Archive for the tag 'sea gate'

A home in Seagate after Sandy. (Photo by Erica Sherman)

The Committee on Recovery and Resiliency held its first hearing last Thursday in Coney Island and during the meeting New York City Housing Authority revealed that housing projects that were affected by Superstorm Sandy would be stuck with shoddily built boilers that often break until some time in 2016 – by which time they’ll have cost taxpayers at least $120 million.

Last week, Councilman Mark Treyger, who heads the committee, told us that he hoped to find a solution for these boilers since they were not made to be used below 40-degree weather. We wrote:

He believes the city is dragging its feet in figuring out a permanent plan, as FEMA is requesting critical infrastructure like boilers be placed above ground-level to avoid damage in future floods. But for those in the houses, a year is too long to wait, he said.

“It shouldn’t take us a year to figure that out. We’re having this meeting now because it’s still winter weather and I don’t want it to continue to be a lingering, ongoing problem. The money should be there, and that’s another part of this hearing and we need to track that money,” he said.

But instead of a solution, the committee was told by NYCHA’s Executive Vice President Raymond Ribeiro that the boilers wouldn’t be going anywhere until 2016, according to the Daily News.

Some of the boilers repeatedly broke down earlier this year during the coldest days of the season. The reason for breaking down, the Daily News reported, is because they were made in places like Texas and Tennessee and were never intended to withstand the cold of the north. But after Sandy left the normal heating system utterly destroyed, they couldn’t find anything better in time for the winter season and they now don’t have the funding to replace the boilers.

The Daily News reports:

NYCHA says it can’t move forward until its insurers and the federal government commit to specific funding. Ribeiro added that NYCHA’s insurers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have told the Housing Authority that they’ll only pay for boiler repairs, not replacements.

On top of being unreliable, the boilers are also expensive. During our interview with Treyger he estimated that each boiler costs about $50,000 a month. There are 24 such boilers across the city being used by the Housing Authority, which comes out to $3 million a month. By 2016, the boilers will have been used for 40 months and come out to $120 million for rent and fuel, according to Daily News’ calculations.

To combat the breakdowns they saw at housing projects like O’Dwyer Gardens, a six-building NYCHA complex in Coney Island that’s home to more than 100,000 residents, NYCHA has used other forms of heating to keep the boiler’s pipes warm, including jerry-rigged kerosene heaters to warm the boilers’ pipes.

Click to view enlarged image

Courtesy of the United States Coast Guard

Late in the 19th century, Congress approved the construction of a lighthouse on the western end of Coney Island. The now-defunct 124-year-old beacon has become the subject of a mini-documentary that aired last week on MetroFocus.

The documentary focuses on Frank Schubert, the last Coney Island lighthouse keeper- as well as the last civilian in the country to hold that job. In the article that accompanies the four-minute documentary,  creators Max Kutner and Johannes Musial write:

After serving with the Army in World War II, Schubert found work as a lighthouse keeper. In 1960 he moved with his wife and three children to the Coney Island Lighthouse. For three generations of Schuberts, the lighthouse became the family’s home. “My parents got married at the Coney Island Lighthouse, and then I was born the next year and they basically raised us there,” said Scott Schubert. “As a kid it was great. We’d be climbing on the lighthouse. It was like our jungle gym. You don’t even realize that it’s really different than any other house. It’s just sort of grandpa’s house.”

The use of GPS on boats has made lighthouses less necessary, but at one time such beacons helped prevent boats from crashing against rocky coastlines. The original Coney Island beacon was lit by Keeper Thomas Higgenbotham on August 1, 1890, according to United States Coast Guard. The lens used was powered by Kerosene and it was visible for more than fourteen miles.

Here’s the Metrofocus documentary:

A home in Seagate after Sandy (Photo by Erica Sherman)

Fifteen months since Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc in Brooklyn’s coastal neighborhoods, the city’s response has been a far cry from awe-inspiring. Sure, the numbers are staggering: $60 billion in Congressional aid to the region; $5.2 billion distributed; dozens of agencies, and a stack of recovery-related legislation with a word count yet to be assessed.

There’s another jaw-dropping number: zero. That’s the amount of money that has reached property owners through New York City’s $644 million Build it Back program.

Councilman Mark Treyger, who represents Gravesend, Coney Island, Bensonhurst and Sea Gate, is hoping to use the newly formed committee he chairs, the Committee on Recovery and Resiliency, to reboot the process and get residents and business owners the help they need.

