Saturday, June 30, 2007

PM Update: City Sued Repeatedly Over Injuries From Coney's Trip and Fall Boardwalk

Broken Boardwalk

If you read GL, you know we've written quite a few items over the last year or so about the awful condition of the boardwalk in Coney Island. GL has learned that the city was sued seven times in 2005 and 2006 over injuries that occurred as a result of fall due to the boardwalk and settled nine other cases. We don't know what the total bill to taxpayer's has been because of the Parks Department's failure to keep the boardwalk in good condition.

This is what we wrote about it last June:
The Coney Island Boardwalk--other than the very small portion that was replaced for $500,000 over the winter--is in a disgraceful state of disrepair. We're not talking about a couple of loose boards here and there, either. We are talking about it being in such a sad state that all an ambulance chasing lawyer has to do to get new clients is find a particularly odious part of the boardwalk and stand there and wait for people to trip and fall. These spots are easy to locate. They're the ones where boards are see-sawing up and down as people walk on them or where there are holes where the wood is rotted or where bolts are sticking out.
And, this is what we wrote a few weeks ago:
there are still ample opportunities to break your face or sprain an ankle and get a chance to meet one of the many nice and friendly NYPD officers patrolling the boardwalk as they call EMS to cart you away to the Emergency Room. We haven't seen any statistics, but it is our understanding that there were a large number of injuries last year and, to judge by the bad condition early in the season, this year probably won't disappoint. The city has cited the unusual wear and tear caused by the NYPD driving on the boardwalk as well as the fact that sand is directly underneath the boards and contributes to rot. What we don't understand, however, is how it is cheaper to settle trip and fall injury lawsuits than it is to fix the boardwalk. (Not to mention why it is okay to allow conditions to persist that allow people to become injured.)
Repairs seem to have started on a small segment of the boardwalk near Astroland this week. Just last night, we were walking on the boardwalk and felt boards sagging under our feet. We looked down and saw you would fall least six to eight feet in that particular spot and wondered how long it will be before the boards split open and someone plunges through. The good news is, the victim will be able to sue or the city will settle!

Related Posts:
Coney Island's Trip and Fall Boardwalk is Back for Another Season
Tripping (and Falling) in Coney Island

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Coney Island Friday Night Fireworks Season Blasts Off

Coney Fireworks 07 Two

The Coney Island Friday Night Fireworks series kicked off last night with a fun pre-Fourth of July display. The crowd was a little smaller than usual thanks, no doubt, to the cool, breezy and cloudy weather. We're always surprised by how long and how nice the displays presented, in part, by Astroland are. We noted that, this year, Taconic Investments--one of the big Coney Island developers--is a sponsor. The fireworks will take place every Friday night between now and Labor Day, and we must say that they're a fun way to end a summer Friday.

Coney Fireworks 07 Three

Coney Fireworks One

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Daily 360 Smith Battle Update: 850 Petition Signatures Gathered

360 smith sign reduced
Opponents of that controversial building at 360 Smith Street have gathered 850 signatures on a petition calling for zoning changes and a moratorium on new buildings more than fifty feet tall. The Carroll Gardens Petition Blog, meanwhile writes:
This week has seen a flurry of new activity for CORD! The petition 's call for a moratorium on the building of or alteration of any structure to a height of over fifty feet until WE can be presented with and decide upon the type of zoning or landmarking that will reshape our beloved neighborhood, is rapidly spreading! Numerous blogs, newspapers, and people on the street are carrying the word, and to date we have 800+ signatures in under a week and we are still collecting!

We urge, no, we BEG you to please keep spreading the word.Encourage your Carroll Gardens neighbors to get informed.If you love living here, love the neighborhood we have all made, and what we say makes sense to you,please sign the petition.

It's the Fourth of July so why not reflect on what the word DEMOCRACY means to you and your family, friends and neighbors? For a democracy to work for the benefit of ALL THE PEOPLE concerned, the people must speak up! Why not make an effort and contact the POLS over the next two weeks and let them know how you really feel about this important movement?
A resident emailed us to say:
We are giving people the two weeks to do this as we know that most Pols are off on expensive yachts selling brooklyn brooklyn piece by peice while the
rest of us make BBQ hotdogs in our backyards this weekend so we wanted to account for that "time difference."
There some local print media coverage too, but the story isn't posted online yet.

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Thor's Big Fence, Now Blue and Finding Use

Thor Fence Night

The huge fence that Thor Equities has put up around the properties it has demolished in the heart of Coney Island's amusement district has been painted blue. More interesting, though, is that people are already finding a way to use the aesthetic monstrosity as something other than a streetscape killer. It gets at the issue that the Coney Island Development Corp. should have already acted to encourage vendors and others to use the space and keep it alive for the summer season, which is now in full swing. While W. 12 Street, which is in this photo, still has life because rides are open, Stillwell Avenue is a depressing dead zone. It serves as a block-long passageway and parking lot devoid of fun or life. It also stands as a depressing, if not alarming, omen of what Coney Island could be like next year if demolitions are allowed to go forward and the city takes no action to replace what is destroyed.

Yes, it's only a fence, but sometimes, a fence is a lot more than just a fence. It's a glimpse into the inner workings of an entire process.

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GL Analysis: Fun with the 421-a Developer Tax Break

Not all the changes made in Albany by the special interests and others that attacked the 421-a developer tax break legislation are bad ones. We have always believed that the huge tax abatements that developers receive are a holdover from a 1970s/80s mentality of desperation that fail to reflect in any way, shape or form the reality of New York City--and, especially, Brooklyn, in the 2000s. The tax break both provides an unnecessary giveaway of taxpayer money to developers and affluent buyers, it can serve as a taxpayer-financed tool to promote displacement. Residents in some neighborhoods are, in effect, contributing their taxes to the buildings that will force them out and the affluent buyers who won't have to pay property taxes for years to come.

One way to turn some of these lemons into lemonade, however, is to extend the exclusion zones that require developers to produce affordable housing in return for getting the tax breaks as widely as possible. For the Bloomberg Administration to object to the expansion of the exclusion zones pushes the limits of credulity. There are things in the bill to object to (keep reading), but the bigger exclusion zones are to be applauded. If you're not going to kill the developer welfare turkey known as 421-a, affordable housing should be a minimum requirement in every building anywhere in the city that gets one of these generous tax breaks. Failing that, the exclusion zones should be as big as possible. If anything, the bill in Albany still doesn't go far enough in adding gentrifying neighborhoods to the exclusion list. If the Bloomberg Administration succeeds in killing the added exclusion zones, it will be just as scandalous as the special tax breaks that Atlantic Yards supporters got written into the law.

In today's Atlantic Yards Report, Norman Oder takes a look at the 421-a issue in the context of Bushwick, the Village Voice investigation of displacement in the neighborhood and the marketing effort for the building at 358 Grove.

