Archive for the 'News & Features' Category

photo via tsc nyc marathon

This Sunday, November 2 is the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon–and whether you’re planning to go out and cheer or steer clear of race-related traffic concerns altogether, there’s an extensive list of street closures you might want to get to know. Via the NYPD:

Beginning at midnight on Sunday, November 2, the upper level of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge will be closed to vehicle traffic. At approximately 7 a.m. rolling street closures will commence along the route in preparation for the marathon… Street closures and parking restrictions are expected to cause traffic delays. The use of public transportation is highly recommended.

Below are the Brooklyn roads being affected by closures (see full five borough list here):

  • Dahlgren Place between Verrazano Bridge and 92nd Street (North Bound)
  • 92nd Street between Dahlgren Place and 4th Avenue
  • 4th Avenue between 92nd Street and Flatbush Avenue
  • Flatbush Avenue between 4th Avenue and Lafayette Avenue
  • Brooklyn Queens Expressway (South-bound) between Verrazano Bridge and 79th Street
  • 7th Avenue between 79th Street and 75th Street / Bay Ridge Parkway
  • 7th Avenue between 74th Street and 75th Street
  • 74th Street between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue
  • 6th Avenue between 74th Street and 75th Street
  • Bay Ridge Parkway between 7th Avenue and 4th Avenue
  • 92nd Street between Gatling Place and Fort Hamilton Parkway
  • Fort Hamilton Parkway between 92nd Street and 94th Street
  • 94th Street between Fort Hamilton Parkway and 4th Avenue (North-bound)
  • 4th Avenue between 94th Street and Flatbush Avenue (South-bound)
  • Bedford Avenue between Lafayette Avenue and Nassau Avenue
  • Nassau Avenue between Bedford Ave / Lorimer St and Manhattan Ave
  • Manhattan Avenue between Nassau Avenue and Greenpoint Avenue
  • Greenpoint Avenue between Manhattan Ave and McGuiness Boulevard
  • McGuiness Boulevard between Greenpoint Avenue and 48th Avenue
  • Pulaski Bridge (South-bound)

Police also note the security measures for this year’s event for both runners and spectators, including how to make the day easier on yourself:

Prior to taking their starting positions on Staten Island, runners will be screened and their bags inspected. The New York Road Runners has provided the participants with clear bags to expedite this process. Individuals who require event credentials and special access to secure areas, such as organizers, volunteers and other personnel, have been pre-screened in addition to the physical screening they will receive on Sunday.

Along the course, bags and backpacks may be subject to search. Bag checks and magnetometer screenings will be conducted in the area of the finish line. Spectators can help expedite, if not alleviate some of the security process, by leaving backpacks at home.

If you’re running in this year’s event, good luck!

Photo via TSC New York City Marathon

Engine where he worked. (Source: Google Maps)

Engine 329 in Queens, where Schreiner worked. (Source: Google Maps)

An FDNY firefighter arrested in 2013 for assaulting a black postal worker while yelling racist slurs was ordered to attend diversity classes and complete an anger management course on Wednesday.

The New York Post reports:

Luke Schreiner, 49, was convicted on misdemeanor attempted assault and harassment raps for his ugly attack on mild-mannered Rene Isidore, 57, in a September bench trial in Brooklyn Supreme Court.

“A fireman is supposed to save lives. Mr. Schreiner almost ended my life instead,” Isidore said in his victim impact statement.

“He grabbed me by my chest and pulled as if I was an animal.”

Schreiner originally faced a hate crime charge for the assault, which stems from a November 13, 2013 incident, but was acquitted on that charge last month because it was not the motivation for the assault, the judge determined.

“The defendant was upset and he struck [the mailman] because he believed the postal truck grazed his vehicle,” the judge said.

He was suspended for a month after the incident, in which he allegedly smacked Isiidore in the face, broke his sunglasses, and shouted racial slurs at him and a black woman passing by – all in front of his own Gerritsen Beach home.

A previous report from the Post likened the court transcriptions to Django Unchained screenplay, with the N-word repeated numerous times.

“You’re nothing but a f—— n—–! That’s why you work for the Postal Service,” testified postal worker Rene Isidore…

“You’re a n—-r​,​ too!” Schreiner yelled at a black passerby, prosecutor Damani Sims said in his opening statement. “You’re all n—–rs! You’re the color of my s–t!”

Schreiner was ultimately convicted of misdemeanor attempted assault and harassment charges.

The Daily News reports that he has two previous assault arrests, including one for road rage.

suspect

Knock, knock. Who’s there? Thief.

A man and a woman wormed their way into a Coney Island Avenue apartment building, knocked on someone’s door, and ripped an iPhone right out of the tenant’s hand when he answered, police say.

The 29-year-old man was robbed at 4:45pm on September 19, sparking a hunt for the two perps now wanted for grand larceny.

The male thief is described as white, between 30 and 35 years old, approximately 6’0″ and between 220lbs and 240lbs. He was wearing a white tank top and tan pants.

