Archive for the tag 'kathy flynn'

Using emergency provisions, the New York City Department of Homeless Services has moved nearly 20 families into the Lyghthouse Inn, an alleged pay-by-hour hotel formerly known as the Windjammer Motel.

Neighbors sounded the alarm over the shelter at the Sheepshead Bay – Plumb Beach Civic Meeting October 7, alongside elected officials who criticized the agency for poor communication with the community.

The agency confirmed that the family-oriented shelter opened in early October, and 17 families with children are already moved in. It was carved out of the motel’s 3206 Emmons Avenue property, with a separate entrance through an unmarked door, and there are plans to house as many as 69 families at the location.

“Sheltering New York’s families with children is a collective responsibility to be shoulder by all. We hope that the community is compassionate and supportive as these families work toward rebuilding their lives,” an agency spokesperson said.

Neighbors at the meeting did indeed express compassion for the families, many of which are single mothers or victims of domestic violence. But they were critical of the agency’s lack of communication, and shared concerns about the families’ well-being alongside the hotel’s clients, as well as its proximity to another family shelter just one block away.

“You cannot attack the homeless, the people who are living in there because you’re an elitist or you think you’re hot stuff. That’s wrong. And after what we went through with Sandy, there’s no way in hell you can turn around and say ‘Make them homeless’ when half your neighbors were homeless,” said neighbor Barbara Berardelli.

The group did express concerns about the communication.

“All of a sudden on Thursday evening [October 2], about 5:30, 6 o’clock, big vans pulled up and they started dumping out vans and mattresses and cribs. The next day people were notified, about 4 o’clock, on Yom Kippur, when most offices were closed already, that the shelter was opening,” said civic president Kathy Flynn.

The agency said that elected officials and Community Board 15 were notified of the shelter’s opening as early as mid-September, about two weeks before work began.

But Councilman Chaim Deutsch told the group that it was only being discussed as a possibility, not a certainty.

“They told me nothing was set in stone [during a conference call with the department],” said Deutsch. “The next thing I know, I get a phone call saying, ‘We’re moving furniture in.’”

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein recounted much the same.

Establishing a homeless center is often a process spanning many months, including community feedback and Community Board review. However, the pols explained that the agency used an “Emergency Declaration” to expedite the process – which the agency confirmed it uses during times of “dire capacity needs.” That allows them to temporarily take over the space and do community approval later. The agency will still need to seek approval over the next six months or so, the pols said.

Both Weinstein and Deutsch said they look forward to learning more about the agency’s long-term plans.

Until then, they both remarked on the shelter’s less-than-stellar landlords.

“[When I heard about it,] first I went to the Lyghthouse around the corner. I had to wait in line because people were asking for rooms for two hours, three hours, four hours. So I had to wait in line just like everyone else,” said Deutsch.

“There’s safety issues, there’s security issues, there’s, I guess I’ll put in quotes, ‘patrons’ of the hotel,” said Weinstein. “There are issues that need to be addressed.”

In regards to safety, the agency noted that there will be 24/7 security, though declined to elaborate.

Both pols are looking forward to additional meetings with the agency to address those issues, including potential overcrowding concerns at the nearby elementary school, PS 52.

Still, they admitted there’s little they can do in the short term, especially as the city is in the midst of a homeless housing crisis.

“I believe there’s 57,000 individuals that are homeless. Eleven thousand families that need shelter. That’s a lot of people in New York City, so I accept that we have a responsibility to have a fair share in our community,” said Weinstein.

Photo by Erica Sherman

Locals are finally beginning to see the benefits of the Build it Back program after the de Blasio administration promised to ramp up its efforts last month, but remain cautiously optimistic as the program moves forward.

Residents hard hit by the storm stated at last week’s Sheepshead Bay – Plumb Beach Civic Association meeting that several people in the area have begun receiving reimbursements and construction agreements. The group’s president, Kathy Flynn, noted that her own application has moved forward and she has a meeting with her appointed design team this week, while others in the group relayed progress reports from their neighbors, including two who are in the post-design phase, and another whose home is in the process of being raised.

“They’re not the bad guys anymore,” Flynn said before the group. Still, Flynn noted that, although there appear to be improvements, they’re taking a wait-and-see approach toward the program.

It’s a stark contrast in tone from several months ago, when frustrated residents tore into city officials for the lack of progress or clarity on the situation. At one point, members of the group chastised a Department of Buildings liaison who came to speak about new zoning regulations in the wake of Sandy, but ended up serving as a proxy target on which to vent Build it Back frustrations.

Progress isn’t just being seen in our neck of the woods. City & State reported on Thursday that 61 construction projects are underway with Build it Back funding, and 254 reimbursement checks totaling $4 million have been disbursed. Additionally, 10,309 homes have been inspected, 4,808 people have had an “option review meeting,” and 1,872 applicants are ready to move forward with the program.

