contaminent

The sediment-filled waste coming out of a covered sewer overflow pipe. (Source: Pete Castro)

The city’s long-awaited solution to street flooding along the Coney Island peninsula has some locals wondering if the remedy isn’t worse than the disease.

West 33rd Street and Bayview Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

West 33rd Street and Bayview Avenue (Source: Google Maps) Click to enlarge.

The Department of Environmental Protection is in the midst of a massive clearing operation in western Coney Island, pumping years of sand, debris and residue out of long-jammed sewer lines, which neighbors say caused the streets to flood in even the slightest rain. But now the city is fielding a new set of complaints from residents who say the toxin-filled water is flowing into Coney Island Creek through a combined sewer overflow pipe at West 33rd Street and Bayview Avenue, adjacent to Kaiser Park beach.

“Yes, you’ve got to clean out the drain. But my logic, my god-given common sense, is that you don’t foul it up, you don’t create another foul condition when you solve that problem,” said Pete Castro, a resident of West 35th Street.

Castro has been on the beach almost daily for the past week and a half, filming and taking photos of the Department of Environmental Protection’s private contractor, National Water Main Cleaning Co., as they pump water into the sewer and it flows out of a nearby outfall pipe, onto the beach. The 30-year resident said the water is thick and black with sludge, oil and other contaminants, mucking up a habitat in the midst of a revival.

“I’ve been seeing wildlife come back to the beach, egrets, the occasional swan, ducks go over there. And they’re dumping that oil there and apparently DEP is okay with it,” he said.

The DEP confirmed that they’re clearing out the sewer lines, and that some debris was simply destined to enter the environment.

“We are working to clear out the sand-impacted storm sewers. This is in response to flooding complaints in the area. We have been cleaning out the sewers for weeks and we understand there have been complaints about pumping stuff into the sewer, but in reality this is what we have to do to clean the sewers,” a spokesperson told this outlet.

Despite years of flooding complaints on the Coney Island peninsula, the latest round of work began after a site visit by Superstorm Sandy recovery honchos Bill Goldstein and Amy Peterson. Led by Councilman Mark Treyger, the team visited P.S. 188, where the students and faculty shared the following video showing the extent of flooding outside of the school in even modest rain.

“This is not Sandy, it’s just an average rainstorm,” Treyger told this outlet about the video. “It is a eye-opening video that shows severe flooding that is so bad that a car floated from the street and crashed into the front of the school, that’s how bad the flooding is. We showed the video to Amy Peterson and Bill Goldstein and they were very alarmed by it.”

“It is a damning video that just absolutely validates and confirms portions of Southern Brooklyn had been neglected by the [Bloomberg] administration.”
- Treyger

The Sandy team put pressure on the Department of Environmental Protection to address the flooding immediately. After inspection, the DEP determined that the sewers were clogged near the outfall pipes that go into Coney Island Creek, and dispatched contractors to clear it out.

Treyger admitted that solving one problem for residents caused concern for others. Castro and neighbors made complaints to his office, and he forwarded the video and photos to the DEP for a response.

As a result, Treyger said, the DEP conducted a review, meeting with the contractor and also bringing in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which has jurisdiction over area waterways.

“My sense was that they’re going to review and basically provide greater oversight of the work being done,” said Treyger. “For many years the infrastructure has been an issue here and as we move forward to fix it, we’re not looking to create more environmental disasters. This type of work has to be done in accordance with all environmental regulations and we’re going to make sure that that happens.”

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The vactor truck at work on West 33rd Street and Bayview Avenue. (Source: Pete Castro)

But Castro fears the agencies are being less than thorough in their review. Shortly after Treyger met with the DEP, officials from both the DEP and the DEC spoke directly to Castro about his concerns, assuring him they would investigate the spillage and make sure it was in compliance. But instead of investigation, Castro said he received a call from the DEC rep several hours later saying that they had reviewed the operation and concluded it was safe.