All that having been said, however, one of the more fascinating lessons in special interest perks is the creation of a slew of exemptions and special tax breaks for Atlantic Yards. So, who was responsible for Forest City Ratner's Christmas in June in Albany?

No Land Grab looks at the likely suspects identified so far:
VITO?

The prevailing wisdom during the past week was that it was State Assemblyman Vito Lopez's fault. Lopez is the Chairman of the Assembly's Housing Committee that drafted the bill, a project supporter and has received campaign contributions from Bruce Ratner's brother and sister-in-law.

The NY Observer reports:

What the apparent contradictions in the bill represent are a series of horse trades that Mr. Lopez, a loping giant of a man who carries power like a running back headed to the end zone, brokered with fellow legislators.

SPINOLA & THE SENATORS?
Todays' NY Times advances a separate theory, which fingers the State Senate and the head of the Real Estate Board of NY (REBNY):

But many advocates, city officials and even some Senate Republicans are saying that Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, betrayed the city’s effort. By all accounts, Mr. Spinola, the leading industry lobbyist, played a major role in negotiating the compromises and the tax deals for Atlantic Yards and other developments that led to Senate approval.

"SHILLY" SILVER?
There's a third theory that starts with Lopez and leads to Sheldon Silver's office. This week's Brooklyn Paper explains:

Lopez’s motivations for slipping in the Ratner-favoring clause are unclear. One source said that the Brooklyn Democratic Party boss might have done it as a favor to Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver. “Silver and [Forest City Ratner lobbyist] Bruce Bender are old friends,” said the source.

The exception is so outrageous that no-one seems to have the guts to stand up and take credit.

There is some irony in the $300 million in special Atlantic Yards tax breaks that are now at issue, if not the Bloomberg Administration's opposition to a great expansion of affordable housing provisions in the 421-a tax break bill. We have long believed that the entire Atlantic Yards process has been one of the most anti-particpatory, backroom, top-down and arrogant public processes we have seen in the United States. The process has been so wretched--and so corrosively divisive as a result of the way that it has stiffled real community input and discusision--that a generation of future planning students will be studying Atlantic Yards as a way to learn how not to do things. Why would anyone be surprised that the backroom wheeling and dealing has extended to slipping the project a few hundred extra million dollars in taxpayer money or to toying with increasing the income levels of those eligible for its affordable housing?

If anything, the 421-a skullduggery is the icing on an already nasty cake.

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Celebrate Issue Project Room's Last Show on the Gowanus Tonight

We'd be remiss if we didn't not that tonight is the Issue Project Room's last night in its current space on the Gowanus. (No reason to totally mourn, though, as it starts up next week at the Old American Can Factory at Third Avenue and Third Street.). Tonight's show, from the IPR's website:
SHARE celebrates ISSUE Project Room's final night in their current location – the unique silo on the banks of the Gowanus Canal. To celebrate IPR's time in the silo and their move to a new space, SHARE will run a multimedia open-jam, inviting everyone and anyone to join, including those who have performed at, visited, or simply love IPR. It will utilize Stephan Moore's 16-Channel Hemispherical Speaker System and IPR's cylinder structure for visual projections both inside and outside the space. Please come to play, hang out, or participate in many toasts!
The evening starts at 8PM. The IPR's silo is located on the Gowanus at the Carroll Street Bridge. The formal address is 400 Carroll Street.

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Brooklyn Nibbles: Random Roundup

1) In Park Slope, Elementi is now open on Seventh Avenue, occupying the old site of Snooky's the old neighborhood hangout. Let the Seventh Avenue Battle of the Italian Restaurants begin.

2) Speaking of, uh, Italian restaurants, The Food of the Future reports the, er, fascinating rumor that a new 12-story building will house an Olive Garden. The massive building is rising at 500 Fourth Avenue between 12th Street and 13th Street. Who knows, maybe Red Lobster and Applebee's will be moving in too.

3) Meanwhile, over on Van Brunt Street in Red Hook, FOF also reports that 360 is closed, possibly for good.

4) In case you missed it, both Curbed and Brownstoner reported earlier this week that a McDonald's may be opening on Smith Street in the storefront currently occupied by the Army & Navy store. If so, one more piece of old Smith Street will be falling, this time in an especially sad, corporate way. As one Curbed reader put it, "It fucking sucks."

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Brooklyn Greenmarket Locations

Brooklyn Greenmarkets Map

We thought we'd post the Brooklyn part of the New York City greenmarkets map above, as well as an image of the market locations below. Overall, there are 44 market locations in the city, with 16 of the markets, including the one at Grand Army Plaza on Saturdays, operating year round. The markets are said to have 250,000 customers a week during "peak season." 164 farmers, give or take, participate in the greenmarkets. You can find more greenmarket information here.

Brooklyn Greenmarkets Table

Brooklinks: Saturday Very Visual Edition

[Photo courtesy of Frank Lynch/flickr]

Visual:
Exceptionally Visual in a Figurative Civil Liberties Sense:
Either Visual or Not Visual:

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Carroll Gardens Greenmarket Coming July 8

We first started seeing emails about a possible greenmarket in Carroll Gardens more than year ago. Well, the Carroll Gardens Greenmarket will finally be opening on July 8 and will run every Sunday from 8 AM-4 PM. It will be open through November and take place on Carroll Street between Smith and Court. The market, which is being established by the Council on the Environment of New York City will offer up everything from vegetables to house plants. Eight farmers will be participating, two of them from the New Farmer Development Program, which encourages people to get into farming.

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Say What?: Which Way? What Turn?

Say What--No Turn One Way Huh

We return to our "Say What?" feature about signs that have been compromised by construction and/or vandalism, with this example from Williamsburg. Huh?

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Friday, June 29, 2007

Strange Scarano & de Blasio Wikipedia War Continues

Scarano Wiki Before and After

Is Wikipedia the neighborhood and development battleground of the future? Maybe. We say this because the Wikipedia page about architect Robert M. Scarano has become the subject of a weird tug of war between the architect (or his associates or supporters), his opponents and, increasingly, supporters and detractors of Council Member Bill de Blasio. The page has gone through so many revisions, in fact, that we can't even keep up. (And may change yet again between the time we post this and the time you look.) We know this because when we went to look at it, we found that a whole bunch of information regarding the controversy about Mr. Scarano's work had been edited out. The description of him as a "controversial architect," for instance, had been changed to "an architect." (By 5:08 PM yesterday he was a "prominent and sometimes controversial architect.") The entire sections about "Controversies" and "Controversial Works" had been smoked. Then, an hour later, they were back. The WikiWar revolves around both Mr. Scarano and Mr. de Blasio, who is leading the charge against the architect and who, himself, is viewed by some in the community as having ignored many construction- and development-related issues.

