Sunday, August 30, 2015

Welcome New CO Captain Elliot Colon at Tuesday's Precinct 76 Meeting

Precinct 76 will have it's first meeting after the summer recess on Tuesday, September 1st at 7:30pm. The community council gathers every month at the precinct on 191 Union Street between Henry and Hicks Streets. This month residents will be introduced to our new Commanding Officer Captain Elliot Colon. The new appointment follows the retirement of Captain Natalie Maldonado in earlier this year in June.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Cobble Hill Association Retains Walden Macht & Haran

Jim Walden, a nationally recognized litigator, has been retained by the Cobble Hill Association to help the community explore legal options regarding the proposed Fortis development on the former LICH Campus. Walden has extensive experience working on behalf of community and preservation groups over land-use disputes. Among his other matters, Walden successfully challenged of the Department of Corrections’ plan to double the capacity of the Brooklyn House of Detention. He also helped lead a trial-court ruling against a massive expansion plan in Greenwich Village (a verdict later overturned on appeal). In another matter, after successfully suing over the illegal conversion of parkland in Brooklyn Bridge Park, he subsequently negotiated a deal to add parkland to the site, while permitting a local theater group to develop part of the parcel. Walden was also then-Councilmember Letitia James’ choice to help her and community groups evaluate legal options when facing expansion of a homeless intake center at Bedford-Atlantic Armory. Walden brought all this litigation and negotiation experience to bear for CHA when SUNY sought to illegally close LICH. His work there resulted in a settlement resetting the RFP process to try to find a hospital operator. Before representing the CHA and other community groups, he was then-Public Advocate Bill de Blasio’s “go to” lawyer in that matter, and once elected, Mayor de Blasio aptly described Jim’s special skills: “If there is magic in the law, Jim Walden has found it because we sometimes seemed out of options. And Jim Walden would typically burst into the room and come up with a new option. And [those options] had the extraordinary tendency to work.”

Jim was the unanimous choice of the Cobble Hill Association's Executive Board.

Friday, August 21, 2015

CHA Response to Fortis' Current Plans

Here is the complete text of the Cobble Hill Association’s response to the Fortis As-of-Right and ULURP Proposals (as they were presented on May 18, 2015). This was first presented on July 14, 2015 to local elected officials including Council Member Brad Lander, State Assemblywoman JoAnne Simon, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Diana Reyna, Council Member Levin’s deputy chief of staff, Casey Adams, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez’s Brooklyn director, Dan Wiley, Brooklyn Community Board 6 and the Fortis Property Group development team. This was also handed out in printed form at the meeting held by Council Member Lander on August 6th.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Muyassar Moustapha, Owner of Oriental Pastry & Grocery, was Killed in a Crash on Atlantic

Late Sunday night Muyassar Moustapha was killed in a car crash at Atlantic Avenue and Clinton Street while returning to his store from Key Foods. The driver of the vehicle stayed at the scene while the NYPD Collision Investigation Squad conducted conducted its survey. Moustapha was the owner of Oriental Pastry & Grocery, a family owned staple of the Arab-American community on Atlantic Avenue for over 60 years. The tragedy shocked those who knew him well as Al Shaia told the Gothamist, "he always crossed at the light and he was always careful."

Unfortunately, this comes as no surprise to those of us who know this street's dangerous conditions well. Less than two years ago another fatal crash at Atlantic and Clinton shook the neighborhood.  Last year, as part of Mayor de Blasio's Vision Zero initiative aimed at reducing traffic deaths, the speed limit on Atlantic Avenue was reduced from 35 mph to 25 mph. Although traffic engineers assert that crashes at this slower speed have a far lower fatality rate, the new regulation has seen little enforcement and is often ignored. At night drivers will often exceed speeds of 35mph.

Year to date there have been 66 NYPD recorded traffic collisions along Cobble Hill's Atlantic Avenue border, 18 of which have occurred on, or near Clinton Street. Since the beginning of 2013 there have been a total 343 traffic crashes on Atlantic from Hicks to Court Street, resulting in 58 injuries and now, 2 deaths. Data source: NYPD motor vehicle collisions.