It still falls far short of the approximately 20,000 applicants to the program, but it represents significant strides from where the program was in March. At that time, only six construction projects were underway, and only $100,000 in reimbursement checks had been mailed.

De Blasio promised an overhaul of the program upon appointing a new director, Amy Peterson. That announcement was followed by the release of an internal report on Sandy recovery, which recommended getting 500 construction projects underway and 500 checks in the mail by the end of the summer. De Blasio said at the time that he would seek to meet the report’s goals.

Are you a Build it Back applicant? Are you seeing better results since Peterson’s appointment? Share your experiences in the comments section.

Source: Andre R. Aragon / FEMA.gov

The Department of Sanitation (DSNY) stopped hauling away large debris and garbage resulting from Superstorm Sandy on March 18, roughly five months after the storm paralyzed the East Coast. Despite the extra months of work, valiant Sanitation workers put in by trucking away huge pieces of junk from people’s battered homes, residents in the area are still in need of their services, according to Brooklyn Daily.

So far, DSNY has carted away a staggering 430,000 tons of Sandy-related debris. According to Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein and Councilman Lew Fidler, residents are still in desperate need of pickups because they cannot afford expensive private garbage haulers to take away their debris as construction continues.

Sheepshead Bay resident Kathleen Flynn expressed her frustration at the situation.

“We don’t own anything anymore, only the garbage we’re trying to throw out, and now they’re telling us we have to pay to get rid of it.”

Michael Taylor, the founder of Gerritsen Beach Cares, spoke of the consequences of debris that doesn’t get collected.

“I have friends who have stuff in their basement that’s full of mold, and but [sic] he won’t get rid of because he doesn’t have the money to afford a dumpster [sic].”

Fidler promised residents that he and Weinstein will do everything they can to get the DSNY to initiate another round of debris pickups.

“My office and assemblywoman Weinstein’s office reached out to [Sanitation] to continue extra pick-up services. We do not view the rebuilding to be done, the demolition to be done, nor the crisis to be over,” Fidler told Brooklyn Daily.

While the New York City Department of Transportation reconsiders the community’s request for increased traffic safety measures at the intersection of Emmons Avenue and Bedford Avenue for the umpteenth time, yet another accident occurred over the weekend.

Reader and Sheepshead Bay / Plumb Beach Civic Association member Tom Paolillo sent us the photos and the following:

Sunday morning, September 9th 2012….awakened by BANG..the sound of crunching metal and screeching skidding tires….this time the occupants of the small Toyota were injured when they were hit broadside by the van…The Toyota obviously could not see the approaching van while attempting to turn left onto to Bedford Ave.

A picture is worth a thousand words…

Indeed.

The Sheepshead Bay / Plumb Beach Civic Association has been demanding safety improvements to the intersection for several years. Most recently, they renewed their calls at their meeting last week, saying the site needs a left turn signal on the eastbound side of Emmons Avenue, and daylighting – a setback of parking to improve visibility – on the median.

Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo put a new request in to DOT last week, but the agency has denied similar requests for the location multiple times before.

The scene of an April 2011 accident on Bedford Avenue and Emmons Avenue.

Community Board 15 sent a request to the Department of Transportation yesterday, seeking a left turn signal and daylighting at the accident-prone intersection of Emmons Avenue and Bedford Avenue.

The corner, as we reported yesterday, is the site of frequent collisions, according to residents. Cars making a left from eastbound Emmons Avenue onto Bedford Avenue are forced to make a blind turn, as parked cars along the median block the view. We’ve reported on several accidents at the intersection.

The request went in after yet another accident this weekend, spurring members of the Sheepshead Bay / Plumb Beach Civic Association to renew their calls for the turn signal and daylighting, a safety measure that sets parking back several feet in order to increase visibility for oncoming traffic.

But Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo said that residents shouldn’t hold their breaths for DOT action.

“How many times have we requested this? This is not the first time we’ve requested this,” Scavo said. “Every now and then we get a call, ‘We need a left turn signal there.’ Fine. But we put in this request several times and it’s always been rejected.”

Scavo added that it can take up to four months for the agency to make their determination. DOT inspectors visit the site and count the number of vehicles making the left turn, as well as look at the intersection’s accident history, and take action dependent on internal criteria.

That leaves residents with little recourse for action, except repeating their request every few months.

“There’s nothing that [neighbors] can do. DOT goes there and does the study. If there is not a certain percentage of cars making that left, they wont do it,” Scavo said. “It doesn’t matter how many people they get letters from, it’s a DOT study and they have criteria and if it’s not there it’s not there.”

