Archive for the tag 'helene weinstein'

loehmanns

Bullet Points” is our format for Community Board 15 meeting coverage, providing takeaways we think are important. Information in Bullet Points is meant only to be a quick summary, and some issues may be more deeply explored in future articles.

Loehmann’s expansion postponed: An expected vote on an application to expand Loehmann’s Seaport Plaza (2027 Emmons Avenue) was tabled by Community Board 15 at their meeting this Tuesday to allow hearings and public input throughout the summer.

The Board was scheduled to vote on the proposal, which seeks to add an additional floor of office space totaling 10,000 square feet to the building. As the first item on the agenda, the Board’s Zoning Committee chairperson, Ronnie Tawil, made a motion to table the item until the group’s next meeting in September.

“Since this property is at the centerpiece of Sheepshead Bay and is of such high significance for the entire area, I’m of the mind that we should table this matter so that we can have more public hearings and more opportunities to discuss the ramifications of this particular application,” he said before the Board.

Normally, postponing such a hearing before the summer could open the door for an end-run around the Board. The group’s recommendation is advisory, and is requested to come within 60 days before the landlord’s appearance before the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA), which has final say. If the Community Board tables a motion, it could forfeit its right to provide input.

However, the group’s chairperson Theresa Scavo said that won’t happen in this case. She met with the landlord’s attorney, Eric Palatnik, who frequently comes before the group on zoning matter and requested that he postpone the appearance before the BSA so that public hearings can be organized. He agreed, and has frozen the application, Scavo said.

“I’m asking him not to go ahead without us, he said he would not, and everything is put on hold. He’s giving it until September,” said Scavo.

Public hearings are expected to be scheduled in July or August by Councilman Deutsch’s office in conjunction with local groups like the Sheepshead Bay – Plumb Beach Civic Association. The item will be back for a vote before the Board in September.

As Sheepshead Bites first reported in March, the landlord is planning to add a new floor of commercial offices. Because it falls outside of the special zoning district‘s permitted uses, and the building is already subject to a variance, the BSA must review and approve the project.

Its initial construction was a lightning rod for community activists in the 1990s, when many locals mobilized to stop it from being built. It succeeded in going forward, and many credit the development as being the death of the special zoning district.

“It’s the same thing all over again. The use exceeds the zoning by 800 percent. It was granted specifically for Loehmann’s and Loehmann’s went out [of business]. So that’s it. Unbelievable,” said Steve Barrison when he learned the news in March. “We’re talking about a special district. We’re talking about the waterfront. We’re not talking about any where else in the community. It’s disgusting.”

Zoning items:

  • 1112 Gilmore Court - The board voted 28-to-5 to approve an application for a special permit to allow the enlargement of a single family dwelling. The landlord is seeking to upgrade a one-story bungalow into a two-family house, saying he needs more space for his family and needs the second unit to cover the costs of construction. The construction will not result in decreased side yards, as they plan to build back into the rear yard and to increase the front yard space.

Elected officials:

  • Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein briefed the Board on the end of the legislative session, specifically touting her record of domestic violence initiatives. She added that her bill on special education placements did not pass, but that was in fact good news since a deal had been negotiated with Mayor Bill de Blasio to initiate the changes at the Department of Education anyway.

Other notable information:

  • A motion by newly appointed boardmember Ed Jaworski, also the president of the Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association, was rejected. The motion was to approve a resolution of “no confidence” in the Board of Standards and Appeals, which he said has been effectively upzoning neighborhoods on a lot-by-lot basis by rubber stamping special applications for variances that come before it. In the coming days, the BSA will lose its current chairperson to term limits, and Jaworski hoped to send a message that would result in an appointee he would consider more inclined to listen to local communities. The Board ultimately rejected the motion after choosing not to table it, with members saying that it would “disenfranchise the relationship we’ve built over time,” and that there were other ways to weigh in on the selection of a new BSA chairperson.
  • The Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, through their partnership with the Family Justice Center, informed the area that they are establishing walk-in centers in every borough for domestic violence victims. The centers have free attorneys, social workers, children’s counselors and more on-site, and it’s open to all regardless of gender or immigration status. Community Board 15 is ranked 39th citywide in domestic violence calls, roughly in the middle of all communities.
  • The Department of City Planning announced the launch of the Southern Brooklyn Resilient Neighborhood Study, a two-year plan to examine the Sheepshead Bay area (specifically Plumb Beach and Gerritsen Beach) to identify strategies to strengthen the area from future storms. Some attendees complained that the new study doesn’t help with ongoing issues with Build it Back, FEMA or other agencies, and is yet another in a long line of studies and initiatives that they feel are not moving forward.
  • The Board welcomed the appointment of five new members, at least two of which were not in attendance, and at least one of which has never been seen at Board meetings previously. Board appointments are made by the borough president, often at the recommendation of local Council members.
  • Doreen Garson, representing the local CERT team, noted that the Office of Emergency Management has issued new evacuation maps and a related website.
  • A representative for Councilman Mark Treyger announced that his office would hold an unclaimed funds event from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at their 2014 Stillwell Avenue office on July 10. You will be able to search state databases for funds owed that you may have forgotten about or lost track of.
  • The Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach branches of the Brooklyn Public Library will participate in the Department of Education’s summer meals programming, offering kids free lunch during the day, beginning on June 27.
  • The July 4 holiday is a Friday. There will be no recycling picked up that day, but garbage may be put to the curb. Alternate side parking will be suspended.
  • The Department of Consumer Affairs asked the Board for input on the installation of bumper cars at Land o’ Fun at 2955 Coney Island Avenue. The Board voted to recommend its approval.