The woman is described as light-skinned, between 25 and 30 years old, also 6’0″ and was wearing jeans and a hat.

The two were caught on surveillance camera fleeing the lobby of the building.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).  The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

Photo by Knightmare6

Photo by Knightmare6

A Brooklyn court ruled that the city was not responsible for the drowning of a 10-year-old girl in 2008, saying that the city is “not an insurer” of the safety of parkgoers.

The case stems from the July 2008 drowning of Akira Johnson, who was swimming with her cousin, also 10, on Coney Island. They became distressed and a nearby lifeguard came to their aid, only saving Johnson’s cousin. The girl, lost to the water, washed ashore days later.

Brooklyn Eagle reports:

The family filed a wrongful death suit against the city with claims of negligence. A lower court judge found merit in the family’s suit and allowed the case to proceed. The higher appeals court, however, acknowledged the city’s responsibility to its park users, but held that the city’s lifeguards did not deviate from its public safety obligations.

Evidence showed that the city “had furnished a sufficient number of lifeguards, that those lifeguards were experienced and competent…that they were adequately trained and properly certified… and that they reacted to the situation in accordance with proper procedure,” the appeals court noted

The victim’s family argued that the training was inadequate as it takes place in a swimming pool.

New York Law Journal reports:

Plaintiff’s attorney Arnold E. DiJoseph argued that the lifeguards were not properly trained to handle rescues in rip currents. “Basically, they are trained in swimming pool rescues,” he said in an interview.

But a unanimous panel of Justices Ruth Balkin, John Leventhal, Joseph Maltese and Betsy Barros held the city had met its duty to maintain the beach in “reasonably safe condition,” citing the lifeguards’ prompt mobilization and the fact that they rescued Akira’s 10-year-old cousin in the same incident. At least six lifeguards responded when they observed the two children in distress.

“[The] city is not an insurer of the safety of the users of its parks, including its beaches,” the court ruled.

The Sheepshead Bay Yacht Club after the storm.

When the sun sets tonight and the clock turns to 8:15pm, thousands of people along the northeast coast will simultaneously light candles and begin a moment of silence, remembering the destruction that swept through coastal communities courtesy of Superstorm Sandy. That moment will mark exactly two years since the high-tide breached the walls of Sheepshead Bay and began dousing our streets, our business, our homes, and claimed 125 American lives.

Like last year, contemplating a slew of “anniversary” articles is a gut wrenching endeavor, and one that I find difficult considering we still wrestle with the effects every day – and cover it nearly as often. It’s not two years since Sandy. Here in Sheepshead Bay and Manhattan Beach and Brighton Beach and Coney Island and Gerritsen Beach – and dozens of other impacted communities – Sandy is still very much every day.

But there is a need for a long view. Things are getting better. They are returning to normal, and on many fronts we are better prepared for another storm today than we were on October 28, 2012. It is the obsession of just about every citywide media outlet today, so here are some of the best, most enlightening articles published this week on the progress made, and the work still to be done.

If you feel we missed one worth sharing, let us know in the comments or at editor [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com and we’ll add it. And don’t forget to come to the candlelight vigil  tonight to support and be supported by your neighbors.

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.”

Sampson (File photo)

Sampson (File photo)

State Senator John Sampson’s defense team has taken a rather bizarre approach, practically admitting that he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the sale of foreclosed homes - but that he did it too long ago for him to be prosecuted.

The pol appeared in court on Thursday to have two of the 10 counts against him dismissed, arguing that the funds were embezzled earlier than prosecutors said. According to a New York Times report, the issue revolves around the definition of embezzlement. The prosecution’s charges are based on when Sampson spent the money; Sampson’s defense said it should have been on when he moved it into an escrow account he controlled.

The paper reports:

The defense agreed, for the purposes of the motion, that the embezzlement took place in 1998 and 2002, when Mr. Sampson transferred the money to escrow accounts he controlled.

It is “extraneous” and “irrelevant” how and when the embezzled funds were spent, his lawyer, Nathaniel H. Akerman, said in court on Thursday.

A prosecutor, Alexander A. Solomon, argued that embezzlement was “not complete until the defendant used the funds in the escrow account,” which occurred within the five-year window.

The judge said the pol’s failure to return the money “shows some intention,” but also noted the prosecutor’s logical flaw that, if the money was not returned but also never spent, then the pol could never be prosecuted.

The case stems from two incidents in 1998 and 2002, when Sampson, a lawyer, was appointed the referee in foreclosure proceedings. He was to oversee the sale of the homes, pay off the debts, and return the surplus funds to the state within five days. According to the prosecution, and now apparently the defense as well, he did not return those funds and instead began using them for personal benefit in 2008.

The judge will rule on the motion by the end of the month, according to Capital New York. Sampson faces eight other counts for obstruction of justice, witness tampering and lying to federal prosecutors.

Photo by Ben Cooper / LaunchPhotography.com

Photo by Ben Cooper / LaunchPhotography.com

With gorgeous weather slated for the rest of the evening, New Yorkers may be gifted a rare treat thanks to NASA: a first-of-its-kind rocket launch from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia should be visible just after sunset.

