Archive for the tag 'hakeem jeffries'

Look at all those gangbangers (Source: NYC Parks)

Design of the new elevated comfort stations. The ramps and stairs are designed to detach in the case of an extreme weather event. (Source: NYC Parks)

The New York City Parks Department will present revised plans this Thursday for the controversial bathroom and comfort station slated for the Brighton Beach boardwalk in response to outcry from Oceana condominium residents and local leaders.

The public hearing on the new draft environmental impact statement will take place at the Shorefront Y (3300 Coney Island Avenue), from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

It’s the second public hearing on the site’s bathrooms, which are identical to 35 others along the Riegelmann Boardwalk and elsewhere in the city – all replacements to facilities damaged in Superstorm Sandy. At the November meeting, residents of Oceana and other nearby buildings lambasted the proposal for the 20-foot-tall structures, with complaints ranging from blocked views and claims that it would attract the homeless, to concerns about the stability of the structure.

The Parks Department previewed seven different alternatives for the placement of the New Brighton location – the formal name of the site in front of Oceana near Coney Island Avenue – at City Hall in February. Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz gave favorable, though tepid, reviews of the new plans.

“Some alternatives are clearly better than others, but what came across is that this is a new administration that has expressed a real willingness to listen to what the community has to say,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said in a press release. “It is a very hopeful sign that the [draft environmental impact statement] includes the options that were raised by residents at the Parks Department’s public scoping meeting last November. I believe this is an important step in an ongoing dialogue and it shows that the city is trying to be responsive to the community’s needs.”

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

Shawn White was found shot to death on Thursday in a building at West 27th Street and Surf Avenue. (Source: Google Maps)

Shawn White was found shot to death on Thursday in a building at West 27th Street and Surf Avenue. (Source: Google Maps)

Police say they have arrested Johnny Velez Garcia, who they believe is the deadly gunman responsible for one of two fatal shootings in Coney Island last week.

Garcia is accused of shooting and killing Shawn White in the fourth-floor stairwell of the Coney Island high-rise building at West 27th Street and Surf Avenue, where the victim lived.

White, 25, was found with several gunshots to the head, torso and leg at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 26. According to News 12, police say White was killed by his friend over a dispute regarding a girl.

It was the second deadly shooting in as many days, with 17-year-old Yaquin English killed in front of his home in the Gravesend Houses.

The shootings spurred community members to call a meeting to discuss gun violence in the neighborhood, where they discussed calling for security cameras and greater police presence.

CIviolence

Mathylde Frontus led the meeting at the Urban Neighborhood Services

by Steven Volynets

Following the second fatal shooting in as many days, Coney Island residents and local leaders met at the Urban Neighborhood Services (UNS) office (1718 Mermaid Avenue) on Friday to voice concern over the growing number of gun deaths in the area.

On Christmas Eve, 17-year-old Yaquin English was shot to death in front of his home in the Gravesend Houses at 3144 Bay View Avenue. Just two days later, a man was shot dead on Thursday inside a Coney Island high-rise building on West 27th Street and Surf Avenue.

Shawn White, 25, was found on the fourth floor stairwell with several gunshot wounds to the head, torso and leg at approximately 9:30 p.m. First responders pronounced the victim dead on arrival, according to the NYPD.

Shawn White was found shot to death on Thursday in a building at West 27th Street and Surf Avenue. (Source: Google Maps)

Shawn White was found shot to death on Thursday in a building at West 27th Street and Surf Avenue. (Source: Google Maps)

The spate of deadly shootings has left community members grappling for an effective response to the violence, which UNS noted seemed concentrated in public housing.

Community members, including parents, a teacher and local clergy, discussed drafting a letter to local officials calling for more cameras and greater police presence throughout Coney Island neighborhoods.

“What can we ask of our State Senator Diane Savino? What can we ask of our Congressman Hakeem Jeffries?” said UNS Director Mathylde Frontus, who organized the event. Congressman Jeffries’s representative Lee Church and Victoria Lynch, president of Coney Island Site 8 Residents Association, attended the meeting.

Gravesend Houses, where Yaquin English was shot to death on Christmas Eve (Source: Google Maps)

Also present, Rhonda Brown Moore, board member of Man Up, a Brownsville-based neighborhood improvement organization, said Coney Island could benefit from one of their anti-violence programs.

“We have men in vans patrolling the neighborhood in the middle of the night, talking to some of the people doing the shootings,” Moore said.

Frontus also stressed greater involvement of local business owners and corporate interests.

“A lot of money is hovering over us, but nothing is trickling down to the community,” she said. That money, she added, could fund programs like Man Up, as well as art, music and sports activities for Coney Island youth.

