Archive for the tag 'Coney Island'

Rendering of CIH's new Ida G. Israel Medical Center.

Rendering of CIH’s new Ida G. Israel Community Health Center. Source: CIH

Coney Island Hospital (CIH) is all set to reopen its Ida G. Israel Community Health Center in Coney Island this spring.

The building, pictured above, will be constructed at a new address located at 2925 West 19th Street. The original clinic – which provided crucial healthcare access to residents on the West End of Coney Island – was wiped out by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

“The community on the West End of Coney Island has been without healthcare service for two years, and CIH is excited to provide healthcare service in an area where it is needed most,” said Malorie Ginsberg, a spokesperson for CIH.

Prior to Sandy, the Ida G. Israel clinic provided health, dental, and drug rehabilitation services to approximately 40,000 patients per year, many of them on medicaid or uninsured. For the last two years, West End residents have been trekking to CIH, which is difficult to access by mass transit and is separated from the West End by the Belt Parkway and a large bus depot.

As we reported last year, CIH was initially searching for higher ground on which to rebuild the clinic, to ensure that it would not be destroyed by floodwaters again, but instead the hospital has opted to build the new clinic with a raised floor foundation.

“When deciding where to rebuild the new Ida G. Israel Community Health Center, CIH attempted to find a vacant 2nd floor of an existing building in the West End, but was unable to find a vacant 2nd floor location. The best option was to build a new structure above the 100-year flood plain,” said Ginsberg. “The new Ida G. Israel location is the closest location to the West End community that was available.”

But don’t expect to see any construction at the new address for several months. The modular structure is being built by contractors in Pennsylvania, and when it is complete, the building will be delivered in parts and reassembled at the site, Ginsberg told us. Currently, the exterior brick phase is 60 percent complete, the interior walls are completely framed out, and the mechanical and electrical work is well underway.

Source: CIH

Construction on the new Ida G. Israel Community Health Center. Source: CIH

Neptune Avenue and West 6th Street, the scene of the accident. (Source: Google Maps)

Neptune Avenue and West 6th Street, the scene of the accident. (Source: Google Maps)

A 55-year-old man is dead after being struck by an Access-A-Ride van on Neptune Avenue on Sunday.

The man, who has yet to be identified by police, was crossing Neptune Avenue at West 6th Street on Sunday at 5:44pm when the van heading eastbound on Neptune hit him.

EMS transported the pedestrian to Lutheran Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

The driver, a 30-year-old man, stayed on the scene. The investigation is ongoing, but police told reporters that no charges are expected.

Source: Flickr/rene-germany

Source: Flickr/rene-germany

Thirty percent of Brooklyn households lack high-speed internet at home, keeping residents from accessing crucial resources for school, work and business, with Kensington and Borough Park being the areas in Brooklyn most lacking when it comes to the digital divide, according to a new report from city Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Stringer’s report, “Internet Inequality: Broadband Access in NYC,” states that citywide, 27 percent of New York City households (meaning 730,000 homes) lack broadband internet, with 17 percent of households (533,000 homes) not having a computer at their residence. Bronx had the worst access compared to the rest of the city, with 34 percent of households lacking high-speed internet access, compared to 30 percent in Brooklyn, 26 percent in Queens, 22 percent in Staten Island, and 21 percent in Manhattan.

“New Yorkers who don’t have online access lack the tools they need to improve their education, employment and business opportunities,” Stringer said in a press release. “Just as the subway powered New York’s growth in the 20th century, high-speed broadband will power our City’s economic competitiveness in the 21st century.  If we are to remain the global city, we can’t allow our peers to speed by while New Yorkers are left on the shoulder of the information superhighway. Slow and steady does not win this race.”

Using data from the Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey of households on broadband subscriptions and computer ownership, Stringer found that Kensington and Borough Park had the greatest number of homes, 47 percent, without high-speed internet access. Brighton Beach and Coney Island, had the second highest at 42 percent, and Brownsville and Ocean Hill had 40 percent.