“According to his dubious investigation, some guy [from the DEC] just miraculously put his finger in the air and said it’s okay to put that foul oil onto the beach,” said Castro, adding that there was about six hours between the phone calls – four of which was during hours when the trucks were not pumping. “You can get chemical results like that, with a snap of the finger?”

The DEP spokesperson said she did not know of any specific involvement of the DEC in this matter, but said, “I’m sure we’ve been in touch with DEC at some point.” Asked over the course of multiple phone calls if there was knowledge of the contaminants flowing from the pipe, she said, “I have to double check, but don’t forget it’s the sewer system and it has to get out of the sewers. It can be anything.”

She did not have an answer about contamination when we followed up, instead pointing out that the city uses vactor trucks – essentially giant vacuum cleaners that suck out debris, suggesting that there should be no spillage into the waterway. When we noted that there was spillage, as evidenced by video, she reiterated, “We’re doing work out there.” She did not respond to further questions.

Treyger said he requested the DEP hold a meeting in the community in the upcoming weeks to discuss their operations and respond to potential concerns. He said it will be announced soon.

Until then, Castro said he’ll continue to document the filth and hopes to find someone’s help analyzing water samples. In addition to the wildlife and habitat, he’s also concerned about the numerous indigent locals who turn to Coney Island creek to fish for their meals.

“I can’t see it getting much worse. I’m just waiting for the dead fish to pile up,” he said.

This apartment is so expensive, you’ll need to pay in gold or a few thousand Doubloons. (Source: Kian Realty)

Looking for a new place to call home? Sheepshead Bites has got you covered. Our rental roundup showcases some of the deals on the market now. If you know of a great place available for rent or are a broker representing a property you want included, contact nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

Two Luscious Bedrooms in Sheepshead Bay
Price: $1,888
Location: Brigham Street and Emmons Avenue
Description: This is the kind of realtor who has you in mind, like a considerate lover. And in this spirit, he writes, “To make best use of your time, give me an idea of what you’re looking for.” He then tells you that if you love this place, act “swiftly” because “its quite disheartening to be emotionally invested in a space and miss it by a small margin.” And this gentleman won’t let you get emotionally invested in something just to watch you lose it. I would continue to describe the apartment but that’s all the time we have for this segment.
Contact: Hannibal Collins, Kian Realty, (347) 985-0021

One Bedroom in Brighton Beach’s Trump Towers
Price: $1,500
Location: 44 Neptune Avenue
Description: This apartment is in a neighborhood that’s “full of life.” I’m wondering which neighborhoods are only half full with life, or completely vacant of life, but my deadlines prevent me from pondering such existential concerns for long. Also, there’s a balcony where you can take all this life in.
Contact: Ilona Vovk, Talk of the Town Realty, (718) 627-7500

Two Bedrooms in Sheepshead Bay
Price: $1,900
Location: East 17th Street between Avenue U and Avenue V
Description: With zoomed in shots of the bathroom sink and unusually low shots of the rooms, this realtor is either really into details or hiding the truth. Well we’re here to reveal the truth and tell you that this apartment has a dishwasher and dogs and cats are allowed. But you can’t have a ferret. But that’s not the realtor’s fault, it’s Giuliani’s.

If you know of a great place available for rent or are a broker representing a property you want included, contact nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

Ah, the heady days of the 1960s. I’m told if you remember it, you weren’t there.

So we’ll forgive you if you forgot all about that time – May 9, 1965 – when a bunch of teenagers swiped a penguin from the New York Aquarium in Coney Island.

Why would they steal a penguin, you ask? Because, man, why not?

The story goes like this: an MTA detective was on the subway at Stillwell Avenue, minding everybody’s business like he ought to. He spots a group of teens hop on his subway car carrying a cardboard box. The kids leave, but leave the box behind.

Then the box moves.

Figuring it’s a seagull – because, man, why not? – he goes to grab the box to take it outside and release it. Only after getting bit on the thumb does this detective decide to get a little more inquisitive, and takes a look inside the container.

