Archive for the tag 'steven cymbrowitz'

The Parks Department says it can avoid routine maintenance by replacing wooden planks that warp over time, seen above, with concrete and plastic. (Photo by Ned Berke)

A site trailer and construction fence were installed at Brighton 15th Street this month – a first step in a controversial plan to replace the Riegelmann Boardwalk’s iconic wooden planks between Brighton 15th Street and Coney Island Avenue with cement and plastic. But several elected officials are expressing outrage about the work, and at least one is threatening to cut off funding to the project.

Construction on the Coney Island Boardwalk officially began on November 11, the Parks Department confirmed, despite fierce objection from community members, advocates, and local politicians who disagree with the plan to replace the boardwalk with artificial materials.

“I remain very disappointed that the Parks Department is moving forward with this major change to the boardwalk without completing any safety studies to determine the impact it will have on the community,” said City Councilman Mark Treyger. “The Parks Department is also ignoring the will of the local state lawmakers who allocated this funding for repairs, and not for a new concrete road down the middle of the iconic boardwalk.”

The state lawmakers in question are Assembly members Alec Brook-Krasny and Steven Cymbrowitz, who together allocated $10 million to the Parks Department in 2009 for general repairs and improvements to the 2.5-mile span. The funding can be cut off at the lawmakers’ discretion – but only before the contracts are signed. That time has passed, but Cymbrowitz said he’s still going to find a way to close the funding spigot.

“I am outraged that Mayor [Bill] De Blasio and Commissioner [Mitchell] Silver have fast-tracked the destruction of an iconic landmark in southern Brooklyn. As I wrote to Mayor de Blasio, concrete and composite plastics are a poor approximation for a boardwalk. It’s a boardwalk, not a sidewalk. There are also significant safety concerns with this project since no impact study has been done,” said Cymbrowitz in a statement. “This is an underhanded misuse of the money and the mayor knows it. I will work to make sure that the millions of dollars I allocated are cut off. I fought hard for the boardwalk to be repaired, not to fund the elimination of the boardwalk as this community and all New Yorkers know it.”

He’s backed up by both Treyger and Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who say that the funders’ intentions should be considered in how their money is spent.

“The money came from Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, and whoever gave the money for the boardwalk should have a voice in it,” Deutsch told this outlet.

Even though Coney Island’s boardwalk survived Superstorm Sandy relatively unscathed compared to the Rockaways’ concrete walk, Mayor Michael Bloomberg deemed all wooden boardwalks insufficient to withstand the ocean’s surges, and commissioned them to be replaced with concrete. That was the plan anyway, following a 2008 directive from Bloomberg’s office that city agencies would stop using tropical hardwoods – the type used to construct the boardwalk – for environmental reasons. The de Blasio administration has continued to press forward with those policies.

“Using tropical hardwoods could contribute to the climate change that helped destroy the boardwalk in the first place and it would be more expensive,” said a spokesperson for the Parks Department. Critics point out that there are other options, including sustainable domestic hardwoods such as Black Locust or White Oak, that can be used.

But the lower cost of maintaining concrete, long a part of the Parks Department’s justification for switching to cement, does not necessarily mean it will hold up better during storms, said Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who represents the Brighton Beach portion of the Riegelmann Boardwalk. He, Treyger and Cymbrowitz want an impact study that considers the performance of concrete in storm surges. Other areas, including Manhattan Beach and the Rockaways, saw huge concrete chunks barrel through the streets as they broke up during the October 2012 storm.

“[This is] about what is safer with the community in case another storm comes in,” he said. “It has to be safe, not just more resilient in terms of repairs, but what’s safe in regards to any kind of surge.”

Even before the storm, advocacy groups filed a lawsuit hoping to stop the plan, demanding a full environmental review. But just weeks after Superstorm Sandy, a judge ruled that the project did not need to undergo such a study since it would not constitute a signficant change the existing structure.

The boardwalk construction is expected to be completed in time for the 2016 beach season, according to the Parks Department. Elected officials are asking the city to terminate all construction until the concerns of residents are addressed.

Here is a map of the proposed plan via the Coney Island Boardwalk Alliance:

boardwalk-map

Click to enlarge

– With additional reporting by Ned Berke.

