Archive for the tag 'domenic recchia'


After an extensive three-year renovation, the Edwin P. Hubble Planetarium at Edward R. Murrow High School reopened this week, featuring advanced technology developed at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium.

The planetarium now has new carpets, seating, ceilings and a new entrance to the domed facility, and is operated with a new computerized LED cove lighting system and high-end software.

It’s come a long way from the projectors that splashed simple constellation patterns of the night sky across the ceiling, with the new dome being able to recreate blue skies, theatrical “lighting chases” and other advanced schemes, aided by a new surround sound system linked to fully programmable DVD player.

The whole system is coordinated by Uniview software developed at Manhattan’s Natural History Museum using their Digital Universe data bank created by Dr. Carter Emmart, director of Astrovisualization at the Hayden Planetarium. The new software can take students on adventures through the universe, allowing them to view the galaxies and celestial bodies from any point in known space.

Murrow’s Hubble Planetarium opened in 1979, and remains one of just a few such facilities operating within a New York City public school.

The renovations were completed with the help of funding obtained by former Councilman Domenic Recchia. It cost $500,000.

The Daily News captured some of the dome’s new capabilities in the photo above.

Source: Recchia campaign

Source: Recchia campaign

Former City Councilman Domenic Recchia on Saturday officially announced his bid for the 11th Congressional District, the seat currently occupied by Republican Michael Grimm.

Recchia made the announcement before a crowd of supporters in front of his mother’s Staten Island home, where he and a host of lawmakers backing him took aim squarely at his opponent and the Republican party.

Politicker reports:

“I won’t be going to Washington to carry water for my party. I’ll be caring for the hopes and dreams of the people I’m there to represent–you,” Mr. Recchia told the crowd. “I’ll make you one more promise: I will continue to conduct myself honorably because my mom wouldn’t have it any other way. We all know that Mr. Grimm can be a little pugnacious.”

… “Well, starting now he has to pick on somebody his own size,” Mr. Recchia said.

… Mr. Recchia is looking to ride the demographic and ideological shifts underway in the traditionally Republican borough. While a Republican mayoral candidate won the borough in last year’s general election, President Barack Obama eked out a victory there two years ago. Left-leaning, minority voters are also increasingly populating Staten Island’s north shore, where Democrats like Mr. Recchia have performed well.

Although Grimm’s campaign has been the subject of a federal probe into fundraising improprieties, much of the statements at the weekend rally instead focused on recent headlines depicting Grimm as a short-tempered brute. They zeroed in on his well-publicized comments to a NY1 reporter, who he threatened to throw off a balcony in Washington after the reporter asked about the fundraising allegations. Former Congressman Michael McMahon targeted the allegations that Grimm had a sexual romp with a woman in a Bay Ridge bar.

Congressman Jerry Nadler said at the rally that the district needs a congressman who will be respected by his colleagues and the public.

“Nobody respects Grimm,” he said. “Nobody intelligent can respect Grimm.”

Grimm, meanwhile, had a campaign rally and fundraiser over the weekend, drawing approximately 240 supporters, SILive reports. There, he taunted Democrats for their weak showing in Staten Island, promised a ferocious campaign, and said that the seat would remain staunchly Republican for years to come.

SILive reports:

He predicted an outsized victory in November.

“But we’re not just going to win,” he said. “We’re going to run away with this election. We’re going to let them know this is a contact sport.”

For Democrats who say that the congressional district is in play, Grimm said, “Guess what? The Staten Island/Brooklyn seat is not vulnerable, is not up for grabs. It’s a Republican seat. So go home. Don’t waste your time. Don’t waste your money. This one is ours.”

Grimm’s supporters also seemed to derive glee from the congressman’s apparent mistreatment of members of the fourth estate. On threatening physical harm against the NY1 reporter, former Staten Island GOP Chairman Robert Scamardella drew laughs when he mocked the national outcry.

“Oh, the inhumanity of it,” Scamardella said to laughter from the crowd.

It appears Grimm’s Staten Island supporters are not shaken by those headlines either. Both candidates marched in Staten Island’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Sunday, where SILive interviewed attendees.

Staten Island resident Chris Chiafullo told the outlet he would vote for Grimm, and didn’t see the threats being much of a concern in the borough.

“The balcony thing maybe made a difference outside Staten Island, but not here,” he said.

Although Staten Island surely remains the district’s base, the Brooklyn portion has grown in the latest round of redistricting. While the seat before covered Bay Ridge and a sliver of Bensonhurst and Gravesend, it has now swelled to include almost all of Gravesend and a hunk of Sheepshead Bay.


Source: SuperFantastic via Flickr

A new law raising the legal age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21 years old has been kicking around the City Council for more than three years, but most New York City residents didn’t hear about it until yesterday, when the legislative body gave its seal of approval.

