Archive for the tag 'Coney Island'

Food

Would you risk perjury for this? (Source: WhiteCastle.com)

Two men are suing the NYPD over a 2012 incident, in which they claim the cops roughed them up and took their White Castle burgers.

Danny Maisonet and Kenneth Glover have filed suit in Brooklyn Federal Court against the police department, saying that cops falsely arrested them because they wouldn’t hand over their sliders on Halloween 2012.

Daily News reports:

They were getting out of a taxicab, carrying a bag of the burgers, when they walked into cops rounding up a group of men suspected of looting a supermarket on Neptune Ave., lawyer Robert Marinelli said in the suit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court.

The cops — it’s unclear if they were kidding or starved out of their minds — demanded the bag of food. The plaintiffs refused to turn over the burgers.

With the long journey necessary to obtain White Castle burgers, a trip well-documented by Obama administration officials, the pair were not feeling particularly charitable to the officers, and declined their solicitations.

According to the lawsuit, the cops then “struck [them] with flashlights and handcuffed” them. The two were charged with obstructing government administration and disorderly conduct. Officer Angelo Pizzarro’s report of the incident claims they were standing in his way, forcing him to walk all the way around two people and a bag of hamburgers to get to the alleged supermarket looters.

The charges against the two were dismissed. They did not go to Guantanamo Bay, as one might expect.

Source: Zamperla

Source: Zamperla

Coney Island’s newest amusement tycoons, Central Amusement International (a.k.a. Zamperla USA), broke ground on the Thunderbolt yesterday, the first roller coaster in more than a century at the People’s Playground to throw riders through a literal loop.

The three-car coaster will hold 27 people as it zooms along 2,233 feet of track at 55 miles per hour. It’ll reach its peak height at 115 feet before plummeting nearly straight to the ground and into a 100-foot vertical loop, then an 80-foot zero-g roll followed by a heartline dive and corkscrew. The whole shebang lasts two-minutes.

The new ride, which borrows the name of the original Thunderbolt coaster that was built in 1920, decommissioned in 1982, and torn down in 2000, will cost $10 million, the single largest private investment in Coney Island in decades.

According to the press release for the groundbreaking:

Creation of the coaster helps realize the goals outlined in the Coney Island Revitalization Plan, adopted by the City Council in 2009. The plan is anticipated to generate billions of dollars in economic activity and create tens of thousands of jobs over the next decades by preserving and expanding the historic amusement area, investing in district-wide infrastructure, and building new housing, commercial and community space.

No word on when they’ll get to the district-wide infrastructure and housing stuff, but the roller coaster will be open in May.

Here’s a video mockup of what a ride on it will be like:

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Thunderbolt Roller Coaster Looks To Rock Coney Island
Video: Take A Virtual Ride On The New Thunderbolt

The garden, before and after bulldozing. Source: NYCCGC.org

The garden, before and after bulldozing. Source: NYCCGC.org

The New York City Community Garden Coalition is suing the city on behalf of the Boardwalk Community Garden in Coney Island, which lost its city-owned land to make way for a seaside amphitheater.

Just days after the City Council approved a plan to make a 5,099-seat concert venue at the landmarked Childs Restaurant in December, bulldozers rolled onto the adjacent property and demolished the garden in a midnight raid.

But 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.

The gardeners are also suing over what they believe has been an insufficient environmental review, particularly when it comes to the requirements of their sewer system and flood protection. Brooklyn Daily reports:

“The city did not follow its own regulations,” said attorney Joel Kupferman of the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project, which is spearheading the suit. “You’re going to have thousands of people coming to a concert, and the sewers in Coney West cannot take that.”

Kupferman further alleged that iStar Financial, the company that will construct and operate the new hall as a permanent home for Markowitz’s summer concert series, did not do the proper studies when they designed the underground reservoirs that the company claims will combat flooding at the waterfront venue.

Attorneys for iStar say that the blueprints are perfectly in line with regulations.

The amphitheater is set to be the new, permanent home of the former Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz’s free summer concert series. It has been opposed by Community Board 13, but given the green light by the Department of City Planning and the City Council.

A home in Seagate after Sandy. (Photo by Erica Sherman)

The Committee on Recovery and Resiliency held its first hearing last Thursday in Coney Island and during the meeting New York City Housing Authority revealed that housing projects that were affected by Superstorm Sandy would be stuck with shoddily built boilers that often break until some time in 2016 – by which time they’ll have cost taxpayers at least $120 million.

