Archive for the tag 'manhattan beach community group'

Photo by Allan Shweky via screwedontheboardwalk.com

Photo by Allan Shweky

Residents of Manhattan Beach weren’t the only ones affected by Superstorm Sandy in that area. Jonathan Pywell, the director of forestry for New York City Parks Department, told community members during a meeting held by the Manhattan Beach Community Group that many of the trees in their area were going to be removed because of damages they sustained during the storm.

“The trees here were devastated,” Pywell said. He then explained that after the storm they had inspected the area and decided to remove 250 trees. “And it sounds like a lot. Well, it is.”

Sandy’s surge doused all of Manhattan Beach, and while many recall the word “surge” as the point of destruction, for the trees in the neighborhood the true damage happened after. As the water seeped into the soil, the salt went to work on the roots, killing much of them. Pywell and his team of six (and only six) use a percentage scale to determine how thorough the damage is. Anything below 50 percent is considered likely to die, at which point the tree has to be removed.

“We’re trying to find a balance between saving trees and public safety,” Pywell told the community members, explaining that once a tree dies there’s a chance of it coming down on people and property. “The reality is there’s a fine line we have to travel.”

The residents in the audience had no doubt witnessed tree removals in the area since the removal process picked up the pace a few months ago. Out of the 250 trees that were slated for removal – using a roofing nail to indicate the unlucky trees – 75 have already been removed. The 180 that are left will be removed over the course of the year.

But the news isn’t all bad. Pywell told Sheepshead Bites that because of all the rain and snow over the winter season, some of the salt left behind by the storm is being washed away.

“What we’re finding is the sites we sampled have less salt,” he said. Just how extensive this reduction may be is still unclear. Pywell and his team will have to first conduct another inspection of the area (as well as other areas in Brooklyn, as his team serves the entire borough) before he will know for sure how much salt has been removed.

Many residents were concerned that the removal of so many trees would leave the neighborhood barren and ugly. But Pywell explained that they are working on replacing the trees in the area. And the city is also still giving away trees for free. And as the city and Pywell begin to replace the trees, they plant with the idea that another storm will come.

“Diversity is important for resiliency,” he said and explained that the majority of the trees in the area were London Plain trees, a type that is especially vulnerable to salt water. And so he said that the city would replace removed trees with ones that can deal with “wet feet,” or a mild exposure to salt water.

“This area could potentially flood again,” he said. “I know you don’t want to hear that.”

A Manhattan Beach tree, felled by Superstorm Sandy. Photo by Edmond Dweck

A Manhattan Beach tree, felled by Superstorm Sandy. Photo by Edmond D.

The next meeting of the Manhattan Beach Community Group (MBCG) will be March 19 at 8:00 p.m. inside Public School 195, 131 Irwin Street at Hampton Avenue.

The topic of the meeting will be “Why Manhattan Beach Isn’t Beautiful Anymore,” and will feature a discussion on the destruction by Superstorm Sandy of the neighborhood’s trees. The director of the Brooklyn Parks Department of Forestry Unit will address the issues of tree stumps, removal of trees, tree replacements, and when the trees will be replaced.

Also included on the agenda will be an update of how much of the almost 20 million dollars of NY Rising monies may be allotted to Manhattan Beach.

The MBCG encourages members of the community to attend and participate in their monthly civic meetings. For more, contact MBCG at (718) 200-1845 or manhattanbeachbrooklyn.org@gmail.com, or visit www.manhattanbeachbrooklyn.org.

KCC

Administrators at Kingsborough Community College (2001 Oriental Boulevard) are considering playing driver education videos on screens throughout the campus, in response to concerns from Manhattan Beach residents about reckless driving.

The announcement came from Councilman Chaim Deutsch during a recent Manhattan Beach Community Group meeting, saying that the school – whose traffic has long been a thorn in residents’ sides – affirmed during a meeting with him that they would play the videos.

Deutsch explained how he met with the school’s president to discuss the possibility of broadcasting videos that would promote safe driving, such as coming to a full stop a stop signs and always look for pedestrians.

“They agreed,” he concluded to a crowd of applause.

A spokesperson for Kingsborough, though, said that they had only agreed to look into the matter.

“We’re not doing that yet,” said Ruby Ryles, Kingsborough’s spokesperson. “It’s a matter of looking into it and evaluating the viability of it.”

Ryles noted that the school already promotes safe driving by sending emails to the student body about driving techniques.

“Kingsborough has always promoted safe driving and being a good neighbor,” Ryles said.

Deutsch, though, said he was left with an entirely different message when the meeting ended.

“I left the meeting thinking they were going to do it,” he said. “We’re all common sense people. I don’t see this being a big deal. I’m very confident that this will happen.”

Deutsch also noted that he wasn’t “singling out Kingsborough students,” but wanted to raise car safety awareness throughout the area and broadcasting videos in the school is one way of doing that.

The Manhattan Beach esplanade the day after Superstorm Sandy.

Residents of Manhattan Beach were left with more questions than answers after a meeting last night with a FEMA spokesperson that was meant to help people understand the mystifying world of federal disaster aid. The meeting was held by the Manhattan Beach Community Group where residents were invited to question FEMA about the recovery process and new programs to aid Superstorm Sandy victims.