If Mayor Michael Bloomberg signs the bill, as he’s expected to do, smokers younger than 21 years old will be banned from purchasing tobacco products in New York City. It’s among the highest age limits in the nation.

The bill passed 35-10, and includes e-cigarettes.

When the new law takes effect, shops found selling to people under age will face a $1,000 fine. On second offense, fines go up to $2,000, and the store may have its license revoked if additional offenses are committed within a three-year period.

Of the 10 Council members opposed to the new law, all were representatives from boroughs outside of Manhattan, and five were from Brooklyn.

With the exception of Charles Barron, who represents East New York, all of the Brooklyn opponents hailed from Southern Brooklyn.

Here’s how they voted:

  • Vincent Gentile (Bay Ridge – Bensonhurst): Against
  • David Greenfield (Bensonhurst – Borough Park): For
  • Jumaane Williams (Midwood – Flatbush): Against
  • Lew Fidler (Marine Park – Canarsie): Absent
  • Domenic Recchia (Coney Island – Gravesend): Against
  • Michael Nelson (Sheepshead Bay – Brighton Beach): Against

Although Fidler was absent for health reasons, we believe he would have voted against the age increase. Fidler previously opposed expanding the smoking ban to beaches and parks, as well as banning flavored tobacco products.

That means David Greenfield is the only Southern Brooklyn Council member to support the bill, and had Fidler voted (the way we think he would have), more than half the opposition would have hailed from our end of the borough.

Do Southern Brooklyn residents love smoking more than the rest of New York City? You tell us.

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.

A home in Sea Gate damaged (in the rear) by Sandy. Photo by Erica Sherman

Damaged schools, health facilities, libraries, abandoned storefronts and treacherous sinkholes. These are some of the major problems still afflicting Coney Island since Superstorm Sandy thrashed the area over eight months ago. Gotham Gazette is reporting that all the damage hasn’t come close to being repaired and that local residents are at their wits’ end in trying to live with them.

On our sister site Bensonhurst Bean, we have covered some of the frustration plaguing Coney Island locals. City Council candidate Mark Treyger was furious over the conditions at Carey Gardens (2955 West 24th Street), a New York City housing complex suffering from leaking roofs, the loss of its community center, a broken playground and the sinkhole problems on Neptune Avenue that could attract West Nile mosquitoes.

In another report, we tracked other frustrations facing Coney residents, namely the surging popularity of the pristinely restored beach area that has caused an uptick in traffic and congestion in the area. The restoration of the beach, Luna Park and other fun spots has been a sore spot for locals not buying the reports that Coney Island has fully rebounded:

“They say Coney Island is open for business. Sure, the entertainment district is, but no one talks about the parts of Coney Island where people actually live. They don’t talk about the neighborhoods,” said Ed Cosme, a resident who formed The People’s Coalition of Coney Island to raise awareness about the problems in the parts of the neighborhood that don’t normally draw tourists and bathers.

The Gotham Gazette described the state of a massive sinkhole present on Neptune Avenue:

On Neptune Avenue in Coney Island, state Sen. Diane Savino and a group of community activists walked a cracked and broken sidewalk on a recent day this summer — taking a tour of damage that remains nearly a year after Hurricane Sandy pummeled some of the city’s notable coastal neighborhoods.

At one point, the group stopped to look past a contorted chain-link fence at a massive sinkhole filled with bags of trash, milk cartons and diapers. The crevasse yawned with fault lines that zigged and zagged onto the sidewalk and towards the street. It looked to be growing.

“That thing goes down a ways,” said Ken Jones, a longtime community activist, referring to the sinkhole. “It’s probably right under the sidewalk.” The fact that it has apparently been used on more than one occasion as a dump only added to the activists’ concern that no one — not the state, not the city — is paying enough attention to their neighborhood…

Councilman Domenic Recchia, whose district includes Coney Island, said he has been in contact with multiple city agencies that are working together to study the sinkhole problem in particular.

“They are trying to find out why we are having this problem,” Recchia said. “It isn’t clear if the earth is moving or the sand got pushed out from under the pavement by the flood. But I know it is a problem for a lot of people. They are getting them in their driveway or backyards. I get calls about it all the time.”

While the problems afflicting Coney residents are extensive, a small measure of relief is coming in the form of a $6 million grant provided by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program. The plan is unique in that it allows local community leaders and officials to decide the best way to spend the federal money allotted to them, removing the sometimes disconnected overreach of authorities with no sense of what’s going on the ground.

The report goes on to describe other problems facing the area, including abandoned storefronts, broken docks and lost community outreach programs:

But it isn’t just the sinkholes that have residents concerned that their part of Coney Island is being ignored. Looking past the massive sinkhole on Neptune Avenue, the tortured skeleton of a wooden dock uprooted and smashed by Hurricane Sandy could be seen. A number of boats remained lifted out of the water, stranded on rocks, water-damaged and rotting. “No one has claimed them yet?” Savino asked rhetorically.

