Archive for the tag 'beaches'

Diamond (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Brighton Beach native and international superstar Neil Diamond is returning to home turf this weekend, where he’ll be filming scenes for an upcoming documentary about his life.

Diamond, 73, will film scenes on the beach on Saturday between 3:30pm and 5:00pm.

The crew of the documentary “Neil Diamond – One Night Only” is putting a small wooden bench on the sand, and the singer will sit with Welsh actor and TV presentor Rob Brydon. It’ll all be very romantic, we’re sure.

Diamond is one of Brighton Beach’s most famous residents, having attended Abraham Lincoln High School and lived over a Brighton Beach Avenue butcher shop. His years in the neighborhood gave him an appreciation for owning nice homes, apparently.

As well as his studio, he owns a place in LA, a cabin in Colorado and an apartment in New York.

‘Even though I can’t afford any of them, what money I have goes into those things. I grew up over a butcher’s store, so having them is very important to me. I need that security, but I also like having a nice home that I can bring people to. Growing up, I could never bring my school friends home because I was too embarrassed.’

… ‘Our place was beneath modest,’ says Diamond. ‘I took my son back there recently to show him where I spent my formative years and he couldn’t believe the bedroom. I shared it with my brother (Harvey) and it was about the size of a closet – there was only room for the bed, so you had to crawl in and out from the front of it.

‘Because we lived above a butcher’s store, there were a lot of mice and the traps were going off all the time. But it was fine. In Brooklyn, you didn’t live in your home – you lived on the streets, playing stick ball with your friends. Although now I find I love having my homes and my studio. I feel comfortable there.’

Back in those days, the Oceana condos just didn’t exist.

If anyone spots Neil on the beach this weekend, make sure to snag us a photo. Extra points if you catch him and Brydon canoodling on the sands.

crapwater
Coney Island Creek by Cropsey Avenue is the city’s most fecal-filled waterway, according to one number-crunching analyst.

Ben Wellington, a statistics professor at Pratt Institute who runs the I Quant NY blog, pulled Department of Environmental Protection water sampling data on fecal coliform around New York City. The results? The beaches along the Coney Island peninsula are clean, at least compared to the city’s crappiest waterway – the Coney Island Creek.

Fecal coliform is bacteria that forms in mammalian intestines, and is an indicator of raw sewage in the water. It gets there when storms push so much water into the sewer drains and overwhelms the sewage system, causing the DEP to release it untreated into the rivers, oceans, bays and creeks through Combined Sewer Outflows. When the beach is closed during the summer, it’s usually because there’s an unsafe amount of sewage in the water – an amount of more than 1,000 coliform per 100ml of water.

Wellington dumped all that data into a spreadsheet and began calculating the mean, minimum, median and max levels of fecal coliform at all testing sites around the city, going back to 2008. The indicator he used to determine his top 10 dirtiest locations is the percent of days sampled that were too dirty to swim.

On that top 10 list are four Southern Brooklyn locations: Coney Island Creek at Cropsey Avenue, Coney Island Creek at its entrance, the head of Bergen Basin, near JFK airport, and the mouth of Bergen Basin.

The average amount of fecal coliform in the water at the creek when tested? It was more than 37 times the amount deemed unsafe for swimming, and it was found to be unsafe 94 percent of the times it was tested. Ugh.

Wellington mapped out his results to show us the ring of shit that encircles New York City:

 I mapped the percentage of time that water levels were unsafe for swimming.  Larger circles indicate a higher percentage of unsafe days, and thus dirtier water.  Clicking on a circle gives you fuller details for that site. 

Note that the larger circles appear more inland. The conclusion?  If you are going to swim in NYC, i guess the rule of thumb is to stay away from anything with the word “creek” in its name (and of course “canal”) and head toward the rivers. 

Borough President Eric Adams and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito / File photo

Following New York City’s sixth drowning death on public property this season, Borough President Eric Adams is calling for a trio of reforms to prevent future drownings.

Adams made the proposals during a press conference yesterday on the boardwalk at Stillwell Avenue, just yards away from where 10-year-old Takara McDuffy was pulled from the water on Tuesday and pronounced dead.

Alongside Councilman Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island, Adams pushed for water safety reforms to be made at both the city and state levels.

The centerpiece of his proposal is an initiative to require water safety and swimming education in all schools. Adams’ office said they’re working with Coney Island’s State Senator Diane Savino to push the measure in Albany. The proposal would require teaching about the dangers posed by water and provide swimming lessons beginning in the second grade.