boats

More than 18 months after the storm, 10 twisted, tattered vessels were finally removed from a city-owned Knapp Street lot after being dumped ashore by Superstorm Sandy and abandoned by their owners.

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein’s office tipped us off to the removal operations, which took place on Tuesday. Here’s the statement from their office:

Assemblywoman Weinstein, after months of exhaustive communication with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Sanitation, is ecstatic that the agencies were able to collaborate in order to remove ten (10) derelict boats in the empty lot at 2501 Knapp Street.

The boats, which washed ashore during Superstorm Sandy, were never claimed by their owners and have since become a dumping site and a persistent eyesore. After constituents complained, the Assemblywoman observed the boats, which sat on city owned property, and immediately started negotiations to ascertain who was responsible. The Sanitation Department was able to visit and clear the site on June 10th.

Weinstein

A new report co-authored by Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein and State Senator Jeff Klein indicates that nearly 30,000 homeowners in New York City are at risk of losing their properties to foreclosure, and the pair are now demanding their colleagues pick up the fight to extend a slew of homeowner protections slated to expire next year.

The homes suffering foreclosures – disproportionately located in minority communities, like those in the Flatlands section of Weinstein’s district – represent a continuing uptick in New York City’s foreclosure rates while the national rate continues its recovery from the 2007 housing crisis, according to the report.

The battles that ensue when homeowners fall behind on their mortgage payments, sometimes because of extenuating circumstances like loss of a job or unexpected medical bills, can see a resident’s assets ripped away by unmovable, monolithic banks.

But legislation first passed in 2009 gave some protection. The bill requires banks sit down with clients and try to hammer out a settlement before any foreclosure actions are taken. It also requires lenders provide notice of foreclosure, and other foreclosure mitigation efforts. The protections aren’t just a salve for that particular homeowner, but for entire communities that see property values plummet amid high foreclosure rates.

“For far too long homeowners have fallen victim to lenders who exploit loopholes and evade our state’s foreclosure filing laws, leaving homeowners stranded with fees and interest racking up and little hope of modifying their loans,” said Weinstein in a press release. “The mandatory settlement conference and 90-day notice provisions for all home loans along with the requirement for banks to negotiate in good faith are critical protections for borrowers at risk of losing their homes.”

That bill, though, is slated to expire in February 2015.

Weinstein is working with Klein, part of the Senate’s leadership coalition, to extend the protections. The bill must pass before the end of the legislative session this month. It passed the Assembly last week, and is now before the State Senate’s Judiciary Committee.

“Extending these expiring provisions is essential to allow homeowners regain their footing and to give them a fair chance at negotiating mortgage loan modifications so they may stay in their homes,” Weinstein said.

Source: Weinstein's office

Source: Weinstein’s office

The following is an unaltered press release from the offices of Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein:

Thanks to Assemblywoman Weinstein, Students at P.S. 52 learning about the Holocaust and World War II during the month of May, heard personal stories of survival from local Holocaust survivors.

Contrasted with school Holocaust curriculums, the program brought members of New York Association of Holocaust Survivors to present first-person and intimate portraits of the adversities they had to overcome in order to survive. Students had plenty of questions for their guests – most, decorated Russian War Veterans – and were shocked to learn that the survivors had been close to their age when they suffered the described hardships and losses.

“There is little doubt that we are getting dangerously close to a time when we will be unable to hear these stories from the individuals who experienced them,” said Assemblywoman Weinstein. “These students need to hear these heartbreaking accounts of survival in the face of baseless hatred and violence so we can make good on our promise to ‘Never Forget’. I will continue to work with the NYS Association of Holocaust Survivors to bring this crucial program to other area schools.”

weinstein

The following is a press release from the offices of Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein:

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein has been visiting schools to publicize the expansion of the Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) program and the April 23rd enrollment deadline.

