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The Seven Bridges Project on the Belt Parkway sure is plodding along, but we’re sure there are still plenty among you wondering why the heck such a large-scale project needed to be done.

Well, worry not. Crazeenydriver is here to explain it to you… and with a spectacular Brooklyn accent.

In Crazee’s video, Exploring The Belt Parkway Plum Beach Bridge, we see there’s still plenty of work to be done. The January 29 video focuses on the undercarriage of the bridge as well as the walkway. Throughout the slideshow video, he shows some photos of eroding metal and pavement that’s on top of the bridge, and rust that has coated parts of the bridge.

When he arrives at the bottom of the bridge, you can see that a good portion of the concrete has worn off. However, he did notice some beams that were placed under the bridge that weren’t there during his last visit a year ago.

“It’s in poor condition,” said Crazeenydriver in the video.

The $365 million contract for the Seven Bridges Project started in 2009, beginning with reconstruction three significantly deteriorated bridges on the Belt Parkway. The federal- and city-funded initiative is part of the $5 billion tab that the Bloomberg administration has picked up on bridge rehabilitation.

The project is expected to be completed by 2013.

It’ll soon be a year since we first reported a seal sighting at the dock of the Miramar Yacht Club. The adorable animal was seen just lounging around, getting his tan on. At the time a yacht club member said he has never seen a seal in the waters of Sheepshead Bay; it was unheard of.

Then in March of 2011 there was another seal sighting, but this time it was at Brighton Beach. A month after that it seemed the same seal that appeared at the Miramar Yacht Club resurfaced again in Sheepshead Bay.

Apparently, a Rockaway cruise vessel is taking advantage of the seals’ affable nature, and is giving tours to those who don’t want to wait for them to sun themselves on lonely Sheepsheady Bay marinas.

During a recent American Princess cruise in which a New York Post reporter tagged along, seal-spotters laid eyes on a dozen of the water-bound furballs.

“The nicest part is that they are just as interested in us as we are in them,” said Jack Goldstein, the captain of the American Princess. “Sometimes, it feels like they are staring back at us.”

The cruise leaves from the Rockaways and proceeds towards Staten Island. The vessel stays idle around Swinburne and Hoofman, the two man-made islands off of the Staten Island coast that have played home to the seals for the past 10 years.

Paul Sieswerda, the cruise’s tour guide, says there has been a great increase in seal sightings in Jamaica Bay since 2006.

“There is a growing population of harbor seals in the East Coast,” said Sieswerda.

He has devoted much of his life to the mammal. In the summer of 1976, he kept and raised a baby seal in his bathtub until he was able to find a proper aquarium for the animal. Also, in 1994 Sieswerda cared for a seal named Andre, which was the idea behind the children’s film Andre.

The scene of the fire at 2775 East 12th Street on Saturday evening. (Photo by Ian Sellick)

Residents of the Bel-Air building at 2775 East 12th Street are being allowed to return to their homes after a fire forced them to evacuate on Saturday.

Sheepshead Bites visited the building today and found residents buzzing about the building’s entrance, many carrying bags. It was hopefully the end of the two-day ordeal, in which the residents relocated to the homes of friends and family, and American Red Cross also provided an emergency shelter at Bay Academy Junior High School.

However, not everyone is being allowed back to their apartments, according to one Sheepshead Bites commenter. She writes:

Apparently they are turning the lights on in order of your apartment, but not everyone is guaranteed to be allowed into their apartment tonight. The power in the building is restored but not all the wings have power. They are urging everyone to have someone stop by and speak to the super so he can verify if your apartment will have power.

On Sunday, management for the Bel-Air building taped a typed statement onto the front door’s of the building.

“Building management is on site and is working with our licensed engineers and Con Edison representatives to restore power as soon as possible. We will organize escorted access during the hours of 8:00 am – 5:00 pm,” said KQR Management LLC.

The management company did not return calls for comment by the time this story went to press.

The fire broke out in the electrical room at around 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, at first causing power outages to the apartment units.

