Archive for the tag 'community board 13'

The garden, before and after bulldozing. Source:

The garden, before and after bulldozing. Source:

The Coney Island Boardwalk Community Garden received an agreement from the city to stop construction of the amphitheater on the site of their recently destroyed garden. Construction will be postponed until June 10 when the Kings County Supreme Court will hear the case.

The local garden community lost their greens, cats and chickens last year during a midnight raid by the city that left the whole garden completely destroyed. The destruction happened only 10 days after former Borough President Marty Markowitz received permission from the city to begin construction on the amphitheater. The proposed 5,099-seat Seaside Park and Community Arts Center was to be the permanent home of Markowitz’s summer concert series and was seen as a personal project of the beep’s, even after Community Board 13 voted the theater down.

The displaced gardeners had filed the lawsuit in March.

The land the garden sits on is city-owned, and is where seating for the amphitheater will be located. It’s next to the Childs Restaurant building, which will be the stage – and which has not yet been purchased by the city.

Some information on the two conflicting claims, via our earlier reports:

[The] outraged gardeners say that the city failed to do its due diligence, and that the West 22nd Street greenspace was legally a New York City park and the group had an agreement with the city to operate the garden, which should have at least delayed the demolition.

The city, though, previously claimed that the garden was decommissioned as a park in 2004, Brownstoner points out. The group says the city never told them that and let them continue to operate for years, according to NY1.

Members of a City Council committee are pushing a resolution introduced last week that calls for the city’s 59 community boards to adopt sweeping reforms, including term limits.

The council’s Committee on Governmental Operations met on March 3, drawing up the list of recommendations to improve the recruitment and function of the boards.

The local boards, each made up of 50 unpaid, volunteer members, have long drawn criticism for their appointment processes, which many say are politically motivated. Boardmembers are appointed by the borough president at the recommendation of local councilmembers, leading some to criticize their independence.

According to the Daily Eagle, the recommendations include:

  • Term limits of five consecutive two-year terms for board members.
  • Online application and technology infrastructure.
  • Conflict of interest disclosure by all applicants.
  • Requiring reappointment applications with evaluation of attendance, service and participation.
  • Ban on political appointments; specifically staffers of elected officials and executive board members of a political party.
  • Filling vacancies within 30 days.
  • Improved outreach and recruitment focusing on diversity, geography and experts.
  • Youth representation by 16- and 17-year olds as public members of youth committees and as full board members.

While the existence of the community boards are mandated by the City Charter, each board maintains its own bylaws dictating how they function. Some boards, such as Community Board 13, representing Coney Island and Brighton Beach, have term limits for its officers, while others, like Community Board 15, representing Sheepshead Bay, do not.

In Sheepshead Bay, community board recruitment and membership became an issue during the recent City Council race. At a September debate, the Democratic candidates discussed the local board’s diversity as well as term limits and the ways to depoliticize the appointment process.

Chaim Deutsch, who went on to win the election, said he hoped to strengthen and diversify the board, but didn’t offer details. He did note that he was opposed to term limits for board members.

“If you have board members that are there and following the processes and going to meetings and following up, and where you have various issues like zoning issues and they actually go down and look at the homes they’re having a hearing on – that person should stay,” Deutsch said at the time.

Source: NYC Preservation Commission

Source: NYC Preservation Commission

A blow came to Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz as Community Board 13 voted against the plan to convert the historic Childs Restaurant at West 21st Street into an amphitheater. The New York Daily News is reporting that board members voted against the project after fielding complaints from residents that the new facility would invite increased traffic and noise to the area.

As we’ve previously reported, the $53 million amphitheater is the pet project of the departing borough president. The new facility, which is set to transform the historic Childs Restaurant into a 5,000-seat concert hall that will host musical acts, restaurants and other concessions, is expected to be completed in 2015.

The Board held a meeting and voted 14-to-7 against the plan, stunning Markowitz and other developers who were moving full steam ahead with the project:

The surprising denial came after the board’as own Zoning and Land Use Committee overwhelmingly voted 10-1 to approve the plan earlier this month.

“It’s hard to understand what happened,” admitted Community Board 13 district manager Chuck Reichenthal, referring to the Monday night vote.

Markowitz said he was “disappointed” by the vote.
“This project… will generate jobs, economic development and joy for Coney Island and all of Brooklyn for generations to come.”…

Howard Weiss, the lawyer for star Financial, defended the plan.

“Any concerns about noise and traffic have been fully addressed,” Weiss said Wednesday.

Weiss pointed out that a special tent covering the concert area would help reduce the noise of the summertime shows.

Besides noise and traffic, local community members also expressed frustration that the fast pace of construction might endanger the community garden, as some proposals call for the garden to be paved over to provide for more parking. Local resident Carol DeMartino told News 12 that before construction proceeds, community members should have the opportunity to be more involved in the process.

“I’m hoping that all the people that show up will at least put a halt on it until the whole community is given the information, can process it. Stop rushing it, the whole thing is rushed,” DeMartino said.