The owners are likely long gone. Just like the proprietors of the closed Chinese food restaurant and bodega across the street. “They were just hanging on before Sandy,” Savino said. “They were already in debt. After that storm, another loan wasn’t going to save them.”

Aida Leon is the executive director of the Amethyst Women’s Project, a group that helps women struggling with substance abuse, domestic violence and HIV/AIDS.

As the tour of Coney Island progressed, she said she was concerned that established charitable organizations had been ignored by the larger groups that came in with funding to address problems caused by Sandy.

“They haven’t been on the ground like we have,” she said. “We lost a lot of people after Sandy. They didn’t come back to the programs and I don’t think they are coming back because the people with funding don’t know how to reach them.”

Councilman Domenic Recchia tried to find bright spots in the otherwise bleak picture, claiming that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) was out fixing the sinkholes and that not all of the community programs were gone.

“We have summer programs like the Cornerstone program and others out of Kaiser Park. They may not all be open but there are programs,” Recchia told the Gotham Gazette.”Compared to other parts of the city, I think we’re doing pretty good. Take a look at the NYCHA facilities — they are working on them. It’s not like the work isn’t happening.”

Source: downtown_boston_2004 / Flickr

Source: downtown_boston_2004 / Flickr

District Attorney Charles Hynes is teaming up with the NYPD and City Councilman Domenic Recchia for a gun buyback event tomorrow, July 13 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Coney Island Gospel Assembly Church, 2828 Neptune Avenue between West 28th Street and West 29th Street, directly across from Kaiser Park.

According to the press release from the DA’s office:

The gun buyback initiative is aimed at taking illegal, functioning guns off the streets by offering a $200 reward for each eligible weapon surrendered, no questions asked. You will receive a $200 bank card for operable handguns and assault rifles and a $20 bank card for operable rifles and shotguns. The program was launched in Brooklyn in July 2008. A total of 2,714 guns have been collected through the gun buyback program.

Although the reasons may be obvious to some, it may not be obvious to others: The guns must be placed in a plastic or paper bag or a box. This is not Wyoming or Kentucky (or any other open carry state for that matter). Also, the DA’s Office also warns that, if you are transporting the gun by car, the gun must be transported in the trunk of the car. You may surrender as many guns as you wish, but you will only receive payment for up to three guns. (Ed. — There’s incentive for ya.)

In other words, don’t show up waving your guns in the air, yelling, “Now where’s my $200 bank card?!” at the top of your lungs.

To learn more, contact the DA’s office at (718) 250-2300.


The following is a press release sent yesterday from the offices of City Councilman Domenic Recchia:

The City Council passed legislation today renewing and improving upon the J-51 tax abatement and exemption program. Sponsored by Council Member Domenic M. Recchia, Jr., Chair of the City Council’s Finance Committee, the legislation builds upon the State Assembly’s property tax relief bill passed earlier this year, which extended the previously expired program, offering tax exemption and abatement for qualified homeowners who undertake renovation and development projects. Passed unanimously, the exemption will be retroactive from December 31, 2011 and will last until June 30, 2015.

“The J-51 program revitalizes our neighborhoods and communities by incentivizing apartment owners to rehabilitate and improve their buildings. It has been a great success in the past and I’m proud to sponsor its renewal and improvement now to ensure that we remain committed to the betterment and beautification of our City for the future,” said Council Member Recchia. “I’m grateful for Speaker Quinn’s leadership in moving this legislation forward.”

A 2012 report noted that over 580,000 New Yorkers have directly benefitted from J-51. With this extension, improvements will be made to the program, restricting eligibility to developers focused on creating or preserving affordable housing. These changes will allow the City will both cut costs and ensure that needed housing rehabilitation continues in the future.

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?”

Runners on Ocean Parkway during the 2012 half marathon. Photo by Allan Shweky.

The Brooklyn Half Marathon is back and bigger than ever. New York 1 is reporting that the marathon has grown from 6,000 runners in 2011, to 15,000 last year, and now a staggering 20,000 runners signed up for this year’s event.

(See photos from last year’s half-marathon.)

The run, set for May 18, is now the country’s second largest half marathon. A half marathon’s total distance is 13.1 miles.

“Brooklyn’s big in every way, and it’s time for its half marathon to be that much bigger, too,” Mary Wittenberg, president of the New York Road Runners, told NY 1. “So we’re really excited.”

In attempting to account for the marathon’s growth in popularity, organizers claim that the switch of the running date last year from March to May played a big role. Although last year locals fumed about potential traffic snarls from the thousands of runners heading down Ocean Parkway, organizers say it’s worth it to have the finish line in Coney Island, which makes for a more exciting and picturesque finish for runners speeding along the boardwalk and will help local businesses.