Takara McDuffy (Source: Facebook via Daily News)

Takara McDuffy (Source: Facebook)

“Although it’s a beautiful place to be, it could be a very dangerous place if we’re not taught how to be safe in the environment,” said Adams. “Because there’s no clear format of teaching water safety, our children and families are recklessly going to the water’s edge believing that this beautiful ocean is a toy.”

McDuffy’s life might have been saved with such knowledge, Adams suggested. The 10-year-old had been playing on the jetty at Stillwell Avenue after lifeguards went off-duty; she and her sister fell into the water. Neither knew how to swim, and good Samaritans spotted them struggling and dove in, but only McDuffy’s 9-year-old sister could be saved.

Adams and Treyger are also calling for increased enforcement on the becahes after it closes. Treyger said he wants to see the Parks Department boost the number of Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officers, and task them with ordering beachgoers out of the water once lifeguards go off-duty.

“We need more PEP officers, not just simply volunteers,” said Treyger. “Particularly when the beach is closed and swimming is over, patrol the beaches to make sure there are no children of families left in the water.”

The Parks Department already has 15 PEP officers stationed on Brighton Beach and Coney Island beach, according to PIX11.

The borough president’s office said they’re also pushing to require CPR training for every city worker, which could provide a veritable army of trained lifesavers across the five borough. A drowning or choking victim can be spared death or brain damage by cutting CPR response time by as little as two minutes, and increasing the number of people trained to provide assistance could drastically reduce response time.

Adams’ staff is looking at legislative options to make the training mandatory.

Takara McDuffy (Source: Facebook via Daily News)

Takara McDuffy (Source: Facebook via Daily News)

A good Samaritan yanked a 10-year-old girl and her 9-year-old sister from the water at Coney Island beach after seeing them fall off a nearby rock jetty, but the older girl did not survive.

Takara McDuffy was pronounced dead at Coney Island Hospital shortly after the 7 p.m. beach rescue near Stillwell Avenue. The medical examiner will determine the cause of death, but it is presumed to be a drowning.

The girls, from Staten Island, were playing at the beach with a group of family friends. Witnesses told reporters that they were playing on the jetty unsupervised and fell into the water. Bystanders jumped to action, and pulled both girls to shore.

The New York Post reports:

“People came rushing from all over to help out. It was horrible, it was chaotic,” said witness Ena ­McCaskill.

After a frantic, 10-minute search, a man found the girl floating about 100 yards from the jetty.

“He had a sound of desperation in his voice,” McCaskill recalled. “He was yelling for somebody to help him save the girl.”

Another good Samaritan administered CPR on the beach.

“A regular guy grabbed her and started doing CPR,” said witness Joseph ­Josephs, 24. “He was pounding her chest for a good minute. A lot of water was coming from her mouth.”

McDuffy’s parents lashed out at those who were supposed to be watching over their daughters, the Daily News reports.

The gathered friends and family demanded to know why little Takara – who could not swim – was apparently unsupervised by the group of adults she had gone to the beach with.

“It took a man to jump into the water and pull her out. Some man saw Takara’s body floating and he jumped in,” the family member said.

“Why wasn’t nobody paying attention? You was there all day and let her go in the water. Why wouldn’t you ask if she could swim?”

The incident happened less than an hour after lifeguards packed up for the evening. Swimming is prohibited at city beaches after 6:00 p.m., and there were no lifeguards on duty.

According to Borough President Eric Adams, it’s the sixth drowning death of the summer. Along with Councilmember Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island, Adams will hold a press conference near the beach today to reiterate his call for citywide reforms to make public beaches safer, and will also be distributing the following fliers sharing water safety tips.

Water Safety Tips

swastika

Photo by Jane Roitman

A Queens assemblyman has asked the Department of Consumer Affairs to look into regulating swastikas and other offensive ads from taking to the skies after beachgoers were shocked this weekend by the appearance of a swastika-towing plane flying over the sands.

The banner, shown above, was flown on Saturday by the International Raelian Movement, a quasi-religious organization that says they’ve cloned humans and they believe extraterrestrial scientists made life on Earth. The group flies the banner over New York City beaches annually to “rehabilitate” the image as a sign of peace and unity. Although it wasn’t intended to be anti-Semitic, locals were outraged that the passion-stirring icon would fly over one of the world’s largest communities of Holocaust survivors.