The egg-heads down south will be shooting the fiery phallus into space at 6:45pm. Hopefully the sun will have sunk below the horizon, making the otherwise clear skies dark enough to see it as it streaks through the atmosphere, but there’s really no guarantee.

The rocket, owned by Orbital Sciences Corporation, is capped off with a Cygnus cargo spacecraft that will make its way to the International Space Station. According to NASA’s info page, “Cygnus is loaded with about 5,000 pounds of science investigations, food, supplies and hardware for the space station and its crew.” It should reach its destination on November 2.

An example of what tonight’s launch could look like if the sun hits it just right. (Source: USCLA Dept. of Physics and Astronomy)

This is the fifth ever launch of the Antares orbital rocket, and the first time it’s blasting off after sundown, so nobody is really sure what you will be able to see. Making it even more dicey is that it’s not really happening at night, but rather at twilight.

We asked our resident space guru Ben Cooper, of Manhattan Beach, who photographs such rocket launches for a living, what to expect from tonight’s launch.

“This one won’t be quite as bright [as the one I photographed last year, seen above this post],” he said. “It is also possible that the upper stage exhaust will catch the sunlight and look like a white comet type thing. It’s hard to say what tonight will look like. The Antares rocket has never launched at night before. A similar past launch from California could look like [the adjacent photo] if it is impressive enough.”

The best places in the area to catch a view of the rocket is the waterfront along Southern Brooklyn. Plumb Beach, Manhattan Beach, the Riegelmann Boardwalk in Brighton Beach or Coney Island and the Shore Parkway greenway spanning Bay Parkway to the Verrazano are your best bets.

According to a map distributed by NASA, you should be able to see the rocket between 180 and 210 second after it launches, when it climbs high enough over the horizon. You can also keep tabs on the launch here, where NASA will host a livestream. Launch coverage begins at 5:45pm.

In the unlikely event that weather hampers the launch – it’s currently considered 99 percent favorable – it will be postponed until Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. If you get a great photo, make sure to send it to editor [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com!

20141015_orb-3_visibility_w-traj_w-title_2

Source: kezze/Flickr

B LINE

From 9:45am to 3pm, Wednesday to Friday, Brighton Beach-bound B trains run local from Prospect Park to Kings Hwy.

Q LINE

From 9:45am to 3pm, Wednesday to Friday, Manhattan-bound Q trains run express from Kings Hwy to Prospect Park.

F LINE

From 10:30am to 3pm, Wednesday to Friday, F service operates in two sections:

  1. Between 179 St and Avenue X.
  2. Between Avenue X and Coney Island, every 20 minutes.
    • To continue your trip, transfer at Avenue X.

From 10:15am to 3pm, Wednesday to Friday, Avenue X-bound F trains skip Avenue U.

From 10pm to 5am, Monday to Friday, F trains run local in both directions between 21 St-Queensbridge and 71 Av.

After a busy week, here’s a chance to catch up on some of the news happening outside of our neighborhood! We’ve pulled together some of our favorite recent stories from our site and our sister sites, as well as some other fascinating pieces that are worth a read this weekend:

A 22-year-old man died after accidentally setting himself on fire in Borough Park. [KensingtonBK]

A sneak peek inside The Finch, Clinton Hill’s new farm to table restaurant from a former Roberta’s chef. [Fort Greene Focus]

Will the landmarked Brooklyn Lyceum be turned into condos? [Park Slope Stoop]

New York expands its role in caring for immigrant children, sometimes using shackles during transportation. [Capital NY]

A 20-year-old man was arrested in last week’s fatal home invasion in Ditmas Park. [Ditmas Park Corner]

Locals want to re-imagine what the 4th Ave/9th St subway station could look like. [South Slope News]

A Coney Island cop turned in his badge after video surfaced showing him kick another cop in the head, thinking it was a suspect. [Bensonhurst Bean]

Pedestrian-friendly changes are coming to Brooklyn’s Myrtle and Park Avenues. [FGF]

MTA breaks ridership record, still $15B in the hole. [Gothamist]

In case you were wondering, even bike share programs are really just for the rich. [City Lab]

Eagle-eyed cops turned a minor arrest into a major ID theft bust in Bensonhurst. [BB]

After six weeks of no cooking gas, irate tenants push for change. [DPC]

A study on the controversial rezoning proposal for Prospect Lefferts Gardens is going forward. [Brownstoner]

The Statue of Liberty could’ve ended up in Central Park – or, worse, Philly or Boston. [Failure Magazine]

This is an actual photo of the Gowanus Canal. [PSS]

All of Brownstoner’s Buildings of the Day, mapped. [Brooklyn, one (thousand) building(s) at a time.]

Annual Halloween party on Saturday doubles as fundraiser to Cure Huntington’s Disease. [SSN]

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for our daily newsletter. If you have any news tips, story ideas, questions or anything else, e-mail us at editor [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

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