“We keep trying to get someone [from FEMA] who can answer our questions,” said Bernice Fleischer, vice president of the community group. “And I’m afraid tonight was less than satisfactory.”

FEMA agent Corinne Azrak, who deals with external affairs for the agency, came to the meeting in an attempt to answer questions people had about Superstorm Sandy aid. But she prefaced her answers by explaining the limitations of FEMA.

“We’re a disaster response agency. Our job is to get the community back to the way it was before it got hit,” Azrak said. So they can’t do things like build a levy, yet most attendees were concerned with such preventative issues.

This wasn’t the first time that the MBCG invited a representative from a disaster aid program. Last month a member from NY Rising, a state program that funnels money to local communities for resiliency and recovery effots, became the object of frustration because of how slow moving the process was taking.

One member of the community asked if FEMA could give the city and state government advice since they were the ones on the ground witnessing the damages. One example was given about the construction that was done on Manhattan Beach’s esplanade to raise it by four feet. Other members piped in and said that they thought it was dangerous to have such a high esplanade because if another storm like Sandy hits, the concrete might be dislodged and move inshore where it could become a hazard.

“It’s a city issue,” Azrak said. “We can’t tell the city how to run the emergency plans.”

But on the subject of FEMA meeting with different entitie,s like the Army Corps of Engineers, and members of the city government, Azrak said, “I’m sure they have those high level meetings somewhere. I’ve just never been privy to them.”

Community members soon discovered what Azrak meant when she prefaced her talk by explaining the limitations of FEMA. With most issues that were asked, Azrak responded that it was some other entity’s responsibility.

But one question Azrak was able to answer was about how FEMA decides on the amount of money individual homes receive. One community member asked why is it that two neighboring houses that have seemingly identical damages can receive very different amounts of aid money.

“It is a case by case basis,” Azrak explained. So while the damages may seem identical, there might be a problem with one house’s boiler while the neighboring house’s boiler remained unscathed.

Another reason for disparities in aid is because FEMA only pays to repair “habitable areas.” If a house has two bedrooms but only one of the bedrooms is in use, they won’t pay for the vacant room.

The person who asked the question wasn’t satisfied with this response.

“It all seems to be very subjective and arbitrary,” he said.

Many members were also worried about the mandatory flood insurance requirements, slated for 2015 when the new flood maps will take effect.

One man said that FEMA had given him a quote that would have given him more money than his own private insurance.

“It seems to me that your agency will pay me more than my insurance,” he said. “What seems to be the reality is my taxes will go up. My mortgage will go up but aid” from his insurance will go down.

Fleischer, the vice-president, thanked Azrak for coming, but noted, “This is a very frustrated community.”

Members of Manhattan Beach Community Group weren’t the only ones frustrated by FEMA’s lackluster response at local meetings. During a Marine Park Civic Association meeting last week, attendees became frustrated with the FEMA representative that had come to that meeting to answer questions. The group’s president, Jim Ivaliotis, wrote an apology to group members in their latest newsletter.

“It seems FEMA left us with more questions than answers,” he wrote. “Despite our coordinated efforts with them, things did not go as planned.”

sb_fema

Source: Facebook

A representative from FEMA will be on hand to answer questions at the next meeting of the Manhattan Beach Community Group (MBCG), February 26, 8:00 p.m. at Public School 195, 131 Irwin Street at Hampton Avenue.

If you want to know about flood insurance premiums, why some received more FEMA money than others, what FEMA “flood elevation planes” are, and how do they affect future flood insurance premiums, then this is a meeting you won’t want to miss.

The MBCG encourages members of the community to attend and participate in their monthly civic meetings. For more, contact MBCG at (718) 200-1845 or manhattanbeachbrooklyn.org@gmail.com, or visit www.manhattanbeachbrooklyn.org.

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Staten Island after the Hurricane Sandy
(Source: Flickr photo by Desiree Arroyo)

Build it Back, the city-run program to assist property owners in their recovery from Superstorm Sandy, has so far failed to help any of the 19,920 homeowners who have signed up for assistance, according to an analysis by Alliance for a Just Rebuilding.

Build it Back was created to supply cash to single-family and multi-family homeowners in need of repairs or reimbursement. Registration for the program started in July 2013 and closed in October. And since then families have either waited to no avail or have gone on to other assistance options. DNAinfo reports that city officials, “including Mayor Bill de Blasio at a press conference on Thursday, have said that the complicated, document-heavy process for receiving funds from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development has slowed the release of funds.”

The process for Build it Back hasn’t moved past this paperwork stage. Out of the 19,920 homeowners who have signed up only 173 have been able to establish how much aid they’re going to get out of the $648 million that the federal government has given to Build it Back. And absolutely no construction work has been done using the funds.

Many people have moved on and found other means of repairing their homes, but, according to advocates interviewed by the Daily News, leaves many of New York’s neediest with no alternative.