One is tempted to ask if there's a market niche here for WikiRelations Agents and WikiGuard services. You know, the WikiRelations Agents being the ones that plant a Wikipedia entry for you so that you or your project or contribution to society will be remembered on the internet forever. And, the WikiGuard services being like Credit Guard, alerting you when your Wikipedia entry has changed. You can almost see the pitch now:
Are you a visionary controversial beloved reviled honored despised developer? Subscribe to WikiGuard now and never miss a change in your Wikipedia entry. Don't leave anything to chance! For an additional $199.95 a month we will automatically change your Wikipedia entry back to the original language so you never have to worry about being redefined again.
More to come. Probably by evening.

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Dead Rats & Dog Crap in Boerum Hill

Is it that there's more of this stuff in Boerum Hill or just that we see more emails from there? In any case, last week we dealt with the issue of people taking dumps outdoors in Boerum Hill. Today, we've got dogshit (attention Miss Heather) and dead rats. We bring you e-mail number one:
On Saturday (garbage day), during my daughter's lemonade stand, someone brought it to our attention that sales might be higher if it were not for the dead rat sticking 2/3 of the way out of a hole in a garbage can on the sidewalk a few doors away. I rang all of the buzzers of the house (on Bergen betw Nevins & Bond) to which the can belonged, but no one answered. This morning (Tuesday), the can is back on the sidewalk for garbage pick up and the rat is STILL sticking out of it!

Since the rat episode, I've begun to notice how many cans and garbage bags have these rat-sized holes with garbage sticking out. This is not a new problem, of course, and there has been much discussion of buildings and lots with very serious rat problems. I'm wondering, however, if there is something that has been done in the past to notify owners/renters that their trash is attracting rats and that they must do something about it...As of Wednesday afternoon, the garbage can is still there, with the dead rat still sticking out of it, rotting in the sun. Isn't there something we can do about it? I've walked by it twice now with my 2 kids, and it's absolutely disgusting (and probably a health hazard).
And, here is e-mail number two, about some dogshit-related issues:
Here is my experience with what happens when dog owners drop their bags or newspapers full of waste in my trash can (which happens just about twice a week, on pickup days). 1. If the garbage has not already been picked up, the sanitation folks come, take out the large bags of garbage, and leave the dog waste in the can. In the 10 years I've lived on Pacific St not once have the sanitation folks taken it out of my can, and I don't blame them. 2. I can then leave it in the bottom of my can, and repeat the cycle again, (collecting more and more of these gifts from my neighbors), or start my day by a) retrieving a smeared New York Times from the bottom of my can, getting a garbage bag from inside my house, putting it in the bag and placing the bag in the can or b) carrying someone else's dog waste to the corner trash can (which is not actually on the corner anymore but a block and a half away). I get to do one of these every Tuesday and Thursday. 3. Several times I tried leaving the lid on the can securely closed. On those occasions sanitation tried for a second or two to open the can, and being unsuccessful, just didn't pick up my garbage. Again, I don't blame them. A few extra seconds trying to get lids off cans would slow the system down, create a worse traffic back-up, etc. 4. Periodically I get tired of not owning a dog yet having to deal with dog waste, so I just put out closed trash bags, no cans. On a few occasions they have been torn apart by hungry animals (rats, I assume). One possibility for explaining this is that dog owners may not know what happens to bags of dog waste because they never drop it in their own can.
Ah, life in Brooklyn.

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Carroll Gardeners React to Smith Street Permits, Suggest Lack of Action

permitsgranted6-29-2007 016

Our daily communications from Carroll Gardens residents contained some angry reactions to the news that permits are being issued for the building on 360 Smith Street that they are fighting. The residents are also suggesting--well, saying in a very agitated way--that they are not getting promised help from City Council Member Bill de Blasio. A sample of the statements:
Where is Bill when really we need him? Carroll Gardens is not stupid! We know the real issue at 360 Smith Street is "as of right" not [architect Robert] Scarano per se.

Bill, if Mr. Scarano is under investigation per your suggestion, then why is the DOB still issuing permits and approvals this week? If the "get Scarano" idea you had was supposed to "buy us some time" with 360 Smith Street, then why are we already out of time? It is looking like you were very disingenuous when you issued that statement because the permits are being issued in the very same week that Scarano is getting investigated by NYC!

Bill have you seen our petition site? Your constituents have spoken loud and clear (750 plus so far in under a week) and we are continuing to collect signatures as we speak.
To think, barely a month ago, no one had even thought about 360 Smith Street.

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How to Kill Time in Greenpoint: Glare at the New Building

Glaring on Diamond St

Our Greenpoint correspondent thoughtfully sent along these photos of an older resident of Diamond Street staring at a new addition the block and, amusingly, yet another resident of the block watching her glare. The new building in question is 53 Diamond Street, which will have 8 units in its four stories. And happy neighbors.

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New Downtown Brooklyn Gallery Almost as Ugly as Old One?

albee rendering

The new Brooklyn Paper has the rendering above of the New Look Gallery at Fulton Mall that is curiously minus the 45-60 tower that would go with it. The $750 million project, which would get a very, very big public subsidy, would have less affordable housing and several hundred fewer jobs than originally promised. That's a critical issue in its own right, but right now, we're simply staring at the rendering wondering how something so new can seem nearly as pedestrian as the thing it will replace. Maybe the 60 story building will help divert attention from it.

Related Post:
Albee Square Developer to Get $100 Million Discount?

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Brooklinks: Friday Pre-Weekend Edition

Cyclone and Parachute Jump

Brooklinks is a daily selection of Brooklyn-related information and images.

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Read "The Second Battle of Bushwick"


We missed a solid piece in the Village Voice earlier this week called The Second Battle of Bushwick, as a reader pointed out to us. It is long, detailed and chronicles the way Bushwick is changing and who is paying the price. The article--which runs five full screens if you read it online--bears Tom Robbins byline. If you read one detailed story this week, this should be it.

From the way it starts in the bizarre condo at 358 Grove Street to the stomach churning detail about the foul treatment of longtime Bushwick residents (illegal rent hikes, blatant harrassment, housing code violations of Biblical proportion, etc.) being pushed out to make way for the complete rebranding of their neighborhood as an extension of Williamsburg, The Second Battle covers a lot of ground. Consider the amusing real estate sales babble at 358 Grove:
"This is the continuation of Williamsburg," insists the condo's frantic real estate agent, dashing about the sixth-floor sales office. "Look," he says, burbling the happy nonsense of a salesman, "people in the neighborhood are ready to take their lives to the next level."

