Traffic safety, property taxes and public transportation all came up at last night’s Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association meeting, but the issue that had the membership most fired up was charcoal grilling in the Manhattan Beach park.

The group voted unanimously to send letters to city agencies demanding that barbecuing be banned and the charcoal pits uprooted from the park, a move that would eliminate one of the borough’s seven parks that legally allow grills, and one of only two in Southern Brooklyn.

The vote was made after the group’s president, Dr. Alan Ditchek, an internal medicine and infectious disease specialist, brought up a recent study linking airborne particulate matter with elevated incidents of stroke.

“I would like to question the city, who wants to legislate against smoking at the beach or smoking outdoors, how could they possibly allow the continuation of barbecue grills here on Manhattan Beach, jeopardizing the health of not only the residents of Manhattan Beach, but everyone on the beach, and everyone in the playground, and everyone on the ballfield,” Ditchek said in front of an audience of about a dozen residents. “If this study mentions particulate matter and risk of stroke – proven risk of stroke – then the city better get down here and shut down these barbecue grills as soon as possible.”

Keep reading about Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association’s proposed ban on barbecuing, and weigh in on the issue.

Your problems, that is. Not the garbage itself. That would be rude, sir.

The Sheepshead Bay / Plumb Beach Civic Association will be discussing issues of trash removal and other sanitation-related quality-of-life problems at their meeting tonight, and have invited officials from the Department of Sanitation to join the conversation and respond to concerns. We all know litter is a huge problem in the neighborhood; let the agency see a packed room at this meeting and know the community is serious about demanding more attention.

Aside from the usual garbage (har har!), the Sheepshead Bay / Plumb Beach Civic Association is also moving forward with Memorial Day Parade planning. We went last year for the first time, and the 500-person-strong event was a joyous and colorful celebration of our servicemen. They’re looking for volunteers, so come by tonight and offer to lend a hand!

The association meeting kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at the Baron De Kalb-Knights of Columbus, 3000 Emmons Avenue. There will be munchkins and coffee, which usually ensures my attendance.

Can’t make it but want to share your concerns with the civic? E-mail

God bless America, where our political leaders don't look like 1980s movie villains. They just look like clowns.

Daily Jewish Web mag The Tablet ran a compelling feature story this week by Alexander Zaitchik on the ever-changing politics of America’s Russian-Jewish immigrants.

Zaitchik claims that, when Russian Jews arrived in the U.S. after the collapse of the Soviet Union, because of their eagerness to assimilate with indigenous Americans combined with the urgency to leave the hardships of Communism behind, they comprised “a reliably Republican voting bloc.” But, things change, Zaitchik explained, and as children of Russian immigrants are raised as first-generation Americans, their politics are a little “harder to pin down.”

Keep reading for an excerpt and our assessment, and weigh in with your personal experience.

Cemal Cansev

A Brighton Beach dad is grappling with the heartbreaking news that his young son, discovered drowned in the waters off the 69th Street Pier in Bay Ridge, is never coming home.

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UPDATE (10:54 a.m.): Here’s a bit from the FDNY:

IS 278, 1925 Stuart Street, Brooklyn. Today 4/5/11.
The fire was reported to be on the roof. The school was evacuated. Dispatch time was 7:39 a.m.; the first unit on the scene was 7:42 a.m.; the fire was under control 8:20 a.m. No injuries were reported. Referred to Fire Marshals. Responding units: E321, E309, E276, L159, L156, BC 33, L169, Squad 1, E254, Rescue 2, Div. 15.

UPDATE (10:41 a.m.): A fire occurred around 7:45 a.m. on or near the school’s grounds, forcing an evacuation and relocation to P.S. 207 (4011 Fillmore Avenue). As of now, it does not appear that any children or faculty were injured. We’re told the relocation to P.S. 207 is complete and all staff and students are accounted for.

Here’s more information we received from Reeves Eisen, City Councilman Lew Fidler’s Chief of Staff:

So far here’s what we know. I heard lots of sirens going down Fillmore at approx 7:45 this morning. At approx 8:00 several eyewitness accounts reported lots of emergency vehicles closing off the block of Stuart, S/Fillmore, with a cherry picker hoisted to the roof. As you know, no one is answering at the school. I left a VM on the principal, Debbie Garofalo’s cell. There are reports of students taking the B100 to Flatbush and Fillmore, which is the normal pattern at dismissal.

