Archive for the tag 'steve barrison'

loehmanns

ONLY ON SHEEPSHEAD BITES: The owners of Loehmann’s Seaport Plaza (2027 Emmons Avenue) have submitted plans to the Department of Building to construct a new extension to the controversial building, leaving those who fought its initial construction nearly 20 years ago in a state of shock.

The proposed extension would add a new story of commercial offices, totaling 10,000 square feet. The plans are in violation of zoning and the property’s current variance, and will soon be considered by Community Board 15 and the Board of Standards and Appeals.

One of the property’s owners, Alex Levin, confirmed the expansion.

“We’re looking to expand office space,” he said. “We’re going to bring the elevator up to [a new third] floor. We have our reasons.”

The project’s architect, Robert Palermo, declined to discuss the plans.

“It’s privileged information. When it comes before the board, it’ll be public,” he said.

There is no date set yet for a public hearing at Community Board 15, the first step to obtaining any variance. Chairperson Theresa Scavo said she had not yet been notified by the Board of Standards Appeals.

As a resident, though, she was shocked to learn of the plan.

“Speaking personally, it was against the special Sheepshead zoning district to begin with, and to add a floor is a slap in the face to the people of Sheepshead Bay,” she said. “I cannot believe that adding another floor is going to give the Bay a better look with that monstrosity there.”

The building sits within the Sheepshead Bay special zoning district, which limits the size and use of structures along the Emmons Avenue waterfront. The area is limited to waterfront and tourist-related activities, and special density and height limits govern development.

Many longtime Sheepshead Bay activists credit the development of Loehmann’s Seaport Plaza in the 1990s as the death of the special district, having won a variance that, according to those who fought it, resulted in it being 800 percent larger than legal limits. The exception was won due to the promise of the retail giant Loehmann’s as an anchor tenant, justifying jobs and commercial draw in exchange for its waiver.

Loehmann’s went bankrupt and vacated the property last month.

Bay Improvement Group Steve Barrison, one of the development’s most vocal opponents, said the new application is history repeating itself.

“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. So that’s it. Unbelievable,” he said. “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.”

Barrison added that there’s little legal justification to allow the variance simply for office space. According to the law, a developer must show that they suffer from certain hardships, as found in section 72-21 of New York’s Zoning Resolution.

“It’s insensitive to the whole community after Sandy,” said Barrison. “All of the people who haven’t moved in or are still rebuilding and trying to get their lives together. Now [this developer] wants to go and build and increase zoning some more when people can’t speak up.”

If Bay Improvement Group decides to fight the variance, they’ll be fighting a different developer than they did in the 1990s. The building was sold to Levin in 2008 for $24 million, a local real estate record at the time.

Students from St. Mark School served as Santa's little helpers at the event, piling the donated toys and greeting guests.

Students from St. Mark School served as Santa’s little helpers at the event, piling the donated toys and greeting guests.

The Bay Improvement Group’s  23rd annual concert and toy drive on Sunday saw hundreds of toys piled on stage as Vince Martell of Vanilla Fudge jammed for the crowd.

The 225 toys collected will go to a shelter for battered women and their children located in the heart of Sheepshead Bay. It’s a toy drive in our community that ensures toys stay with the needy of our community, said BIG Executive Director Steve Barrison.

“We have a battered women’s shelter down the block and they were not getting anything [from other drives]. And that’s really the heart of it,” Barrison told Sheepshead Bites at the event, which took place in the Baron DeKalb Knights of Columbus (3000 Emmons Avenue). “We’ve got to fill the need right here in our own community, and we know where the toys go.”

The event started 23 years ago, when Barrison and Martell, who previously met at a diner, decided to spend the holiday season driving around in a limo, popping out at random places and singing to pedestrians for donations for children’s toys. Since then, the event has moved around the neighborhood, including the old Lundy’s restaurant, various local businesses, several years at St. Mark School and now, for the first time, at the Knights.

Vanilla Fudge's Vince Martell. Source: Wikipedia

Vanilla Fudge’s Vince Martell. Source: Wikipedia

The 23rd Annual Bay Improvement Group (BIG) Celebrity Caroling Toy Drive, featuring Vanilla Fudge lead guitarist Vince Martell, Colorado recording artist Peg Pearl, Steam’s Greg Bravo (famed for “Na Na Na Na, Goodbye”) and more will be held this Sunday, December 15 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Baron DeKalb Knights of Columbus, 3000 Emmons Avenue.

