Archive for the tag 'alan ditchek'

MBCG boardmembers, including new president Judy Baron (left) and outgoing president Ira Zalcman (right) pose with Comptroller-elect Scott Stringer

MBCG boardmembers, including new president Judy Baron (left) and outgoing president Ira Zalcman (right) pose with Comptroller-elect Scott Stringer

The Manhattan Beach Community Group met earlier this month for their 72nd annual general membership meeting, an end-of-year celebration where new officers are installed and the year’s accomplishments celebrated. This year’s event carried extra weight as the group’s president, Ira Zalcman, said goodbye after seven years of leadership, and the group passed an amendment to its bylaws intended to create peace with its rival neighborhood group.

The December 4 event – which we must note with regret has taken far too long to find its way to our website – drew nearly 200 neighbors, as well as a broad swath of incoming and outgoing elected officials.

Most significantly, the group passed an amendment to its bylaws that they hope will end a bitter six-year feud with the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association, a rivalry that many say has divided the community, and diminished its power to effect positive changes in the area.

The new bylaws create an exception for members of the “other group” to rejoin the MBCG as directors without having to wait the requisite two years. Passed with only one objection, by MBNA member Ed Eisenberg, the motion provisions for the group’s president to appoint as many as four members of the MBNA to the MBCG’s board, so long as the MBNA agrees to dissolve.

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Community Board 15 decided on Monday night to table the a proposal to move the Manhattan Beach dog run, saying that the plan is still to vague for them to take a stance on.

Councilman Nelson’s chief of operations, Chaim Deutsch, brought the issue before the Board after working with the Manhattan Beach Community Group, which wants to relocate the dog run to a less visible area, and put a beautification garden in its place. Although $500,000 has already been allocated to the project, Deutsch and the Parks Department wanted to ensure the proposal has broad community support before going forward, but many residents who spoke at the meeting said they were against the plan. [Corrected]

Deutsch explained that when the dog run was fenced in approximately 15 years ago, it lacked proper drainage or any of the other amenities city dog runs have. Because of that, and inconsiderate patrons, members of the community have complained to the councilman’s office that it was unclean and often muddy.

Others who spoke in support of the proposal – largely members of the Manhattan Beach Community Group – said that users of it often came at unacceptable hours and left trash and dog feces in the park.

The councilman’s proposal is to move the dog run to a smaller location, redesign it with proper amenities – including drainage, lighting and pebbles – and turn the current location into a beatification site. The smaller location would be further subdivided to make separate pens for big and small dogs. The councilman has already allocated $500,000 for the project, but Deutsch told Sheepshead Bites that amount would only cover construction of a new dog park, not the establishment of a beautification garden.

However, many Manhattan Beach residents and dog owners spoke against the plan, airing their skepticism that the city would ever complete the job and that they’d be left without a dog run (Deutsch said he had received the Parks Department’s word that the existing run would not be eliminated until a new one was completed).

They also said that many of the problems are overblown, that users are courteous and most pick up their remains, and that there is no odor. They also took issue with shrinking the size of the park, as owners of larger dogs need the space for their canines to get exercise. Still, others, said that the money allocated should simply be used for maintenance of the dog run, for which the community has been told there is no funding, and that a “Friends of”-style group could be formed.

Members of the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association also took issue with the proposal, noting that funding had been allocated by the councilman to repair the community’s basketball courts five years ago, but that they “haven’t seen a penny” put to use.

“Believing we’re going to get this money is like believing in fairy tales,” said Al Smaldone, reading a statement from MBNA President Alan Ditchek.

They also pointed out that 75 percent of the current dog run is in the shade, making it a poor choice for a beautification site.

The Board voted overwhelmingly to table the proposal until the Parks Department or councilman could provide written plans about the proposed location, amenities, costs and design for them to better judge the project.

After the meeting, Deutsch said, “I’m happy that it was tabled because if people voted and it was politically motivated it be very immature and immoral.”