Bill de Blasio has promised to address the dangerous arterial roadway in his Great Streets initiative announced in March. The program sets aside $276 million dollars to install engineering improvements on four of the city's most deadly arterial roadways. Construction has already begun on Queens Boulevard with improvements to Atlantic Ave slated to begin in Community Board Five in spring of 2017. Advocates at Transportation Alternatives, which runs the People First on Atlantic campaign, laud mayor's efforts but say that the DOT should study the entire Avenue, from the bay to Queens, to propose comprehensive safety improvements. Those of us who cross Atlantic daily know safety improvements can't come too soon. While not everyone agrees with the implementation of New York's Vision Zero initiative, Charlie Sahadi states the salient point,
"I don't agree with some of the things Mayor de Blasio came up with, but if that car was driving at 25 miles per hour, this gentleman would not be dead today"
-Charlie Sahadi 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

CitiBike is Coming Soon and Seeks Feedback on Station Locations

After a rocky first year CitiBike is now expanding its service area. New docking stations have already opened up in Long Island City with more slated to arrive in Bed Stuy later this month. This phase of expansion will also include Community Board Six, covering all of Cobble Hill. This can't come too soon for some of our more transit deprived neighbors in Red Hook and Gowanus. The company is currently gathering local feedback on the new stations' proposed locations.

On June 11 CitiBike held a public planning workshop at PS 58, where it unveiled the CB6 proposed station map available here. Brad Lander has joined the DOT to solicit community feedback on these dock locations through an online form available here. Use the form to tell CitiBike which location in your sector is best, and which ones just won't work.

Once they receive the community's comments CitiBike will prepare its final location proposals with the DOT, and present them to Community Board 6. The bike share says stations will be open by the end of 2017. Yearly memberships have increased to $149 per year, but to promote the expansion customers will save $25 by signing up before the end of August.

Monday, August 10, 2015

LICH Meeting Recap

Thank you to all who came out to the first meeting with our elected officials and the LICH Developer, Fortis. While the meeting was organized by our local elected officials, the CHA turned out over 200 people with door to door flyer efforts. The CHA presented a strong community consensus document which outlined the major, as well as very specific, areas of concern. A video of the meeting will be posted on YouTube and made available here. We have requested that future meetings occur after the Labor Day holiday, which our elected officials are now working on.

More coverage of Thursday night's meeting:
VIDEO: Pros & cons for LICH site hi-rises aired in Cobble Hill 
- Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Controversial Conversion of Cobble Hill Hospital Chugs Along 

Monday, July 27, 2015

Announcing an Important Public Meeting for the LICH Development Site

Thursday, August 6 from 6:30 to 8:30pm
at the Brooklyn Montessori School
at 185 Court Street (at Bergen Street)

This meeting will include a brief presentation of the options put forth by Fortis, followed by opportunities for community feedback and discussion. All are invited to attend.

The Cobble Hill Association would like to extend our special thanks to Council Members Brad Lander and Steve Levin, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, State Senator Daniel Squadron, State Assembly Woman Jo Ann Simon, and Congress Woman Nydia Velézquez for all their hard work in decveloping htis process, and also to the Fortis Property Group for their commitment to work with the community.
- - - -
Here is Friday's press release:

July 24, 2015: NYC Council Member Brad Lander, Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, NYS Senator Daniel Squadron, NYS Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, NYC Council Member Stephen Levin, Brooklyn Community Board 6, and the Cobble Hill Association issued the following statement regarding the future of the Long Island College Hospital (LICH) Site:

“Local elected officials, Community Board 6, and the Cobble Hill Association are working together to involve the community in the future of the Long Island College Hospital (LICH) site.

Fortis Property Group, LLC was selected to purchase the LICH campus through an RFP process managed by the State University of New York, after it decided to close LICH. This process was staunchly opposed by elected officials and community organizations.

To date, Fortis has indicated that two options exist for the redevelopment of the core LICH site: (a) an “as-of-right” option, which does not require discretionary public approvals, which would include about 400 market-rate units, and (b) a rezoning or “ULURP” option, which would roughly double the number of residential units and include affordable housing units, space for a public school, increased park space and more small retail opportunities. A rezoning would require review by the Community Board, Borough President, and City Planning Commission, and approval by the City Council.

Both of the proposed options present development that is dramatically out-of-scale with the adjacent Cobble Hill Historic District, which has a height limit of 50 feet (in each case, the tallest building Fortis proposes would be over 40 stories). In either scenario, NYU Langone will also build an approximately 108,000 sq. ft. health center at the corner of Atlantic and Hicks.