Last week, Councilman Mark Treyger, who heads the committee, told us that he hoped to find a solution for these boilers since they were not made to be used below 40-degree weather. We wrote:

He believes the city is dragging its feet in figuring out a permanent plan, as FEMA is requesting critical infrastructure like boilers be placed above ground-level to avoid damage in future floods. But for those in the houses, a year is too long to wait, he said.

“It shouldn’t take us a year to figure that out. We’re having this meeting now because it’s still winter weather and I don’t want it to continue to be a lingering, ongoing problem. The money should be there, and that’s another part of this hearing and we need to track that money,” he said.

But instead of a solution, the committee was told by NYCHA’s Executive Vice President Raymond Ribeiro that the boilers wouldn’t be going anywhere until 2016, according to the Daily News.

Some of the boilers repeatedly broke down earlier this year during the coldest days of the season. The reason for breaking down, the Daily News reported, is because they were made in places like Texas and Tennessee and were never intended to withstand the cold of the north. But after Sandy left the normal heating system utterly destroyed, they couldn’t find anything better in time for the winter season and they now don’t have the funding to replace the boilers.

The Daily News reports:

NYCHA says it can’t move forward until its insurers and the federal government commit to specific funding. Ribeiro added that NYCHA’s insurers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have told the Housing Authority that they’ll only pay for boiler repairs, not replacements.

On top of being unreliable, the boilers are also expensive. During our interview with Treyger he estimated that each boiler costs about $50,000 a month. There are 24 such boilers across the city being used by the Housing Authority, which comes out to $3 million a month. By 2016, the boilers will have been used for 40 months and come out to $120 million for rent and fuel, according to Daily News’ calculations.

To combat the breakdowns they saw at housing projects like O’Dwyer Gardens, a six-building NYCHA complex in Coney Island that’s home to more than 100,000 residents, NYCHA has used other forms of heating to keep the boiler’s pipes warm, including jerry-rigged kerosene heaters to warm the boilers’ pipes.

Click to view enlarged image

Courtesy of the United States Coast Guard

Late in the 19th century, Congress approved the construction of a lighthouse on the western end of Coney Island. The now-defunct 124-year-old beacon has become the subject of a mini-documentary that aired last week on MetroFocus.

The documentary focuses on Frank Schubert, the last Coney Island lighthouse keeper- as well as the last civilian in the country to hold that job. In the article that accompanies the four-minute documentary,  creators Max Kutner and Johannes Musial write:

After serving with the Army in World War II, Schubert found work as a lighthouse keeper. In 1960 he moved with his wife and three children to the Coney Island Lighthouse. For three generations of Schuberts, the lighthouse became the family’s home. “My parents got married at the Coney Island Lighthouse, and then I was born the next year and they basically raised us there,” said Scott Schubert. “As a kid it was great. We’d be climbing on the lighthouse. It was like our jungle gym. You don’t even realize that it’s really different than any other house. It’s just sort of grandpa’s house.”

The use of GPS on boats has made lighthouses less necessary, but at one time such beacons helped prevent boats from crashing against rocky coastlines. The original Coney Island beacon was lit by Keeper Thomas Higgenbotham on August 1, 1890, according to United States Coast Guard. The lens used was powered by Kerosene and it was visible for more than fourteen miles.

Here’s the Metrofocus documentary:

A home in Seagate after Sandy (Photo by Erica Sherman)

Fifteen months since Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc in Brooklyn’s coastal neighborhoods, the city’s response has been a far cry from awe-inspiring. Sure, the numbers are staggering: $60 billion in Congressional aid to the region; $5.2 billion distributed; dozens of agencies, and a stack of recovery-related legislation with a word count yet to be assessed.

There’s another jaw-dropping number: zero. That’s the amount of money that has reached property owners through New York City’s $644 million Build it Back program.

Councilman Mark Treyger, who represents Gravesend, Coney Island, Bensonhurst and Sea Gate, is hoping to use the newly formed committee he chairs, the Committee on Recovery and Resiliency, to reboot the process and get residents and business owners the help they need.

Near the top of his agenda is an effort to reopen the application process for Build it Back, and expedite payouts to encourage confidence in the program.