Original post: We just received the following Notify NYC announcement about Marine Park J.H.S. (I.S. 278)L

Notification issued 4/5/11 at 10:15 AM.  Due to a building condition, staff and students of JHS 278 in Brooklyn will be relocated to PS 207 located at 4011 Fillmore Ave in Brooklyn. Students will be dismissed from PS 207.

We’re not yet sure of the nature of the “building condition,” but will have more information as soon as it becomes available.

This is a breaking news post and more information will be published as it becomes available.

Photo by Lisanne Anderson, who writes:

This in a triangle at Shore Parkway South and East 16th Street. The arranged stones are suggestive of a Druid monument. I have no explanation as to who placed them there and what they are supposed to represent, if anything.

What Lisanne doesn’t know (or maybe she does, knowledgeable of the city’s miscellanea as she is), is that this triangle is named Sixteen Trees Triangle, a Parks Department highlight along Leif Ericson Drive. The department writes on its website:

Sixteen Trees Triangle, so named for the 16 American Linden (Tilia americana) trees bordering the triangle, first came under the City’s jurisdiction in 1940. In 1968, a local law transferred the property to Parks. The open space consists of the 16 trees, grass, and clover, a simple greenspace for the community.

The American Linden, also known as American Basswood, Limetree, and Bee Tree, has many different applications. The tree’s white blossoms of late June and early July provide bees with the nectar necessary to distill white honey, considered the finest among honey aficionados. The odorless wood from the Linden tree can be used for storing food, making utensils or as paper pulp and the inner bark was used by the Native Americans to make rope. Teas made from the leaves of the tree are said to sooth colds, coughs, headaches, and stomachaches as well as provide for restful sleep. A hardy tree growing easily from stump sprouts, the American Linden can easily survive the harsh city climate. The tree’s majestic look make it a perfect border for Sixteen Trees Triangle.

A hardy tree that grows from stumps, packed with utilitarian sweetness and psychotropic elements? Sounds quite American to me.


Courtesy of More Glib Than Profound

Read it and weep, North Brooklyn. Well, in this case, we all have plenty to weep about.

The Village Voice’s Robert Sietsema compiled a round-up of Brooklyn’s five great restaurants of the past, and while it’s very au courant for foodies to flock to Downtown Brooklyn eateries dotting Cobble Hill’s “Restaurant Row” along Smith Street or Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg, the top three shuttered restaurants on the list hail from — drum roll, please — Sheepshead Bay, or as I like to remind people: south of the red line on’s map of Brooklyn.

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THE COMMUTE: New beachgoers getting off the bus at Manhattan Beach have been lugging their beach gear down the 600-foot ocean block of Ocean Avenue for 50 years only to discover when they get to the end of the block, both entrances are permanently closed and they then have to walk all the way back or hop the fence. That has finally changed. Two new signs (pictured above) will greet them this summer when they get off the bus, but why has it taken so long?

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Aw, look at that. It’s beautiful. It’s splendid. It’s amazing. It’s a t-shirt.

And it’s your last chance to get one for a while.

We’re sending out invoices today to all those who said they wanted a t-shirt, and plan to put the order in tomorrow morning. After that, we have no plans to reprint these for general sales for quite a while, so this could be your last chance to get one.

T-shirts cost $16.95 + $3 S&H, and we’re sending a PayPal invoice to allow people to pay by credit card. Don’t want to shell out the extra cash for shipping? After I receive the shirts, we can arrange to meet at any one of the numerous civic meetings we cover. Civic  meetings are always on weekday evenings, so keep that in mind. And if the price of the shirt is really what’s holding you back, send me a private e-mail and we may be able to work something out.

So, if you want to rock this gem of Sheepshead Bites apparel and help support independent news, send an e-mail to nberke [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com with “T-SHIRT” in the subject line and your size in the body of the e-mail.

The Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association (MBNA) is holding their meeting tonight, Monday, April 4, at 8 p.m. at P.S. 195 (131 Irwin Street).