Archive for the tag 'public hearings'

Carro Center, where tonight’s meeting will be held.

Don’t blame us for the late notice. We only received it this afternoon.

The Southeast Brooklyn Waterfront (Mill Basin, Marine Park, Bergen Beach, Georgetown) NY Rising Community Planning Committee to Host Public Meeting on Tuesday, July 29 for the NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program 

New York – Community members of Mill Basin, Marine Park, Bergen Beach, and Georgetown are encouraged to attend a public meeting on Tuesday, July 29th to learn about the State-sponsored NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program. This program will leverage local knowledge and build upon existing local efforts to help storm-impacted Communities become more resilient through innovative community-driven plans.

When:          Tuesday, July 29, 7:00pm
Where:           Carmine Carro Community Center, 3000 Fillmore Avenue (between Madison Place and Marine Pkwy) Marine Park, NY 11229
Who:            Southeast Brooklyn Waterfront Planning Committee (including Mill Basin, Marine Park, Bergen Beach, Georgetown), NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program
Contact:       Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, 212-480-2321info@stormrecovery.ny.gov

The New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program is one of several Storm Recovery Initiatives and was established to provide additional rebuilding and revitalization assistance to Communities severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. The State has established the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program to facilitate community redevelopment and resiliency planning. For additional information, please visit http://stormrecovery.ny.gov/community-reconstruction-program

Forget the link above, you want this one. More specifically, you can check out a presentation they showed to the committee members, providing an overview of how the program works [pdf]. For even more information, you might want to check out the minutes from that meeting [pdf], which go more in depth.

 

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.

nyrising-sheepshead

The New York Rising project, a state-sponsored, federally-funded program to make coastal communities more resilient in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, will unveil the final proposals for Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach tonight, revealing the $21.3 million vision to help us better withstand and more quickly recover from future disasters.

The meeting kicks off at 7:00 p.m. at the Brooklyn Amity School (3867 Shore Parkway), and all are welcome to attend.

The workshop represents the culmination of nearly a year of work by a committee of grassroots stakeholders, who worked with planning experts and consultants to identify shortcomings and vulnerabilities in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and propose ideas that would fill those gaps. After several public hearings and draft plans, they’re finalizing the plan that the state will begin implementing. You can read the full report here, but we’re boiling it down to what you need to know ahead of tonight’s meeting.

The first thing to note is that there’s already $13.3 million allocated to Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach to see many of these projects through. It’s still several million shy of covering all the costs of the full vision, and the committee’s job is to come up with the list of projects to receive those funds. This is basically the highest priority stuff that they’re asking the state to pay attention to. Once the report is finalized, the state will pluck from the list and give their final go-ahead.

There are also projects that the committee thinks is a good idea, called featured projects, but not good enough to receive money from the existing pot. Those will require separate funding from what’s already been doled out by the feds. To keep it simple, we’re not including these in our list.

If you think any of these ideas are a waste of money, or you have suggestions for a tweak or change in plans, make sure you attend tonight’s meeting. While the plan is final, representatives from the governor’s office and other agencies responsible for implementing it will be in attendance, and your input could change how they move forward and what they prioritize.

Without further ado, here’s the list of projects that the local committee is recommending for funding through federal money already held by the state. We’ve organized them in order of estimated price tag.

