Katy Perry once asked, “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?”
Park Slopers have an answer for you, Ms. Perry. It’s a no.
On June 24, the Brooklyn neighborhood, along with the No Impact Project, will host a “Ban the bag from NYC” workshop to help reduce and eventually eradicate the use Read More
By the time Anne Pierre and her sons arrived at 199 Amboy Street, it was after midnight. The heat of the unusually warm April day had all but drained away, but there was a mellowness to the air, a contrast to the sharp, cold spring nights that had come before. From the outside, the red-brick building looked clean and well-maintained, though the darkness made it difficult to tell for sure. In Ms. Pierre’s experience, the exteriors of homeless shelters were poor predictors of conditions inside.
Late though it was, the family’s arrival at the Brownsville shelter marked the somewhat triumphant culmination of a bureaucratic odyssey that had started two days earlier, when Ms. Pierre had reapplied for shelter at the family intake center in the Bronx. It was only somewhat triumphant in that 199 Amboy was just a 10-day placement, the latest in a string of temporary housing assignments that had become the norm since the family lost its eligibility for shelter in February. But as it turned out, 199 Amboy was the nicest place Ms. Pierre and the two boys stayed since entering the shelter system in June 2012.
As 9-year-old Jordan described their arrival, “When we saw it, we was shocked. It was nice. It was decent.”
Decent is the kind of good-enough existence that has seemed to elude the family for the last 10 months. But it felt potentially within reach again when they fell asleep that night at a little after 1 a.m., relieved if still wary, with the alarm set for 6 a.m.—the preparations necessary for the school day ahead as uncompromising as the dawn.
Like many other families who have recently swelled the ranks of the city’s homeless population, routine has taken on an almost talismanic significance for Ms. Pierre and her boys. They live an approximation of a life that involved, until recently, an apartment of their own—a two-bedroom on Legion Street rented for four years with the help of a Section 8 voucher. Ms. Pierre paid $350 of the $1,100 rent until a recurrent mold problem disqualified the apartment.
Cobble Hill really wants to keep its hospital. Ever since the State University of New York trustees voted unanimously to close the Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill, local politicians—and just about everyone else involved—have been desperately trying to keep the medical center open. A group of unions and doctors won a temporary reprieve, but the prognosis for the hospital is not good.
SUNY chairman H. Carl McCall claims that “There is no plan whatsoever with respect to real estate,” but local councilman Brad Lander, who represents the 39th District, snaking from Cobble Hill to Borough Park, thinks otherwise.
“It’s hard to pin down motives,” Mr. Lander told Crain’s New York Business, “but it doesn’t seem like all the avenues have been explored to make this facility profitable and have it continue to function as a hospital.” He estimated the value of the real estate at $500 million, if converted to housing, as is allowed by the current zoning designation.
Planes Trains & Automobiles
The bus stop is a lonely place, made lonelier without the reassurances of time. Like Estragon said, “Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it’s awful.” Much better to wait underground for the subway where your time is allotted to you by little digital clocks hanging from the ceiling. No more leaning out and staring into the endlessness of a dark tunnel looking for light. Your train is 4 minutes away, at least on those lines fortunate enough to have the timers.
New York City is not a place for waiting. We’re terrible at it, and the City Council knows it. Today, joined by transit advocates and riders, a group of council members introduced a resolution calling on city agencies to install “bus clocks” in all of the 3,300 shelters across the city. Clocks that would display real-time bus arrival information, not simply those flimsy timetables many bus poles now unreliably, even flagrantly, post. It’s a move that will finally see the city catching up with such other metropolitan innovators as Albany, Syracuse, and Champaign, Ill. They’ve even got an online version in Boston—Boston!
Street Fighters Too
Remember the graffiti from a few years ago, the stripe down the sidewalk dividing it between New Yorkers and tourists? If ever there was a place for such a demarcation, it would be the Brooklyn Bridge, where wayward out-of-towners and death-courting cyclists do battle on a daily basis.
“We are issuing a call to expand the human capacity of the bridge,” Councilman Brad Lander of Park Slope declared at the Manhattan entrance to the 129-year-old span yesterday. An average of 4,000 pedestrians and 3,100 bicyclists cross the Brooklyn Bridge every day, according to the Department of Transportation. A good many of them have close encounters of the two-wheeled kind.
Along with a few colleagues in the council, Mr. Lander wants the city to consider expanding the narrow boardwalk atop the beige bridge to accommodate more passengers.
Each year, there are upwards of 3,500 serious injuries resulting from traffic accidents. The NYPD has ten times as many officers, yet it only assigns 19 of them to look into such incidents and investigates less than 1 in 10 as a result. Even then, investigations take place only when those involved are dead or believed to be dying. Sometimes they die without an investigation because on the scene, officers believe the injured will make it.
Members of the City Council and families who have lost relatives on the road arrived on the steps of City Hall this morning to decry what they consider a lack of enforcement and announce the introduction of a set of bills and resolutions they hope will impel the police department and the Bloomberg administration to take action.
Early this morning, a handful of city park advocates, a trio of council members, and a smattering of curious onlookers gathered on the steps of City Hall to talk parks, budget cuts and leafy green things.
“Funding for our parks must be restored,” cried City Councilmember Brad Lander, who was joined at the rally by park-loving compatriots Melissa Mark-Viverito and James Oddo.
The last few years have not been kind to the Department of Parks and Recreation, which has been the victim of a number of heavy-handed budget cuts since 2008. This year, the Parks Department faces a proposed budget cut of $33.4 million that, if approved, would lead to a cumulative loss of $62 million in funding—or 17 percent—over the last five years.
Downtown Brooklyn developers and cooperators, with a hefty helping hand from the real estate lobby, threw everything they could at the Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District, a new landmarking effort aimed at saving the area’s historic highrises. In the end, the preservationists won out, as a City Council subcommittee voted unanimously yesterday to approve the historic district, all but ensuring its passage by the full council on February 1.
Planes Trains & Automobiles
How many buses must be plodding along the streets of New York right now, showing up late, freezing out their riders as the weather turns toward winter? Too bad for those riders they do not have warmhearted elected officials preparing reports on their behalf. A pack of Brooklyn pols convened at a B61 bus stop at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street in Park Slope this morning to take the M.T.A to task for failing riders of this lonesome shuttle.
“The results are clear and dramatic,” said Councilman Brad Lander, whose office produced the report. “More than half of B61′s don’t arrive on time during rush hour, that’s unacceptable and is failing riders.” The report, entitled “Next Bus Please” harnessed a gang of volunteers to gather the information during the three month period of July to September this year, surveying the peak hours.
Best Laid Plans
For years, planners and politicos have talked about transforming Brooklyn’s dingy Fourth Avenue into the borough’s own version of Park Avenue. That transformation is still in the works, but thanks to a handful of rezonings along the thoroughfare, the strip has gotten its fair share of mid-sized apartment buildings. Leaning more Robert Scarano than Rosario Candela, it is not exactly the sexiest strip. But one issue that has caused some real complaints within the community is the utter lack of street life.