Archive for the tag 'public hearings'

Source: NYC Parks Department

Source: NYC Parks Department

The following is a press release from the offices of Councilman Chaim Deutsch:

New York City Councilman Chaim Deutsch (D-Brooklyn), in an ongoing effort to improve parks in the 48th District, will host a Town Hall Meeting at PS 195 Thursday, April 3rd at 7 PM, inviting community members to share their thoughts and propose upgrades for Manhattan Beach Park, a major recreational park and popular destination.

This is the second in a series of Town Hall Meetings Council Member Deutsch will host in an effort to involve residents in plans to improve our local parks.

“I am working hard to improve our community’s parks,” said Council Member Chaim Deutsch. “I invite all area residents to attend this important Town Hall Meeting, share their vision of the park, and take a hand in shaping its future.”

Manhattan Beach Park, located off Oriental Boulevard between Ocean Avenue and Mackenzie Street, is home to baseball fields, beaches, playgrounds, sprinklers, and a dog run, in addition to basketball, tennis, handball and volleyball courts.

Council Member Deutsch’s Town Hall Meeting will give park goers an opportunity to weigh in on the future of Manhattan Beach Park. Those in attendance are encouraged to share their knowledge of the park, best usage, and point out facilities that may require repair or maintenance. In addition, community members will be given an opportunity to propose capital projects, which Councilman Deutsch will discuss with Parks Department officials for funding consideration.

“Take advantage of this opportunity to make Manhattan Beach Park a better place,” said Councilman Deutsch.

The Town Hall Meeting will be held in the auditorium at PS 195 [131 Irwin St. between Shore and Oriental boulevards] Thursday, April 3, at 7 PM.

Click for full flier

Click for full flier

A group of city planners and neighborhood activists will be meeting tomorrow, March 5, at 7:00 p.m. to begin creating a new comprehensive vision of the Sheepshead Bay waterfront’s commercial and recreational corridors.

The public forum, open to all and taking place at the Kings Bay Y Emmons Avenue Annex at 2801 Emmons Avenue, is organized by the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and NYU’s Wagner Capstone Team. Support for the initiative is being provided by Empower Sheepshead.

The Capstone program is doing the groundwork of the initiative, researching, conducting site visits, attempting to organize a merchant association and conducting interviews with local stakeholders.

The point of the plan is to come up with a slate of new proposal to reinvigorate the business and recreational life of Sheepshead Bay. The planners are looking to hear from residents and business owners on ideas to unify, beautify, strengthen and enrich the waterfront for years to come.

And while there have been many meetings on the future of Sheepshead Bay since Superstorm Sandy, the Capstone program has a record to stand behind of getting things done in New York City neighborhoods.

The program partners student planners with nonprofit organizations to help solve real-world business and planning problems. They’ve previously drawn up a vision to increase business along Bay Ridge’s 4th Avenue, and elements of that are currently being put into effect with help from city agencies. They’re also behind the proposals to reactivate the Crown Heights Armory.

A vintage Brooklyn bus map. Source: Enframe Photography

THE COMMUTE: There are two schools of thought on this. One is that changes should be made incrementally as the need arises. That is known as ad-hoc planning. The other is that changes should be made using a comprehensive approach by periodically studying all the routes for deficiencies, for example, once every 10 years, by performing origin-destination surveys and using other data.

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Source: (vincent desjardins) / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: About a week before Hurricane Sandy, I got a delightful surprise in the form of an email from a senior MTA executive who worked at the Chicago Transit Authority earlier in his career complimenting me on my series, “A Tale of Two Cities: Chicago and New York.” [Part 1, Part 2]. He also corrected my erroneous hypothesis that, at one time, the Loop had more than two tracks. It appears that there were provisions for additional tracks, but they were never constructed.

Sometimes when you criticize, complain, or try to make suggestions, you get the impression that no one is listening, especially when facing a large bureaucracy. It is easy to forget that these bureaucracies are not objects, but human beings.

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Source: Antonio Martínez López / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: Last week, I wrote that fewer than 50 people showed up at the Brooklyn fare hike hearing, held the same day as the nor’easter, which possibly explains the low turnout. However, how do you also account for the low turnouts in Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens?

Approximately 120 people, including myself, attended the Manhattan hearing, held in an auditorium that could have accommodated at least 10 times the number of participants. Only approximately 30 attended the Bronx hearing. The Queens hearing was so sparsely attended, that there was a break before the 8:00 p.m. concluding time to allow for more speakers to arrive.