In addition to Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach and Coney Island, the banner toured over the Rockaway and Long Island beaches.

CBS reports on the effort to make sure the Raelians won’t be back next year:

Assemblyman Phil Goldfelder, D-Queens, told [reporter Alex] Silverman he is asking the city’s Department of Consumer Affairs to look at regulating swastikas in the sky and other offensive ads, which he thinks can be done without opening a constitutional can of worms. He’s also considering introducing legislation.

“There’s been a lot of precedent about regulation on signage in public places, and I think that we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect our families,” Goldfelder said.

women-race

Twitter user @RealTimeWWI alerted us to the photo above this morning, showing the “Start of women’s race” here in Sheepshead Bay exactly one hundred years ago today.

The photo itself comes from the Library of Congress Bain Collection, an enormous set of photographs from “one of America’s earliest news picture agencies.” Although it was a global agency, they emphasized capturing life in New York City from the 1860s to 1930s.

The collection has a number of other photos from the event, like this one, showing the crowd greeting the winner:

women-race2

Unfortunately, we couldn’t dig up much about the Sheepshead Bay women’s race, so we can’t identify the winner or give much context. But this abstract from a New York Times report on it gives some detail:

Forty girl swimmers competed for aquatic honors yesterday afternon at Thall’s Pier, Sheepshead Bay, in a special carnival under the auspices of the Women’s National Life Saving Society. Close finishes featured a majority of the events, and unusually skilful work was shown in the fancy diving contest, the feature event of the programme.

We’ll have to do more digging into Thall’s in the future, but for now Brooklyn Eagle gives us this nugget:

Even Sheepshead Bay had a beach in the 19th century before it was dredged for yachts. Thall’s Bathing Pavilion on the west side of the bay provided a private pool and diving platform for swimmers. On the shore stood Dominick’s Hotel for longer staying guests.

That’s probably the structure in the background of the photo above.

The most information regarding the actual contestants comes from the data for the photo below, of Mrs. Lillian Howard, who appears to be one of the organizers of the event:

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Here’s what the collection’s notes had to say about her: “Photograph shows Mrs. Lillian Howard, an officer in the Women’s National Life Saving Society/League from 1913-1914 at a women’s swimming contest at Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, New York City, July 16, 1914. “

She’s in this shot, too:

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Anybody recognize the names? I’m sure there are some descendants of these folks living in Sheepshead Bay, and we’d love to know more.

Here are some more names for you:

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Can we presume these three were the winners?

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Action shot!

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swastika

A fringe religious group that believes extraterrestrial scientists created life on Earth is today flying a large swastika banner over Brighton Beach and Coney Island, outraging residents in one of the world’s largest communities of Holocaust survivors.

The plane was spotted by beachgoers flying between Coney Island Avenue and Brighton 15th Street around noon. With a symbol of a Star of David interlaced with the swastika, and a message that reads “卐 + ☮ = ❤ Proswastika.org,” the banner is commissioned annually by the International Raelian Movement in an attempt to “rehabilitate” the symbol to it’s pre-Nazi-era meaning of peace. It flew over the beach in previous years, sparking headlines - and outbursts from upset residents.

This year is no different.

“A plane was flying with this sign over the beach today, not once but twice it went past  the beach. Beaches filled with families and children. This is an inhumane action and must be stopped,” wrote tipster Jane Roitman, who sent in the photo above.

Another tipster called in to say that the group is being beyond insensitive, given the area’s dense population of Holocaust survivors and the current inflamed tensions between Israel and Palestine.

“I was dumbfounded by it. My grandparents are Holocaust survivors, and everyone [in Brighton Beach] knows someone whose family was affected by the Holocaust,” said Loren Azimov. “The timing could not be worse with everything going on in Israel and Palestine; it’s as bad as it has ever been.”

Azimov said there are other ways to try to rehabilitate the symbol without being so offensive, and that he’d like to see either the banner grounded.

“The First Amendment is not an acceptable reason [to let it fly.] What if it was rehabilitation of slavery? People would be up in arms,” Azimov said, adding that he’d like to see pressure on the company the organization chartered to refuse them access to the skies in the future.

It wouldn’t be the first company to decline the Raelian’s business. The group sought an expanded international campaign for what they’re calling Swastika Rehabilitation Week this year. When they approached a major Canadian billboard company, they were turned away.