CORRECTION (9/28/2012): A statement in the second paragraph of this article has been corrected. It previously indicated that Deutsch brought the issue before the Board at the request of the Manhattan Beach Community Group. Ira Zalcman, president of the group, sent the following note to us:

The mbcg never asked Nelson or Deutsh to make a dog run presentation to Cb 15. It was Theresa Scavo who asked for the presentation.  Also the mbcg never asked for this funding of one half million dollars.   The space for a new dog run was chosen by Ron Biondo when he was President of mbcg and his chair of his quality of life comm Al Smaldone … Mbcg stands by biondo and Smaldone that the dog run should be moved.

While we have made the correction regarding the request for the presentation, we would like to add that we have never stated that MBCG asked for the funding – only that the project be done.

The New York City Parks Department revealed the results of a three-year feasibility study, determining new potential uses for the Manhattan Beach bathhouse, a dilapidated Parks building that has been closed to the public for half a century.

The report, commissioned three years ago with a $125,000 budget allocation from Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, recommends reactivating the building by turning it into an energy-efficient structure with upgraded Parks Department and NYPD administrative offices, sheltered and external storage space, larger bathrooms for beachgoers, fitness facilities and some solar power.

But the plan also features a 6,500 square foot section – approximately a third of the building – for unidentified community use, and the department is turning to residents to find out what they want.

At a press conference yesterday afternoon, Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey joined Cymbrowitz to solicit ideas, some of which included a spa, restaurant or cafe, solar farm, cultural center and/or museum, environmental science laboratory, concert venue and, lo and behold, even a bathhouse, with lockers and showers.

The building opened in 1955, but closed 10 years later when it was determined that it could not adequately accommodate the number of people at the beach. With the exception of the restrooms, the building has since served as storage space for the Parks Department with meager administrative offices for Parks police, lifeguards and police units on summer patrol.

Local leaders have long been calling for the building’s rehabilitation, but community members have had divergent opinions on what should be done with the property.

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“Bullet Points” is our new format for Community Board 15 meeting coverage, providing takeaways we think are important. Information in Bullet Points is meant only to be a quick summary, and some issues may be more deeply explored in future articles.

Boardmembers push to beautify Manhattan Beach, oppose aesthetic improvements at Knapp Street sewage plant: Parks Department’s Brooklyn Chief of Staff Martin Maher came before the Board last night to provide the community with updates on ongoing projects in the district – including at Bill Brown Park, Galapo Playground, Brigham Street Park and Emmons Avenue – but the presentation quickly turned to Manhattan Beach as members barraged Maher with questions and complaints (video above).

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We weren’t able to make it to Manhattan Beach Community Group’s March meeting this week because of a scheduling conflict, but the group posted a roundup of the meeting on its website. The update notes that the group voted to oppose a proposal to reduce alternate side parking hours in the community that would have made parking more available.

They wrote:

The MBCG overwhelmingly rejected the proposal to change the hours and days of alternate side parking in Manhattan Beach. A motion had been made at a recent Community Board 15 Meeting to cut the days and hours. Nearly everyone felt this was not the solution to help our neighbors who live near the College.

The proposal came about during Community Board 15′s January meeting, when Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association President Dr. Alan Ditchek – a member of Community Board 15′s executive board – requested a motion to reduce the hours. However, Ditchek later rescinded the motion, according to Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo, and both groups are in agreement that the increased parking availability is not worth trading off clean streets.

A tipster in Manhattan Beach sent us the above letter, which we’re told is being distributed to homes throughout the community.

The letter is an endorsement for Lew Fidler from Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo, 61st Precinct Community Council President Yves Etienne, MBNA President Alan Ditchek, MBNA spokesperson Edmond Dweck and… well, ol’ Ed Eisenberg, who has a knack for getting his name places.

Although as a councilman Lew Fidler does not represent Manhattan Beach, he will if elected to the State Senate during the March 20 special election. And the letter goes on to note the various achievements Fidler has scored over the years in the communities he does cover – tailored of course to Manhattan Beach interests (think: traffic, traffic, traffic!).

Our favorite part is the reference to Fidler’s victory in getting Department of Transportation Commission Janette Sadik-Khan to come down to Gerritsen Beach dressed as The Black Dahlia. It has nothing to do with the achievement, and everything to do with making that joke…

When we hit Manhattan Beach last week to get some photos, we came across an unexpected sight: a go kart zooming up and down Exeter Street.