The Assemblywoman fought strongly for the expansion, with $300 million in the recently enacted 2014-15 State Budget potentially allowing for all NYC children turning 4 in 2014 with free Pre-K education if enrolled in time. Half day and full day programs will be available at Public schools and Community based organizations.

The Assemblywoman read to students enrolled in the UPK program at PS 197. The administration and teachers at the school voiced excitement about the expansion.

“Studies are showing how vital Pre-K education is for the healthy growth of a child as they head on to Kindergarten and primary school,” said PS 197 Principal Rosemarie Nicoletti. “The expansion of this program will help us reach so many more children and I thank Assemblywoman Weinstein for her continued commitment to serving the needs of her youngest constituents.”

“As successful as we were in Albany in securing this funding, the real success of this program will depend on how many children enroll,” said the Assemblywoman. “I urge parents of eligible children to apply before we hit the deadline on April 23rd.”

Parents can enroll online or by calling or visiting the Brooklyn enrollment center at 131 Livingston Street (718-935-4908). The office will be open from 8 am – 7 pm on the following dates: April 8 – 9, April 15 – 16, and April 22 – 23.

nypd-appreciation-1

Members of the community gathered to recognize the efforts of the officers of the NYPD’s Brooklyn Borough South, 60th Precinct, 61st Precinct and 62nd Precinct and the FDNY at the Be Proud Foundation’s annual appreciation luncheon on Friday.

“We’re so happy to share with you this celebration of those who keep us safe,” said Be Proud Foundation Executive Director Raisa Chernina, who noted that it’s also the 10th anniversary of the community booster organization. “I’m so happy to do this for you,” she said to the approximately 20 local officers attending the event.

It’s the eighth year of the event, and was held at the newly opened Signature Restaurant at 2007 Emmons Avenue. Officers were treated to lunch and a live musical performance by Nutsa, a well-known Georgian performer, as well as a barrage of praise from local elected officials.

“I’m so very thankful to see all our defenders, who we’re so grateful for keeping us safe every night,” said Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, who emceed the luncheon. “We need to build upon the institution of the Community Affairs officers if we want to build a relationship between community and police.”

The event drew other elected officials, including Councilman-elect Chaim Deutsch, Comptroller John Liu, Assemblyman Alan Maisel and representatives for Councilman Lew Fidler, Congressman Michael Grimm, and Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein.

A member of the Be Proud Foundation’s board also offered a touching thank you, describing how a family member had fallen in with a bad crowd and became addicted to drugs. With the help of officers from the 60th Precinct’s Community Affairs Unit, the family member is now in rehabilitation and on the right path.

The officers in attendance said they were thankful for the show of support.

“We appreciate things like this,” said Inspector Schell, a former commander at the 60th Precinct who now works out of Brooklyn South. “It’s a sign that our work is beneficial and you like the cops. We’re here to serve you.”

View photos from the event.

Source: brooklynpubliclibrary.org

Source: brooklynpubliclibrary.org

Libraries play a huge role for Brooklyn residents, serving as both educational and cultural centers. Now they’re taking on an even larger role , as the Kings Highway library branch (2115 Ocean Avenue) has opened its expanded passport center, the second such center in the entire Brooklyn Public Library System.

While residents can still apply for passports at their local post office, the library passport center can avoid the long lines and get more personal service at the Kings Highway branch. It’s the first expansion of the passport program that began at the Central library on Eastern Parkway, which opened in May 2011 and has already processed 21,000 passport applications and 7,000 photos.

Linda Johnson, the president of the Brooklyn Public Library, hailed  opening of the passport application center at Kings Highway library as a vital addition to the immigrant community.

“With the opening of our new Passport Application Acceptance Facility at Kings Highway Library, it is easier than ever before for South[ern] Brooklynites and new immigrants to obtain passports. Since more than 37 percent of Brooklyn’s residents are foreign born, there is incredible demand for this service. We are proud to provide this important resource to the community and look forward to helping thousands of people begin their travels,” Johnson said in the release.

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein pointed out that the addition of passport services at the Kings Highway library will be a boon for seniors.

“As a legislator representing a district with one of the largest concentrations of senior citizens, I want to thank the U.S. Department of State for recognizing the needs of both the elderly and people with disabilities. The choice of a site so central and convenient to the Southern Brooklyn community will save time and stress for the many, who before, had to endure great difficulty to secure this vital document. I thank the Department of State on behalf of my constituency,” Weinstein said.