Near the top of his agenda is an effort to reopen the application process for Build it Back, and expedite payouts to encourage confidence in the program.

“It’s absolutely crucial that they reopen the process and do a better job at outreach,” Treyger told this publication. “The low number of applicants and the fact that zero people have been helped so far, that’s just unacceptable.”

Treyger said he sat down with Build it Back representatives last week for a status update on their work. They reported to him that the 11224 area code that covers Coney Island and Sea Gate only saw between 800 and 900 applicants – a far cry from what he said is thousands of homes impacted by the flooding.

The recently inaugurated councilman said he believes the city failed in its outreach efforts.

“I was amazed by that number because I know in that zip code there were thousands of people impacted by Superstorm Sandy. And that spoke volumes because it shows that the city did not do adequate outreach into diverse communities in our city. And that’s just one zip code,” he said.

The polyglot district he represents has high numbers of Russian, Chinese and Spanish speakers that the city didn’t do well in reaching, he claims.

“They must reopen but this time we really have to get this right. We have to partner with community organizations, local media, they have to reach out to different language media. We really need to do a much better job of reaching the diverse communities of our city,” he said.

Treyger is currently drafting a letter to the de Blasio administration officially requesting the process be reopened.

But the local pol also acknowledged that “recovery fatigue” among homeowners may cause them to be reluctant to apply, coupled with the latest headlines that money is not yet flowing.

“I think once money starts flowing and people see progress with their applications, that will instill confidence in applying. Some folks have no faith and were discouraged, and once they see progress I think that will motivate people to apply,” he said.

The administration is currently in the midst of the comment period for its fifth amendment to the proposed action plan for community development block grants for disaster recovery, the federal program funding Build it Back. While the plan includes an increase in funding for Build it Back, representatives present at a public hearing last night at Sheepshead Bay High School could not say if more would be needed to reopen the process as Treyger proposes. The mayor’s office has not yet returned a response to our inquiry.

Build it Back aside, Treyger is hoping to use his role as chair of the Council’s Recovery and Resiliency Committee to make Sandy recovery a top priority for the de Blasio administration.

The committee will hold its first-ever hearing in Coney Island on Thursday, February 27, at 10 a.m. at the Carey Gardens Community Center (2315 Surf Avenue). He said he hopes holding it in a Sandy-impacted zone will boost resident participation.

But the agenda at the first meeting is more pressing than reopening Build it Back. It will focus on a plan to replace temporary boilers at dozens of NYCHA buildings affected by the storm.

According to the councilman, NYCHA residents have been hooked up to temporary systems for 15 months, suffering from mechanical breakdowns that left them without heat on some of the most bitter cold days of 2014.

Treyger said he has been told the city pays in the ballpark of $50,000 per boiler per month, but they are faulty. Some of the boilers, he said, were not built to withstand low temperatures, causing the breakdowns they saw at housing projects like O’Dwyer Gardens, a six-building NYCHA complex in Coney Island that’s home to more than 100,000 residents.

To cope with the cold, some residents heated their homes with their home ovens, putting families at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

He believes the city is dragging its feet in figuring out a permanent plan, as FEMA is requesting critical infrastructure like boilers be placed above ground-level to avoid damage in future floods. But for those in the houses, a year is too long to wait, he said.

“It shouldn’t take us a year to figure that out. We’re having this meeting now because it’s still winter weather and I don’t want it to continue to be a lingering, ongoing problem. The money should be there, and that’s another part of this hearing and we need to track that money,” he said.

Build it Back will be on the agenda for their March meeting, Treyger said. He also hopes to persuade the administration to appoint a “Sandy Czar” to coordinate between city, state and federal recovery initiatives, as well as to spur reform in the handling of New York City’s co-operative housing schemes for disaster recovery. Co-ops are viewed by the federal government as businesses, not primary residences of homeowners, and so were not eligible for FEMA funds in the immediate aftermath of the storm.

Overall, the local pol is hoping that his committee will help reboot the process, and open the funding spigots for residents.

“This is an oversight committee. But oversight to me means we’re listening to people on the ground, listening to the residents living the day-to-day trauma resulting from Superstorm Sandy,” he said. “I will judge this recovery by those people, families, homeowners, business owners. We want to see progress. Quite frankly, I’m tired of seeing more Powerpoint presentations than progress on the ground.”