Dynamic's Brooklyn facility at 1830 Coney Island Avenue. (Source: DYCInc.org)

Dynamic’s Brooklyn facility at 1830 Coney Island Avenue. (Source: DYCInc.org)

The associate director of a Midwood-based drug rehabilitation and counseling center said she was among the first to sound the alarm about an impending spike in heroin abuse in the community, and now the group is turning to the radio to bring it to an end.

Karen Carlini, associate director of Dynamic Youth Community at 1830 Coney Island Avenue, told PIX11 that she knew there was a crisis on the horizon and was warning parents, community leaders and law enforcement more than a decade ago.

“We saw it happening every year,” Carlini told the outlet. “And we tried to tell people what we saw happening.”

Carlini, who has worked in the substance abuse field for 40 years, said she realized what was coming when she saw the nature of abuse change in the 1990s. While, nationally, heroin abuse cases were declining, she saw a rise in opiate painkiller abuse – pills with similar properties to that of heroin.

New painkillers, like Vicadin and Oxycontin, were liberally doled out to patients in the 1990s. Prescribed for cases ranging from a pulled tooth to severe cancers and injuries, leftover pills found their way into home medical cabinets. That gave easy access to teens, and the highly addictive drugs made an impression.

The state has spent the past decade tackling the problem, and a slew of legislative reforms over the past few years have cracked down on abuse. Addicted teens turned to heroin, an increasingly cheaper alternative.

Dynamic, which operates an intensive, in-patient rehab facility in Fallsburg, New York, called Dynamite Youth Facility, now works closely with community leaders to help meet the problem head on – including with local Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, chairman of the Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee.

The pol launched a partnership with Dynamic this summer, as well as with the Kings Bay Y, to tackle the issue with an emphasis on the Russian-speaking community. They’ve established a regular segment on Russian-language DaNU Radio to reach out, saying that there are limited options for the Russian community because of language barriers and stigma.

“Many families don’t recognize the signs of addiction, are unaware of the help that’s out there, or are reluctant to address their child’s addiction because of feelings of shame,” said Cymbrowitz in a press release announcing the initiative. “We need to break this deadly cycle of addiction – and the only way to do that is by pooling our expertise and resources and working together.”

Photo by Erica Sherman

Photo by Erica Sherman

Update (4:47pm): I thought these people cared about my health, but apparently they want to give me a heart attack. Moments after this piece was published Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz’s office informed me that the event has been postponed.

Original post:

Worried about your blood pressure? After this week’s elections, we can’t blame you.

Fortunately, you can get it checked out, as well as a have your body mass index, height and weight analyzed at an event tomorrow at Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz’s office.

From 11am to 2pm, medical professionals from SUNY Downstate Medical Center will be at the pol’s 1800 Sheepshead Bay Road district office.

Get your health checked and seek advice from those in the know for no charge at all.

All visits are confidential, but appointments are required. Just call (718) 743-4078 to schedule a visit.

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

A Russian-language radio ad promoting the Republican campaign of Ben Akselrod claims credit for a project currently funded by his opponent, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, Sheepshead Bites has learned.

The commercial was heard airing on Davidzon Radio last week. It appears to be a paid announcement in which a supporter listed the candidate’s accomplishments, including among them that “Paths in the sand to the sea are also his work.”

Hear the ad below:

The ad, translated by three independent sources for Sheepshead Bites, appears to be highlighting Mobi-Mats, special mats on Brighton Beach and Coney Island beach that extend from the boardwalk to the water’s edge. They allow those in wheelchairs, or who suffer from other disabilities that make walking on sand difficult, to access the waterfront and are popular with the area’s senior community.

Example of a Mobi-Mat (Source: assistivetech.net)

Example of a Mobi-Mat (Source: assistivetech.net)

However, there appears to be no record of Akselrod working to obtain Mobi-Mats. The first set of them appeared in 2007, five years before he ever ran for office. Three new mats – two in Coney Island and one at Brighton 6th Street – were added this summer. At the time of the announcement of the expansion, Council members Mark Treyger and Chaim Deutsch claimed credit for their placement.

While Treyger and Deutsch prodded the city for additional placements this summer, the only local elected officials to steer actual funding for the mats are Assembly members Alec Brook-Krasny and Steven Cymbrowitz – the latter of which Akselrod hopes to unseat in tomorrow’s election.