We will continue to work together to ensure all of the community’s options are explored. This working group will help organize public dialogue about the options. It is not a decision-making body, and will not recommend that Fortis pursue a particular option. Rather it will organize forums where residents, businesses, and stakeholders (including the Brooklyn Heights Association and Atlantic Avenue BID, both of whom represent areas adjacent to the LICH site) can learn more about the various options, weigh in on Fortis’ potential development options, propose alternatives, and provide community feedback. All stakeholders (elected officials, the community board, community organizations, individuals, etc.) will ultimately make their own decisions about Fortis’ proposals.

Over the next 2-3 months, the working group will organize several open, public meetings where Fortis will present their proposals and consider feedback, as well as several smaller meetings with stakeholders to drill-down on specific issues including: urban design, parks/open space, retail/commercial, the health care facility, the potential public school, potential affordable housing, and traffic/parking/transit and other infrastructure concerns.

A public meeting will take place the evening of Thursday August 6 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Brooklyn Montessori School at 185 Court Street, at Bergen Street, in Cobble Hill. The meeting will include a brief presentation of the options put forth by Fortis, followed by opportunities for community feedback and discussion. All are welcome to attend."

Monday, July 20, 2015

Thursday Night Presentation of Polhemus Building Residential Conversion Plans

This Thursday evening at 6:00 pm plans will be presented to the Community Board 6 Landuse/Landmarks Committee regarding Fortis’s repairs and changes to the exterior Polhemus Building, located on the SW corner of Amity and Henry Streets. This building is the first one on the former LICH campus to be redeveloped for residential use, but Polhemus is under Landmarks and there are no zoning changes involved. Fortis plans to convert Polhemus into a 17-unit residential doorman building.

The architect on this building is BKSK, not FX Fowle who presented the overall plans for the LICH campus at the Cobble Hill meeting in May.

If you are interested in attending, the meeting will be held at the 78th Precinct, 65 6th Avenue, between Dean and Bergen streets, at 6:00 pm this Thursday, July 23rd.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Music in the Park Concert Series Returns

Cobble Hill Parks's FREE concert series returns this summer with a new line up that's sure to please the whole family. Performances are every Thursday evening at 7pm for the next four weeks, starting this Thursday the 23rd with jazz guitarist Adam Smale. Rain dates are the following Friday when possible. 

2015 Music in the Park Line Up:
July 23: Adam Smale
August 6: The Red Hook Irregulars
August 13: The Bodega Tall Boys

Music in the Park is organized by Bryan Johnson and sponsored by Brooklyn Bridge Realty, Ridgewood Savings Bank, and Ted & Honey.  Join us at Cobble Hill Park for an evening of good company and great music, we hope to see you there.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Solarize CB6 Upcoming Workshops

Solarize CB6 is a limited time program now underway in our area that offers substantial reductions to the price of installing solar. The initiative is a partnership between the NY Solar Smart Program and Community Board Six. The program's two installers are offering tiered discounts that increase as more neighbors sign on to go solar in bulk. It also leverages the concurrent tax credits offered by the federal, state, and municipal governments. Read more about Solarize CB6 here.

Residents and business owners may get a no commitment site assessment to determine your roof's viability for photovoltaic solar panels. This type of panel generates power directly to your building and earns you a huge cut to your electricity bill. Attend one of these upcoming workshops to learn more information and answer your questions.

Commercial Buildings & Businesses
Tuesday, July 14, 6pm - 8pm
Red Hook Initiative
767 Hicks Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231

Commercial Buildings & Businesses
Thursday, July 23, 5:30pm - 7:30pm
Architectural Grille
42 2nd Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11215

Carroll Gardens Homeowners/Co-ops/Condos
Tuesday, July 28, 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Saint Paul's Episcopal Church
199 Carroll Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231

Thursday, July 2, 2015

What is ULURP?

One week from today, join the Cobble Hill Association for an important discussion about ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure). It is a key component of possible scenarios Fortis would like to see happen in Cobble Hill as they further their development plans for the former LICH property. Join the meeting to learn more and be able to make better informed decisions about the future of Cobble Hill.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A New Commanding Officer at the 76th Precinct After Just Four Months

Precinct 76 welcomed a new Commanding Offer Captain Elliot Colon on June 15th. The announcement comes just four months after the community was introduced to Captain Natalie Maldonado at the precinct's February Council meeting. Captain Maldonado retired from the force in June after nearly twenty years serving the NYPD. After her short command at the 76th, this change marks the fifth new Commanding Officer in under five years. Although this offers no cause for alarm, it may raise community concerns about how familiar NYPD leadership can become with its patrol when stationed for such relatively short stints.