Admission is free with your donation of a new unwrapped toy, which will go toward brightening up the Christmas of a less fortunate child.

For more information, call BIG President Steve Barrison at (212) 750-5560 or (718) 646-9206, email bayimprovementgrp@gmail.com or visit BIG on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and on www.bigbayfest.org and www.bayimprovementgroup.org.

If you ask me, Sheepshead Bay could definitely use some more crocuses. Source: Wikipedia

If you ask me, Sheepshead Bay could definitely use some more crocuses. Source: Wikipedia

New York Cares, which runs volunteer programs for 1,300 nonprofits, city agencies, and public schools, will join forces with the Bay Improvement Group (BIG) to restore and revitalize three garden sites hard hit by Superstorm Sandy, this Sunday, October 20 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Volunteers will weed, plant bulbs for the springtime, and place fall surface plants in areas to beautify the neighborhood.

The group will begin at the site at Sheepshead Bay Road and Shore Parkway and 9:00 a.m. sharp, and will offer free bagels and coffee for all volunteers.

For more information, call (718) 646-9206.

vendors

Photo by Steve Barrison

A frustrated Steve Barrison, president of the Bay Improvement Group, sent out this e-mail to local pols and Sheepshead Bites last night, demanding action against the illegal vendors hawking strawberries, blueberries and other items at the Sheepshead Bay Road entrance to the Sheepshead Bay subway station.

This was taken with my cell on a random week day evening after rush hour in front of the Sheepshead Bay subway station. This has been a complaint we have heard from local merchants afraid to complain publicly fearing they will be retaliated against.

It is many boxes of fruit. There was also much litter and many empty boxes are even piled up across the street left on the sidewalk near our BIG mural under the elevated subway.(East 15th Street)

Is this legal? What kind of permits are needed in front of the entrance/exit to the subway? Can the NYPD, DCA or whoever, do anything? Who enforces this? This has gone on for a very long time.

Clearly this hurts our neighborhood small businesses who pay significant rent for their fruit stands in a brick and mortar store.

Is this being investigated?

The filth alone deserves to be addressed and the legality and public safety too.

We can back up the fact that there’s a lot of grumbling about these vendors, and not just from business owners. We’ve received e-mails and photos from readers fed up with the garbage they leave around. And it’s not a new problem; way back in 2011 we published photos of the boxes of rotting fruits they left abandoned near the Neck Road station, and we’ve also seen their trash adjacent to the empty MTA-owned lot on East 15th Street, between Avenue Y and Avenue Z.

As for who is responsible for cracking down on these guys? If they’re unlicensed, it’s the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) – although there’s precedent for the local police precinct to do enforcement as well. In Sheepshead Bay, the 61st Precinct gives illegal flower vendors the boot on Valentine’s Day. In Brighton Beach, the 60th Precinct does it all year round. The Department of Sanitation is also responsible for busting them for the illegal commercial dumping they appear to be doing when they toss their trash in public places and empty lots.

Oh, and all those links in bold in the paragraph above? Those take you to the contact pages for each of the agencies so you can make your own complaint. You may also want to try Community Board 15, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitzs office and Councilman Michael Nelson‘s office.

UPDATE (2:59 p.m.): We heard from Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz’s office noting that he is working with the Health Department to shut down and remove the illegal vendors and that the department will be sending an inspector out.

The Parks Department planted approximately two dozen new trees along Emmons Avenue west of Ocean Avenue this week, as the city moves to complete the final phase of a decade-long rehabilitation of the waterfront.

The $460,000 project, funded by Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, will continue throughout the spring. On the checklist for beautification are:

  • repaired sidewalks
  • covered trash bins
  • new trees, with granite block pavement in enlarged tree pits
  • new curb cuts
  • fresh paint on the Bay’s railing
  • blue concrete and matching artistic design elements previously installed near the piers, from Ocean Avenue to East 27th Street
  • 1964 World’s Fair-style benches

When construction is finished, the Emmons Avenue street-scape will have seen a complete overhaul over the last decade. Repairs began in 2003, when the city installed new antique-style lights along Emmons Avenue and Shore Boulevard. In 2006, the city completed a similar renovation to the current one, from Ocean Avenue to East 27th Street, adding new benches, sidewalk designs, tree pits and more.