The mats that served the disabled this summer were paid for with mayoral funding, the Parks Department confirmed. A further expansion is planned with funding from Cymbrowitz and Brook-Krasny in response to the community’s need for more accessibility, said a Parks spokesperson. Those funds were part of a $10 million allocation in 2009 for repairs and general improvements of the Riegelmann Boardwalk, and the local Assembly members requested Mobi-Mats be part of the scope.

The radio announcement was made by Bella Akhmechet, a supporter of Akselrod’s who contributed to his campaign. It goes on to say that she has known the candidate for more than a decade as a “respectable and worthy person … who is not indifferent to our needs.” It touts his “distribution of humanitarian aid” after Superstorm Sandy, and notes that he is a “humble person,” urging potential voters to cast their vote for Akselrod during the campaign.

Like many campaign ads placed on Davidzon Radio, it is not explicitly labeled as an ad. However, Akselrod’s campaign paid $3,000 to Davidzon Radio on September 12 for radio advertising.

Askelrod did not return multiple requests for comment.

The candidate, a Democrat, has been actively campaigning on the Republican line following his defeat in the Democratic primary. The GOP nomination came following a write-in initiative on the Republican line that he organized as a safeguard, and he won the Republican primary with 46 votes, as first reported by Sheepshead Bites. He was recently endorsed by former Republican Congressman Bob Turner.

Although he promised to resign as president of the Bay Democrats, the local Democratic club he leads alongside 45th Assembly District Leader Ari Kagan, he has not yet done so, according to reports.

With thanks to our readers who volunteered to translate to the advertisement.

A scene from last year’s Light up the Shore event. Photo by Ned Berke

The following is a press release from the Bay Improvement Group:

Elected officials, recovery organizations, community leaders, and residents of Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, will gather on Wednesday, October 29 at 7:30pm to remember the two-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, which devastated South Brooklyn, including this waterfront community.

The remembrance, part of a city-wide initiative “Light the Shore” spearheaded by the long-term recovery groups, will be held overlooking the water on the deck of the Baron de Kalb Knights of Columbus, located at 3000 Emmons Avenue in Sheepshead Bay.

In addition to residents impacted by the disaster, elected officials Councilman Chaim Deutsch and Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz; representatives of nonprofits involved in Sheepshead Bay’s recovery, including the Bay Improvement Group (BIG), Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS), Kings Bay Y, and Resurrection Brooklyn Relief; and religious leaders will attend the event, now in its second year.

A brief memorial ceremony will be held alongside the bay, or inside, in the event of rain. Light refreshments will be offered afterwards, when residents will also have the opportunity to meet disaster assistance representatives and learn more about recovery services they are still offering.

No reservations necessary. All welcome.

Questions about the event may be addressed to Bay Improvement Group at 718-646-9206 or by emailing bayimprovementgrp@gmail.com.

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

The race for the 45th District of the State Assembly lives on!

Ben Akselrod, a Democrat, has scored the Republican nomination for the 45th Assembly race, allowing him to continue his challenge against incumbent Steven Cymbrowitz until election day on November 4.

Akselrod, president of the Bay Democrats political club, received the most write-in votes – 46 in all – during the Republican primary, allowing him to steal the GOP line for the general election.

There were no candidates backed by the party in the primary, which would normally mean there is no primary and thus no general election candidate. But Republican voters, which sources say were organized by the Akselrod campaign, filed petitions requesting an “opportunity to ballot,” forcing the party to hold a primary to gather write-in votes. The results of the write-ins became public last week.

Steven Cymbrowitz received the second highest amount of write-in votes with 27. There were 11 more write-ins who received one vote each, and Russian media mogul Gregory Davidzon snagged two write-in votes. Another 31 write-ins were illegible.

That allows Akselrod to move forward to the general election, but it’s still not clear if he’s going to actively campaign for the seat. Akselrod has not returned a request for comment.

The latest campaign filing for Akselrod shows he only has $3,986.22 on hand. Cymbrowitz, meanwhile, has $36,650.18.

Ozzie Heymann, Akselrod’s campaign manager during the primary, said he wasn’t sure of the candidate’s plans and if he’ll be involved in the general election campaign.

“I don’t know that there would be a campaign. If there would be, I assume that I would be involved. But that hasn’t been decided yet,” Heymann said.

Another close Akselrod supporter, Democratic District Leader Ari Kagan, said Akselrod is unlikely to have a decision before October 15, when the Jewish holidays end. That would leave less than a month to campaign.