While the Board’s vote comes as a blow to the development of the project, it does not represent a death knell as it is merely an advisory ruling. The Daily News reported that the City Planning Commission will likely give a further go-ahead next month before sending the project to the City Council for the final say. Still, the rejection by the Board tampers the enthusiasm of the project, long trumpeted by Markowitz, and sets the stage for more confrontation between developers and local residents.

Photo by Allan Shweky via

Photo by Allan Shweky via

Trees damaged and left rotting by Superstorm Sandy have finally led to a full response by the Parks Department. The New York Daily News is reporting that the Parks Department is planning to inspect and cut down thousands of trees, not only because they are dying, but because they are endangering residents.

We have previously covered the scores of dead and dying trees left in the wake of Sandy. The prevailing thought is that salt water flooded the root systems of thousands of trees across Southern Brooklyn and other parts of the city, effectively killing them. We recently noted that the Parks Department has already begun the process of removing the damaged trees across Southern Brooklyn including areas along Ocean Parkway, Shore Parkway and the Belt Parkway.

The Parks Department has laid out greater details for their plan to deal with all the salt infected trees. They plan to cut down 2,000 trees of the 45,000 they have inspected earlier in the year. They also plan to re-inspect another 4,500 in the fall. As for replacing the trees, the Parks Department said they would wait until spring’s planting season before gauging their plans. Meghan Lalor, a Parks Department spokeswoman, listed higher priorities before they launch a full scale re-planting.

“In the interim, we have been and will continue to remediate soil, as necessary, with compost and gypsum – both mitigate salt damage – to encourage the return of healthy biological functioning,” Lalor told the Daily News.

Chuck Reichenthal, the district manager for Community Board 13, covering Coney Island and Brighton Beach, was sad to see the trees go but said it was important nonetheless.

“It is a very sad time because these trees have been here for so long, but it is a necessity for safety,” Reichenthal told the Daily News. “Everybody is hoping they make replacements because this is still Brooklyn, and this is where trees are grown.”

Source: New York City Council via Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Source: New York City Council via Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Paul Podhaizer, a beloved local civic and political leader, was honored with a street renaming in Coney Island. According to a report by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Podhaizer’s name will be immortalized at the northeast corner of Seabreeze Avenue and West Fifth Street.

Podhaizer, who passed away in 2010, was the Democratic district leader in the 46th Assembly District, a member of Community Board 13, vice president of Temple Beth Abraham and chairman of the tenants’ council in Brightwater Towers. He was described as a person who worked tirelessly to improve the quality of life for the residents in his neighborhood.

The recognition was bestowed by Councilman Domenic Recchia, who sponsored the legislation calling for the street renaming. Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed the legislation into law earlier in the year. Recchia expressed great admiration for Podhaizer at the street renaming dedication.

“I am privileged to rename a street in honor of Paul Podhaizer. Paul’s love of this community was second to none and the contributions he made to improve the lives of people in Brighton Beach and Coney Island will live on for many years to come,” Recchia said.

Ruth, Pohaizer’s wife, died earlier this year. Ruth and Paul were survived by their sons, Stewart and Alan.

Source: Facebook

The poster being circulated by Vargas (Source: Facebook)

First our own Community Board chairperson was accused of a hate crime against disabled people by a scorned rehab center operator, and now Eddie Mark, who serves as the chairperson for Brighton Beach and Coney Island’s Community Board 13, has been accused of making racist and homophobic remarks to newly-appointed Board member Rican Vargas. The New York Post is reporting that Vargas, who runs the Coney Island Dancers, held a march and launched a Facebook campaign calling for Mark to resign.

The Post described how the incident between Mark and Vargas started:

Vargas told the Post that Mark and a buddy of the board chairman allegedly made the racist comments to him during an April encounter at Tom’s Diner on the boardwalk.

“They said my events attract too many gays and blacks to Coney Island, and that I had to change it up,” said a fuming Vargas, who added that a friend who can back up his story accompanied him.

In another bizarre twist, Vargas claims he opted to finally take action only after “finding out” Mark and his minions recently called the cops to have the Dancers’ boardwalk permits pulled.

“They claim I am receiving a percentage off of the illegal vendors, as well as confining people under the boardwalk,” Vargas wrote on the Coney Island Dancers’ Facebook page. “This is ludicrous. They are implicating that I am merchandising T-shirts and this is not true.”

Vargas later clarified to the Post that he’s being wrongfully accused of actually locking people up in a shed under the boardwalk that his group controls.

Mark strongly denied Vargas’s accusations in a statement put out by his lawyer.

“Our diversity is one of our greatest strengths and one of the characteristics of this community that makes us so special. I would never try to change that – I’m part of it!” Mark said.

Proposed site of pedestrian plaza (Source: Google Maps)

Ste of pedestrian plaza before installation (Source: Google Maps)

After months of haggling and bargaining, the new Coney Island pedestrian plaza was unveiled on Monday. NY1 is reporting that the space containing the plaza has been transformed from a dead-end street filled with garbage into a comfortable place where people can relax with their families.