“It’s absolutely crucial that they reopen the process and do a better job at outreach,” Treyger told this publication. “The low number of applicants and the fact that zero people have been helped so far, that’s just unacceptable.”

Treyger said he sat down with Build it Back representatives last week for a status update on their work. They reported to him that the 11224 area code that covers Coney Island and Sea Gate only saw between 800 and 900 applicants – a far cry from what he said is thousands of homes impacted by the flooding.

The recently inaugurated councilman said he believes the city failed in its outreach efforts.

“I was amazed by that number because I know in that zip code there were thousands of people impacted by Superstorm Sandy. And that spoke volumes because it shows that the city did not do adequate outreach into diverse communities in our city. And that’s just one zip code,” he said.

The polyglot district he represents has high numbers of Russian, Chinese and Spanish speakers that the city didn’t do well in reaching, he claims.

“They must reopen but this time we really have to get this right. We have to partner with community organizations, local media, they have to reach out to different language media. We really need to do a much better job of reaching the diverse communities of our city,” he said.

Treyger is currently drafting a letter to the de Blasio administration officially requesting the process be reopened.

But the local pol also acknowledged that “recovery fatigue” among homeowners may cause them to be reluctant to apply, coupled with the latest headlines that money is not yet flowing.

“I think once money starts flowing and people see progress with their applications, that will instill confidence in applying. Some folks have no faith and were discouraged, and once they see progress I think that will motivate people to apply,” he said.

The administration is currently in the midst of the comment period for its fifth amendment to the proposed action plan for community development block grants for disaster recovery, the federal program funding Build it Back. While the plan includes an increase in funding for Build it Back, representatives present at a public hearing last night at Sheepshead Bay High School could not say if more would be needed to reopen the process as Treyger proposes. The mayor’s office has not yet returned a response to our inquiry.

Build it Back aside, Treyger is hoping to use his role as chair of the Council’s Recovery and Resiliency Committee to make Sandy recovery a top priority for the de Blasio administration.

The committee will hold its first-ever hearing in Coney Island on Thursday, February 27, at 10 a.m. at the Carey Gardens Community Center (2315 Surf Avenue). He said he hopes holding it in a Sandy-impacted zone will boost resident participation.

But the agenda at the first meeting is more pressing than reopening Build it Back. It will focus on a plan to replace temporary boilers at dozens of NYCHA buildings affected by the storm.

According to the councilman, NYCHA residents have been hooked up to temporary systems for 15 months, suffering from mechanical breakdowns that left them without heat on some of the most bitter cold days of 2014.

Treyger said he has been told the city pays in the ballpark of $50,000 per boiler per month, but they are faulty. Some of the boilers, he said, were not built to withstand low temperatures, causing the breakdowns they saw at housing projects like O’Dwyer Gardens, a six-building NYCHA complex in Coney Island that’s home to more than 100,000 residents.

To cope with the cold, some residents heated their homes with their home ovens, putting families at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

He believes the city is dragging its feet in figuring out a permanent plan, as FEMA is requesting critical infrastructure like boilers be placed above ground-level to avoid damage in future floods. But for those in the houses, a year is too long to wait, he said.

“It shouldn’t take us a year to figure that out. We’re having this meeting now because it’s still winter weather and I don’t want it to continue to be a lingering, ongoing problem. The money should be there, and that’s another part of this hearing and we need to track that money,” he said.

Build it Back will be on the agenda for their March meeting, Treyger said. He also hopes to persuade the administration to appoint a “Sandy Czar” to coordinate between city, state and federal recovery initiatives, as well as to spur reform in the handling of New York City’s co-operative housing schemes for disaster recovery. Co-ops are viewed by the federal government as businesses, not primary residences of homeowners, and so were not eligible for FEMA funds in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

Overall, the local pol is hoping that his committee will help reboot the process, and open the funding spigots for residents.

“This is an oversight committee. But oversight to me means we’re listening to people on the ground, listening to the residents living the day-to-day trauma resulting from Superstorm Sandy,” he said. “I will judge this recovery by those people, families, homeowners, business owners. We want to see progress. Quite frankly, I’m tired of seeing more Powerpoint presentations than progress on the ground.”

coneyisland

The Coney Island History Project and Urban Neighborhood Services are hosting a slideshow presentation by Charles Denson titled “The History of Coney Island’s West End and the Presence and Contributions of African Americans in Coney Island from the 1600s to the Present.”The slideshow will feature never-before-seen images from Charles Denson’s archive and photos that he took in the 1970s.