  • Installation of sewer cut-off valves for one- and two-family homes - $5.7 million – Timeframe: 18-24 months  – One of the most frequently heard complaints after the storm was that homes flooded not from actual stormwater, but from overflowing sewers that backed up into homes. This proposal would provide funds for the purchase and installation of several thousand cut-off valves for local property owners. Essentially, the valves seal off the property if waste is heading the wrong way through the pipe.
  • Elevating and retrofitting homes  – $2.5-$3.5 million – Timeframe: two years – The project would help provide direct financial assistance to fund elevation and retrofitting of homes in the area, including a public education component to inform homeowners of additional available resources. The project includes assessing the number of homes in the area that need to be raised or upgraded, and determining eligibility guidelines for the work.
  • Installation of backup generators at key facilities - $2.55 million – Estimate time to implement: 12-16 months – Many of the waterfront senior homes and community spaces struggled in Sandy’s wake to get back up and running because of power outages, and neighbors also had few places to charge cell phones and other technology they relied on. This proposal seeks to install 13 large-scale generators at key facilities in the high-risk flood zone. They’ll be limited to public facilities or private buildings that serve critical needs, like health and medical services, food or medical supplies, and will be flood-proofed.
  • Retrofitting key businesses and community services assets - $2.5 million – Timeframe: 16-24 months – Sandy knocked a huge swath of Emmons Avenue and Sheepshead Bay Road businesses out of operation for several months, and that includes pharmacies and grocery stores. This proposal would fund the installation of risk reduction measures, such as deployable small-scale flood barriers at all entrances to a property, as well as upgrades like the elevation or enclosure of mechanical equipment. It’s not clear how many businesses and community facilities would be covered by the $2.5 million.
  • Create an Emergency Response and Recovery Center in Sheepshead Bay - $2.4 million – Timeframe: 12-16 months – Committee members argued that recovery from Sandy was hampered by the lack of a central location for response operations, both in the immediate aftermath, when food and basic supplies were crucial, and in the months that followed, when residents needed access to information and resources. This proposal is to study potential locations for a new or existing building, assess options to make it flood proof, and then lease, buy or construct such a space. Once created, it would be staffed before, during and after a storm as a space for pre-disaster planning and post-disaster operations, including storage of supplies and equipment.
  • Retrofitting the Gerritsen Beach Vollies and Fire Department - $2.4 million – Timeframe: 12-16 months – The Vollies Hall and Gerrittsen Beach Fire Department Station played a critical role in the aftermath of Sandy, becoming the de facto headquarters for relief operations. While they escaped the worst of Sandy’s wrath, it may not fare so well in future storms. The committee proposes building second floors on both of these one-story structures, and retrofitting it with resiliency equipment including flood barriers, generators, storm gates and even solar panels.
  • Backflow prevention measures on city stormwater outfall pipes - $740,000 – Timeframe: 12 months – Many Sandy victims didn’t see the water coming from the Bay, they saw it rising out of the sewers. That’s because the stormwater infiltrated the sewer system through outfall pipes on the coastline, where it reemerged from street grates and home sewer lines. This project proposes to take a look at the system to analyze the infrastructure, and to install devices that would automatically close five outfall pipes in Sheepshead Bay and 11 in Gerritsen Beach when water begins heading in the wrong direction.
  • Resilient streetscape improvements on Emmons Avenue - $500,000 – Timeframe: 12 months – The Emmons Avenue corridor would be upgraded with benches and lighting, additional tree beds and grass plantings – as well as the installation of green stormwater drainage and attenuation systems. Green spaces help with drainage after a heavy rain event and help prevent flooding on roads and sidewalks.
  • Repair and reconstruct Canton Court bulkhead in Gerritsen Beach - $490,000 – Timeframe: 6-9 months – Sandy did major damage to this bulkhead, which supports a roadway, and the street is now collapsing. This project allocates funds to tear it down, build a new one and repair the street.
  • Study Gerrtisen Beach streets for infrastructure repairs - $200,000 – Timeframe: 6-8 months – This project will produce a report to be given to the Department of Transportation for a plan to upgrade the neighborhood’s street infrastructure with better catch basins and drainage systems. The plan will then be in the city’s hands to budget for.
  • Feasibility study to improve the resiliency of Sheepshead Bay’s courts - $150,000 – Timeframe: 12 months – The worst hit homes in Sheepshead Bay were those in the “courts” – the bungalow colonies along Emmons Avenue that sit five feet below street level. In addition to their low-lying nature, the web of sidewalks between them have no city-connected drainage systems, turning the entire thing into a swimming pool on moderately rainy days. This study will consider various measures to improve stormwater drainage and help alleviate the persistent flooding, and it would also look at modifying the buildings to be more resilient, and even connecting the whole system to city infrastructure. There is no funding to actually implement any proposals the report may produce.
  • Storm surge protection for Sheepshead Bay -  $100,000 – Two-year project – New York Rising stakeholders for Manhattan Beach repeatedly complained that much of their flooding came from the Sheepshead Bay side of the peninsula, not the ocean. As such, they’re proposing a “reconnaissance study” to identify viable options to keep the bay contained in future storms. If some options seem doable, a feasibility study will commence, and then implementation. There is not yet funding for either the feasibility study or the implementation.
  • Evacuation planning for Gerritsen Beach - $50,000 – Estimated timeframe: 3 to 4 months - Gerritsen Beach’s only evacuation route is Gerritsen Avenue – which is also at risk of flooding. This proposal is to fund a study to see if the route can handle the traffic volume that would emerge in an emergency situation, resulting in proposals to alter operational plans (such as a parking ban on the corridor during an evacuation event, which would open up an additional lane of traffic).

rising

Residents of Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Manhattan Beach and Sea Gate will gather tomorrow night for what will be their last chance to weigh in on how the state will spend millions of dollars to strengthen the Coney Island peninsula from future storms.