The effort to bring a pedestrian plaza to Coney Island has dragged on since late last March. Originally, the Department of Transportation (DOT) wanted to place the plaza on the southern end of Stillwell Avenue. Residents and members of Community Board 13 were up in arms when told that the proposed plaza space would take up 15 metered parking spaces, potentially increasing traffic woes that already beleaguer local residents. As a result, the original plan was dead on arrival.

Proponents of the plaza plan wouldn’t give up so easily and instead found a new space at the southern end of West 12th Street. The space, which made up a dead-end street that people used to illegally dump garbage, has now been transformed into a family-friendly spot with tables and chairs that can seat 40 people.

Dennis Vourderis of Deno’s Wonder Wheel described the condition of the block prior to the installation of the plaza.

“It was dumped on by illegal dumping. It was just a horrible area, it was ugly, it looked like it didn’t belong. It looked like it didn’t belong in an amusement area,” Vourderis told NY 1.

The idea of the new landscaped place is to bring comfort and relaxation to people ambling along the boardwalk as well as provide additional seating for the always crowded Nathan’s.

The Alliance for Coney Island, which will maintain the plaza, is holding a vote to name the new space. To lend your voice, you can visit their Facebook page by clicking here.

Source: bitchcakes via flickr

The walkway connecting the West 8th Street train station to the Coney Island Boardwalk will soon be no more. Brooklyn Daily reports that the city is tearing down the rusted shark-painted bridge for safety reasons.

The bridge, which spans over Surf Avenue, will be replaced by broadened sidewalks and a new crossing light. A new entrance to the boardwalk will be created at West 10th Street.

The walkway was originally built more than 50 years ago to compel people coming off the Culver and Brighton lines to head to the then newly built aquarium.

Chuck Reichenthal, the Community Board 13 district manager, welcomed the end of the walkway.

“It started looking like hell 15 years ago. It has to go,” Reichenthal said.

Todd Dobrin, who is running to replace term-limited Domenic Recchia on the City Council, was angry at the news of the bridge’s impending dismantling.

“It’s a safe gateway into Coney Island and directly onto the Boardwalk,” Dobrin told Brooklyn Daily. “What about all those kids who come here on field trips, and the old people?”

The Boardwalk Flyer Ride will surround the proposed plaza space. Source: Facebook

Earlier in the week, we updated you on the somewhat controversial Department of Transportation plan to install a pedestrian plaza space on the southern end of Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island, but those plans have been halted for the time being, according to a report by the New York Post.

Apparently, Councilman Domenic Recchia convinced the DOT to take the project off the table before it reached Community Board 13, deciding that there were more important places to direct city funds in Coney Island these days.

“Right now, spending [city funds] to fix Coney Island’s beaches, parks, playgrounds and school yards [following Hurricane Sandy] is much more important,” said Recchia, who contacted the DOT after The Post first reported of the agency’s plan two weeks ago.

To add to the list of things on which money would be better spent, there’s the post office, library and police station.

Although the plaza isn’t going to happen anytime soon, the DOT promised that they would consider it at a more prudent future date when Coney Island gets back on its feet.

The Boardwalk Flyer Ride will surround the proposed plaza space Source: Facebook

The Department of Transportation (DOT) wants to install a plaza on the southern end of Stillwell Avenue in Coney Island, according to a report by the New York Post.

The plaza would replace 15 metered parking spaces with tables, chairs and decorative potted plants and will cover a block from the boardwalk to Bowery Street. The Post goes on to describe what would surround the plaza:

The dead-end street is currently flanked by the Scream Zone amusement park, go-kart tracks, a beach bar and a 110-foot-high Boardwalk Flyer thrill ride.

Valerio Ferrari, president of Zamperla USA, which runs the adjacent amusements, said he supports the plaza “100 percent” because “losing a few parking spaces” isn’t as important as “beautifying” the boardwalk’s main gateway and “making it more family-friendly.”
The DOT’s plan, to be presented to Community Board 13 tomorrow, isn’t being welcomed by everybody.
Steven “Butch” Moran, the CB13 vice chairman, worries that the plaza will just create more traffic on Surf Avenue and make it more difficult for emergency vehicles to reach the boardwalk. Moran also expressed a fear that the elimination of affordable parking will hurt local businesses due to the already limited parking options in the area.
Local business owners expressed mixed feelings regarding the possibility of a pedestrian plaza.

Jimmy Kokotas, owner of the nearby boardwalk eatery Tom’s Coney Island, said he fears that eliminating the spaces could hurt business but likes that the plaza would offer boardwalk patrons direct access to amusements abutting both sides of Stillwell Avenue without making them cross the street.

“We also don’t want it to become a hangout,” he said. “You want people eating and sitting there 15 to 20 minutes and then giving others a chance.”

We were wondering what our readers think. Does a pedestrian plaza located at the end of Stillwell Avenue seem like a good idea, or will it be a colossal waste of perfectly good parking space? Let us know.

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