The development itself also puts Kagan in an awkward position. In 2012, Kagan unseated longtime district leader Michael Geller, largely on the criticism that Geller had a record of supporting Republican candidates. Now his good friend, political ally, and the chosen president of his Democratic club is running on the GOP line.

Kagan, who is openly critical of Cymbrowitz, said he will stay on the sidelines if Akselrod decides to campaign.

“I’m the Democratic district leader, a strong democrat,” said Kagan. “If [Akselrod] runs as a Republican, there’s a 99 percent chance that I will not support the Republican nominee. But that doesn’t mean I will support the Democratic nominee. I never said anywhere I would just support anyone.”

Kagan also said that he and Akselrod previously discussed the possibility that Akselrod would win the Republican line, and it comes with a consequence.

“If he decides to run on the Republican line, he’ll resign from the Bay Democrats. That’s for sure,” he said.

Despite losing the primary election to Cymbrowitz in 2012, Akselrod was able to move onto the general election on the Independence Party line. That created a three-way race with Russ Gallo as a Republican. Gallo and Akselrod combined took home just shy of 45 percent of the vote, while Cymbrowitz took 55 percent of the vote. Akselrod alone had 19 percent of the vote.

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, a member of the Assembly's Health Committee, greets participants during his annual health fair. Source: Cymbrowitz's Office

Source: Cymbrowitz’s Office

Sorry for the late notice, but beginning later today, Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz’ office, in conjunction with Mount Sinai Beth Israel Brooklyn Medical Center, will be hosting free flu shots.

Appointments are required. If you cannot get an appointment today, his office is offering two more convenient dates. The complete schedule is as follows:

  • Monday, September 29, 1:30-4:30pm
  • Monday, October 6, 10am-2pm
  • Thursday, October 23, 1:30-4:30pm

Assemblyman Cymbrowitz’ office is located at 1800 Sheepshead Bay Road between Shore Parkway and Emmons Avenue (across the street from El Greco diner).

To schedule your flu shot, call (718) 743-4078 or email cymbros@assembly.state.ny.us.

 

Treyger and 61st Precinct Commanding Officer Carlos Valdez at the scene. (Source: Conor Greene)

Treyger and 61st Precinct Commanding Officer Carlos Valdez at the scene. (Source: Conor Greene)

After Sheepshead Bites’ report yesterday about a swastika appearing on the American Legion building at 300 Avenue X, elected officials condemned the hateful act and authorities rushed to have it investigated and removed today.

Members of the Marlboro Memorial Post 1437 American Legion chapter were apparently unaware of the graffiti. Councilman Mark Treyger’s office visited the site to inform them, and the pol called the NYPD’s 61st Precinct commanding officer, Deputy Inspector Carlos Valdez, to the scene to report the incident as a hate crime.

The pol then called the mayor’s office to dispatch the Economic Development Corporation’s graffiti removal service. As of 1:45pm today, police and the EDC were on the scene. When the police wrapped up their investigation, the graffiti was immediately removed.

Treyger said he spoke to members of the American Legion post, which included World War II veterans who were glad to see the symbol of hate eliminated.

Source: Michael S.

The swastika before it was removed. Source: Michael S.

“A swastika is not just offensive to the Jewish community, it’s offensive to everybody,” Treyger said. “An attack against one part of our community is an attack against us all. We have a zero tolerance policy on that.”

He added: “I do want to commend the precinct for coming down quickly, and the mayor’s office for sending the graffiti removal van immediately.”

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz expressed his outrage at the vandalism on Facebook yesterday evening.

“I condemn the spray-painting of a swastika on American Legion Marlboro Memorial Post 1437, whose members include World War II veterans who saw the Nazi atrocities firsthand,” he wrote. “I will continue to work with authorities to ensure that the perpetrator of this hate vandalism is swiftly brought to justice. As the son of Holocaust survivors, I believe we must continue to educate people about this terrible period in our history. Ignorance is no excuse for spreading messages of hate.”

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer also reached out to Sheepshead Bites by e-mail following our report, also to condemn the graffiti. He wrote:

I condemn hate crimes—from the five boroughs of New York City to every corner of the globe. Our extraordinary diversity is one of our greatest strengths. As such, any and all acts against people based on their sex, race, religion, color, or creed are attacks that cut to the very core of who we are as New Yorkers and what this City has meant and always will mean to people around the world. We stand united against these crimes, confident that the light of peace and justice will always triumph over the darkness of hate and prejudice.