“The company representative said many people would see our ad as offensive and inflammatory, so they wouldn’t post it,” said Thomas Kaenzig in a press release. Kaenzig is a planetary guide, the title for a top-ranking clergymember. “So this poses a real catch 22. How can the world be reeducated about the truth of this symbol if we can’t get the word out to show people?”

Azimov has been calling elected officials and government agencies, but to no avail. One prominent leader in Brighton Beach’s Russian-Jewish community told him that he should “consider writing a letter to the leadership of this org and kindly express compelling reasons not to fly this in our area.”

The Raelians may not be so receptive to Azimov’s rationale. Aside from brushing off similar complaints in previous years, the group appears to have a tenuous grasp on reality.

Raelism dates back to the 1970s and is the world’s largest UFO religion, believing that space scientists created life and have been popping in for visits throughout human history (with increased frequency in recent years, as evidenced through all the UFO sightings in the past century). Buddha, Jesus and other religious figures are all believed by the group to be messengers of the extraterrestrials. The group is attempting to build an interplanetary embassy to welcome extraterrestrials, and have been denied land in Israel because of their prominent use of the swastika.

The group also operates Clonaid, a company developing human cloning. The company claimed to have cloned the first human in 2002. There was no evidence that the claim was anything more than a publicity stunt, and the group has since been derided as cult led by a sex-crazed leader.

UPDATE (3:28 p.m.): Councilman Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island and part of Brighton Beach, and is also the grandson of Holocaust survivors, called Sheepshead Bites to express his outrage.

“It isabsolutely disgusting and an egregious act of hate and intolerance. Whatever this hate group is, it’s an unacceptable act. I’ve asked the police department to investigate how this happened and how it came to be,” he said.

Treyger said he’s received numerous calls from constituents offended by the banner. He has also reached out to the mayor’s office and the City Council speaker’s office, which he said were receptive to the concerns. He said authorities are trying to determine if the plane and advertising campaign are in violation of any laws, and are also attempting to identify the company chartered to fly the banner.

The local pol said the group’s attempt to restore the symbol as one of peace and unity has little chance of success, and the group should stop its “outrageous” approach.

“Try asking someone who witnessed their loved ones murdered under that symbol if they’ll view that symbol as anything but murder and pain,” he said. “There’s no place for this here in this country.”

Source: Marie Berne/Flickr

New York Police Department and Fire Department divers rushed to the scene early this morning after receiving a call that a man jumped from Steeplechase Pier and never came up for air.

The 29-year-old man jumped into the water from the West 16th Street pier at approximately 2:30 a.m. to “join two women who were swimming in the ocean nearby,” according to the Daily News. He did not surface.

It took the divers nearly an hour to locate the man and pull him from the water 14 blocks away at West 30th.

He was taken to Coney Island Hospital and listed in critical condition, according to the Post.

Coney Island’s beach, like all city beaches, are only open between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day. Swimming is prohibited when lifeguards are not on duty. Jumping from Steeplechase Pier is strictly prohibited at all times.

Members of the 25 strong cat colony on Plumb Beach (Photo by Lisanne Anderson/Flickr)

You didn’t actually think we’d get through this story without a headline pun did you?

The National Park Service (NPS) has agreed to give more time to cat enthusiasts to remove a sizable colony of feral cats from the Plumb Beach federal parkland, and is even considering offering manpower and assistance in their relocation.

Doug Adamo, the chief of Natural Resource Management for Gateway National Recreation Area told Sheepshead Bites that he’s been inundated with calls and e-mails about the 25-cat colony they planned to remove this Friday, with nearly as many people supporting the plan as opposing it.

But they also heard directly from the folks who’ve been caring for the cats, building what he called “cat condos that were constructed out of wood and cardboard,” and who fed, vaccinated and neutered them. As a result of their discussions, Adamo said Parks has agreed to hold off on dismantling the colony for another week, until June 20, to allow the group to explore long-term relocation options.

“Nothing’s going to happen on Friday. We did get in touch with the people that were taking care of the cats. We decided we would give them an extra week to try and place the cats, or there are a couple of options that they gave me that they were looking at,” said Adamo.

Adamo said NPS could potentially offer staff to help trap the animals and remove the debris, as well as a vehicle to transport them a short distance. He said the cat caretakers are looking at facilities in Maryland or upstate New York, among others.

