualification from several Build it Back recovery options.

“We’ve laid out a blueprint to provide critical financial relief to homeowners and directly engage communities in the rebuilding process—all while continuing our work to ensure a stronger and more resilient New York,” said de Blasio in a press release.

The New York Times reports:

Under the new rules, about 4,000 more residents than initially planned will be eligible to receive compensation from the government for repairs they have already performed on damaged homes. Hundreds more will be eligible to receive the full value of their property if they decide to vacate.

By the end of summer, the mayor said, the city planned to have started construction on 500 new homes and to have mailed out 500 reimbursement checks for previously performed repairs. As of Thursday, only 30 residents had received the payments.

The report, titled “One City, Rebuilding Together” and which can be read in full here, also calls for reassigning Department of Buildings inspectors to support Build it Back efforts, offering relief from city water bills for vacant homes, and providing tax relief to Sandy-impacted residents, among other proposals.

Aside from just doling out money and getting projects underway, the city is developing a plan to house residents displaced by recovery construction at their homes.

Several proposals are also being pushed to increase coordination and communication, including the appointment of borough directors and locally-based Build it Back staff.

Councilman Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island and is chairman of the Committee on Recovery and Resiliency, praised the report but noted that residents need to see action, not proposals.

“I understand that this administration has only been in place for a few months, but the reality is that it has been 18 months and counting for residents struggling to rebuild and get back on their feet,” said Treyger in a statement. “The bottom line is that this recovery will ultimately be judged not by announcements and presentations, but by action on the ground in communities still feeling the impact of the storm. We must make sure that local residents and organizations are included in this process so they have an active role in the rebuilding of their own neighborhoods.”

Conservation groups, meanwhile, criticized the plan for focusing too much on recovery, and not enough on protecting coastal communities from future disasters.

Source: Dara Skolnick/Flickr

Alternate side parking regulations will be suspended Monday and Tuesday for Passover.

All other regulations, including parking meters, remain in effect.

You can download your own 2014 Alternate Side Parking Suspension calendar from the NYC DOT’s website.

i-am-the-tree

I spotted this sign hanging from a tree on Avenue Y and East 13th Street the other day. It was a pity I didn’t have a better camera on me.

Hopefully more stuff like this pops up around the neighborhood. It was a welcome sight to shake me from my post-accountant shell-shock. (Speaking of things to nail to a tree…)

Anyone know the story here?

 

funkiberry

It was less than a year ago that Funkiberry, a frozen yogurt outpost, opened on Avenue U and Ocean Avenue.

The franchise continues to expand, with a new location set to open soon at 1917 Kings Highway (between East 19th Street and Ocean Avenue).

A third location already exists on 3rd Avenue in Manhattan, and the website indicates plans for international locations in Russia, Italy, the Ukraine, France and China.

The storefront was most recently occupied by a dry cleaners.

A home in Seagate after Sandy. (Photo by Erica Sherman)

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer announced the formation of a Sandy Oversight Unit this morning, with its first task slated to be an audit of the Build it Back recovery program.

Stringer is targeting the program in the wake of headlines earlier this year that noted money has been distributed and construction started in only a handful of cases nearly a year after Build it Back’s launch, despite nearly 20,000 homeowners on the wait-list.

The unit will be looking to see if the Housing Recovery Office – the program that oversees Build it Back – has set goals and timetables for the delivery of services and established procedures to reduce the backlog of applications. It will also look at the quality of the service and review fraud prevention procedures, with a focus on the Single Family Program.

The Oversight Unit will draw from the Comptroller’s Audit, Contracts, Budget and Policy Units, with an overall goal of reviewing how federal aid has been spent, making recommendations to reduce fraud, waste and abuse, monitoring the progress of Sandy projects and proposing policy recommendations for managing the financial tracking in future emergencies.

To aid the review, Stringer is holding Town Hall meetings across Sandy-stricken neighborhoods to hear from residents about the problems they face. The following locations and dates have been set:

  • April 30 in Breezy Point from 6 to 8 p.m.
    Bay House, 500 Bayside Drive, Breezy Point, NY
  • May 6 in Coney Island from 6 to 8 p.m.
    Coney Island Hospital, 2601 Ocean Parkway, Brooklyn, NY
  • May 20 in the Rockaways from 6 to 8 p.m.
    Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, 348 Beach 71st Street, Arverne, NY
  • May 28 in Staten Island from 6 to 8 p.m.
    Olympia Activity Center (OAC), 1126 Olympia Blvd., Staten Island, NY

Mayor Bill de Blasio is already seeking to increase the efficiency of the program, announcing today that his office has completed a report that will kickstart the process, getting money out to homeowners faster. Details of those reforms will be made public later today.

Meanwhile, the mayor is also seeking to slash the property tax bills of 1,500 city residents who have rebuilt or repaired their homes since Superstorm Sandy. He announced yesterday that his office is pushing for support in Albany to provide a property tax credit for Sandy victims.

Construction and renovations to a home can trigger a higher assessment value, even if it’s solely for Sandy recovery. The bill would allow the city to grant partial property-tax abatement to nullify the higher assessed value from those repairs.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

To be eligible, homeowners would have to meet three criteria. First, the city had to reduce the valuation of the homeowner’s property in fiscal year 2014 from the value in 2013 because of Sandy damage. Second, the city would have had to increase the assessed value of the property for fiscal year 2015 compared with 2014. And, lastly, the 2015 assessed value of the building must exceed 2013′s.

