Photo by Roman Kruglov / Roman.K Photography

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.

Photo by Allan Shweky via screwedontheboardwalk.com

Photo by Allan Shweky

Residents of Manhattan Beach weren’t the only ones affected by Superstorm Sandy in that area. Jonathan Pywell, the director of forestry for New York City Parks Department, told community members during a meeting held by the Manhattan Beach Community Group that many of the trees in their area were going to be removed because of damages they sustained during the storm.

“The trees here were devastated,” Pywell said. He then explained that after the storm they had inspected the area and decided to remove 250 trees. “And it sounds like a lot. Well, it is.”

Sandy’s surge doused all of Manhattan Beach, and while many recall the word “surge” as the point of destruction, for the trees in the neighborhood the true damage happened after. As the water seeped into the soil, the salt went to work on the roots, killing much of them. Pywell and his team of six (and only six) use a percentage scale to determine how thorough the damage is. Anything below 50 percent is considered likely to die, at which point the tree has to be removed.

“We’re trying to find a balance between saving trees and public safety,” Pywell told the community members, explaining that once a tree dies there’s a chance of it coming down on people and property. “The reality is there’s a fine line we have to travel.”

The residents in the audience had no doubt witnessed tree removals in the area since the removal process picked up the pace a few months ago. Out of the 250 trees that were slated for removal – using a roofing nail to indicate the unlucky trees – 75 have already been removed. The 180 that are left will be removed over the course of the year.

But the news isn’t all bad. Pywell told Sheepshead Bites that because of all the rain and snow over the winter season, some of the salt left behind by the storm is being washed away.

“What we’re finding is the sites we sampled have less salt,” he said. Just how extensive this reduction may be is still unclear. Pywell and his team will have to first conduct another inspection of the area (as well as other areas in Brooklyn, as his team serves the entire borough) before he will know for sure how much salt has been removed.

Many residents were concerned that the removal of so many trees would leave the neighborhood barren and ugly. But Pywell explained that they are working on replacing the trees in the area. And the city is also still giving away trees for free. And as the city and Pywell begin to replace the trees, they plant with the idea that another storm will come.

“Diversity is important for resiliency,” he said and explained that the majority of the trees in the area were London Plain trees, a type that is especially vulnerable to salt water. And so he said that the city would replace removed trees with ones that can deal with “wet feet,” or a mild exposure to salt water.

“This area could potentially flood again,” he said. “I know you don’t want to hear that.”

Time to make the... (Source: NYTimes.com)

Time to make the… (Source: NYTimes.com)

So is it Shaikh’s Place or Donut Shoppe? I’ve referred to it interchangeably for years, always corrected by someone who is adamant about one or the other. Even Yelp hedges its bets.

While the New York Times is hardly the arbiter of anything Southern Brooklyn, it’s going with Shaikh’s Place.

The 24-hour donut and coffee shop at 1503 Avenue U, known for out-of-this-world, light, airy donuts (who needs the extra letters?) and a somewhat gritty storefront, got the Sunday Times treatment over the weekend, earning high praise from customers and veteran food writer Rachel Wharton.

Wharton covers the background of the place and its curious owner, a former electrical engineering student who fell in love with the rounded, holed confection.

The Shaikh of the place is Shaikh Kalam, 53, a Calcutta native who bought the shop (also 53) from its original owner, Carlo Radicella, in 1994, after Mr. Radicella had a stroke.

Mr. Kalam arrived from India in 1981 to study electrical engineering, but doughnuts interfered. He found a job at the place in 1983, when it was still known as the Donut Shoppe, “and I stayed.”

Many agree that when Mr. Kalam took over as head baker for Mr. Radicella in the 1980s, doughnut magic was made.

Mr. Kalam tried to make the sweets lighter and less greasy, tinkering with the temperature of the frying oil and the time he let the dough rise. “There’s a lot of little knickknack to it,” he mused. He said, however, that the most important step was simply that he makes 150 dozen fresh every day, beginning at 5 a.m.