Look at all those gangbangers (Source: NYC Parks)

Design of the new elevated comfort stations. The ramps and stairs are designed to detach in the case of an extreme weather event. (Source: NYC Parks)

A group of long-time Brighton Beach advocates seized the opportunity of Monday night’s hearing about the Oceana comfort stations, telling the Parks Department that they ought to give equal consideration to all of the elevated bathrooms already installed – and not just those near the condominium complex.

The packed hearing, which drew approximately 130 residents to the Shorefront Y (3300 Coney Island Avenue), was called by the Parks Department as a result of a court order, which requires them to produce an environmental impact statement (EIS). The hearing was an opportunity to address the scope of the planned EIS and suggest that Parks consultants evaluate additional aspects of the project.

However, it was ultimately a cathartic expulsion of rage and frustration by residents miffed with government bureaucracy and the perceived threat to their quality of life.

A small crew of residents from around the neighborhood urged the Parks Department to produce similar studies for the already-completed comfort stations further down the boardwalk and citywide, or at least extend its conclusions to those structures.

Keep reading, and view video from the heated hearing.

Look at all those gangbangers (Source: NYC Parks)

Look at all those gangbangers (Source: NYC Parks)

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries is the latest elected official to enter the fray over the new bathrooms slated for the Riegelmann Boardwalk in Brighton Beach, which residents of the Oceana condominium complex have vocally opposed.

Jeffries is on the boardwalk today holding a press conference, calling for the Parks Department to forever abandon its plans to place the bathrooms in Brighton Beach, officially dubbed the New Brighton Comfort Station. That would leave the next nearest public restroom on the boardwalk more than seven blocks away.

Oceana residents opposed the placement of the bathrooms, saying the 20-foot-tall structure would impede their oceanfront views, attract drug dealing gangbangers, and create a bad scent.

Jeffries joins Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz and Senator Charles Schumer in siding with Oceana residents. It was also an issue in the recent City Council race, where opposition was embraced by candidates including David Storobin and Ari Kagan.

The last we checked in on the story, city officials suffered a setback when a Brooklyn Supreme Court judge ordered that the agency produce an environmental impact study and scoping process, which includes a public hearing that will take place tonight (details below).

None of the other three comfort station on the Brighton Beach – Coney Island boardwalk, nor any of the other 10 locations throughout New York City, are being subjected to the same process. That’s because the type of project doesn’t typically trigger the state requirement for an environmental impact statement when building in a coastal erosion hazard area –  a requirement that, somewhat ironically, Cymbrowitz had sought to strike down for all future projects. He said these bathrooms changed his mind.

The Parks Department released their draft scope statement for the environmental study a few weeks ago. In it, they unsurprisingly determined that the proposed comfort station would have no significant impact on a slew of areas, including socioeconomic conditions, community facilities and services, waste and sanitation services, energy, air quality, public health and more. In fact, they found that it provided benefit in some of these areas.

Due to the court case, the statement says, the agency will also assess the comfort station’s impact on several additional areas, including urban design and visual resources, natural resources, neighborhood character and hazardous materials. Tonight’s meeting is an opportunity for the public to comment on the scope of the study.

If you have thoughts about the comfort station and its impact on the community, whether for or against, attend tonight’s public hearing at the Shorefront YM-YWHA (3300 Coney Island Avenue) from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

UPDATE (3:06 p.m.): Moments after publishing this piece, the following flier landed in my inbox. Apparently this is being distributed around Oceana.

oceana2

 

Photo By Erica Sherman

Photo By Erica Sherman

Plumb Beach is considered one of the most vulnerable stretches of coastlines in the city, and the overall sand replenishment and long-term restoration effort undertaken by federal and city officials is being considered as a model for rehabilitating Sandy-devastated areas. NY1 is reporting on the progress and the specifics of Plumb Beach, an effort expected to be finished by the end of the year.

Previously, we reported on the Army Corps of Engineers work on Plumb Beach, noting that the first phase of the operation, which was sand replenishment, had been completed. Phase two involves the construction of two terminal groins and one offshore breakwater and the installation of 1.2 acres of beach grass. Army Corps engineer John Knight described the purpose of the stone groins to NY1.

“The eastern groin right there acts as a catch for sand movement along the beach, keeps the sand and the protection in place on the shoreline itself,” Knight said.

The report also described how, as work continues, the project is laying the foundation for other shore restoration projects needed following Sandy:

Officials say the work here needs to be replicated in Sandy-devastated areas.

“This was a success story. It’s a wonderful model for the type of work that we must do,” [Representative Hakeem] Jeffries said.

“It’s going to allow us to do this very similar work in the Rockaways, which we already started with 4 million cubic yards of sand that will be laid there, and very shortly after that, right here in Brooklyn’s Coney Island,” Jeffrey said.

To see video of the construction effort being undertaken by the Army Corps, click here.