Bam, penguin.

He called up the aquarium and they confirmed they were a penguin down, and it was returned safely.

Oh, yeah, then it happened again in 1967.

I learned all this after stumbling across the New York Historical Society video above, first released in 2012.

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Shot at Floyd Bennett Field. Stunning, if you ask me.

Photo by Dmitri Kalinin

Morning Mug is our daily showcase of photographs from our readers. If you have a photograph that you’d like to see featured, send them to photos@sheepsheadbites.com.

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Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

New York State Department of Conservation “wildlife specialists” opened fire on a pair of mute swans in upstate New York last Tuesday, orphaning their four baby swans and defying a two-year moratorium on lethal population management techniques that had just passed the Senate and Assembly.

The incident took place in Black River Bay, when residents spotted an unmarked boat approaching a group of swans. Moments later, gunshots rang through the air and two of the swans were dead. Residents, thinking the gunmen poachers, chased them down to discover that they worked for the environmental agency.

“DEC was carrying out a long-standing protocol to manage this invasive species that threatens other species in this sensitive habitat,” the DEC said in a prepared statement to the local television station.

The news riled up two New York City legislators who led the fight to protect the swans.

“This is an outrage,” said Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz in a press release. “We’re doing everything we can do [to] safeguard the swan population in my own Sheepshead Bay community and elsewhere, but clearly DEC did not get the memo.”

“I am absolutely outraged at these horrific turn of events, which occurred almost simultaneously as the State Senate passed a two-year moratorium on your agency’s careless and controversial plan to eradicate all wild mute swans in the state by 2025,” State Senator Tony Avella of Queens. “What is even more troubling is that the shootings happened in broad daylight, in front of passerbys enjoying their day near the Bay.”

Cymbrowitz and Avella introduced the legislation creating the moratorium in the Assembly and Senate, respectively. Although it passed both houses, Cuomo has not yet signed it into law.

The moratorium came after the DEC revealed a draft plan in January to eliminate entirely the mute swan population across New York State. The plan was sharply criticized by animal advocates and those who see the swans – which have populated some areas in the state including Sheepshead Bay for more than a century – as a welcome part of the community. The agency announced in March that it would hold off using any lethal population management techniques until a new plan was made that was more sensitive to the community’s wishes.

The agency appears to have reversed course yet again, spurring criticism from the pols.

“Even without the moratorium being signed into law, the implication was that DEC would stand by its good-faith promise and keep the swans off death row until further notice,” said Cymbrowitz. “Instead, we’re getting a clear indication that DEC can’t be trusted and still plans to engage in the sanctioned killing of mute swans.”

Both pols have sent letters expressing their outrage to Joseph Martens, the commissioner of the DEC.

Community Board 15 is meeting tomorrow, June 24, at 7:00 p.m. at Kingsborough Community College (2001 Oriental Boulavard) in the faculty dining room. It will be the final meeting of the season, and will be preceded by a 6:00 p.m. collation, featuring light refreshments.

The following zoning item is on the agenda.

  • 1112 Gilmore Court – An application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family dwelling.

Additionally, there will be a presentation by a representative from the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, and a presentation by the City Planning Commission.

The board’s chairperson and district manager and various committee heads will deliver their monthly reports. There will also be time to hear residents’ concerns and discuss the reports, and elected officials may be in attendance.

This will be the last meeting before summer recess. Meetings will resume in September.

B LINE

From 9:45 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday to Friday, Manhattan-bound B trains run local from Sheepshead Bay to Prospect Park.

Q LINE

From 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m., Tuesday to Thursday, Coney Island-bound Q trains stop at 49 St.

From 9:45 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesday to Friday, Coney Island-bound Q trains run express from Prospect Park to Sheepshead Bay.

F LINE

From 11:45 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Friday, Brooklyn-bound F trains skip Sutphin Blvd and Van Wyck Blvd.