Apparently, everyone the Times spoke to agrees that Kalam does a better job with the donuts than the original owner. I can’t say – I’ve only been eating from Shaikh’s for the past seven or so years. And it’s ruined me for any of the Dunkin’ crap.

As for the old signage and the interior, which the Times says hasn’t been renovated for more than half a century, Kalam is unconcerned.

“I might paint,” said Mr. Kalam, who apparently does not worry much about décor. “Once they come in, I don’t lose customers — they’re keepers.”

I get that. Genius needs no frills.

Read the full write-up.

The following flier was sent to us from the Brooklyn Streetcar Artists Group and the Independent Committee at Coney Island Hospital:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Got a housing problem, either as a homeowner or as a renter? Brooklyn Housing and Family Services is the borough’s largest organization to help those in need to protect their property, their rights, their quality of life, and their finances.

Check out this one-on-one housing clinic at Coney Island Hospital at 2601 Ocean Parkway, at 3:30 p.m. and get informed!

Steven Cymbrowitz (l.) and Ben Akselrod (r.)

Conservative Democrat Ben Akselrod appears to be launching his second attempt to unseat incumbent Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, recently filing papers with the state to form a campaign committee.

Akselrod mounted his first challenge to Cymbrowitz in 2012, rising from relative obscurity to a credible candidate with the assistance of his close friend Ari Kagan. Akselrod came close to defeating Cymbrowitz in the Democratic primary, coming less than 300 votes shy of victory. He continued on to the general election on the Independence line, making it a three-way race with Republican Russ Gallo. Cymbrowitz won the general with a wide margin.

Akselrod and his supporters led a hard-knuckled campaign, in which the incumbent was criticized for not opposing a mosque just outside of his district, voting for a bill that encouraged tolerance education in schools including tolerance of homosexuals, and, just days before the primary election, marrying a woman who is not Jewish.

The race brought citywide media attention after Akselrod’s campaign released a flier with a typo claiming that the assemblyman “allowed crime to go up over 50% in the negrohood,” a claim that was factually incorrect regardless of the typo.

Cymbrowitz stayed mum for most of the campaign, leading one outlet to say he was running a “gentleman’s campaign,” but eventually spoke out against “vicious” tactics two weeks after the primary.

Although it’s widely expected, it’s still not fully clear whether Akselrod will run this year. Because of illness, he did not attend last night’s meeting of the Bay Democrats, the club where he serves as president and where he is likely to announce.

District Leader Ari Kagan, a close friend and adviser to Akselrod, told Sheepshead Bites that the papers were simply the first steps to forming an “exploratory committee” to determine whether Akselrod will run.

“He told me it’s an exploratory committee. When he decides 100 percent, he’ll have a big kickoff. Like in May, when the weather is nice,” said Kagan.

Akselrod, however, sounded very much like a candidate in an interview yesterday with Politicker, which first reported on the campaign filings.

“I certainly hope to win. Look, the status quo can’t continue forever. I think I have more energy, more desire to do the job,” Akselrod told Politicker. “There are still many problems with Hurricane Sandy recovery … It’s a year and a half later and we’re still talking about things that should have been done 15 days after the storm hit.”

Akselrod did not return a request to comment in time for publication. We’ll update this post if we here back from him.

seagate5

Need a beach home for your family? And your brother’s family? A couple of cousins, maybe a neighbor and an old college buddy? And still have a room to spare for the help?

Fortunately, there’s a home in Seagate on the market that’s got you covered. A 7,989-square-foot two-story mansion hit the market last week, sporting 11 bedrooms, 11 full bathrooms and a “south facing beach exposure [that] provides unparalleled experience from sunrise to sunset where every moment is different and unique.” Uhuh. And here I thought once you’ve seen one sunrise, you’ve seen ‘em all.

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Anyway, the property is at 4050 Atlantic Avenue – the ocean facing street that saw several homes obliterated during Superstorm Sandy. But according to the broker, the “outdoor living season is long and mild.” Nevermind the superstorms. We can’t imagine why the current owners are heading for the hills.