As for the rest of Brooklyn, the percent of households without broadband connection at home are as follows:

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant – 38.7 percent
  • Crown Heights North and Prospect Heights – 34 percent
  • Bushwick – 33.4 percent
  • East New York & Starrett City – 32 percent
  • Flatbush & Midwood – 31.6 percent
  • Greenpoint & Williamsburg – 29.6 percent
  • East Flatbush – 29 percent
  • Crown Heights South & Prospect Lefferts – 26.9 percent
  • Sheepshead Bay & Gerritsen Beach – 25.3 percent
  • Bensonhurst & Bath Beach – 24.9 percent
  • Sunset Park & Windsor Terrace – 23.1 percent
  • Bay Ridge & Dyker Heights – 21.5 percent
  • Canarsie & Flatlands – 21 percent
  • Brooklyn Heights & Fort Greene – 17 percent
  • Park Slope, Carroll Gardens & Red Hook – 14.7 percent

Other findings included that individuals with a bachelor’s degree or more had far greater access to high-speed internet, with just 11 percent of college graduates lacking broadband access compared to 40 percent of individuals with less than a high school education.

The comptroller also noted that 27 and 26 percent of black and Hispanic households, respectively, lack broadband at home, compared to 21 percent of white households and 15 percent of Asian households. Younger people also appear to have greater access, with 21 percent of New York City youth (0-18 years) lacking broadband at home, compared to 45 percent of individuals over the age of 65.

Much of the lack of access stems from financial reasons, according to the report, with the Comptroller noting in a press release that consumers in cities across the country and around the world—from Seoul and Paris to Kansas City and Chattanooga—can spend less than $70 per month for a one gigabit connection, but the top speed available for most consumers in New York City is half the speed of those cities (500 megabits), at a cost of more than four times that ($299.99 a month).

Stringer’s report was released just before the Franchise & Concession Review Committee held a hearing on Monday on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to convert pay phones across the five boroughs into free Wi-Fi kiosks. While a number of civic and tech leaders have thrown their support behind the plan, others, including Stringer and the city’s borough presidents, previously criticized the proposal, saying they were concerned it would unequally provide high-speed Wi-Fi, with more attention being paid to Manhattan than Brooklyn or Queens – as well as allocating very few resources to the Bronx.

It does, however, appear that some of these concerns have been addressed in the interim between a Daily News report that said the mayor’s plan would shortchange poorer neighborhoods and yesterday’s hearing. The Gotham Gazette reported that, “a representative from Stringer’s office read a statement from the comptroller at the hearing which mentioned—without going into specifics—some ‘flagged issues,’ but including that his office was ‘working with City Hall to resolve’ them. He did not recommend voting against the contract.”

The Franchise & Concession Review Committee will meet tomorrow, December 10, to vote on the Wi-Fi plan.

800px-Coney_Island_Boardwalk-2

Can our beloved boardwalk be saved?

Councilman Mark Treyger asked the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to make Coney Island’s Riegelmann Boardwalk an official “scenic landmark” yesterday, an effort to block the city from replacing its planks with concrete and plastic, reports the New York Daily News.

“This is a globally recognized iconic structure that draws millions of visitors each year,”  Treyger told us. “Many New Yorkers recall stories from their childhood when their families took them to the boardwalk. We strongly believe that the boardwalk is worthy of being designated a city landmark, and is worthy of the same designated services every other piece of our local infrastructure has.”

As we previously reported, the city began construction to replace the boardwalk this month, despite fierce protests from residents, politicians, and activists, who say the concrete will ruin the walkway’s historic character and who question the environmental impact of the project. Shortly after Superstorm Sandy, activists filed a lawsuit demanding a full environmental review of the boardwalk project before construction commenced, pointing out that concrete has not necessarily proven to be more resilient against extreme weather, but a judge ruled against them.

Now the boardwalk’s fate is in the hands of the LPC. The landmark approval process is notoriously sluggish, and it will likely take at least a year for the boardwalk to reach the panel, but Treyger believes the move will put increased pressure on the Parks Department to halt the project.

“Money has been allocated [by local politicians] to make changes to the boardwalk instead of replacing it. This is very much counter to what the community desires,” Treyger said.