Following another car accident at the intersection of Emmons Avenue and Bedford Avenue, neighbors are renewing their calls for improved traffic safety measures before someone loses their life.

On Sunday, September 2, two cars collided as an eastbound vehicle traveling on Emmons Avenue sought to turn up Bedford Avenue, and a westbound car slammed into it. No one was seriously injured, but at least one group is saying it’s an ongoing problem.

“Vehicles driving east on Emmons that need to turn north onto Bedford will find it impossible to see cars traveling west on Emmons. Then, ‘WHAM….CRASH,’” said Sheepshead Bay / Plumb Beach Civic Association member Tom Paolillo, who told Sheepshead Bites about the accident and sent in the accompanying photo. “It is a regular occurrence.”

Paolillo said the corner needs a turn signal and a “No Parking Anytime” setback to prevent cars from parking at the end of the median so that oncoming cars can be seen during a turn.

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THE COMMUTE: Ned heard my name for the first time when I emailed him in March 2010 with my testimony opposing the Brooklyn bus service cuts at the public hearing held in the Brooklyn Museum of Art. That was shortly after I discovered Sheepshead Bites. He quoted a significant portion of my testimony for a story and ultimately asked me to become a regular contributor. At that hearing, I was the only person who spoke out against the B4’s proposed elimination, at all times, east of Coney Island Hospital.

Find out what we can learn from our fight for the B4.

It's (going to be) back! Victory! (Photo by Allan Rosen)

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: After petitions, public workshops and letters from local officials, the MTA will announce today that the B4 bus line will be fully restored by January 2013.

The fate of the line, which had weekend and off-peak service axed in 2010 east of Ocean Parkway, was unclear earlier this week, when Sheepshead Bites reported that the agency was considering major improvements across the borough. But local leaders told Sheepshead Bites that MTA officials informed them this morning that the agencies plan to announce that the B4, as well as other diminished lines across Southern Brooklyn, will see full or partial restorations.

The B4′s restoration already has locals elated, including members of the Sheepshead Bay – Plumb Beach Civic Association, which collected more than 2,000 signatures to a petition demanding the agency bring back the line to Emmons Avenue, Shore Parkway and Knapp Street.

“I am just so glad. Everybody is going to be so thrilled,” said Kathy Flynn, president of the SBPB Civic, upon hearing the news. “This is going to help everyone who has to go to the hospital, the clinic, the businesses, anyone who has to visit, as well as the disabled in the area. People who commute to Manhattan every day, they only have to take one bus to the station. It’s going to save a lot of people a lot of time and a lot of stress.”

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File:Bob Turner, official portrait, 112th Congress.jpgThe following is a press release from Congressman Bob Turner:

Congressman Bob Turner (NY-09) applauded the signing of a partnership-agreement between the Army Corps of Engineers and the New York City Parks Department today to begin a Storm Risk Reduction project at Plumb Beach in Brooklyn, NY.

“Given Plumb Beach’s extremely close proximity to the Belt Parkway, there is a critical infrastructure concern. This agreement will provide much needed resources to ensure the stability and safety of a major highway,” Congressman Turner said.

Now that the agreement has been approved by the Army Corps, it now moves to the City Parks Department for approval. The project would include two phases. The first phase of the project, which has been in the planning phase for several years, calls for sand replenishment from the dredging of Ambrose Channel. The second phase will entail stone placement and jetties to protect the area from storms.

“Many advocates and officials have worked to get movement on this project for quite some time. Since taking office in September I have been able to work with Col. John R. Boule, District Commander of the New York District Army Corps of Engineers, and the City of New York to help push the project forward,” Turner said. “I will continue to work with federal and local officials to complete this important project.”

Turner has met with the Army Corp of Engineers multiple times, both in Washington, D.C. and his district office in New York. The meetings included at length discussions about the Plumb Beach project. The Congressman has been a staunch advocate for this project and the importance of infrastructure improvement throughout his district.

“After visiting Plumb Beach and surveying the damage first hand less than two years ago, I’m very pleased we’re moving forward with construction of this critical coastal storm risk reduction project,” said Col. John R. Boulé, Commander, New York District. “This project is an excellent example of partnership between the federal government and New York City Parks. When complete it will reduce the vulnerability of the Belt Parkway to erosion and weather events for years to come.”

Kathleen Flynn, President of the Sheepshead Bay-Plumb Beach Civic Association stated, “This is great news for all of Brooklyn, but especially for Sheepshead Bay-Plumb Beach. We are pleased that the federal and city governments realize the importance of this project and are working with one another to move forward.”

Source: Jaszek Photography via Flickr

A local advocate is proposing a marked bike lane on Emmons Avenue to make cycling on the busy stretch safer. The only problem is community leaders don’t care one iota for the plan.

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