The meeting kicks off at 7:00 p.m. at MCU Park (1904 Surf Avenue), and all are welcome to attend.

Organizers will present information and solicit feedback for the final time on a set of proposed projects to help the communities recover and become more resilient. It’s the culmination of nearly a year of work by the New York Rising project, a state-sponsored, federally-funded program to bolster the neighborhoods. The state brought together a committee of grassroots stakeholders with planning experts and consultants to identify shortcomings and vulnerabilities in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, and propose ideas that would fill those gaps.

After several public hearings and draft plans, they’re finalizing the plan that the state will begin implementing. You can read the full report here, but we’re boiling it down to what you need to know ahead of tomorrow’s meeting.

The first thing to note is that there’s already millions of dollars allocated to each community to see these projects through. The committee’s job is to come up with the list of projects to receive those funds. This is basically the highest priority stuff that they’re asking the state to pay attention to. Once the report is finalized, the state will pluck from the list and give their final go-ahead.

Some of the projects require multiple phases, of which only the first phase is funded. We’ve tried to note that in the entries below.

There are also projects that the committee thinks is a good idea, but not good enough to receive money from the existing pot. Those will require separate funding from what’s already been doled out by the feds. To keep it simple, we’re not including these in our list.

If you think any of these ideas are a waste of money, or you have suggestions for a tweak or change in plans, make sure you attend tomorrow’s meeting. A similar plan has been drawn up for Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach, which we’ll be breaking down before their meeting next Monday.

Without further ado, here’s the list of projects that the local committee is recommending for funding through federal money already held by the state (and, where noted, the unfunded second phases). We’ve organized them in order of estimated price tag.