U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries, Coney Island’s first African American Congressman, will be a special guest.

“The West End of Coney Island is a vibrant and resilient community that’s survived many challenges over the last few decades,” said Coney Island History Project director Charles Denson. “I grew up there and documented the wave of urban renewal in the 1960s and 1970s that transformed our community and changed the lives of its residents. This slide show will tell the story of the area going back to 1600s.”

I, for one, have always been kind of curious about the West End, which sticks out from the rest of Southern Brooklyn both figuratively and in terms of demographics and culture. It’ll be interesting to check this out.

Here’s one of Denson’s great photos from that era:

denson

Muscle man, Coney Island, 1950

Muscle man, Coney Island, 1950 (Source: HaroldFeinstein.com)

Acclaimed photographer and Coney Island native Harold Feinstein, who says he “dropped from my mother’s womb straight into the front car of the Cyclone roller coaster,” has put together a fantastic set of photos from the 1940s to the 1970s of Coney Island sportsmen in honor of the upcoming Olympics.

Feinstein writes:

At Coney Island, watching was always the sport for me, which worked out really nicely since the place is and always was, teeming with show-offs and good natured competitors. A large crowd and lots of applause was the equivalent to a medal, and pretty much anybody could capture one. As a spectator, admission was free and you could count on a repeat performance next week-end — or a completely new and different one.

Coney Island is an event — a kind of Olympics of humanity. You can stand in one place and see it all, and you might be both audience and actor without even knowing it.

Beach boxers,  Coney Island, 1969

Beach boxers, Coney Island, 1969 (Source: HaroldFeinstein.com)

The photos span the years from 1949 to 1977 (with one sneaking in from 1997), showing regular men who took to the beach to flex their muscles, participate  in a sandy boxing match. or horse around with pals.

Feinstein is one of the New York School photograhers who rose to prominence between the 1930s and 1960s, capturing street life scenes that shared the flavor and fight of New York City through drastic changes. His works hang permanently in the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of the City of New York, and the Jewish Museum. His body lives in Massachusetts. His heart beats in Coney Island.

Check out the full photo set.

Five man pile-up, Coney Island, 1949

Five man pile-up, Coney Island, 1949 (Source: HaroldFeinstein.com)

Correction (1:00 p.m.): Due to a significant lack of coffee, this very foolish editor kept writing “Harvey Feinstein” even though he knew better. The article has been corrected, and our sincere apologies to Harold Feinstein.

Source: Humans of New York via Facebook

Source: Humans of New York via Facebook

The Facebook account associated with the incredibly popular Humans of New York photoblog ran the above photo on Tuesday, with the subject quoted as saying he participates in an “underground fighting league in Coney Island” run by “the Russians.”

Here’s the full caption:

“The Russians run an underground fighting league in Coney Island where they pay junkies to fight. I fought about fifty fights for them. They pay you $200 win or lose. They’d always make sure I was real doped up before the fight. I mean they weren’t good people but it did make me feel kinda important to have all those gangsters cheering for me. And they’d always be really happy if I won, because that meant I’d made them money.”

The post received quite a bit of attention from our Facebook readers, but no one seems particularly confident the story is true. One reader writes that the fighting league’s existence would be unlikely to stay so secret in the otherwise gossipy Russian community.

“There would be rumors. In all my years in this community I have never heard anything remote to this,” the reader wrote.

Can anyone back this up?

Earlier this month we published an article on the feral cat situation in Coney Island, especially around the boardwalk. Josie Marrero, a local who founded a cat rescue program called Brooklyn Rescue Umbrella, spends much of her time taking care of the cats in the area. But as winter sets in and Sandy- and development-related construction in the area continues, her job has gone from maintaining a population to saving them. We previously wrote:

But now, they face an additional problem. Several abandoned Coney Island parking lots – a favored home of many feral felines – are in the process of being bulldozed, and with the winter chill in full-swing, many of the stray cats that have made these lots their sanctuary will again have to relocate. Already, the bulldozing has started at Surf Avenue and West 33rd Street.

All of which, Marrero explains in the video above, has turned the area into a “killing field” for the hundreds of cats. We put together the video above to chronicle Marrero’s efforts.

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