From 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m., Wednesday to Friday, F service operates in two sections:

  1. Between 179 St and Hoyt-Schermerhorn Sts A/G station –the last stop.
  2. Between Bedford-Nostrand Avs G station and Coney Island.

From 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m., Wednesday to Friday, Brooklyn-bound F trains run local from Roosevelt Av to 21 St-Queensbridge.

From 12:30 a.m. to 5 a.m., Wednesday to Friday, 179 St-bound F trains run local from 21 St-Queensbridge to Roosevelt Av.

Ralph Kramden, the granddaddy of Brooklyn bus drivers. Source: Wikipedia

Ralph Kramden, the granddaddy of Brooklyn bus drivers. Source: Wikipedia

THE COMMUTE: My thoughts about bus drivers are mixed. On the one hand, I appreciate the difficult job they have, driving in traffic, which is never easy, and being responsible for the safety of so many passengers and pedestrians. Bus accidents are rare, which is attributable to the MTA’s high standards for recruiting and retaining bus drivers. They also have to continually deal with the public, which can be difficult at times. A few have even been killed just for doing their job. They must keep cool even when provoked. As is the case with any occupation, there are always a few bad apples, and the MTA does its best to weed them out.

Continue Reading »

Food

Would you risk perjury for this? (Source: WhiteCastle.com)

A sack of White Castle sliders may have just nabbed the world record for most expensive fast food meal ever.

The city agreed to dole out $32,500 of taxpayer money to compensate two men arrested and allegedly beaten for not forking over the meal to Coney Island police officers.

The case first came to light in March when two men, Danny Maisonet and Kenneth Glover filed suit against the NYPD, claiming they were falsely arrested in 2012 by police officers who wanted their meals.

The two say they got out of a cab carrying the sweaty sliders on Halloween 2012 at Neptune Avenue, where cops were rounding up a group of suspected looters. The officers demanded the burgers, the men claimed, and were rebuffed.

The New York Post describes what happened next:

Enraged by the denial, the officers began to beat the men with flashlights and eventually arrested them for obstruction of governmental administration, according to the suit.

Officers​, meanwhile,​ accused them of blocking their way as they tried to round up the looters, court papers state.

The pair were held for two days and were forced to attend several court appearances before the charges against them were tossed.

Pizzarro (Source: DCPI)

Pizzarro (Source: DCPI)

Officer Angelo Pizzarro filed the report, swearing that the men were standing in his way during the struggle with the alleged looters.

In an unrelated case, Pizzarro was described by an assistant district attorney as “not the brightest tool in the shed,” after the cop’s “bizarre and implausible” testimony regarding missing evidence caused that case to be lost. Pizzarro was part of a team of Coney Island housing cops who said they spotted a man with a gun in his waistband.

The Daily News reports:

But when Pizzarro was called to testify at a hearing in November, he claimed his memo book detailing the arrest had been “washed away” with his locker by Sandy.

Later it was learned that Pizzarro had previously handed over the missing memo book to the city Law Department in a separate lawsuit. Questioned why the memo book was not waterlogged and the ink still legible, Pizzarro came up with this explanation: “There are pens that write under water. It won’t leave a blemish, a running mark or anything.”

The judge in that case referred Pizzarro’s testimony to the Internal Affairs Bureau for investigation. It’s unclead if the “separate lawsuit” mentioned above is the White Castle suit or a third, unrelated lawsuit involving the officer.

The White Castle suit was dismissed Wednesday, with the city agreeing to pay Glover $20,000 and Maisonett $12,500.

This petal appears to be trying to do its best impersonation of Gene Simmons’ tongue [Warning: That video is mildly unsettling. Watch at your own discretion].

Photo by Randy Contello / RandyCPhotography

Morning Mug is our daily showcase of photographs from our readers. If you have a photograph that you’d like to see featured, send them to photos@sheepsheadbites.com.