What's at work here is straight out of the brokers' handbook: Link the property in buyers' minds to the worldwide cachet of that now-prosperous and booming neighborhood a couple miles west of here. "The Peter Luger Steakhouse is just a couple of blocks away," the agent says, leaning over an unfinished rooftop cabana. Actually, Peter Luger's is a solid eight subway stops away from here on the M train that rumbles along Myrtle Avenue. But no matter. There are some very solid marketing rationales for this approach.

Or, consider the rundown of the change and the consequences:
Now, step by step—or stop by stop, since the burgeoning hipoisie have largely followed the path of the overcrowded L train through Brooklyn—it's arrived in Bushwick.

Not that that's a bad thing, by most measures. A neighborhood that ranks in the top 10 poorest areas of the city, that has the highest rate of asthma hospitalizations and the most serious housing-code violations, can use all the help it can get. New investment means new residents, new stores, new jobs. And, whether city fathers choose to admit it or not, it means much closer municipal attention to crime and the quality of local life. For those who already own a modest piece of the rock, and who held on through the bad years, rising real estate values also yield a once-in-a-lifetime bonanza, a hike in net worth that trickles down to the rest of the family, providing a nice cushion against an otherwise fickle economy...The people directly in harm's way, however, are those clinging to the lower rungs of the economic ladder: renters who never came close to raising a down payment for their own home, let alone a sparkling new condo with granite counters and backsplash. For those living in buildings of fewer than six units—the cutoff for rent-regulation protections—it's just their hard luck: Eviction is usually as simple as a lapsed lease and a new rent set far beyond the pocketbook of the current tenant.

There are many individual stories within the article. Carve out some time, if you can, and read.

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Coney on the Cover of Preservation

Wonder Wheel

Coney Island is on the cover of the new issue of Preservation, which is published by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The story delves into the current Coney Situation (as viewed from a perspective of a couple of months ago, before things changed somewhat) extensively, but we're going to go to the copy & paste to relate some of the historical detail since it is, after all, an article in Preservation:
In the summer of 1909, 20 million people visited Coney Island, including Sigmund Freud, who reportedly said that it was the only thing about America that interested him. In 1920, the subway reached Coney (an express train from Times Square took 45 minutes), bringing immigrants and factory workers. The beach was often so crowded that the mass of bodies obscured the sand. Subway fare, a hot dog at Nathan Hand?werker's stand (today, Nathan's Famous), admission to sideshows—each cost five cents. Coney Island earned a new moniker: the Nickel Empire.

Robert Moses emerged as Coney Island's most influential critic in the 1930s. But Moses alone wasn't responsible for Coney's decline. The rise of television, air-conditioning, and Disneyland; crime and urban blight; politicians and real estate developers—all played a part. In the 1970s, word spread that casinos were coming to Coney Island, leading to frenzied speculation. Many landowners sat on vacant lots and waited for a big payday that never came. In 2001, talk of a Coney Island revival again gathered momentum when Mayor Rudolph Giuliani oversaw the construction, near the Parachute Jump, of KeySpan Park, a minor-league baseball stadium.

Many locals were heartened in August 2005, when Bloomberg saved the Bishoff & Brienstein Carousell, the last remaining hand-carved carousel in Coney Island. It was in danger of being auctioned off; the city bought it for $1.8 million. That the carousel is being restored and will reopen under the Parachute Jump suggests that Bloomberg and the city council are sensitive to Coney's heritage. But precedent has shown what can happen when a real estate developer decides to use heavy-handed tactics against the city. Many years ago, Fred Trump (Donald's father) bought Steeplechase Park, the last of Coney's original amusement parks, and pressured the city to change the zoning so that he could build high-rise apartment buildings. Steeplechase's main attraction was the Pavilion of Fun—a five-acre steel-and-glass building. "It was one of the most beautiful structures in New York," says Charles Denson. "Trump tore it down, and he did it in such a spiteful way. He invited the press and handed out bricks, had people fling bricks through the glass facade." The date was September 21, 1966; Denson was 12 years old. Trump was fearful the pavilion might become a landmark and had hoped that the city, faced with a vacant lot, would cave to his zoning request. It never did. The site is now home to KeySpan Park.
Forty years later, the Trump story still sticks in the throat.

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Arrivederci Issues Project Room, Buon Giorno The Yard

Issues Project

Gowanus' Issues Project Room is gone. In its place, starting this Sunday (7/1), is The Yard. They'll be running shows in the performance space inside the silo next to the Carroll Street Bridge and on the shores of the Big G itself, and we're personally happy to know that it will still serve as a venue. Sunday's kick off offerings are Babylon Circus and Wax Poetic. (Tickets are $10 and doors open at 3PM.)

More information about events is available at meanredproductions.com, which is running the Yard. The official address is 400 Carroll Street, which is between between Bond Street and the Canal. Look for the Carroll Street Bridge and you can't miss it.

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Traffic Fun Coming to Hamilton Avenue Bridge for Summer

We noted this at the recent Community Board 6 meeting in Park Slope, then promptly forgot until our e-missive arrived from nyc.gov. It's of interest if you drive over the Hamilton Avenue Bridge over the Gowanus or take a car service that way or whatever. Here it is:
Lane Closures on the Hamilton Avenue Bridge

There will be lane closures on the Hamilton Avenue Bridge over the Gowanus Canal from June 30 to September 3. The closures are necessary to facilitate replacement of the old bridge.

The travel lanes on the Hamilton Avenue Bridge will be reduced from four lanes in each direction to two lanes in each direction. However,during rushhour from6 am -10 am on weekdays, three lanes will be maintained northbound (Manhattan bound) andone lane will be maintained in the southbound direction. During all other hours and on weekends there will be two lanes in each direction. Pedestrian and bicycle access will also be maintained at all times and bus service will not be interrupted.

The Prospect Expressway Exit ramp to Hamilton Avenue will be closed on weekdays from 6 am to 10 am to reduce congestion in the area.
For the recrod, the Hamilton Avenue Bridge is a "bascule type bridge" with two parallel leafs, one carrying the northbound roadway and the other carrying the southbound roadway. It was built in 1942 and carries traffic across the Gowanus Canal. The $55 million reconstruction will install new mechanical and electrical operating systems, improved navigation lighting for marine traffic, wider traffic lanes and other improvements. Work will be done in 2009.

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A Play Set 100 Years from Now in Coney Island

There's a play set in Coney Island called Goodbye April, Hello May playing at HERE, which is an arts space on Sixth Avenue. It runs through July 16 and is described as "a heartsick comedy about the decay of civilization." HERE is at 145 Sixth Avenue and tickets can be ordered here. The description of the play on HERE's website says:
A hundred years from today, in an apartment in Coney Island, an intrepid band of New Yorkers battle unconscionable hardship with inexplicable enthusiasm.
We won't get into the liklihood that a hundred years from now Coney highrises built in the next few years--not to mention everything already there--will be partially submerged by rising sea levels due to global warming. We'll assume that the play is set in an apartment on an upper floor and that transportation is by watercraft. Water taxis on Ocean Parkway anyone?