Abraham Lincoln High School. Source: Google Maps

Abraham Lincoln High School. Source: Google Maps

New York Rising, the state initiative to put long-term storm resiliency planning in the hands of communities, is gathering tomorrow to unveil drafts of their plan for Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Manhattan Beach and Sea Gate. Members of these communities are invited to attend and give feedback.

The meeting is scheduled to take place in the cafeteria of Abraham Lincoln High School (2800 Ocean Parkway) on Tuesday, November 12 between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.

As we’ve previously reported, New York Rising is an initiative spearheaded by Governor Andrew Cuomo that gives community members power in determining how to spend $750 million in federal Sandy aid dollars. The last meeting was held in late October and a strong public showing is vital for the program’s success.

Event organizers are planning to report on the progress made so far with the public, share ideas for future projects and take community input on ideas for other resiliency projects.

For more information on New York Rising, click here.

The Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach coalition will meet on November 20.

Source: kainet / Flickr

Source: kainet / Flickr

The following information regarding pesticide spraying on September 3 to cut down on the risk of West Nile Virus was sent to us by the Department of Health:

To reduce mosquito activity and the risk of West Nile virus, the Health Department will spray pesticide from trucks in parts of Brooklyn on Tuesday, September 3, 2013 between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. the following morning, weather permitting. In case of bad weather, application will be delayed until Monday, September 9, 2013 during the same hours. The neighborhoods listed below are being treated due to rising West Nile virus activity with high mosquito populations.

Neighborhoods

The areas being sprayed are parts of Brighton Beach, Bergen Beach, Coney Island, East Flatbush, Flatlands, Georgetown, Gravesend, Gerritsen Beach, Homecrest, Marine Park, Manhattan Beach, Midwood, Middle Basin, Mill Island, Mill Basin, Sea Gate, Sheepshead Bay.

Boundaries

The boundaries are bordered by Avenue D, Brooklyn Avenue, East 36th Street, Avenue I, East 14th Street, Avenue U, Nostrand Avenue, Avenue X and 86th Street to the North; Bay Parkway and Gravesend Bay to the West; Atlantic Ocean, Knapp Street, Sheepshead Bay, Avenue X and Gerritsen Avenue to the South; and Belt Parkway, Paerdegat Basin and Ralph Avenue to the East.

ZIP Codes

The ZIP codes affected will be parts of 11203, 11210, 11214, 11223, 11224, 11229, 11230, 11234, and 11235.

For these sprayings, the Health Department will use a very low concentration of Anvil® 10+10, a synthetic pesticide. When properly used, this product poses no significant risks to human health. The Health Department recommends that people take the following precautions to minimize direct exposure:

  • Whenever possible, stay indoors during spraying. People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are encouraged to stay inside during spraying since direct exposure could worsen these conditions.
  • Air conditioners may remain on, however, if you wish to reduce the possibility of indoor exposure to pesticides, set the air conditioner vent to the closed position, or choose the re-circulate function.
  • Remove children’s toys, outdoor equipment, and clothes from outdoor areas during spraying. If outdoor equipment and toys are exposed to pesticides, wash them with soap and water before using again.
  • Wash skin and clothing exposed to pesticides with soap and water. Always wash your produce thoroughly with water before cooking or eating.

Reducing Exposure to Mosquitoes

  • Consider reducing the amount of time spent outdoors during the hours between dusk and dawn in areas with heavy mosquito populations.
  • Use an approved insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus (not for children under three).
  • Make sure windows have screens, and repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.
  • Eliminate any standing water from your property, and dispose of containers that can collect water.
  • Standing water is a violation of the New York City Health Code.
  • Make sure roof gutters are clean and draining properly.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. Keep them empty and covered if not in use; drain water that collects in pool covers.
  • Report standing water by calling 311 or visiting www.nyc.gov.
Source: University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service

The racial diversity of Brookyn (Source: University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service)

It might be hard to believe but every single pixelated dot represented on the map above is a person living in Brooklyn in 2010 and the colors correspond to their race. Dustin Cable, a senior research associate at the University of Virgina’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, created the interactive map using data from the 2010 census.

The zoomable “Racial Dot Map,” astonishingly places a different colored dot for everyone of the 308,745,538 people tracked in the last census. Incredibly, according to a report by National Geographic, if you zoom to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the location of the White House, you see can see 5 green dots (representing black Americans) signifying the first family and Barack Obama’s mother-in-law.