“At first I thought it was just my apartment, but then I found it happened to everyone else,” said a resident.

“It was hectic on Saturday, there was a lot of commotion,” said another resident.



Seth Kushner, a Sheepshead Bay native and now famous photographer, recently wrote a piece on Welcome to Trip City about his love for comic books – and his early adventures going to several stores in the area where he got his fix.

“There must have been lots of comic books stores around Brooklyn back then, but when you’re a kid your world is small, so I only knew my own neighborhood of Sheepshead Bay,” said Kushner.  “Luckily, there were several shops in the area, all easily accessible by my bike or my dad’s car. They were my comic stores.”

Of Silver Star Comics (Nostrand Avenue and Avenue V), he described the scene:

Silver Star Comics, a proper comics store selling only comics, [was] located just a few blocks down Nostrand Avenue from the Used Books. The owner, whose name might have been Rich, was a large balding, blowhard of a man with a moustache, who I’m convinced served as the inspiration for Comic Store Guy on The Simpsons. He would sit on a high stool by the register and preside over his kingdom of underlings, often insulting them and whatever they were reading.  It was a long, narrow store with waist high rows of back issue bins running the length of both sides of the store, and a shelf above on the left side displaying the new books.

By the 1990s, most of the stores that Kushner visited were gone. Silver Star closed in the mid-90s, while Bob’s Book Store (East 19th Street and Avenue U) relocated to a smaller location around 1990.

The other two stores that were mentioned in the piece were Comic Book Scene (Coney Island Avenue and Avenue R) and Used Books (Nostrand Avenue and Avenue Y).

We can remember a few others. There was Bullpen Comics on Coney Island Avenue; anyone who played at Kings Bay Little League in the 90s knew of it because their billboard enjoyed a fairly prominent spot on the field, giving outfielders something to daydream about. And on Avenue Z near East 22nd Street, there was one for which the name escapes us.

Kushner, now, seizes on those childhood influences and is working on his own graphic novel. And how many other stories like Kushner’s – those of people inspired by comic book-filled youths to go into creative work (and succeed!) – are there?  What are we missing now that the neighborhood is starved of comic book shops?

What Sheepshead Bay comic shops do you remember? What were they like? How did they influence you?

	Midwood vet Sam Angert (right) finally coming home to Brooklyn after long struggle to get the military to grant him a discharge. On left is Lt. Jospeh Forton who was killed in the explosion that injured Angert in 2009.

Sam Angert (right) and friend Lt. Joseph Forton, who was killed in the explosion. (

A Midwood veteran who was severely injured while honorably serving his country in Iraq is finally going home after waiting 28 months to be medically discharged by the U.S. Army.

“It’s been a waiting game for a long, long time,” said Sam Angert in the New York Daily News. “I just wanted to start my life over.”

Angert was told it would take six to eight months for his discharge, but in reality it took 28 months and that was only because Congressman Jerrold Nadler’s office got involved.

“After a terrible and debilitating injury, I am so thrilled that Sam will now be able to end his two-year limbo and, at long last, return home to his family and future,” said Nadler.

In August 2009, Angert was involved in an explosion that gravely injured him and claimed the life of his friend.

Angert’s vehicle was struck by a improvised explosive device, leaving him with pieces of shrapnel in his face and arm. Also, there was severe hemorrhaging from when a piece of steel pierced his skull, sending him into a 19 day coma. After regaining consciousness, he went to Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Belvoir in Virginia to recover.

Overall, Angert has had four cranial surgeries, overcoming predictions that he would never be able to walk again. He plans on attending college and major in psychology, hoping to help out other wounded veterans like him.

“I’ve been fighting for freedom in our country,” said Angert. “Now I just want to go live it.”

Do you know a local veteran who recently returned from service abroad? Let us know!

Todd Maisel (Photo by Erica Sherman)

It’s hard to be a reporter in Southern Brooklyn and not run into Todd Maisel now and again. If you find yourself at a halfway decent crime, accident or disaster scene, chances are you’ll see Maisel darting to-and-fro, whipping his cameras around to take a shot, and trading banter with the emergency responders that won’t talk to you.

