Archive for the tag 'manhattan beach community group'

The next meeting of the Manhattan Beach Community Group will be November 19, 8:00pm at Public School 195, 131 Irwin Street. The meeting will focus on the topic of home values with regard to Superstorm Sandy. Among the issues to be addressed are: Will new building laws affect your property values? What will Manhattan Beach look like five years from now?

Guest speakers will include 195 Principal Bernadette Toomey, who will discuss school overcrowding, what is new and exciting at PS 195, whether PS 195 has dedicated staff for art, music, and physical education, and if the community could help the school in any way, as well as Winston von Engel, director of the Brooklyn Office of the NYC Planning Department. He will discuss what is currently mandated for reconstruction/construction in Manhattan Beach, why some homes are going to be built higher than zoning allowed before the storm, whether there can there be legal basement apartments, how the Special Permit law will change what Manhattan Beach will look like, and if there should be a rule keeping the footprint of a building within certain boundaries.

All are welcome to attend. If you have questions, it is requested by MBCG that you send them in via email to manhattanbeachbrooklyn.org@gmail.com prior to the meeting.

Additionally: PS 195 is holding a holiday food drive to help less fortunate families. Canned goods are being collected at the meeting.

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz and challenger Ben Akselrod sought to distinguish themselves from each other at a candidate’s forum for the 45th Assembly District organized by the Manhattan Beach Community Group last week. Although the rivals agreed on many issues, the two expressed different approaches to campaign financing and improving traffic safety, among a few other disagreements.

Cymbrowitz, Akselrod

Though the campaigns have been in full swing for many months, the two candidates for the Democratic primary had not yet done much to set themselves apart ideologically. Aside from an uninspiring dust-up over nominating petitions, voters had only the incumbent’s record and his challenger’s claims from his 2012 campaign to base their vote until Wednesday’s forum.

The two differed on public financing of campaigns, an initiative that watchdogs say would limit or eliminate the influence of special interests. Public financing sets caps on how much contributors can give to a person seeking office, and offers matching funds for small donations from individuals. New York City has a public financing system for the City Council and other citywide posts, while Albany does not.

Akselrod said he opposes public funding because the public should not pay for it.

“We have too much money going through government and this is where it shouldn’t be. We have numerous examples of people running for office … for one single reason, to get matching funds. I do not want people’s money to be involved in a campaign,” he said.

He did not provide any examples of such candidates. Public financing proposals all impose far stricter spending controls on campaign funds than Albany currently has, and funds cannot be used for personal expenses.

Cymbrowitz threw his support in for public financing, in line with the majority of Democrats in Albany. Public financing of campaigns has so far been blocked by Senate Republicans.

“For the last six years I’ve voted in favor of [public financing] … it has not passed the state legislature because the Republican Senate has not voted in favor of it,” Cymbrowitz said. “We’re very hopeful that this year after the November election the governor will put in a campaign finance program that Democrats in the Assembly and Republicans in the Senate will be able to vote for.”

Akselrod, however, did say that ethics reforms would be at the top of his priority list. One area he hopes to see reform is in the use of discretionary funding, a small pot of money pols are given to distribute to groups in their district. The challenger said he hoped to implement something along the lines of participatory budgeting (although his words were “participatory democracy”), a program in the Council where the community itself proposes and votes on such items.

Cymbrowitz pointed out that this year is the first time in five years that state legislators were given the funds. He didn’t directly answer the moderator’s question on how more controls can be put on the spending, but did note that the funds are used to keep non-profits and community organizations funded. He said oversight is provided by the agencies that the money is allocated through, which have their own criteria, not the legislators who steered it.

On road safety, both candidates said that enforcement technologies like speed cameras were not enough (and outright opposed by Akselrod). Cymbrowitz said more police enforcement was necessary, and expressed hope that the new leadership at the 61st Precinct and in the citywide administration would be more responsive. Akselrod pushed his proposal, first made in June, for mandatory driving courses in high school.

The event was cordial and the two rarely interacted with each other. They agreed on most issues including:

  • Medical marijuana – in favor of the limited program that passed in Albany earlier this year, and oppose full legalization and legalization of smokable forms of medical marijuana.
  • Moreland Commission – Governor Andrew Cuomo should not have disbanded it. Cymbrowitz said he looks forward to the Attorney General continuing the investigations.
  • Democratic National Convention in Brooklyn  - both said they were for it, noting the potential increase in economic activity.
  • Charter schools – a good initiative, but co-locations with public schools should be stopped.
  • Term limits for Albany legislators – they both opposed term limits, saying elections were sufficient.

Primary elections will be held on September 9.

Steven Cymbrowitz (l.) and Ben Akselrod (r.)

With two weeks to go before the September 9 primary elections, the Democratic candidates for the 45th Assembly District will attend a candidates night at the Manhattan Beach Community Group meeting on Wednesday.

The race is a reprise of the 2012 elections, with incumbent Steven Cymbrowitz fending off a challenge from Ben Akselrod. It’s been a particularly quiet race so far, although the candidates have traded barbs on such compelling issues as nominating petitions.

That could change during the 8:00 p.m. meeting at P.S. 195 (131 Irwin Street), where the two are both confirmed to attend and will face questions from the public about their views on various issues.

The group has hosted several debates and candidates nights for recent elections, and regularly asks tough policy questions submitted from group members and the broader public.

President Judy Baron emphasized to Sheepshead Bites that this event would be no different, and that all are invited to attend no matter where they live in the district. Questions can be submitted for consideration at the beginning of the event.

The next Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association meeting will be held Thursday, April 24 at 7:30 p.m. inside the Carmine Carro Community Center in Marine Park, Fillmore Avenue at Marine Parkway.

The meeting’s focus will be on the search for a long-time solution to persistent sanitation concerns in the neighborhood. Along with local elected officials and 61st Precinct officers, Bruno Iciano, from the Department of Sanitation’s Office of Community Affairs, is slated to attend.

From an email we received:

The civic’s concerns include seeing a plan — covering trash, graffiti, safety, and appearance — developed for: the B/Q subway overpasses from Avenues P to Z; Avenue U from Coney Island Avenue to Stuart Street; and Kings Highway from Coney Island Avenue to Ocean Avenue, among others.

According to Ed Jaworski, the association’s president, “It appears there is a need for a comprehensive effort led by sanitation, and involving police, MTA, DOT, DOB (stalled building sites are dumping grounds), plus education. No one enjoys living or shopping on blocks that suggest blight. We’ve got to get our neighborhoods cleaned up.”

The meeting is free and open to the public; refreshments will be available courtesy of T & D Bank.

For more information, call (718) 375-9158 or email coachedj@aol.com.

The next meeting of the Manhattan Beach Community Group (MBCG) will be Wednesday, April 23 at 8:00 p.m. inside Public School 195, 131 Irwin Street at Hampton Avenue.

Guest speaker, State Senator Marty Golden, will discuss and answer your questions on topics including:

  • How does the New York State budget affect you?
  • Will your property taxes go up?
  • What is New York State doing to make sure your home is not flooded again?
  • Is the legislature allocating more funds for Sandy-damaged communities?

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.

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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