While the city controls its property-tax rate, the Legislature and governor must approve special abatements like this.

The mayor has six weeks to gather support and pass the reforms before city property tax bills are delivered.

The suspects. (Source: NYPD via NBC)

The suspects. (Source: NYPD via NBC)

More details have emerged in the bank robbery spree we told you about earlier this week, in which four banks were hit in a span of just two hours.

Originally, it was reported that police were looking for one suspect in a case that saw robberies or attempted robberies from Gravesend to Bergen Beach.

Now police say they’re seeking two men for the Monday afternoon heists.

The men hit the four banks between 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., getting away with a $6,300 haul.

NBC reports that the suspects entered each bank and gave the teller a note demanding money.

The suspects made off with $1,800 from Capital One at 2102 Ralph Avenue, and $4,500 from Santander Bank at 301 Avenue U in Gravesend.

They also hit Chase Bank at 1987 Flatbush Avenue and Northfield Bank at 1123 Kings Highway, but tellers refused to cooperate at those locations.

Surveillance video captured the above images of the suspects.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website, or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

seamonster

When moderators of “The History of Fort Tilden, Floyd Bennett Field, and Marine Park” Facebook page posted this photo a few weeks ago, it set me off on a long search of old newspaper archives and other databases for what they called the “Sea Monster of Gerritsen Beach.”

Nothing turned up, but Facebook readers did share photos of a Nessie lookalike that hung around the channel for a bit in 2007:

Source: Kevin Sr./Flickr

The story behind that one was a bit of an easier find than whatever was depicted in the undated postcard. According to GerritsenBeach.net:

Artist Cameron Gainer has staged a 12 1/2-foot replica of the mythical monster in the salt marsh off Marine Park.

… Nessie is one of 40 temporary art installation in “Art in the Parks” – the 40th anniversary celebration of the parks’ public arts programs.

Word is that this installation alarmed a bus driver on Avenue U so much so that he nearly flipped his bus.

But I’m still left wondering about the original postcard, and if there’s an older local legend I’m not aware of. Or maybe that’s just how Gerritsen Beach attracted tourism back in the day? Hey, it beats the whole “Come visit us on Halloween so we can throw hammers at you” shtick.

The face of God (via Facebook)

The face of God (via Facebook)

A Brighton Beach man with the first name “God” is suing credit-reporting agency Equifax because their system reject his first name, and claims he has no financial history.

The New York Post reports:

God Gazarov — a Russian native who was named after his grand­father — claims that the company has stubbornly refused to correct the glitch after more than two years of anguished calls and correspondence, according to a Brooklyn federal lawsuit [filed Friday].

Despite having scores of more than 720 with the two other major credit agencies, TransUnion and Experian, Gazarov said the Equifax snag prevented him from purchasing an Infiniti car last year.

Gazarov, 26, owns a jewelry store in Brighton Beach. He said an Equifax representative told him to change his first name.

He further elaborated on his unusual name to Huffington Post:

“I am who I am,” God said. The Brooklyn man explained that he’s proud to be named after his grandfather, who was a war veteran in Russia.

“It’s my real name. It’s my legal name,” God told HuffPost. Besides a few jokes in high school, he said, he’s never run into any issues with his name before. In fact, he said, most people just tell him it’s a cool name.

Resnick

Marty Resnick (Source: Howard Fields via Daily News)

The sculpture

The sculpture (Source: Howard Fields via Daily News)

When I was a student at Kingsborough High School (now Leon M. Goldstein High School) at Kingsborough Community College, I often passed by a rusted sculpture with Hebrew lettering as I wandered the campus.

I once stopped a guard nearby and asked him if he knew what the deal was. He shrugged. I moved on, and only occasionally thought about it again.

Little did I know, the same question of the sculpture’s origins had baffled faculty members for years. The school had no record of it being erected, or the sculptor who created it.

That mystery has finally been solved thanks to a friend of the artist who called the school after the sculptor passed away, hoping to do a memorial tribute beside his creation.

The Daily News reports:

The Brooklyn film historian [Ken Gordon] and Kingsborough alum wanted permission to hold a memorial service for his pal Marty Resnick, who died in August of cancer of the esophagus — and they wanted to do it next to his baffling sculpture.

“They had no idea who he was and what that thing was,” Gordon told the Daily News Monday, nearly 40 years after the sculpture was installed on the edge of the 70-acre Manhattan Beach campus, near a school gymnasium.

Resnick and Gordon attended Kingsborough in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Howard Fields, a friend of Resnick’s from James Madison High School, was a frequent visitor.

… Eventually, Resnick grew tired of the hustle of his home borough, bought 200 acres of forest land in Southeast Ohio and moved out. He left his sculpture, “The Ten Commandments,” behind and probably never saw it again.

Resnick’s back-to-the-land move to Ohio wasn’t novel in the early 1970s, but Gordon and Fields said he’s one of the few who never gave up. He spent the next 40 years living in cabins he built himself, scratching a living from his artistic talents and refusing to take a conventional job.

And now we know.

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