Even the elected officials seemed to boycott these hearings. In the Bronx, only Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz of Riverdale spoke. In the Manhattan, former mayoral aspirant Scott Stringer — who has now decided to enter the race for NYC Comptroller instead — testified. This is a marked contrast to the 2010 service cut hearings, which were so widely attended by the public and elected officials that many intending speakers, such as Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo, left after two or three hours waiting their turn. That Brooklyn hearing concluded at 11:30 p.m. So what happened this time?

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Photo by Erica Sherman

THE COMMUTE: If you did not attend the Brooklyn Transit Fare Hike Hearing held at the Marriott Hotel in Downtown Brooklyn last Monday because of the nor’easter, you have another chance. Another hearing will be held in Manhattan tomorrow evening from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Registration begins at 4:00 p.m. You also can pre-register on line here.

The Brooklyn hearing should have been rescheduled. Seniors and the disabled should not have been expected to brave the nor’easter, especially without full subway service. The MTA did not care, however. Fewer than 50 people showed up, one of the lowest turnouts ever. “I didn’t hear anyone calling for not having the election,” MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said. “We have to continue. We have to move forward.”

Last week I complimented Chairman Lhota on how well the MTA handled Hurricane Sandy and how well the agency works in times of crises. They were even considerate enough to provide two days of free fares. Well it looks like the crisis is over as far as the MTA is concerned, because it’s back to business as usual. A typically heartless MTA was unconcerned that residents in Sea Gate and Gerritsen Beach, who had lost their homes, had higher priorities than to brave a nor’easter in order to attend a hearing right now.

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Community Board 15 decided on Monday night to table the a proposal to move the Manhattan Beach dog run, saying that the plan is still to vague for them to take a stance on.

Councilman Nelson’s chief of operations, Chaim Deutsch, brought the issue before the Board after working with the Manhattan Beach Community Group, which wants to relocate the dog run to a less visible area, and put a beautification garden in its place. Although $500,000 has already been allocated to the project, Deutsch and the Parks Department wanted to ensure the proposal has broad community support before going forward, but many residents who spoke at the meeting said they were against the plan. [Corrected]

Deutsch explained that when the dog run was fenced in approximately 15 years ago, it lacked proper drainage or any of the other amenities city dog runs have. Because of that, and inconsiderate patrons, members of the community have complained to the councilman’s office that it was unclean and often muddy.

Others who spoke in support of the proposal – largely members of the Manhattan Beach Community Group – said that users of it often came at unacceptable hours and left trash and dog feces in the park.

The councilman’s proposal is to move the dog run to a smaller location, redesign it with proper amenities – including drainage, lighting and pebbles – and turn the current location into a beatification site. The smaller location would be further subdivided to make separate pens for big and small dogs. The councilman has already allocated $500,000 for the project, but Deutsch told Sheepshead Bites that amount would only cover construction of a new dog park, not the establishment of a beautification garden.

However, many Manhattan Beach residents and dog owners spoke against the plan, airing their skepticism that the city would ever complete the job and that they’d be left without a dog run (Deutsch said he had received the Parks Department’s word that the existing run would not be eliminated until a new one was completed).

They also said that many of the problems are overblown, that users are courteous and most pick up their remains, and that there is no odor. They also took issue with shrinking the size of the park, as owners of larger dogs need the space for their canines to get exercise. Still, others, said that the money allocated should simply be used for maintenance of the dog run, for which the community has been told there is no funding, and that a “Friends of”-style group could be formed.

Members of the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association also took issue with the proposal, noting that funding had been allocated by the councilman to repair the community’s basketball courts five years ago, but that they “haven’t seen a penny” put to use.

“Believing we’re going to get this money is like believing in fairy tales,” said Al Smaldone, reading a statement from MBNA President Alan Ditchek.

They also pointed out that 75 percent of the current dog run is in the shade, making it a poor choice for a beautification site.

The Board voted overwhelmingly to table the proposal until the Parks Department or councilman could provide written plans about the proposed location, amenities, costs and design for them to better judge the project.

After the meeting, Deutsch said, “I’m happy that it was tabled because if people voted and it was politically motivated it be very immature and immoral.”

CORRECTION (9/28/2012): A statement in the second paragraph of this article has been corrected. It previously indicated that Deutsch brought the issue before the Board at the request of the Manhattan Beach Community Group. Ira Zalcman, president of the group, sent the following note to us:

The mbcg never asked Nelson or Deutsh to make a dog run presentation to Cb 15. It was Theresa Scavo who asked for the presentation.  Also the mbcg never asked for this funding of one half million dollars.   The space for a new dog run was chosen by Ron Biondo when he was President of mbcg and his chair of his quality of life comm Al Smaldone … Mbcg stands by biondo and Smaldone that the dog run should be moved.