Source: abegeorge2013.com

Former Manhattan prosecutor and Sheepshead Bay native Abe George dropped out of the race to become Brooklyn’s next District Attorney. The New York Times is reporting that George endorsed candidate Ken Thompson in hopes that a unified effort could take down Charles J. Hynes, whose office has been plagued with controversy in recent months.

Hynes, who is 78-years-old, has been serving as Brooklyn’s DA since 1990. Recently, he took heat for allowing CBS to film a reality show about his office. Critics charged that the show was going to give him undue free publicity in the heart of election season while also making public sensitive information regarding ongoing cases and investigations. Candidate Abe George went so far as to sue Hynes over the release of the show, charging that it represented nothing more than a glossy political ad, using political connections to make it happen.

Hynes has also taken criticism regarding the handling of sexual abuse cases in the ultra-Orthodox community. On our sister site, Bensonhurst Bean, we tracked a case where the DA’s office prosecuted a whistle-blower, Sam Kellner, who helped police bring down a prominent Jewish cantor who had political ties to the Hynes’ campaign. The case against Kellner is said to have fallen apart due to shoddy evidence and shady witnesses.

While George has fought hard to unseat Hynes, he is now stepping aside and throwing his support fully behind Thompson:

“Brooklyn can’t afford another four years of Joe Hynes, and I realize that in order to defeat Joe Hynes I must put Brooklyn ahead of my own ambitions,” he said. “Today, I am urging all of my supporters to back Ken Thompson for district attorney because together we can begin to clean up the mess Joe Hynes has created in Brooklyn.

“Ken is a man of integrity and justice who will fight to end the pattern of wrongful convictions and prosecutorial misconduct that has tainted the D.A.’s office.”

The Times noted that Thompson has proven to be a stronger candidate than George, citing his experience in high profile cases, his fundraising advantages and local political connections:

Mr. Thompson had already emerged as a more formidable candidate. He is a former federal prosecutor who returned to prominence in 2011 for his representation of Nafissatou Diallo, the hotel housekeeper who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn, then the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, of sexual assault.

Mr. Thompson has been a strong fund-raiser, with $502,000 in his coffers, trailing Mr. Hynes by about $86,000. And within the last month, Mr. Thompson won the backing of two Brooklyn members of Congress, Representatives Yvette D. Clarke and Hakeem Jeffries, and the city’s biggest union, Local 1199 S.E.I.U., which represents health care workers.

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries

At a community press briefing, Congressional Representative Hakeem Jeffries expressed concern that FEMA was treating disaster-stricken areas in New York as generic disaster zones, inconsiderate of New York’s unique circumstances, according to a report by the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

After Superstorm Sandy devastated much of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island late last October, FEMA distributed guidelines designed to prepare New Yorkers for future storms. According to Jeffries, many of these guidelines simply aren’t logical considering the reality of New York’s layout and community design. Jeffries argued that when it comes to legislating and preparing for future storms, that there would be a need for “New York solutions to New York problems.”

According to Jeffries, FEMA has recommended that homeowners in vulnerable areas elevate the foundations of their homes. This recommendation makes sense for houses located in areas where there is wide space between homes, but not for Brooklyn, where houses are crammed together. Jeffries argues that the foundation of one house cannot be altered without affecting the foundation of the houses next to it.

FEMA also recommended that homeowners in flood zones keep their basements unoccupied. Jeffries also slammed this recommendation as impractical.

“In New York, many homeowners either have relatives living in the basement, or rent out basement apartments so they can have more money to pay the mortgage,” the Daily Eagle reported Jeffries saying.

Instead of placing the burden entirely on homeowners to create costly protections for their homes, Jeffries called for new offshore barriers to prevent the flooding of beachfront lands. He also recommended that barriers be erected between separate bodies of water to limit the power of storm surges.

Source: Wikimedia Commons via Wikipedia

Congressmen Michael Grimm and Gregory Meeks were joined by colleagues Charles Rangel, Jerrold Nadler and Eliot Engle to introduce the Flood Victim Premium Relief Act 2013 (H.R. 960), a bill which aims to delay flood insurance hikes for Superstorm Sandy victims, according to a report by SI Live.

In a release issued by Congressman Grimm, the bill extends “the premium increase timeline for primary residences in areas that have been declared a federal disaster area after July 6, 2012 from 5 years to 8 years.”

Grimm expressed the importance this bill will play in helping homeowners make it through these tough times.

“If we allow flood premiums to increase on their current schedule, based on the new maps, homeowners are going to be in an impossible position of trying to both pay their mortgage as well as increased flood premiums that may rise over $10,000 in some cases. This situation will almost certainly lead to a surge in defaults and foreclosures and cost the taxpayers vast sums via the government’s exposure to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA. Allowing an extra three years to increase premiums will give both homeowners and localities time make smart, long term flood mitigation and rebuilding plans.”

The bill, a bipartisan effort, has received support from Congressman Hakeem Jeffries.

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