On that note, event organizers are collaborating with local Coney Island businesses to make sure that the runners have incentive to stay and spend money in the area when the race ends.

Coney Island business owners and elected officials met with New York Road Runners to come up with strategies on how to keep the thousands of runners in Coney Island after the race. One way is to offer special deals on rides and food.

“You just don’t run home,” said City Councilman Domenic Recchia of Brooklyn. “You stay. You enjoy Coney Island. It’s up and running. We have great family activities. We have free events.”

The festivities will also feature extra security in light of the bombings that took place in Boston last month.

“We’ll have extra security,” Inspector Peter DeBlasio of the New York City Police Department’s 60th Precinct told NY 1. “Counterterrorism people will be deployed down here. Radiation pagers, dogs, things like that.”

If you want to join the race yourself, spots are still available. Registration ends on May 14. For more information, you can visit the New York Road Runners website by clicking here.

Nathan’s Famous Is Still Closed, Source: j. reed via wikimedia commons

Six months following Superstorm Sandy, businesses across Sheepshead Bay and Coney Island are still shuttered and the New York Times is reporting that local business owners are growing anxious over what effect the closures will have on the local economy as summer nears.

The Times report pointed to the large number of businesses still closed on tourist-friendly Emmons Avenue.

“Mambo Sushi, gone! Tzar, gone! Fusion, gone!” said Theresa Scavo, the district manager of Community Board 15, as she reeled off the names of destroyed restaurants on a single block of Emmons Avenue, where only a Greek restaurant, Yiasou, managed to reopen.

A block farther along the bay, a few restaurants and cafes where water reached the ceilings were also shuttered. In total, 14 businesses on Emmons Avenue are still closed, Ms. Scavo said, with a dozen more closed elsewhere in the neighborhood. With warm weather approaching, there is concern that tourists will not flock to the bay as they usually do.

“Everybody suffers, because if people are not coming to eat at your restaurant, they won’t shop at my clothing store,” Ms. Scavo said.

(It’s worth noting that the block of Emmons Avenue where they say only one restaurant, Yiasou, is open, there are actually three open restaurants – Yiasou, Baku Palace and Randazzo’s Clam Bar.)

The problems on Emmons Avenue also extend to Coney Island where, among other places, Nathan’s Famous and the New York Aquarium still remain closed.

Along a six-block stretch of Mermaid Avenue, a commercial street in Coney Island that caters to much of the year-round poor and working-class population, many stores are still locked — among them, a Chase bank, a McDonald’s, a bagel store, a Chinese restaurant, a check-cashing place and a Mexican deli. Edward Cosmé, head of the avenue’s trade association, said his 13-year-old beauty parlor, Hair For U, is open only because he spent $40,000 of his own money to replace hair dryers and salon chairs destroyed in the storm, and he received a $25,000 loan at 1 percent interest and $10,000 in cash from the city’s Department of Small Business Services. But the number of customers is down by more than a third, he said, because some residents displaced by the storm have not returned.

Business owners blamed the continued closures on failing to receive timely government assistance that would have made up for money not covered by flood insurance companies. To date, the city has doled out 45 loans to Sheepshead Bay businesses totaling $1 million with 13 grants amounting to $45,000. In Coney Island, 19 loans have been approved totaling $420,700 with eight grants valued at $40,000. According to a NYC Department of Small Business Services rep who spoke to Sheepshead Bites, this represents an 88 to 90 percent approval rate.

Still, the complexity of government forms have tripped up business owners from getting desperately needed assistance from other sources, like the U.S. Small Business Administration, as we’ve previously reported. (UPDATED: See below)

Jim Tampakis, a man who runs a Red Hook-based ship boiler and pump repair shop gave up on trying to seek federal help entirely.

“I became discouraged,” Tampakis told the Times. “There was a feeling that businesses were getting the runaround.”

The problem facing business owners like Tampakis has led Councilman Domenic Recchia, who is currently running for Congress, to urge the city to ease the process.

“It’s imperative that more businesses have access to this type of funding so that they can get back on their feet,” Recchia told the Times.

Whether or not the businesses that are still closed can clear the bureaucratic red-tape and conquer their financial difficulties before the busy summer season starts remains to be seen.

UPDATE (May 2, 2012 at 11:00 a.m.): A previous version of this article noted in the segment providing the loan totals that business owners have had trouble with paperwork for these loans. An SBS representative called us this morning to note that the link we directed viewers to regarded the U.S. Small Business Administration loan rates, which, at the time, was below 30 percent. The SBS rep said the numbers in this article, which are for SBS, actually reflected a much higher approval rate than SBA, at a rate of 88 to 90 percent. We regret any confusion caused by the link, and have separated it out from the paragraph and tweaked the language to more accurately portray the situation.

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