“They’re saying they will help and they don’t want them to go to the shelters and they want them to go to places where they have more assurances that it will go to a permanent home, which would be a good win-win solution to the situation,” said Adamo.

feral-cat

The sign posted last week.

Contrary to the claims of cat lovers, Adamo said NPS never had plans to kill the cats. In most cases, colonies are dismantled as soon as they’re discovered and the cats are trapped and brought to local shelters for adoption, and just about every cat they’ve captured in the past has been assessed as adoptable by the shelters.

Normally there is no notice to the community, but he said that when NPS employees discovered the colony sometime in the last month, they were struck by its size and apparent maintenance, as well as the condition of the cats.

“In this case we noticed it was a large colony and they were healthy and cared for. We thought maybe we’d give them a chance to work with us on this and it appears that’s what we’re doing,” he said.

Despite flack from feline fans, Adamo maintained that removing the colony was essential to the parkland’s habitat.

“It’s our responsibility in the Parks Service to protect wildlife,” he said. “It’s a very difficult situation, especially here in New York, next to densely populated areas where non-native cats – and they’re all non-native – are always going to be coming into the park either by people bringing them there or by just wandering in.”

Even though they’re fed by humans, the cats still pray on area wildlife. The problem is even more urgent on Plumb Beach, a protected nesting ground for migratory birds including some endangered and at-risk species

“As land managers and natural resource managers for the park, [we must] do due diligence in protection of the wildlife,” said Adamo.

It doesn’t appear the decision has fully satisfied the cat enthusiasts. One of the colony’s caretakers, Nancy Rogers, has launched a petition online saying that the additional week now being granted is insufficient.

“The caretakers are willing to find homes for these cats but need more than the one week now allotted to accomplish this difficult task,” Rogers writes in the petition’s description. The petition launched yesterday afternoon and already has 193 supporters, and simply says “Stop the removal of the Plum Beach Cats.”

feral-cat

The above sign went up at Plumb Beach late last week, warning parkgoers that the National Park Service will be moving to “dismantle” cat colonies on the federal parkland this Friday, June 13.

(UPDATE [6/11/2014]: NPS  is working with the caretakers and has granted extra time to relocate the animals.)

Plumb Beach is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, a stretch of federal parkland that’s home to countless migratory bird species and other protected wildlife like horseshoe crabs. With jurisdiction over the parkland split between federal, state and city authorities, no one is ever sure who’s responsible for maintaining infrastructure or cleaning up the garbage - but at least they figured out who is going to get rid of the cats, right?

But that’s got cat lovers rankled. Apparently, locals have been caring for a sizeable colony of about 25 cats, feeding, vaccinating and neutering them. They’re crying foul that these cats are being targeted, and that their caretakers have been given such short notice.

Lena S. wrote to us yesterday:

This is a posted flyer around the area that says the this Friday (in just 3 days) They will come in and euthanize all the stray cats that are living by belt parkway (Plum Beach area)! There are people here that were taking care of these cats for years and they are taken all neutered, well fed, vaccinated against rabies. This notice is unbelievably cruel and with only a few days notice! There are currently 25 cats there and they want to mass euthanize them.

Please help and promote this, we’re trying to save the kitties, they deserve to live there just like any other animal.

Marina G. wrote:

All these cats are spayed, neutered and fed. This colony has been around for many years. If there is any ecosystem at that beach, its between the rats and the cats, as locals call the beach “rat beach.”

Animal protection groups are trying to find a way to at least get more time to relocate this colony. The notice was posted 5 days ago.

On the heels of the cat abuse stories as well as our national outrage over Russia’s disposal of their cats and dogs during the Olympics, this may be a relevant read

The text of the sign does not say anything about putting the cats to sleep or otherwise “disposing” of them, although it’s certainly a possibility. In case you can’t make it out, it reads:

Feral cat colonies are prohibited on Federal property.

To ensure the health and safety of visitors and to protect habitat for native species including shorebirds, small mammals and reptiles this colony will be dismantled on Friday, June 13th.

We encourage those that have created this colony to remove it and the cats prior to that date.

Thank you for your cooperation in maintaining the health of our ecosystems.

Sheepshead Bites has reached out to the National Park Service to confirm that they posted the notice, and what methods will be used to “dismantle” the colony, including whether or not the animals will be exterminated. We’ll update this post when we receive a response.

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