The boardwalk’s tropical wood planks have been around since the 1920s. If approved by the LPC, the boardwalk would become Brooklyn’s fourth scenic landmark. Currently, only Prospect Park, Eastern Parkway, and Ocean Parkway are protected scenic sites.

kinnison

Source: DCPI

Police are looking for Gerald Kinnison, a 66-year-old suffering from dementia, who went missing Friday morning from his Coney Island home.

Kinnison was last seen leaving his assisted living center (2316 Surf Avenue) at 8am on November 21 wearing a black jacket, black shirt, black sneakers, and blue pants.

He is described as a black male, 6 feet tall, 180 pounds, with a thin build, dark complexion, brown eyes, black hair, and black and grey beard.

He has gone missing at least three times before, but was eventually found, police said.

Here’s another photo of Kinnison:

missing

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577.

Oberman

Oberman

The Trump Village co-op board headed by former City Council candidate Igor Oberman filed a libel suit against a tenant who established a blog to vent criticism of the board’s actions.

Oberman filed the suit against resident Yuliya Bezvoleva on behalf of the Trump Village Section 4 board last month, claiming that her website, TV4News.org, was causing financial harm by getting in the way of potential sales according to the New York Post.

The website has been active since the spring of 2012, documenting perceived violations of co-op board bylaws and other abuses. The oldest post on the site claims one boardmember was actually ineligible to hold the position, and was also bumped to the top of the list for coveted parking spaces. Such privileges for boardmembers are a frequent complaint, with another post alleging that the board used the co-op’s money to construct a personal, fenced in garage.

The site also shared news during Oberman’s 2013 campaign for City Council regarding concerns over his fundraising, which included donations from firms doing business with the board. That election ultimately saw Chaim Deutsch elected to replace Michael Nelson.

Another post took issue with co-op funds used for events on the 1,114-unit property that were open to the public. (Full disclosure: two such events, as noted on the website, were marketed with paid advertising on Sheepshead Bites. The ads were paid for by the Board.)

The lawsuit claims several of the site’s posts include false information, and specifically flags a story from October 2013 questioning why some board candidates were disqualified without explanation, and another from November of that year pointing out Housing Court cases against residents.

Oberman claims in the lawsuit that the website is scaring off potential buyers, and is also ruining his reputation.

“Several potential employers have asked me about . . . the Web site,” Oberman said in an affidavit, according to the Post. 

He declined to comment to the newspaper, but his attorney called the website’s claims “pure fabrications.”

Bezvoleva said the lawsuit is just another illustration of the board’s heavy-handed tactics against critical tenants.

“There is no freedom of speech, and there are no public meetings,” Bezvoleva told the Post. “When we do have them, we have lots of security guards. Sometimes police officers get invited to make sure nothing happens.”

Last year, as Oberman ran for Council, it was reported that the board was mired in lawsuits from former employees and critical tenants who were served eviction notices, allegedly to strengthen Oberman’s control over the board.

Bezvoleva was one of the residents fighting off an eviction notice at the time, after she launched an anti-Oberman petition drive.

Flickr/dtanist

Flickr/dtanist

If you have not yet experienced flying across the Coney Island boardwalk harnessed to a bungee cord via Luna Park‘s Boardwalk Flight SkyCoaster, you have missed your chance.

Boardwalk Flight, which was launched in the summer of 2012 as part of the somewhat controversial expansion of Luna Park’s Scream Zone, allowed thrill seekers to swing – in a wing suit (!) – between two 110-foot tall towers at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour.

This spring, the ride will be gone.

A spokesperson for Luna Park told us there was no particular reason for dismantling the ride, except to make room for several “new” and “exciting” rides in its place.

“As we continue to bring new improvements to Luna Park and the surrounding Coney Island area, we are excited to unveil that there will be new attractions for the 2015 season that all ages will enjoy,” said Valerio Ferrari, President of Central Amusement International.

This past summer, the amusement park debuted The Thunderbolt roller coaster, which pays homage to the original Thunderbolt that was built in 1920 and ran until 1982.