The program is required by federal guidelines to prioritize distribution based largely on income. So while more well-heeled victims can dig into their own pockets or quarrel with their insurance companies, the poorest are left waiting for the taps to flow.

“It is really a lifeline for folks who don’t have any other means to do repairs,” Nathalie Alegre, coordinator of the Alliance for a Just Rebuilding, told the Daily News. “It’s extremely concerning the program hasn’t been able to speed up to the degree people need to get on with our lives.”

Are you registered for Build it Back? What has your experience been?

by Vanessa Ogle

Members of the Manhattan Beach Community Group were briefed by representatives of the state-run New York Rising program at their meeting last night, contributing proposals and feedback and asking questions about the project’s next steps. The presentation also elicited a few uncertain murmurs and misguided questions that suggested the program, now four months into its public phase,  is anything but widely understood.

NY Rising is a state program to funnel millions of federal rebuilding dollars to local communities, with projects determined by neighbors at public meetings and through committees comprised of local leaders. Brooklyn has four reconstruction zones, including a newly added Canarsie zone, and Manhattan Beach belongs to a coalition that includes Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach, Coney Island and Seagate. Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach are part of a second committee. According to the New York Rising presenter, Manhattan Beach is expected to receive approximately $5.5 million dollars in a first round of funding for its project proposals.

“We have been trying to impress upon NY Rising that the most important thing that we have here is to get infrastructure fixed,” MBCG President Judy Baron, who also represents the group in the NY Rising local committee, told her members. “Because if we don’t have water coming into our basements, we can talk about anything else.”

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New York Rising, the community reconstruction program established to provide additional rebuilding and revitalization assistance to communities severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy, will be on hand at the next meeting of the Manhattan Beach Community Group (MBCG), this Wednesday, January 15 at 8:00 p.m. The meeting will be held in Public School 195, 131 Irwin Street at Hampton Avenue.

The meeting’s topic will be: “Any Ideas on How to Keep the Atlantic Ocean and Sheepshead Bay Out of Your Homes during the Next Natural Disaster?” According to an email from MBCG, “NY RISING COMMUNITY RECONSTRUCTION has MILLIONS to Spend and WE WANT THEM For Manhattan Beach.”

Guest speakers at the meeting include Alex Zablocki, NYC Regional Lead, New York Rising; consultant Marney Kimmel, the LiRo Group, and Christopher Gorman, New York Rising.

For more information, call (718) 200-1845, email arigina@aol.com, or write to Manhattan Beach Community Group, 250 Dover Street, Brooklyn, New York 11235.

The MBCG encourages members of the community to attend and participate in their monthly civic meetings. To learn more, visit www.manhattanbeachbrooklyn.org.

MBCG boardmembers, including new president Judy Baron (left) and outgoing president Ira Zalcman (right) pose with Comptroller-elect Scott Stringer

MBCG boardmembers, including new president Judy Baron (left) and outgoing president Ira Zalcman (right) pose with Comptroller-elect Scott Stringer

The Manhattan Beach Community Group met earlier this month for their 72nd annual general membership meeting, an end-of-year celebration where new officers are installed and the year’s accomplishments celebrated. This year’s event carried extra weight as the group’s president, Ira Zalcman, said goodbye after seven years of leadership, and the group passed an amendment to its bylaws intended to create peace with its rival neighborhood group.

The December 4 event – which we must note with regret has taken far too long to find its way to our website – drew nearly 200 neighbors, as well as a broad swath of incoming and outgoing elected officials.

Most significantly, the group passed an amendment to its bylaws that they hope will end a bitter six-year feud with the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association, a rivalry that many say has divided the community, and diminished its power to effect positive changes in the area.

The new bylaws create an exception for members of the “other group” to rejoin the MBCG as directors without having to wait the requisite two years. Passed with only one objection, by MBNA member Ed Eisenberg, the motion provisions for the group’s president to appoint as many as four members of the MBNA to the MBCG’s board, so long as the MBNA agrees to dissolve.


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The 72nd Annual MBCG Membership Meeting will be taking place this Wednesday, December 4, 8:00 p.m. in the Public School 195 auditorium, 131 Irwin Street in Manhattan Beach.

The Dana Borell Award, The Friend of Manhattan Beach Award and community awards will be presented to “very deserving recipients,” according to an email from the group.

Among those attending will be keynote speaker and Brooklyn Borough President-elect Eric Adams, as well as New York City Comptroller-elect Scott Stringer, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz and New York City Councilman-elect Chaim Deutsch. Adams will be swearing in new directors and officers. After six years, MBCG President Ira Zalcman will be stepping aside, and Judy Baron will be sworn in as the new president.

Additionally, a vote will be held by the group’s entire membership to amend their by-laws to allow the leadership of their “adversarial group” to return as directors.

The meeting promises “real good FOOD. Also, Kosher bagels with good stuff to put on them.”

For more information, call (718) 200-1845, email arigina@aol.com, or write to: Manhattan Beach Community Group, 250 Dover Street, Brooklyn, New York 11235. The MBCG encourages members of the community to attend and participate in their monthly civic meetings. To learn more, visit www.manhattanbeachbrooklyn.org.

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