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

PM Update: Some Permits Issued for 360 Smith Street Building

Several permits have been approved today for the controversial building at 360 Smith Street. The overall building plans have not been approved and they are not construction permits. Rather they are permits for the sort of thing that comes before construction: fences, sheds and the like. Three of the permits were approved today (6/28). The permits that are in place include one for curb cuts, one for a construction fence and one for a construction shed. A total of five permits for the building--which is the subject of intense neighborhood grassroots organizing but which can be built "as of right" by the developer--have been issued since Friday, June 22. (You can find the DOB's page on permits and applications for the buildings here, should you care to gaze upon the user-unfriendly jargon and abbreviations.) Stay tuned for the reaction that is sure to follow. Which we will, of course, have in the morning.

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360 Smith Street #2: More Issues for Mr. Scarano

360 smith sign reduced

Don't look now, but it seems that the State Education Department says that it's "working closely" with the city's Department of Buildings on the subject of architect Robert Scarano. Word comes via the office of City Council Member Bill de Blasio, which relates a letter from the Education Department that says:
Please be advised that we are working closely with the NYC Department of Buildings on a number of investigations focused upon Robert Scarano, RA. I am forwarding a copy of your letter to the Supervising Investigator Thomas Rogers, who will contact you and will open an investigation…
Mr. de Blasio is seeking to have the department take Mr. Scarano's professional certification and has been sending out emails and making statements to that effect. Meanwhile, the Council Member is circulating a letter and urging that it be sent to the developer of the 360 Smith Street building that has stirred a pot of controversy that extend far beyond that one structure. The letter says in part:
I am writing about the proposed building plan for 360 Smith Street, Brooklyn. You are currently employing Mr. Robert Scarano as the architect on the project. Mr. Scarano is currently under a number of investigations by the New York State Education Department.

I am respectfully requesting that you utilize another architect to design your project. Not only because Mr. Scarano is under investigation by the NYS Education Department but also because he is synonymous with bad developers and contractors. Projects that he has designed or been associated with have received numerous complaints from neighbors in addition to being subject to these investigations.

Carroll Gardens is a special place, and the residents would like to keep it that way. They are not opposed to building on the site at 360 Smith Street, but want to make sure that a responsible architect is employed on the project. Mr. Scarano has shown himself to be anything but responsible.

I urge you to find another architect before moving forward with this project.
Much more to come on this one.

Related Posts:
Councilman Circulates Scarano Email
Robert Scarano is Having a Bad June

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Manhattan Beach Meeting Gets Very, Very, Very Testy

We should note that that Manhattan Beach Civic Group voted yesterday to "disavow" those controversial ideas about checkpoints, metal detectors & privatizing the beach to keep "thugs" out. There was apparently quite a spirited discussion, which you can read all about at Gerritsen Beach.Net. What's just as interesting, though, is that the blogger that broke the original story of the email with the controversial ideas was not greeted warmly by some in the audience. Check it out:
Al Smaldone got up and started saying that “Outside forces are separating our community, and to Keep on blogging!” a direct shot at me. At this point two people, Dr. Oliver Klapper, a professor at Kingsbourgh Community College and Robert Gevertzman, CB15 Member, who were trying to see what I was doing all night, and never approached me or introduced themselves, started to harass me loudly. Saying I had no right to be there. Asking me if I needed permission to write down names and what people were saying. They continued with: “What are you typing? Why are you’re simulcasting the whole meeting, you have no right to do that.” When I told him my first name and said that this was a public meeting he started yelling “Who are you, where are you from”. The meeting who was now jeering me calling for my name and who I was. I replied with Dan from Gerritsen Beach. At one point I think I was told I was out of order.

The NY Post was there as was Courier life. I saw that the NY Post reporter was asked to stand up and ID himself, and then was accused by a few people of causing problems.

Saying that the community of Manhattan Beach are elitists might be unfair, but the president and his cabinet who run the civic group are. The whole meeting was very unprofessional, unorganized and they acted like the only reason they cared is because of the attention it got. It seems like thats what Ron and his friends want to do. Ron let the meeting be run like a circus, let his people bully others around. I felt as though it there was no sense of community or respect for one another.

I left early before the rainstorm, to protect my equipment and to avoid another confrontation.
All in a good day's work and fun.

[Photo courtesy of GerritsenBeach.Net]

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360 Smith Street #1: Things Get Little Squirrelly

squirrel front

So, now, it looks like the Battle of 360 Smith Street has gone to the squirrels. Well, squirrel brochures, at least. We'll let the reader that emailed us the scan of the flyer being distributed outside the Carroll Street F Train stop (on trees that might be cut down to make way for construction) explain:
This morning dozens of very tiny pamphlets appeared on each of the trees on the F train subway plaza at Smith and 2nd Place. The brochures, apparently written by and for squirrels, were placed at the bottom of the trees, (squirrel height, I guess!) with a sign that said "Take Me." It seems the squirrels are angered that all the trees on the plaza will soon be cut down to make way for Scarano's building, and they will have no place to store their nuts. They are organizing a letter-writing campaign and taking the fight directly to Amanda Burden! Here is a photo and some scans of the actual brochure...
We certainly give the Carroll Gardens crew working to change the 360 Smith building and, most recently, pushing for rezoning in the neighborhood, credit for having a sense of humor.

squirrel back

Related Posts:
Carroll Gardeners Continue Fighting New Development
New Shots Fired in Battle of 360 Smith Street

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Meet the Gowanus Canal Black-Crowned Night Heron

[Photo courtesy of Gowanus Canal/flickr]

What you are looking at is a photo of a black-crowned night heron that makes its home on the shores of the Gowanus Canal. It has been given the name Manzana. Like all creatures one finds in, on or near the Big G, it represents the triumph of spirit and hope over reality. Yes, we know the Gowanus is better than it once was and that ducks, geese and other creatures are seen there. Still, we have to say, Manzana, We Salute You!

Oh, and below, those would be hardy Gowanus fish, also courtesy of Gowanus Canal on flickr.

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Developer Tax Break Exclusion Zones, Brooklyn Edition

421a brooklyn

[Map courtesy of the Pratt Center for Community Development]

Here's a handy color map produced by the Pratt Center for Community Development of the "exclusion zones" for the 421-a tax abatements, AKA the developer tax break, because it provides huge tax abatements to developers that sometimes benefit very wealthy property owners. The tax break was reigned in a bit by the City Council and a bit more by the State Legislature. (Except for Atlantic Yards, which got special treatment under what journalist and blogger Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report calls the "Atlantic Yards Carve Out.") In any case, developers in the areas on the map in maroon, rust and mustard have to include some affordable housing in their developments to qualify for the tax break. The Maroon Zone has been around for a long time. The Rust Zone was added by the City Council. The Mustard Zone was added by the Legislature. In the Gray Zone (Dark Gray, really), you get the tax break for building whatever you want. See The Real Estate for more on the issue overall and the full five-borough map.