Luna Park, which closed for the season on October 26, will reopen in March 29, 2015, with many more surprises.

In the meantime, you can continue to experience the Boardwalk Flight all winter long - virtually - with this incredible first-hand footage:

Photo by Knightmare6

Photo by Knightmare6

A Brooklyn court ruled that the city was not responsible for the drowning of a 10-year-old girl in 2008, saying that the city is “not an insurer” of the safety of parkgoers.

The case stems from the July 2008 drowning of Akira Johnson, who was swimming with her cousin, also 10, on Coney Island. They became distressed and a nearby lifeguard came to their aid, only saving Johnson’s cousin. The girl, lost to the water, washed ashore days later.

Brooklyn Eagle reports:

The family filed a wrongful death suit against the city with claims of negligence. A lower court judge found merit in the family’s suit and allowed the case to proceed. The higher appeals court, however, acknowledged the city’s responsibility to its park users, but held that the city’s lifeguards did not deviate from its public safety obligations.

Evidence showed that the city “had furnished a sufficient number of lifeguards, that those lifeguards were experienced and competent…that they were adequately trained and properly certified… and that they reacted to the situation in accordance with proper procedure,” the appeals court noted

The victim’s family argued that the training was inadequate as it takes place in a swimming pool.

New York Law Journal reports:

Plaintiff’s attorney Arnold E. DiJoseph argued that the lifeguards were not properly trained to handle rescues in rip currents. “Basically, they are trained in swimming pool rescues,” he said in an interview.

But a unanimous panel of Justices Ruth Balkin, John Leventhal, Joseph Maltese and Betsy Barros held the city had met its duty to maintain the beach in “reasonably safe condition,” citing the lifeguards’ prompt mobilization and the fact that they rescued Akira’s 10-year-old cousin in the same incident. At least six lifeguards responded when they observed the two children in distress.

“[The] city is not an insurer of the safety of the users of its parks, including its beaches,” the court ruled.

Photo by Jesse Coburn

Photo by Jesse Coburn

By Jesse Coburn

Mayor Bill de Blasio called the day “transcendent.” Senator Charles Schumer predicted “a glorious future” for the neighborhood. Shola Olatoye of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) dubbed the plans “a triumph.”

They sang these praises while announcing that $108 million in federal funding would go toward renovating a low-income Coney Island housing project severely damaged in Superstorm Sandy.

But some living in the Coney Island Houses have their doubts. “I don’t trust them,” said Judy Toro, 66, a resident since 1996. “They make a lot of promises.”

It’s been two years since Superstorm Sandy tore through New York, but many public housing tenants are still feeling its effects. The storm caused $19 billion in losses across the five boroughs, and these low-income residents were among the hardest hit. The Coney Island Houses, a five-building complex with nearly 1,400 residents at 2410 Surf Avenue, will be the first such property damaged by Sandy to undergo major repairs, and the city now hopes to acquire roughly $1 billion in additional federal funding for similar improvements in other public residences.

“My house is falling apart, little by little before my eyes, and I don’t see anything being done.”

 

–Coney Island Houses resident.

But decades of strained relations with NYCHA have left some tenants deeply suspicious of the beleaguered city agency, causing even good news to be met with wariness.

Toro’s tenth-floor apartment overlooks Coney Island’s beach and boardwalk, but the interior doesn’t quite match the view. Black mold grows in her bathroom, plaster is crumbling in the living room, and she said roaches and spiders have infested the kitchen walls. “My house is falling apart, little by little before my eyes, and I don’t see anything being done,” she said.

Problems like these have long afflicted public housing, but Toro said that they’ve only gotten worse since Sandy. A large water stain on her grandson’s bedroom floor provides a blunt reminder of the storm, which left residents of the Coney Island Houses without heat and electricity for 22 days.

The long list of outstanding repairs in Toro’s apartment is symptomatic of the ailments plaguing the housing authority, the largest such provider in the nation, with 334 developments that accommodate more than 400,000 tenants. Its 2014 projected deficit is $191 million, due largely to a steady reduction of federal funding. And though the backlog of work orders has decreased greatly in recent years, it still runs in the tens of thousands.