More locally, we can see how race fans out over Brooklyn. The predominantly white population (represented by blue dots) of Sea Gate abruptly gives way to the black, Hispanic (orange) and Asian (red) enclaves of Coney Island. The western section Brighton Beach is almost entirely white. A mix of Asian and Hispanic people are tucked neatly away in the land side of Brighton Beach, away from the more desirable waterfront, while the majority of Manhattan Beach is clearly made up of white people.

Sheepshead Bay is actually surprisingly integrated. It’s predominantly white but blended – especially as you approach Avenue U – with smaller pockets of Asian and Hispanic people lining the edges. We’re not particularly integrated when it comes to black Americans, though, which are appear confined to the greenish, orangish square of the Sheepshead-Nostrand Housing projects.

It’s quite the eye opener to see just how Asian and Hispanic the historically Italian neighborhood of Bensonhurst has become. Anecdotally, and through census numbers, we know the area has transitioned drastically over the years, but seeing it visualized like this brings it to life. Bath Beach and the Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst border are real bastions of integration, if only because it’s still in flux.

Surprisingly, based on the unscientific eyeball test, some of the most diverse neighborhoods in Brooklyn are Red Hook, Park Slope and South Slope (which we’re not entirely committed to recognizing as a real neighborhood yet).

Another interesting note is that the further you zoom out, the more you see the colors blend in ways that indicate greater diversity. Purple and teal colors signify great diversity and when the map is pushed back to reveal the entire tri-state area, it is clear that Brooklyn and New York City is mostly a purplish blob. This is evident in most metropolitan areas across the United States. Still, the closer you zoom in, the more you can racial divides, even on a street by street basis. Interesting stuff, indeed.

You can play around with the map by clicking here.

UPDATE (August 30 @ 3:32 p.m.): In response to a request from bill, in the comments, I’ve attempted to overlay district lines on the map above. It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty close and the best I was able to do:

district-census-overlay2

It was actually a great suggestion that helps us visualize exactly how districts were shaped to either bolster representation of some ethnic groups (either to match requirements set by the Voting Rights Act or concentrate a voting base, depending on your perspective), and to diminish others.

Some examples? Looks like Bensonhurst’s Asian community was divided up among four different council districts. In Sheepshead Bay, the housing projects by Nostrand Avenue, once part of the 48th District, were drawn into the 46th, pretty much removing all of the black vote from the district and putting it safely in a minority-majority district.

This is probably one of the most politically enlightening maps I’ve seen yet, so thanks to bill for suggesting we put it together.

Source: furmancenter.org via gothamist

Source: furmancenter.org via gothamist

New Yorkers are born complainers. The tradition started in 1626 when the leader of the local Lenape Indians informed his people that he sold Manhattan Island for $24 worth of beads. You can only imagine grumbling as the Lenape packed up their things and headed for Staten Island. While someone could probably fashion a list of over a million complaints that New Yorkers assert on a daily basis, researchers at the Furman Center have boiled down the most frequently registered complaints issued by every neighborhood in the city.

By analyzing 311 data from last summer, the Furman Center produced the map seen above. While this map gives you a general idea of what New Yorkers are upset about, we thought it would be interesting to see what specifically people in our area have been griping about. Here is a break down for our local communities. Spoiler? People really need to stop blocking the driveways.

Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach and Gerritsen Beach (lumped into one category by 311):

  1. Street Light Out
  2. No Access (blocked driveways)
  3. With licence plate (derelict vehicles; sometimes vehicles that appear abandoned or have parked in a space for too long)

Seagate and Coney Island:

  1. Loud Music/Party
  2. Vermin
  3. Pothole

West Brighton (a.k.a. Coney Island, from Ocean Parkway to the Steeplechase Pier):

  1. Vermin
  2. Broken Muni-Meter
  3. Water Supply

Brighton Beach:

  1. No Access
  2. Pothole
  3. Broken Muni-Meter

Homecrest:

  1. No Access
  2. Vermin
  3. Sewer Backup

Midwood:

  1. Ceiling (this is a complaint against landlords [including the MTA, in the case of train stations] for crumbling ceilings)
  2. Fallen Branches
  3. No Access

Ocean Parkway South:

  1. No Access
  2. Fallen Branches
  3. Dead Animals

Gravesend:

  1. Street Light Out
  2. Derelict Vehicles
  3. Pothole
Photo By Yelena Linetskaya

Photo By Yelena Linetskaya

We’ve mentioned it before, but now the rest of the city appears to be paying attention: thousands of trees in Superstorm Sandy damaged areas like Manhattan Beach and Sea Gate are dying or dead and Parks Department officials aren’t exactly sure why. The New York Daily News is reporting that the Parks Department has sent experts to all five boroughs to investigate the matter, which is quickly becoming an ecological disaster.