Eminent Domain Opponents Gather at City Hall


More than 100 opponents of what they call "epidemic abuse of eminent domain in New York City and New York State" gathered at City Hall yesterday to mark the second anniversary of a critical Supreme Court decision. The group included property owners, tenants, advocates and elected officials.

"We haven't seen this level of eminent domain abuse in New York City since the days of Robert Moses," said No Land Grab's Lumi Michelle Rolley, whose blog serves a clearning house for eminent domain-related stories. "Mayor Bloomberg's policy has been to threaten the use of eminent domain to force property owners to sell and to thwart every effort towards legislative reform both in Washington and Albany."

The Supreme Court decision in Kelo v. City of New London allowed government to seize private property on behalf of private developers and is a symbol of "abuse" of government's eminent domain power, which was traditionally used for public projects. Since the Kelo decision, 38 states have enacted eminent domain reform legislation. New York has not done so.

Locally, a great deal of controversy about the Atlantic Yards development has revolved around the planned taking of property from owners that do not want to sell to Forest City Ratner. "The abuse of eminent domain is an abuse of our fundamental constitutional rights and must be opposed like all other attempts to violate constitutional rights," said Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's Daniel Goldstein, who is fighting the attempt to take his home. His apartment sits roughly at what would be mid-court at the Barclays Center. "Our government has no business forcing us to sell our properties to benefit their developer friends," he said.

Groups from around the city, including Willets Point in Queens, Downtown Brooklyn and West Harlem were represented at yesterday's rally.


[Photos courtesy of Jonathan Barkey/pbase]

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Brooklinks: Thursday Feeling the Heat Edition

Reading in East River State Park

Brooklinks is a daily selection of Brooklyn-related information and images.

In the Blogs:
In the Papers:

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Is F Train Express Idea Moving to Fast Track?

If we were to bet on one idea that's risen through the grassroots that may have a shot at seeing the light of day in a reasonable amount of time, at this point we'd be putting some money on the idea of restoring express service to Brooklyn's F Line. Not only has the idea made the jump from being covered by Brooklyn blogs to the print media, it's getting some political support. The latest officials to jump on the F Express are Council Members Bill de Blasio (D-Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Kensington), Simcha Felder (D-Midwood, Bensonhurst and Boro Park) and Domenic Recchia (D-Coney Island, Gravesend, Bensonhurst). They'll be part of an F Express rally today (6/28) with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and Transportation Alternatives.

An online petition for F Express service launched by Gary Reilly of Brooklyn Streets got 2,500 signatures (including ours) in two weeks. Mr. Reilly presented the petition at the MTA's board meeting yesterday and says the idea has support on the board. The MTA has already said it would restore some express service on the F line in 2012; the push is to get it done much sooner.

The rally is at 2PM at the Church Avenue F station at Church and McDonald Avenues.

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What's Up With the Oversized Loads in Williamsburg?

From a GL reader comes an intriguing question about big loads of construction material being driven through Williamsburg, destination unknown. To wit:
I live on Grand St. in W'burg, one of the designated truck routes through Brooklyn, and I've noticed that over the past several nights, there have been convoys of 3-5 oversize load flatbeds carrying these huge (I'd say 15-20 ft. diameter) prefab round steel construction pieces. I'm used to seeing oversize loads coming through at night (usually big boats or building ventilation units) but the frequency and intensity have been unusual. Anybody have any idea on what this is all about? Local construction or just driving through? Inquiring minds want to know.
The only development we can think of right now that would seem to qualify for material that large is The Edge on Kent Avenue, but that is at a very early stage of the construction process right now. Anyone with thoughts, do let us know.

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Coney Island Gets a $120K a Year PR Helper

DSC_2624

One bit of fallout from all of the attention being paid to the Coney Island plans of developer Joe Sitt and Thor Equities--and the public perception that this is Coney's "last year"--is that the Coney Island Development Corporation feels that it needs to bring in a hired PR gun. Sarah Ryley reports in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle that the Coney Island Development Corp. has hired a public relations strategist for $10,000 a month to help bolster Coney's image. She writes:
“We’ve been overshadowed in recent months by other things, and we’ve got to get our strategic plan out there,” said Lynn Kelly, president of the city-funded Coney Island Development Corporation. The agency plans to step up its fundraising efforts soon for expensive projects like the restoration of the B & B Carousel, boardwalk and streetscapes. Kelly and other board members have in the past expressed concern that any apprehension about Coney Island’s future could hinder those efforts and keep visitors away during the transitional period.

The board unanimously voted to approve up to a $10,000 monthly retainer fee, for up to two years, for a marketing consultant who Kelly said could counteract that effect. The money would be paid out of the agency’s $150,000 annual consultant budget. That person would “still work in tandem with the city’s press office,” said Kelly, of the city Economic Development Corporation’s press staff.

Contrary to some perceptions that business in Coney is down, there is some sense that things are actually busier this year. There was apparently record attendance at the Mermaid Parade (it wasn't just our imagination). Diana Carlin, AKA Lola Staar, told the Eagle that "so many people are coming because they think it’s going to be the last year...Business has just been incredible [this season]." There is a bright side to every dark cloud.

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Walk Around Brooklyn

Writer Adrienne Onofri emailed to note the publication of her new book Walking Brooklyn. It's a walking guide to Brooklyn that's described as hitting:

Brooklyn's most interesting and notable neighborhoods, providing a mix of information about culture, history, architecture, places to eat, venues to visit, and more. From a walk through the Russian-influenced Brighton Beach, to the expansive Prospect Park, and out to Red Hook, Walking Brooklyn reveals the many layers and sites of Manhattan's lesser-known neighbor. This two-color book features 30 routes, a clear neighborhood map for each walk, black-and-white photographs, and critical public transportation information for every trip.
The book is from Wilderness Press and can be ordered here. We see that Ms. Onofri will be guest blogging over at Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn. We look forward to reading.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sitt Speaks in Coney Island and Says He Doesn't Want to Build Without "Support"

Sitt in Coney

Developer Joe Sitt spent two hours in Coney Island last night making his pitch to residents and reporters and trying to drum up support for his embattled redevelopment plans. "It's in your hands," Mr. Sitt said of the future of project, noting that he is reluctant to build without the support of residents, the press and "to some degree, the blogs." More than 100 people filled the room and there were some raised voices and shouts from the crowd, not about the design of the project, but about the developer's commitment to delivering jobs to residents.