Some of the neater amenities include three wood-burning fireplaces, an ocean-facing deck, a penthouse master suite, and a “library/music room with Philippines Mohagany wood paneling.” Also: rooftop gardens.

seagate3

There’s no mention of Superstorm Sandy or flood damage at all – and, really, who would put that in a real estate post. In fact, they even omit the tell-tale “newly renovated” boast that pervades every Zone A listing we’ve seen. Oh, but wait, there is a hint: “This property is equipped with massive new mechanicals: Two Weil McLain furnaces, one with hot water circulating system and one with steam, two huge Smith boilers and a new electric system.”

seagate2

Still, pretty property and a relatively low asking price. Would you buy a home this close to the water in the post-Sandy age?

seagate1

[via Curbed]

Photo by Vlad Slobodkin

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.

Chase Bank at 1500 Coney Island Ave (Source: Google Maps)

Chase Bank at 2500 Coney Island Ave (Source: Google Maps)

A 7,200-square-foot retail property, currently home to a Chase Bank and cellphone repair store, has sold to new owners for $5.425 million.

The property sits at 2500 Coney Island Avenue, on the corner of Avenue V. It’s a two-story building with a 12,000 square foot parking lot.

The owners could choose to redevelop the site, building taller while staying within zoning laws, but the Observer, which reported on the deal, notes that it is “unlikely.”

The new owner is Francman Realty LLC, a New Jersey-based company.

Carmine Carro Community Center

The next meeting of the Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association will be this Thursday, March 20 at 7:30 p.m. inside the Carmine Carro Community Center in Marine Park, Fillmore Avenue at Marine Parkway.

The meeting will feature a presentation by Lt. Anthony Mancuso, director of Fire Safety Education for the Fire Department of New York (FDNY). He will also introduce a special program for seniors.

Local elected officials and representatives from the 61st Precinct will be on hand to give updates on what is happening in the community.

To learn more, call (718) 375-9158 or email coachedj@aol.com.

A 2012 collision on Bedford Avenue and Emmons Avenue, which neighbors say is a common occurrence. (Photo: Tom Paolillo)

The New York Police Department has been busy this year. In February, the number of tickets issued across the city for traffic violations have gone up. But things look different in our local 61st Precinct, which covers Sheepshead Bay, Gravesend, Kings Highway, Homecrest, Madison, Manhattan Beach and Gerritsen Beach.

In this area there has been no increase or decrease in the number of tickets drivers received in February 2014 when compared to the number issued in February 2013, according to an analysis of the NYPD’s data by WNYC. It has stayed a consistent 65, while most precincts in the city have seen drastic increases during the first month of Vision Zero policy implementation.

Bay Ridge’s 68th Precinct, for example, shot up 169 percent. Bed-Stuy’s 79th Precinct increased a whopping 322 percent.

According to a WNYC analysis, the increase is due to the fact that “most precincts stepped up enforcement of speeding, failure to yield to pedestrians, and failure to stop at traffic signals.” The ramped up enforcement is part of the policy implementation of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan, which aims to reduce traffic-related fatalities. As part of the plan, officers are called on to increase enforcement against the most dangerous kinds of violations.

In February 2014, the NYPD reported 220 collisions in the 61st Precinct. There was only one fatality, a man who was struck and killed by a private plow in front of the Oceana complex in Brighton Beach.

In a new community newsletter to be produced monthly by the 61st Precinct, the local command announced that traffic enforcement would ramp up in the neighborhood, with a particular focus on locations with a history of pedestrian-related accidents.

They wrote:

In accordance with Mayor De Blasio’s “Vision Zero” campaign, one of the top priorities of the New York City Police Department is to reduce injuries and deaths resulting from motor vehicle collisions. Officers on patrol will focus enforcement related to keeping pedestrians and motorists safe by issuing summonses that include the failure to stop at stop signs and red lights, as well as the failure to yield to pedestrians.

Our current top pedestrian related collision location is the intersection of Coney Island Avenue and Avenue Z. Our partnership with the community includes sharing vital information so that our friends, family and neighbors will remain safe.