Oh, and those photos he’s taking? They’re likely better than yours.

Todd Maisel, a Marine Park resident, faces danger, crime, and death on a daily basis as a 13-year veteran spot news photographer for the Daily News.

“I chase fires, police incidents, accidents, homicides, you name it, whatever’s going on the street, that’s what I’m at,” said Maisel in a WNYC Culture article. “No story is too small for me.”

The website followed him around for a day at the office, which started at 1:00 p.m. in Coney Island, where Maisel took some photos of a body hanging underneath the boardwalk. He then uploads the photos to his laptop, chooses one, crops it, and sends it to the Daily News. A Tweet hits the ‘net like a cherry on top.

He then made his way to Bedford-Stuyvesant to snap a few pictures of a burned down four-story brownstone. Maisel didn’t get to stick around for that long as he was alerted, by a police scanner, that three suspects were seen wielding firearms. He raced to the location by going through several red lights and driving in the wrong direction on a one-way street to take photos of the men.

Aside from covering stories that develop in our city, Maisel has been sent to Iraq to capture the invasion in 2003; a plane crash coverage in Peru; and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. He also took one of the most iconic – and controversial – photos after 9/11.

“I don’t hope for a disaster, I just hope that I’m there when it does happen,” said Maisel.

What a workday, eh?

Weiner is requesting money to implement long term solutions to Plumb Beach erosion

The Bloomberg administration is pushing a plan to help restore the existing wetlands throughout the city, and the city has released a draft of its strategy to restore the natural environments along New York City’s waterfront.

The initiative originates from a directive signed by Bloomberg in 2009, ordering relevant city agencies to create a strategy to to conserve, protect, enhance, stabilize, restore, and expand wetlands around the city – including those in Jamaica Bay. The intention was to provide City Hall leadership in conserving area of water too small to be protected by current state laws, according to WNYC News Blog.

“In the next three years the city will work with our state and federal partners to invest over $54 million at 17 sites to restore and enhance over 58 acres of adjacent wetlands and habitat,” said Aaron Koch, the senior policy advisor for the Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability.

Over the years, many important ecosystems have dissipated, but despite that, New York is still home to many critical natural areas in Jamaica Bay, Staten Island, and along Long Island Sound.With the help of the city, more than 175 wetlands have been created or restored in the last 10 years.

One of the main focuses of PlaNYC, the Mayor’s environment-friendly initiative, are waterways. During a City Council Environmental Protection Committee hearing, Koch said that the city hopes to implement several plans to improve public management of wetlands units.

These include the transfer of more city-owned units to the jurisdiction of the Parks Department for additional preservation. The department has acquired almost 300 acres of wetlands in the past decade.

The NYC Wetlands Strategy Draft has been released to the public on January 18, 2012. The City will accept public comments on this draft strategy through February 18, 2012 at

Droesch during her Boston College days. (Source:

A former New York City hoop star/current St. Edmund Preparatory High School (2474 Ocean Avenue) basketball coach is doing her best to fight her stage four breast cancer… and the medical bills its bringing in.

Rockaway Beach native Clare Droesch was diagnosed with cancer this past November, and the disease has already spread to her hips, lymph nodes and spine. The news worsened when her limited Empire Blue medical insurance refused to cover her multiple medical procedures at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, causing the bills to pile up.

“It’s like, ‘Come on.’ Here is a good kid who’s working hard to coach, wants to play,” said Bob Mackey, the head coach for Christ the King, in the New York Post. “It’s just not fair. It never is.”

But luckily for her, she has people around her that are helping her any way they can.

A friend has arranged transportation service for her treatment sessions. The St. Edmund’s girl’s basketball team set up an event this past Friday where participants paid to wear Giants apparel; the money went to Droesch’s medical expenses. Several bake sales are being organized and money collected at the door of each game will be donated.