  • Upgrades for Manhattan Beach bathhouse - $4 million – No timeframe given – Even though the bathhouse has been shuttered for years, and even though the report notes that “the project would not directly reduce risk to the Community,” Rising has given the largest allocation to this project, which would upgrade the structure to allow it to reopen year-round. It would also explore the use of renewable energy systems and solar panels, and evaluate floodproofing measures. There’s a catch though – before a dime is spent, the Parks Department and the committee will have to come to an agreement on the building’s ultimate use. Once the use is figured out, the $4 million covers basic upgrade costs, but an estimated $15 million to $20 million is expected to be needed to fully reactive it. Potential uses include recreational amenities, retail concessions or a community center.
  • Sea Gate bulkhead replacement - $3 million – Two-year project – This project seeks to replace the crumbled bulkhead around the Sea Gate community, helping mitigate the effects of future storm surges. The bulkhead was in bad condition before the storm, and Sandy nearly obliterated them, causing water to gush into the streets and homes of Sea Gate. The project requires the cooperation of property owners, which would allow the bulkhead to be extended in length, and protect more neighborhood assets.
  • Community streetscape enhancement - $2.5 million – $3 million – One-year implementation – This isn’t just to replace to the dead trees in the neighborhood. It’s also mean to create more tree pits and vegetative areas, which provide important drainage in the wake of a storm. A better looking streetscape has also had measurable effects on commercial activity and property values. It wouldn’t really help in a storm like Sandy, but the communities involved already suffer flooding issues in much less severe rainstorms, which this could efficiently address. It appears though, that this doesn’t include Mermaid Avenue, which could raise the price tag by $2.2 million. The committee decided that the corridor needs significant infrastructure improvements before streetscaping could be done.
  • Installation of sewer cut-off valves for one- and two-family homes - $2.4 million – $3.5 million – One of the most frequently heard complaints after the storm was that homes flooded not from actual stormwater, but from overflowing sewers that backed up into homes. This proposal would provide funds for the purchase and installation of 1,000 cut-off valves for local homeowners. Essentially, the valves seal off the home if waste is heading the wrong way through the pipe.
  • Solar-powered street lights - $2 million – $3.5 million – 18 month implementation – It took weeks to restore street lighting on the peninsula after Sandy. This would help ensure they never go out again by making the lights independent of the power grid. Not only would this lower city utility costs, but it improves the real and perceived safety of the area in the wake of an outage. The proposal covers between seven and 10 miles of local streets.
  • Small business support center - $1.96 million – Two year project – This basically creates a temporary facility for small business owners to turn to as they continue to recover. The staff here may also help establish merchant associations or business improvement districts, in addition to guiding business owners through the various city, state and federal resources for grants, loans and more. Part of the price tag here is also to help fund additional streetscape improvements and even create a fund to help flood-proof commercial properties.
  • Designate Emergency Response & Recovery Centers – $980,000 – 12-month timeframe to find location – This is only a partially funded project. The price tag includes the cost of finding and evaluating potential sites, as well as some construction, equipment and operational costs. But the plan notes that once a site is identified, additional funding would likely be required to activate it. The center is proposed in response to concerns that there was no formal or efficient place for stakeholders to organize, or from which disaster recovery services could operate. This could end up sharing space with an existing or future organization.
  • Pilot small-scale renewable power project - $900,000 – Three-year project – This would establish a small solar-powered backup system for a senior or nursing home in the area to help residents get back into their homes quickly after a disaster event. If it works, it could be rolled out elsewhere with additional funding.
  • Beach grass planting on Coney Island, Brighton Beach - $800,000 – One-year implementation – In cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Parks Department, this plan will see the creation of small dunes and beach grass to be planted on the eastern and western ends of the peninsula’s beach, immediately south of the boardwalk. Similar implementations can be seen in Atlantic City. The grass helps keep the sand where it is – a major concern after Superstorm Sandy, which saw several tons of sand pushed into residential streets and commercial corridors. The dunes also help weaken the force of storm surges. The estimated cost of the project also covers the relocation of water supply valves from the water side of the boardwalk to the land side, a more accessible and protected space for Parks Department access.
  • Boardwalk surge protection at Ocean Parkway and West 25th Street - $750,000 – The Riegelmann Boardwalk has two gaps at these locations that allowed surge waters to push further inland than anywhere else on the boardwalk. The price tag here covers a study to assess the best way to plug the gaps, which could include reconstructing the berms beneath the boardwalk, as well as part of the construction cost. More funding will likely be needed.
  • Southern Brooklyn Emergency Response plan - $640,000 – Two-year project – Pretty self-explanatory. Identify who the local groups on the ground are, and make sure city, state and federal agencies are working with them before, during and after a disaster event.
  • Vocational training program  – $500,000 – $750,000 – Two-year project – Employment on the peninsula was bad before the storm, and worse after it. With all the projects being proposed, the committee hopes to create the workforce needed by employing local high school graduates. This proposal creates a vocational high school curriculum, and connects students with local internship opportunities.
  • Energy resiliency for NYCHA and Mitchell-Lama properties – $340,000 – Two-year study – NYCHA and Mitchell-Lama residents are still suffering from heat, hot water and power breakdowns in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. This study is to figure out the best way forward, which could include creating green solutions, or the creation of independent, flood-proof “micro-grids” that keep the densely populated housing facilities full of vulnerable residents up and running during and after a storm. Once the options are figured out, funding will need to be obtained to carry it out, which is believed to be in excess of $10 million.
  • Disaster preparedness outreach campaign - $160,000 – Two-year project – Following complaints that disaster preparedness and recovery information was poorly distributed to non-English speakers and elderly residents, the campaign would seek better ways to reach those audiences and hold preparedness workshops that suit their needs.
  • Storm surge protection for Sheepshead Bay -  $100,000 – Two-year project – New York Rising stakeholders for Manhattan Beach repeatedly complained that much of their flooding came from the Sheepshead Bay side of the peninsula, not the ocean. As such, they’re proposing a “reconnaissance study” to identify viable options to keep the bay contained in future storms. If some options seem doable, a feasibility study will commence, and then implementation. There is not yet funding for either the feasibility study or the implementation.
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.

Continue Reading »

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.

Continue Reading »

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?

Continue Reading »

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.

Continue Reading »

Next »