Mr. Sitt said that he had been cheered by some editorial support since the residential component of his plan was altered to include three hotels, including about 400 time share units. "I started to get beaten down," he said of coverage of controversy about the plan, but said that editorials such as one supporting his plan that is in this week's Brooklyn Paper "gave me some oomph."

The Sitt contingent arrived at the United Community Baptist Church, which is at W. 27th Street and Mermaid Avenue, in four Lincoln Town Cars. The group included Mr. Sitt's PR representatives from the Marino Organization and two large security guards who stood watch over the stage. (At the conclusion of the presentation, in fact, Mr. Sitt exited from the rear as a security guard stood ready to block anyone trying to approach the developer; he left the church after the crowd had thinned and did not speak to anyone lingering out front.)

Mr. Sitt referred to respected Coney Island historian Charles Denson of the Coney Island History Project, noting that he had been quoted as saying that Mr. Sitt "can be hero of Coney Island" if he creates a project that respects its history and avoids things like housing in the amusement zone.

"That the way I want to do Coney Island," Mr. Sitt said.

Mr. Sitt's presented an amicable persona to the crowd, going out of his way to make sure that audience members were recognized and insisting that everyone call him "Joe" rather than "Mr. Sitt." At one point, he referred to the withdrawal of Takeru Kobayashi from the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest next week, but referred to the hot dog eating champ as "Hibachi."

Mr. Sitt appeared very aware of stories that had been written about his $1.5-$2 billion redevelopment plan and returned several times to criticism it had gotten in the press, also noting that "the blogs went against us." He said he is unwilling to build in Coney Island without full community support, media support and, even support from blogs. He said:
Unless we see support from this whole community--whether it's the community that lives here in Coney Island or the community that operates rides...and you know what, to some degree even the blogs, you know what, respectfully, I don't know if I want to build Coney Island.
Mr. Sitt took note of a reporter from the New York Post who was sitting in the second row and said that he hoped that his coverage of the event would be positive and said that he would go home and "pray" for good press and community support.

The developer said that while his project had to turn a profit that it was less about money than most. "This is about making the world a better place," Mr. Sitt said. Several times he noted "We're not going to be building a fairyland garden," but rather a project that creates jobs and opportunities.

There was a long question and answer period after the remarks. At first, a Thor employee went through the crowd asking people to write questions on cards, but Mr. Sitt apparently rejected that approach, preferring that people directly ask questions. Most of the questions from the audience revolved around the critical community issue of jobs (Coney's unemployment rate is double the city's) and about the impact the development would have on existing residential neighborhoods. Mr. Sitt asked the community for "a groundswell of support" and said that "we're working hard to partner up with the Bloomberg Administration."

Whether or not the project goes forward, Mr. Sitt said, "really is in your hands and the support you give us or don't give us."

Many of the job-related questions were handled by Christopher Woods, who is developing employment plans for the community. Questions ranged from Mr. Sitt's willingness to hire residents with criminal records (yes, he said, they would do so) to education programs (they'll work on developing them).

Mr. Sitt said that he "hopes for a green light within 12-18 months of today to get going." Although Thor demolished a number of attractions over the winter, Mr. Sitt said "We are trying to keep things open" including Astroland. Last week, there were reports that Mr. Sitt would only keep Astroland open for another season if the city reached an agreement with him on zoning.

"Astroland did sell the business," he said. "Our goal is to make sure there is a similar concept there" as an interim use.

He closed by urging residents to "get the message out: Build, Joe, Build." Not everyone was impressed by meeting, however. One well-known Coney Island leader we spoke with after the session called it "an act of desperation" to try to rally support for an embattled plan that seems to have drawn criticism from all sides.

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Will the Freakenspeile Tower and Bizarre Bazaar Come to Coney Island?

Bowery Rendering 500

The Coney Island presentation made by developer Joe Sitt and by Thinkwell Creative Director Chris Durmick about Thor Equities Coney Island plans contained a number of new details. The presentation leaned heavily on the designs for Stillwell Avenue, the Bowery and a passage that has been dubbed Front Street as well as Coney Island Park. (The latter would replace Astroland.) It avoided mention and depiction of the hotels and time share buildings up to 40 stories in height and with nearly 1,000 rooms and units that would rise west of Stillwell Avenue.

(Kinetic Carnival, who was also in attendance, offers an image slideshow of the presentation and well as a rundown.)

Mr. Durmick, whose firm has been hired to design the project, chafed at comparisons that have been made to a "Las Vegas theme park." He said the firm was designing an "amusement park" and that "it must be authentic Coney Island. Every theme park in the world has a pedigree that's Coney Island." Mr. Sitt himself several times said that "We're not just building a fairytale garden." He described the product as "urban, New York and Coney Island."

In its latest iteration, the plan would divide the amusement area into several "neighborhoods." Stillwell Avenue would serve as its main retail area. It will have an "Emporium" where visitors can buy tickets, burn photo CDs and rent lockers and strollers. It will also have "a vertical dark ride." There will be a giant elephant fountain outside.

The feature sure to provoke discussion, however, is the planned Freakenspiele Tower ("Freakenspiele" is one of the few words that you can Google which will produce zero results.) The tower will have 40-foot LED screens on all four sides and a "launch tower ride" in the interior. It would be at the boardwalk end of Stillwell Avenue.

Halfway down Stillwell toward the boardwalk, the developer plans a performance plaza. A glass-enclosed water park would be six stories above street level. In this vision, Stillwell avenue would be transformed into a "walking promenade" with street performers, bistros, shopping and a multiplex theater. The tall buildings on the west side of Stillwell Avenue would have street fronts of four-six stories, but would rise up to 40 stories.

Mr. Durmick mentioned there would be another roller coaster in this vicinity, an "overhead steeplechase" that would be a high-speed launch roller coaster.

The Bowery (previously unpublished rendering above) was described as Coney Island's "subculture suburb." "This place wants to be designed by the local people," Mr. Durmick said. "This is where the circus sideshow people would live." The would include a high tech "Vertical Fun House" and something called the "Bizarre Bazaar," which was described as a "sub-culture souk." We're not sure what a sub-culture souk is, but it sounds like it might be an attempted recreation of St. Mark's Place in the old days.

The final element described by Mr. Durmick was Coney Island Park, the project that would replace Astroland. It would be an indoor-outdor park with 21 rides on multiple levels. It would include old school rides like the Tilt-A-Whirl as well as a new roller coaster called the Leviathan that is envisioned as looping through buildings and under the boardwalk. It would also include a 120 foot tall Aviator tower ride. W. Tenth Street would become a pedestrian area.

"We want to create a whole menus of neighborhoods and flavors because this is Coney Island," Mr. Durmick said.