Dan Doelger, the head coach for the girl’s basketball team, says a portion of the money raised in the Fontbonne Hall team’s walk-a-thon will be given to Droesch.

“The way they want to give back and the things people want to do for me, the only word I can say is overwhelmed,” said Droesch. “I’m so used to giving. I always want to make someone feel better and put a smile on someone’s face. It’s pretty unbelievable the amount of support.”

In addition to coaching at St. Edmund’s, Droesch is also a New York City hoop legend in her own right. During her high school playing days at Christ the King, she lead her team to three straight state federation titles and acquired a 106-10 record in her four year career at the school. She then went onto to play D-1 ball at Boston College, where she lead the team to four straight NCAA tournaments. After Droesch graduated, she went on to play overseas in Portugal.

“I have to be strong throughout this whole process,” said Droesch. “[I want to] show my high school team and all the other kids out there how strong I am, by showing up to things and being there. If I can beat this, you can beat anything.”

Readers can help by donating money for Droesch’s treatment. Go to and click on the donations tab.

Instead of shelling out thousands of dollars on a prison consultant before pleading guilty, former State Senator Carl Kruger could have just talked to someone who was in his shoes a couple of years ago.

Formerly incarcerated Missouri State Senator Jeff Smith appeared on The Brooklyn Politics Show to talk about his time in prison, and he offered a piece of advice to soon-to-be-sentenced Kruger.

“My main piece of advice for him would be to just go there and be positive and finds way he can help other inmates. There’s lots of ways you can help people and burnish your reputation in there so that you have an easier time and you can continue doing good,” said Smith. “I’m sure when he first got into public service, he did it probably for the right reason and then things got mixed up a little bit.”

Smith, who is now a professor at the New School of Management and Urban Policy in New York City, also recounted his first fight that took place during a game of basketball.

“My first fight was on the basketball court and it wasn’t like a big fight. It was somebody who just got really rough with me and I probably should of backed down but I continued dribbling and sort of playing, some would say, a fancy way that kind of antagonized the person who was playing defense on me,” said Smith. “He ended up giving me a bloody lip and then someone else broke us up.”

As for what to hope for during the sentencing, Smith said to “hope you’re under 10 years because if you’re under 10 years you can go to a minimum security facility.”

Check out the interview – Smith is an entertaining speaker with insight into an experience few of us (hopefully) will share.

Bob Turner

With New York State set to lose two of its 29 congressional seats in the House of Representatives, the Democrats hope a Republican’s seat isn’t one of them.

Democrats are hoping that Bob Turner’s seat isn’t on the chopping block because they strongly feel that they can win it back.

“I believe it’s a Democratic seat and would be won by a Democrat,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told the New York Daily News.

Despite Turner’s upset victory in the race to replace Anthony Weiner last year, and the ensuing media reports that claimed it as evidence that area was becoming increasingly conservative, the party believes that the congressional district remains staunchly blue. They also think Turner remains a vulnerable candidate.

Those claims are backed up by Turner’s own weak fundraising efforts. As the New York Observer’s Politicker blog noted, the congressman’s financial performance has been lackluster:

Recently elected GOP Congressman Bob Turner reported a relatively modest campaign haul today, showing just $76,000 raised with $71,000 cash on hand since the last reporting period. This is not an especially large pot of money to to proceed forward in what could be a tough reelection environment for him. For comparison, New York City’s other Republican Congressman, Michael Grimm, raised hundreds of thousands of dollars this cycle and has over a million dollars in the bank.

Other Democrats are also pushing to end the narrative that the area is becoming a Republican enclave.

“This election is going to make a big difference. This is where we draw the line in the sand. This is where we break up the firewall,” said City Councilman Lew Fidler during a meeting of the Brooklyn Young Democrats at Wheeler’s (1707 Sheepshead Bay Road). The councilman noted that any further Republican victories in the area would encourage the party to focus more on ousting other local Democrats, sparking a red wave throughout the borough. “They are not going to turn Brooklyn red,” he said.

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