The release broke down the hours of operation for the Passport Application Acceptance Facility and some of its key features:

Hours are temporarily set for 10 AM to 3 PM Monday through Friday and Sunday by appointment. Saturdays are currently closed until further notice. To make an appointment, call 718-230-2292 or 718-375-3037 ext. 128…

The new facility includes:

  • Five agents with room for two seated applicants
  • A paging system to allow those waiting to browse the Library
  • Passport pictures
  • Document copying
  • Accessibility for people with disabilities.

Protesters surrounded the office of Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein (3520 Nostrand Avenue), claiming she is an opponent of the rights of adult adoptees. According to Adoption Birth Mothers, an adoption-based blog, the protesters were arguing for the right to have access to their child birth certificates.

Under current New York law, birth records for adopted children are sealed from original parents, the adopting parents and the adoptees. Opponents of the law argue that being denied original birth certificate records constitutes a discriminatory practice by the government and violates their civil rights. The video below presents the position of Claudia Corrigan D’Arcy, an advocate for securing adoptee rights.

According to the protesters, Weinstein, chair of the Judiciary Committee, has long opposed the Adoptee Rights Bill, preventing it from reaching the Assembly floor for a vote. For more information on the history and cause of the proponents of the Adoptee Rights Bill, click here.

Source: assembly.state.ny.us

Source: assembly.state.ny.us

New York State Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein is hoping voters will approve a law that extends the required retirement ages of  judges past 70 years old. The Brooklyn Daily Eagle is reporting that Weinstein and other advocates believe that the current law is outdated and doesn’t account for advances made in health care.

The current law requires that appointed New York State judges must retire at 70 years old. They can apply for three two-year extensions that allow them to keep serving until 76 years old as long as they have no pressing mental or physical disabilities. Judges who are elected face no mandatory retirement age.

Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Barry Kamins expressed his opinion that the law ought to be changed.

“The current requirement that certain judges must retire at 70 and others at 76 is an outdated rule that was created at a time when the life expectancy of the population was much lower than it is today,” Kamins told the Daily Eagle. “We have experienced and enthusiastic judges who are eager to remain on the bench and who could contribute so much to the court system. They should not be forced to retire because of a rule that has no relevancy in the 21st century.”

The Daily Eagle cited statistics that do indeed show that people are living longer and healthier lives:

With advancements in medical technology and an awareness of  diet and exercise, people are living longer lives. A report issued by the World Health Organization estimates that the life expectancy for individuals in high-income countries, such as the United States, is 80 years of age.  United States Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired from the bench at the age of 90, mused to a Washington reporter that he “may have jumped the gun a little bit.”

This past January, Weinstein introduced an amendment called, “Increasing Age Until Which Certain State Judges Can Serve,” which would extend the required retirement age to 80-years-old for Court of Appeals judges. It would also allow state Supreme Court judges five two-year extensions past the age of 70.

Voters will have a chance in the November election to decide whether to extend the retirement age for state judges.

Congressional reps of Sandy-hit areas are looking to reform a law that prohibits FEMA from providing emergency relief to owners of condos and c0-ops. The New York Times is reporting that federal lawmakers are forging a bipartisan effort to bring help to condo and co-op owners swamped with bills as a result of Superstorm Sandy.

In June , we reported that Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein introduced a resolution that called on Congress to change the law which bars FEMA from helping condo and co-op owners.  Weinstein explained how the law in question, known as the StaffordAct, operates:

While nothing prohibits these co-ops from applying for aid, the Stafford Act, a Federal law last amended in 1988, considers co-op boards not-for-profit businesses. Therefore, aid cannot be applied to common spaces – like garages and laundry rooms – nor can it be applied to the walls and floors in apartments, because, according to bylaws, these spaces belong to and are the Coop’s responsibility.

Weinstein’s resolution to urge Congress in this matter passed unanimously in the New York State Assembly. Perhaps as a result of Weinstein’s call to attention, members of Congress are now pushing to change the Stafford Act, calling it discriminatory against condo and co-op owners.

The Times further described what the problems facing condo and c0-op owners and what the passage of the bill would change:

Co-ops were most affected because of their unique form of ownership, in which tenants own shares in a building. While condo owners can get federal assistance to fix walls and floors in their individual units, owners of co-ops cannot, because their apartments’ walls and floors are usually the legal responsibility of the building.

The bill would make condos and residential cooperatives eligible for FEMA assistance by adding them to the Stafford Act. The bill would remove the $30,000 cap in aid for co-op and condo associations but does not impose a new one, stating that it would need “to be determined by the rule-making process.”

Backers of the proposed legislation include Democrat Steve Israel and Republican Peter King. Israel acknowledged that while changing the rule will be difficult, it is the fair thing to do.

“We have a lot of educating to do,” Israel told the Times. “There will be many members of Congress that would say, ‘I don’t have co-ops in my district; why should I support this?’ My response would be, I don’t have tornadoes, but I support your assistance.”

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