Cymbrowitz, in a press release, said that the improvements will help the community continue to recover from Superstorm Sandy.

“Beautifying Emmons Avenue is part of the larger mechanism of long-term recovery,” Cymbrowitz said. “Trees represent new life. They’re meant to last, and so is Sheepshead Bay.”

While organizers of the not-so-Great GoogaMooga reneged on their “rain or shine” billing in the face of Sunday’s drizzle, hundreds of Sheepshead Bay residents flocked to Emmons Avenue to prove what the phrase really means.

Bay Improvement Group’s 22nd Annual Bayfest went forward despite a day-long downfall that appeared to come in from all directions. Attendance was surely hampered by the weather, and even several of the sponsors bailed (Sheepshead Bites set up table, but, without a tent, was forced to say our goodbyes after our materials took on too much water).

Organizers plowed ahead anyway, keeping good on their promise, with music blaring from two main stages and a handful of performance areas. Inflatable rides amused kids – and also provided brief refuge from the rain, and sponsors like Investors Bank kept in good spirits, cheering to the music with their teams and handing out goodies.

Aside from all fun – soggy or not – the group’s president, Steve Barrison, took a moment before the festivities to honor the  Department of Sanitation with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Barrison and the group thanked the department for lifting, carting and removing countless tons of debris in the months after Superstorm Sandy.

See the photo gallery.

20130418-dsc_0066

The Bay Improvement Group boogied down and gave props up last Thursday night at their annual Oscars gala, when it celebrated a pack of heroes who went above and beyond to help neighbors during Superstorm Sandy.

Learn about the honorees, and view photos from the event.

Community Board 15 helped clear the way for a new storage facility on Knapp Street, voting in support of a waiver to existing zoning restrictions at their meeting last Tuesday despite objections from community groups.

The proposed location. Click to enlarge. (Source: Google Maps)

Metro Storage NY came before the Board in a process to repeal a “restrictive declaration” on the property at 2713-2735 Knapp Street, a wedge of land that juts into Plumb Beach Channel at Voorhies Avenue. The 28-year-old declaration prohibits any use other than a retail and marina development, a clause that has caused the land to stay desolate since the original plans fell through years ago.

“It’s derelict. What do I see here? I see some trucks, I see some cars,” said Metro Storage’s attorney, Howard Goldman, before the Board.

Goldman said the restrictive declaration and the lot’s proximity to the Coney Island Wastewater Treatment Plant means that few plans can get through the process to make use of the property. In 1996, an application was submitted for a two-story retail development was squashed, and, in 2005, a plan for a residential development was opposed by the Department of Environmental Protection.

Continue Reading »

Steven Cymbrowitz, Steve Barrison, Kevin Jeffrey at this afternoon’s announcement.

The city will kick off the final phase of an Emmons Avenue beautification project in the spring, capping off a 10-year rehabilitation of Sheepshead Bay’s waterfront, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz announced at a press conference today.

Cymbrowitz was joined by Parks Department Brooklyn Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey, Community Board 15 Chairperson Theresa Scavo, 46th District Leader Mike Geller, Bay Improvement Group President Steve Barrison and Parks Department’s Brooklyn Chief of Staff Martin Maher on Emmons Avenue and Sheepshead Bay Road this afternoon, celebrating the conclusion of a design study that will kick off the construction.

“If you look [at Emmons Avenue west of Ocean Avenue] the area is quite different than the rest of Emmons Avenue. There are several trees, some sidewalk, but that’s about it,” Cymbrowitz said. With construction expected to begin in the spring of 2013, the western portion of the strip will match the east, an area he says is “a lot more relaxing. It’s a terrific area to just sit.”

This latest phase of the project, affecting the water side of Emmons Avenue from Ocean Avenue to East 14th Street, will see improvements including:

  • repaired sidewalks
  • covered trash bins
  • new trees, with granite block pavement in enlarged tree pits
  • new curb cuts
  • fresh paint on the Bay’s railing
  • blue concrete and matching artistic design elements previously installed near the piers, from Ocean Avenue to East 27th Street
  • 1964 World’s Fair-style benches

The project will cost $460,000, with all funding provided by a 2008 MultiModal allocation by Cymbrowitz; MultiModal funding may only be used for transportation-related projects.

Continue Reading »

Next »