As summer heats up and trees fail to bloom, residents have been left with falling bark, limbs and eyesores dotting lining their streets. The Parks Department’s director of street tree planting, Matthew Stephens, told the Daily News that Sandy is to blame but the exact reasons aren’t yet clear.

“Trees can’t absorb nutrients like they usually do,” Stephens said.

Stephens and his team are currently cataloging how many trees are healthy, dead or dying so the city can begin a process of replacing the dead ones.

Carl Cahill, owner of Evergreen Tree Experts, has been working overtime in removing dead wood from Brooklyn streets. Cahill offered his own theory as to why all the trees are dying.

“Once the heat hit, the salt water (from the flood) dried out the roots. The bark is literally falling off the tree,” Cahill told the Daily News.

Homeowners are paying people like Cahill up to four figures to remove dead trees from their property.

Sheepshead Bites reader Yelena Linetskaya sent us the following photos of many dead and dying trees lining the streets of Manhattan Beach.

Photo courtesy of Yelena Linetskaya

Photo courtesy of Yelena Linetskaya

Photo courtesy of Yelena Linetskaya

Photo courtesy of Yelena Linetskaya

Photo courtesy of Yelena Linetskaya

Photo courtesy of Yelena Linetskaya

Photo courtesy of Yelena Linetskaya

Photo courtesy of Yelena Linetskaya

Source: David Mendl via flavorwire.com

David Mandl, a writer, photographer and Bensonhurst native, completed a gorgeous new photo essay for Flavor Wire. The photo essay explores what Mandl calls “Unknown Brooklyn.” For better or worse, it’s almost exclusively Southern Brooklyn, with photos from Midwood, Sea Gate, Canarsie and Sheepshead Bay. Sure, it’s known to us, but we’re used to being a world away from Flavor Wire’s “culturally connected people.” That’s fine by us.

Source: David Mendl via flavorwire.com

One of my favorite passages describes Mandl’s trip through Sheepshead Bay where he discovered a strip of tiny houses with an interesting history:

Toward the eastern end of Sheepshead Bay and just off the neighborhood’s main drag, Emmons Avenue, there’s a cluster of tiny streets that most people pass by without even noticing them. Created mostly in the ’20s, and “built on sand,” according to one resident I spoke to, they used to be lined with summer cottages used by wealthy patrons of the nearby race track (which was demolished long ago). Those cottages have been replaced with real, heated, year-round houses, albeit very small ones.

I also appreciated Mandl’s exploration of the abandoned Long Island Rail Road line that cuts through Midwood. The creepy abandoned tracks always give a ghostly vibe when I cross the blocked overpasses that give you a limited view of a once busy transit line.

Source: David Mandl via flavorwire.com

Some of the damage in Sea Gate, at the tip of Coney Island, left by Sandy. Photo by Erica Sherman

A news report is shining a light on Coney Island residents still left in the dark with no power, and in some cases with no heat or hot water. Public housing buildings right by the boardwalk got smashed by Sandy – flooding basements, pouring sand into building lobbies, and totaling cars – leaving elderly residents vulnerable, and causing increasing dismay as each day passes.

“Cold, no water, can’t flush my commode, I have to come downstairs and bring water up, ice, my refrigerator is not working because I have no electric. We need help,” told a Coney Island tenant to NY1.

As Sheepshead Bites’ own Laura Vladimirova previously reported, the situation on Coney Island is dire, and the area is in desperate need of supplies and volunteers like her and Bensonhurst Bean’s David Cohen, who both graciously offered their time to help out. If you are looking to donate, Laura recommends the following items: water, matches, candles, flashlights, canned goods, blankets, and clothing.

The Red Cross, FEMA, and the National Guard have set up emergency services in the area to help residents in the area with food and supplies. If you are a Coney Island resident in need of relief services, you can head to Brighton Beach Avenue and Coney Island Avenue until 4:00 p.m. Services are also being offered at West 25th Street and Surf Avenue until 4:00 p.m., and FEMA will be at the MCU Ballpark until 5 p.m.

More information can also be found on the Twitter pages of local pols, including Councilman Domenic M. Recchia, and Assemblymen Alec Brook-Krasny, both of whom are supplying up to the minute status reports and updates from Coney Island in an effort bring the area back from the abyss.

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