While we have made the correction regarding the request for the presentation, we would like to add that we have never stated that MBCG asked for the funding – only that the project be done.

Community Board 15 will have a public hearing and vote tonight on a proposal to move the Manhattan Beach dog run from its current location – a project on which the neighborhood’s two community groups are at odds.

Out of respect for the Yom Kippur holiday on Tuesday night, Community Board 15′s monthly meeting has been bumped up to tonight at 6:00 p.m. at Kingsborough Community College’s Faculty Dining Room (2001 Oriental Boulevard).

The Manhattan Beach Community Group has decried the dog run’s current Kensington Street location as filthy, smelly and poorly maintained, asking the city to remove it. Councilman Mike Nelson has allocated $500,000  to move the dog run further away from Kensington Street and to replace the current spot with a city-maintained garden with no public access whatsoever. The MBCG’s rival, the Manhattan Beach Neighborhood Association, claims that they were not consulted on the project and are against the move. The new proposed location is still to be decided, but will be smaller, and subdivided into areas for large dogs and small dogs.

Nelson’s office said they will adhere to the Board’s recommendation, and the park will only go forward if the Board gives the green light.

Aside from the dog park, the Board will also hold public hearings on the following land use issues:

  • 2359 East 5th Street, between Avenue W and Angela Drive – application for a special permit to all the enlargement of a single family dwelling.
  • 2410 Avenue S, between East 24th Street and Bedford Avenue - application for a special permit to all the enlargement of a single family dwelling.
  • 2771 Knapp Street, between Harkness Avenue and Plumb Beach Channel – application for a special permit to allow the use of an enlarged one-story building as four eating and drinking establishments.
  • 1713 East 23rd Street, between Quentin Road and Avenue R - application for a special permit to all the enlargement of a single family dwelling.
  • 154 Girard Street, between Hampton Avenue and Oriental Boulevard - application for a special permit to all the enlargement of a single family dwelling.

Additionally, there will be discussion of the district’s budgetary needs in advance of the city’s 2014 budget process.

Source: MTAPhotos / Flickr

THE COMMUTE: MTA funding always seems to be in the news. Another fare hike is scheduled for January 2013. The MTA’s continuing money woes are primarily due to the large debt it has to repay on the money it borrows through its bonds. Repealing a portion of the payroll tax, reduced state funding, and the MTA’s own inefficiencies did not help either.

Last January, I wrote how the MTA has the opportunity to refinance a portion of its debt at lower interest rates. It was also revealed at that time that whenever the MTA takes on debt, it must also pay the state a fee of $8.40 for every $1,000 it borrows. The fees can be substantial considering how much the MTA needs to borrow. These fees may have once made sense to discourage unnecessary borrowing, but do not make sense today with very limited federal, state, and city aid. The Staten Island Advance has a well-written editorial on the subject.

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THE COMMUTE: About 25 bus riders asked questions of the MTA during the NYC Transit Riders Council Bus Forum last Wednesday before an audience of approximately 100.

Disabled riders were given priority and spoke for the first 45 minutes. Seniors were also adequately represented. Complaints ranged from buses skipping stops and stops eliminated on Manhattan crosstown routes at key transfer points, to those about bus drivers and service cutbacks of 2010. Several seniors complained that Select Bus Service (SBS) is inconvenient for them because the bus stops are too far apart. Only a few riders praised SBS as speeding their trip. The SBS route receiving the most criticism was the M34. One person stated that he is a regular user of it and it saves him a whopping 30 seconds. He added that because of the money spent on it, none is left for bus improvements in the outer boroughs. A question was asked why there are no bus stops along Ocean Parkway at Avenue Y and Avenue Z for the B1. I responded for the MTA that it was a Department of Transportation (DOT) decision to omit those stops which the MTA wanted, since I attended those discussions with DOT in 1978.

Unlike MTA hearings where Board members seem generally disinterested and do not reply to questions being asked, an attempt was made to answer every question and a promise was made to investigate ones that could not be answered. Andrew Albert, chair of the NYC Transit Riders Council, did a good job moderating and most of those on the panel listened intently and constantly took notes. The two-minute time limit was not really enforced, although speakers were advised to quickly conclude their remarks if they ran over. The meeting lasted 30 minutes longer than scheduled in order to give everyone who signed up an opportunity to speak.

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