The photo below, which is courtesy of Adrian Kinloch of the blog Brit in Brooklyn, shows Mr. Durmick on the left and developer Joe Sitt at the podium on the right.

Durmick-Sitt

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Developer Joe Sitt Speaks in Coney Island: The Video

In this clip from last night's meeting in Coney Island at which developer Joe Sitt spoke at length, Mr. Sitt notes criticism of his project on "the blogs" and in the press and says that he will not build in Coney Island if he doesn't have support from the community and "to some degree" the blogs.

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Brooklinks: Wednesday Midweek Edition

GAP with OPP

Brooklinks is a daily selection of Brooklyn-related information and images. (We apologize for the delay in posting today due to our Coney Island coverage.)

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Is Blogging Therapy or Journalism (Revisited)?

City Room Hamill

We've been reading and linking to the new City Room blog from the New York Times, and have been reading the Brooklyn stories it's picking up with interest. Yesterday, Patrick LaForge revisited remarks made on the Brian Lehrer show by Pete Hamill, in which the columnist and writer called blogs "useful therapy," but not journalism. Having had a touch of experience in the print world over the years and a whole bunch of blog postings over the last 14 months, we were happy to voice a different opinion on Mr. Lehrer's show. Needless to say, Mr. LaForge also disagrees with Mr. Hamill's opinion about blogging.

It is, quite frankly, a subject that deserves some examination. On Sunday, when some bloggers got together at the "Brooklyn Blogade Roadshow" at Vox Pop on Cortelyou Road, we noted that bloggers are having a tremendous impact on the flow of information about important local issues and that there are signs the coverage is beginning to influence the outcome of some issues. (Last night in Coney Island developer Joe Sitt mentioned "the blogs" several times in his remarks about his controversial project and noted that "to some degree" support from blogs would be important.) Blogs have become nothing less than the very foundation of the new architecture of information, which can be seen in dozens of stories that make their way into the print media every week from blogs (often ascribed generically to "blogs" rather than to the specific blogs that break and report the stories, if credit is given at all, but that is a different topic and story).

Not to sound overly dramatic, but it's a little quaint to call blogging "therapy," when what the medium is doing is nothing short of standing journalism on its head and, in the process, fundamentally changing the nature of the information that reaches people. As blogs continue to develop, blogging will democratize the entire reporting business.

Related Post:
What GL Said on BL About Blogging, Pete Hamill, Etc.

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Water Sports, Part II: City Pools Open on Saturday

Just as the temps get into that muggy, incredibly hot territory in the 80s and 90s, New York City pool season approaches. Funny how that works. In any case, New York City pools open on Saturday. The "Double D" Pool in Thomas Greene Park is located between Nevins Street, Third Avenue and Douglass & DeGraw Streets. The Friends for Douglass/Greene Park are celebrating the opening of the pool with free lemonade on Saturday from noon to 2:00PM and looking for ideas about renovating the park and pool with things like a skatepark, a "water feature" and other amenities.

In any case, we'll probably do this more than once this summer, but we figured this was a good day to present a list of city pools in Brooklyn and of city beaches. The entire guide (which also includes wading pools and "mini-pools," of course, is available at the Parks Department site:

Outdoor Pools
  • Betsy Head--Boyland, Livonia and Dumont Avenues. (718) 965-6581. 330' x 165' x 4.25 (Olympic)
  • Bushwick Houses--Flushing Avenue and Humboldt Street. (718) 452-2116. 75' x 60' x 3'
  • Commodore Barry--Flushing and Park Avenues, Navy and North Elliot Streets. (718)243-2593. 75' x 60' x 3'
  • Douglas and DeGraw--Third Avenue and Nevins Street.(718) 625-3268. 75' x 60' x 3'
  • Howard--Glenmore and Mother Gaston Blvd., East New York Avenue. (718) 385-1023. 75' x 60' x 3'
  • Kosciusko--Kosciusko between Marcy and Dekalb Avenues. (718) 622-5271. 230' x 100' x 4' (Olympic)
  • Red Hook--Bay and Henry Streets. (718) 722-3211. 330' x 130' x 4' (Olympic)
  • Sunset Park--Seventh Avenue between 41st and 44th Streets. (718) 965-6578. 259' x 162' x 3.5' (Olympic)
Indoor Pools
  • Brownsville--Linden and Mother Gaston Blvds. and Christopher Avenue. (718) 485-4633. 75' x 30' x 8'
  • Metropolitan--Bedford and Metropolitan Avenues. (718) 599-5707. 75' x 30' x 8'
  • St. John's--Prospect Place, between Troy and Schenectady Avenues. (718) 771-2787. 75' x 42' x 9'
City Beaches

In addition, of course, there are our public beaches. The major Brooklyn beaches, which stretch for miles, are in Coney Island and Brighton Beach, from W. 37th Street to Corbin Place. If you go a tiny bit off the beaten path from the most crowded stretchs in Coney Island, you can actually find somewhat less packed stretches of sand and water. The information number for Coney and Brighton is listed as (718) 946-1350. Manhattan Beach is located along Oriental Boulevard, from Ocean Avenue to Mackenzie Street. The phone is (718) 946-1373.

We would be remiss in leaving out our favorite non-Brooklyn beach: Rockaway Beach in Queens, which runs for miles, from Beach 1st Street, Far Rockaway, to Beach 149th Street. The number is (718)318-4000. If you're so inclined, you can also hit Jacob Riis Park or even the beaches in Belle Harbor (a hike via bus).

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Water Sports, Part I: Brooklyn Bridge Park Beach & Barge Pool


We're running a drawing of the new "Brooklyn Bridge Park Beach" which will open sometime next week, because we think it's cool. But, for great photos, you should go over to Brownstoner and to BK11201. Here's some of the details from the Brooklyn Bridge Park website:
Cost: FREE!

Hours: 11 a.m. - 7:00 p.m., 7 days a week

What's there to do? Take a dip in the 25 meter, 7 lane Floating Pool Lady, a floating swimming pool moored in the East River. Run your toes through the sand on the 40,000 square foot Brooklyn Bridge Park Beach. Grab a burger, rent an umbrella and enjoy the spectacular views of New York Harbor. Get your game on for pick-up beach volleyball and sand soccer or contact MetroSoccer to sign up for a league!

Where: Between Piers 4 and 5 (Furman and Joralemon Streets), one block north of Atlantic Avenue. Mapquest: 334 Furman Street.
It doesn't appear that the exact opening date has been officially set, although July 4 has often been mentioned. So, now the question is: How crowded are the barge pool and the beach going to be? We see this having the possibility to be immensely popular and while the beach area may be big, the pool itself is not so big. Here's hoping that everybody that wants to use it can get in.

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