While Treyger and others expressed gratitude to Sheepshead Bites for bringing attention to the anti-Semitic vandalism, the real credit goes to tipster Michael S. who was the first to speak up about it.

If you see an issue in the neighborhood that’s not getting the attention it deserves, send details and, if available, photos and video to editor [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

Jamaica F Train

Local leaders are putting pressure on the MTA to restore express service on the F train in Brooklyn, last experienced by commuters in 1987, while the MTA remains a bit iffy on the issue.

In a letter sent to MTA Chairman Thomas F. Prendergast today, a bipartisan group of 14 city, state, and federal leaders said that the “benefits of restoring the F train express service in Brooklyn would be felt throughout the borough with decreased travel time to Manhattan, decreased delays along the entire line, and a better quality of life for all subway riders in our communities.”

To that end, they’d like to see limited northbound F express service restored in the mornings and southbound F express service in the evenings, saying this could also help ease crowding caused by an increase in ridership over the past year at 19 of the 22 Brooklyn F stops.

The MTA has been studying the possibility, but says that track work on the Culver Viaduct would have to be completed before they could do it — and they don’t have an end date for that, reports AM New York. Additionally, there are other challenges to restoring express service — track space for when the rails merge between the Bergen St and Jay St stops, as well as figuring out how riders at different stations will be impacted by the change.

“The largest volumes are getting on at some of the stations closer in anyway,” MTA spokesman Adam Lisberg told AM New York. “How much savings is there really? That’s why we’re doing the study, to find out.”

2009 review of the F line that State Senator Daniel Squadron created with the MTA cited those issues, and added that express service “would require additional trains and cars; such a service increase would increase operating costs.”

The elected officials who sent the letter are Borough President Eric Adams; Representatives Hakeem Jeffries, Jerrold Nadler, and Michael Grimm; State Senators Martin Golden, Diane Savino, and Squadron; Assembly Members James Brennan, Steven Cymbrowitz, William Colton, and Joan Millman; and Council Members Stephen Levin, David Greenfield, and Mark Treyger.

They all believe the benefits outweigh the costs — what do you think, do we need express service back on the F?

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

Nobody beats the ‘witz, at least not in the 2014 primary elections.

Fourteen-year incumbent Steven Cymbrowitz won his party’s nod for reelection to the 45th Assembly District last night in one of the closest elections in the borough. But it was a solid victory for the local pol, who bested challenger Ben Akselrod by a margin nearly double that won during his 2012 matchup against the same candidate.

Cymbrowitz gave his victory speech just before 11pm last night, when his team had tallied up initial reports from approximately 70 percent of precincts.

“It was a terrific campaign. We more than doubled our victory from two years ago,” he said of the preliminary numbers that came in before all votes were counted. “I want to thank every part of my community … This was really very, very special.”

Preliminary results from the Board of Elections show Cymbrowitz with 2,137 votes, or 57.2 percent of the total, versus Ben Akselrod’s 1,599 votes, or 42.8 percent. In both percentage and actual votes, Cymbrowitz showed sizable gains over his opponent, who he beat by just eight points, or 294 votes in 2012. The margin this year was 538 votes, or 14 points.

Voters may not have seen the last of Ben Akselrod in this campaign season, however. The candidate filed an opportunity to ballot on the Republican line, a procedure that could have him in the general election if he organized enough write-in votes from Republican voters yesterday. The Board of Election will take several weeks to count, review and certify those ballots to make it official.

The win appeared to surprise some political observers, who believed Cymbrowitz’s strength had been diminished by the growing political influence of Russian and Jewish voters in the district that they believed would fall more heavily to Askelrod, who is both Russian and Orthodox Jewish.

It was a tough fought and, at times, nasty campaign, with allegations of voter harassment on the Sabbath, mysterious race-tinged fliers, and anonymous phone calls that attacked the incumbent’s wife for not being Jewish.

Cymbrowitz alluded to one of those negative attacks in his victory speech.

“I particularly want to thank [my wife] Vilma for not only being a great support, but keeping her cool when she had to when the attacks started coming,” he said.

Cymbrowitz will now move on to the general elections on November 4, where he’ll face off against Mikhail Usher, who is running on the Conservative Party line, and possibly Akselrod on the Republican line.

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