Three people were playing around with the noisemaker, jotting around the dead end block. It was around 3:00 p.m., and no one else seemed to be around, so I just watched them go up and down, up and down. We didn’t get any of the good parts on film, like the miniature Tokyo Drift-style nonsense or the 180-degree spins they were doing.

For the most part, they didn’t seem to be bothering anyone.

But then they did something really stupid. Two of the guys got in the white car and took off. The third stayed in the go kart, sped to the mouth of Exeter Street and turned onto Oriental Boulevard. They zoomed at full speed towards the college, disappearing beyond my view. He never returned.

Again, this was around 3:00 p.m., and the boulevard was busy with buses and cars going to and from the school.

We decided to ask around with local leaders and law enforcement to see if this was a common occurrence. The 61st Precinct told us they never heard a complaint. Ditto Community Board 15 and the Manhattan Beach Community Group.

But apparently leaders of Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association are well aware of the problem, and say it’s a dangerous nuisance for residents.

“They go up the streets the wrong way, they’re extremely loud, and they’re low to the ground,” said MBNA spokesperson Edmond Dweck. “I feel sorry for the car that hits them. [The car's driver will] probably be blamed and get locked up.”

Dweck said the issue has come up a “couple of times” at MBNA meetings.

Because go-karts are not designed for street use, and are not subject to the same safety standards and regulations as permitted motor vehicles, they are illegal on all streets, highways, parking lots, sidewalks and any other area, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Violators can be arrested.

“It’s not just a violation of traffic law, it’s the children and other drivers,” said MBNA President Alan Ditchek. “It’s dangerous. You just can’t see them.”

The current structure, with an overlay of the proposed designs. Scale is approximate.

Community Board 15 voted overwhelmingly to approve a planned Manhattan Beach McMansion on the site of the rectory of St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, despite objections from a local community group.

The request for a special permit to enlarge the current building by more than three times its current size and nearly double the size allowed by law came before the board during their Tuesday night meeting. The board voted 26 in favor and five against (with one abstention) to approve major modifications to the 92-year-old structure.

That approval came despite opposition from the Manhattan Beach Community Group, who said the lawyer’s claims about the building were based on faulty data.

“The measurements that they’re using for this house is flawed. The whole procedure is flawed. He shouldn’t be allowed to build that house,” said MBCG President Ira Zalcman.

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The audience at last night’s Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association received a surprise visit from Bob Turner, the GOP candidate for the 9th Congressional District, who stopped by just hours before polls were to open to deliver his “last political speech” before today’s special election.

In an opening statement, Turner emphasized his endorsements from Democrats like former mayor Ed Koch and State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, both of whom rallied behind the Republican more as a sign of opposition to Obama’s Israel policy than as support for Turner’s positions.

Responding to concerns from multiple attendees about constituent services, Turner said he’d have an office in both Brooklyn and Queens, but refused to say if it would be in the Sheepshead Bay area, instead saying somewhere in Flatbush might be more likely.

“I fully understand this is not about winning an election. It’s about representing and serving the people of a community,” Turner said. “To do that, I will staff and I will have people interested in doing the job. The things I don’t know, I’ll learn.”

Turner’s appearance was not a surprise to everyone in the crowd. MBNA President Alan Ditchek said Turner confirmed with the group’s leadership earlier that day. Both Weprin and Turner were invited in the days before the meeting, but Weprin was unable to attend, Ditchek said.

On Wednesday, we told you all about the barbecue-hatin’ Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association’s Monday meeting, in which they presented a petition from the barbecue-lovin’ Manhattan Beach Community Group. That petition, drawn up in 2007, before the two groups split and when current MBNA leaders actually ran the MBCG (confused yet?), has included on it the signatures of the current leaders of the MBCG, who say they oppose the ban. According the MBNA, that shows that the MBCG are a bunch of hypocrites.

Our question? Why is one of New York City’s tiniest neighborhoods so freakin’ confusing?

Anyway, we couldn’t include the video with yesterday’s story because of technical problems. So here it is, in all its glory. Now you can see MBNA President Alan Ditchek look directly in the camera and talk to the “bloggers” (though a quick review of what we’ve written suggests he’s probably talking to the commenters). Oh, and there’s a doctor there, too. Around minute 6:30, when it turns political, he seems about as confused as we are.

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