Superstorm Sandy only exacerbated these chronic issues. The storm affected more than 400 public housing buildings across the city and left more than 80,000 residents without basic amenities for weeks. The Coney Island Houses is one of many properties still relying on temporary boilers two years after the storm.

“The funding, design, and implementation challenges [of NYCHA's Sandy-related repairs] are unparalleled,”

 

–Nicholas Bloom, an urban historian.

As part of the renovations, NYCHA will install back-up generators, build an elevated structure to house new boilers, and replace numerous mechanical, electrical and architectural features damaged by the storm. It also will install new surveillance cameras to provide everyday security and to allow authorities to monitor the property in the event of another storm. The funding will not, however, cover repairs for storm-related damages in apartments like Toro’s that are above the first floor.

A NYCHA spokesperson said work should begin next summer. If successful, this approach to implementing Sandy repairs, which relies on funding from FEMA, may serve as a model for renovations in at least 15 other public housing developments that sustained heavy damage in the storm.

According to Nicholas Bloom, an urban historian and professor at the New York Institute of Technology, the sheer magnitude of damage at some properties has made it uniquely difficult for the authority to carry out repairs. “The funding, design, and implementation challenges are unparalleled,” he said. As for the two-year wait for extensive Sandy-related renovations, Bloom praised the city agency for not “rushing a fix.”

An authority spokesperson echoed the need for patience: “Very early on in the aftermath of the storm, once we made temporary repairs to restore critical utilities, we made a determination that it would be irresponsible to simply repair in place and rebuild for short-term expediency instead of long-term sustainability, which could potentially compromise our infrastructure and leave our residents vulnerable.”

But this protracted wait has left some residents skeptical of the authority’s ability to care for its aging buildings. “When I see it, I’ll believe it,” said Carmen Gonzalez, 61, of the planned renovations. “They’re always promising.”

Amelia Riviera has called the Houses home for more than three decades, and the 57-year-old said the problems facing the buildings predate Sandy. “We had to wait for a storm to get help like this?” she asked, mentioning longtime issues like faulty elevators, broken security cameras, and trash on the facility’s grounds. “The buildings were already corrupt.”

Photo by Jesse Coburn

Photo by Jesse Coburn

The Coney Island Houses consist of five 14-story towers that accommodate 1,398 low-income residents. The buildings were completed in 1957—one of many high-rise, low-income developments built on the outskirts of the city.

Cheap land, low population density, and preexisting poor communities made places like Coney Island and the Rockaways seem like logical places to put these new housing blocks. Since then, however, these beachside locations have proven a mixed blessing, as residents are isolated both geographically and economically from the rest of the city. Crime continues to trouble the neighborhood, although it has significantly improved in recent decades. And the area’s median household incomeremains among the city’s lowest.

But as the 2012 storm made painfully clear, natural phenomena count among the most serious threats to the neighborhood and its almost 10,000 public housing residents.

The city has received pointed criticism for its response to public housing impacted by Sandy. In “Weathering the Storm,” an independent report by a group of community advocacy and research organizations from 2013, the authors wrote: “The City’s response to Superstorm Sandy was slow and communication to residents before, during and after the storm was inadequate.”

But the report saw promise in the wave of progressive politicians and officials who have arrived in local public office in recent years. Chief among them is Mayor de Blasio, for whom housing is a central concern. And according to Judy Toro, the authority’s response time to work orders has improved in the past few months. Recently she received a new refrigerator, three years after submitting her request.

For residents like Toro, however, such developments will have to become the norm rather than the exception if perceptions of the authority are to improve. The upcoming renovations could represent such a sea change. But Toro is less than certain: “I’m not holding my breath.”

Source: mikey k/flickr

Source: mikey k/flickr

A dead man was found beneath Coney Island’s Riegelmann Boardwalk on Saturday, sparking an investigation into his death.

The man, who has not been identified, is described as a Hispanic man in his 40s. He was found at approximately 6:15pm near West 25th Street.

The Daily News reports that no foul play is suspected, but an autopsy will be done by the medical examiner to determine how he died.

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