Wednesday, June 25, 2008

the concert series begins




The seventh annual Cobble Hill Park Summer Concert Series kicks off tomorrow night with Sufferin' Succotash, featuring a rich, flavorful gumbo of old-time country breakdowns and heart songs, down-home blues, rags, hokum favorites, Louisiana Cajun and Black Creole "Bal d'Maison" dance tunes, Jazz Age pop "novelty" rarities, and more.

Sufferin' Succotash's repertoire comes mostly from scratchy 78 rpm records from the 1920s and '30s—"The Golden Age of American Vernacular Music"—as well as field recordings of folk tradition-bearers. Their sources range from such old-time country performers as Charlie Poole & The North Carolina Ramblers; Gid Tanner & The Skillet Lickers; blues string and jug bands like The Mississippi Sheiks and Gus Cannon & His Jug Stompers; early Louisiana French recording artists such as Black Creole accordionist Amedé Ardoin and the Cajun fiddle and accordion duo of Leo Soileau & Mayuse Lafleur; rural tradition-bearers like Appalachian fiddler/banjoist Tommy Jarrell; and African-American fiddler Butch Cage.

True to the spirit and tradition of their sources, Sufferin' Succotash performs these musical gems of a bygone era with all the fiery vitality of a sweaty Saturday night house party on the fiddle, harmonica, button accordion, guitar, banjo, mandolin, single-string bass, and other traditional acoustic instruments. As a modern-day band in the Big Apple, Sufferin' Succotash's unique renditions of these classic music forms feature hot, tasty licks with a rockin' "downtown" backbeat, like the pulsating rhythm of the subways rumbling beneath the City's streets.

SHLOMO PESTCOE (vocals, fiddle, button accordion, mandolin, banjo, guitar, ukulele)
PETER "TRIP" HENDERSON (vocals, harmonicas, tenor ukulele)
BOB "DR. FRETS" JONES (vocals, guitar, bass)
PETER STUART KOHMAN (vocals, guitar, banjo-ukulele, mandolin, bass)
PETER FORD (vocals, single-string 'Box Bass', guitar)

This year's series will feature seven Thursday evening concerts in Cobble Hill Park (on Clinton Street between Verandah Place and Congress Street). All concerts are free and open to the public. They start at 7:00 p.m. on Thursdays. In the event of rain, the concerts will be held on Friday evenings.

This year's series will feature:

June 26 - Sufferin Succotash with Shlomo Pesko
Blues and Folk for the whole family

July 3 - The Beatnix
Old Time Rock n' Roll

July 10 - Linda Ipanema and the Dixie Cats
The Best of New Orleans Jazz

July 17 - Bobby Harden New York City Soul Trio
Singing the Blues

July 24 - Bustmenti
Mexican Music

July 31 - So-Nu
Klezmer and Balkan Music

August 7 - Lara Ewen, Story-Telling Songs
and Jeff Jacobsen, Singer Songwriter

The Summer concert series is sponsored with the generous support of Long Island College Hospital, the Brooklyn Heights Press, and Ridgewood Savings Bank.

We hope to see you there.

CHHC: hearing postponed

The Cobble Hill Health Center is such a good neighbor that they have decided to defer their upcoming CB6 and LPC hearings in order to have more time to revise their plans pursuant to the advice of community members. I have no doubt that taking the time now to get it right will save everyone time, money, and effort in the long run. Wouldn't it be great if everyone conducted business that way?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

CHHC: hearing on Thursday

We had a meeting last night with the Cobble Hill Health Center about their plans to renovate the building. Because they are within the Cobble Hill Historic District, their plans must be reviewed by Community Board 6 and the Landmarks Preservation Commission. They were kind enough to sit down with the community before their official hearings begin.

As Donny Tuchman of CHHC explained, the interior of the building needs to be renovated to create larger rooms and more handicapped accessibility. From a landmarks perspective, the problem is that their air flow plans involve adding four rooftop mechanical units that would be visible from the street.

We advised them and their architect to find a way to disguise the units or make them less visually obtrusive. Baffling, fencing, and different colors of paint were all suggested, but clearly their approach to the rooftop units will have to be reimagined if they want LPC to approve their renovation. They agreed to try to do that and to keep the community updated during the twenty-month construction, set to begin later this year.

The next event is their appearance before the CB6 Landmarks Committee. Here are the details:
Thursday, June 26, 2008
6:00 p.m.
P.S. 32 Auditorium
317 Hoyt Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231.
After that, their LPC hearing is scheduled for July 22. We will keep you updated as the matter moves forward.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cobble Hill concert series

The Cobble Hill Association Announces the start of the

The Cobble Hill Association is pleased to announce the schedule for its seventh annual "Music in the Park" series of free concerts. This year's series will feature seven Thursday evening concerts in Cobble Hill Park (on Clinton Street between Verandah Place and Congress Street). All concerts are free, open to the public, and scheduled for Thursdays at 7:00 p.m. (The rain date for each concert is the following day, i.e. Friday).

"This year we have a wonderful group of talented musicians excited to make Thursday evenings in Cobble Hill Park a very pleasant experience. I love the opportunity to hear the music and see friends gather in our own little oasis, Cobble Hill Park," says W. Rudy Kamuf, organizer of the series.

This year's series will feature:

June 26 - Sufferin Succotash with Shlomo Pesko
Blues and Folk for the whole family

July 3 - The Beatnix
Old Time Rock n' Roll

July 10 - Linda Ipanema and the Dixie Cats
The Best of New Orleans Jazz

July 17 - Bobby Harden New York City Soul Trio
Singing the Blues

July 24 - Bustmenti
Mexican Music

July 31 - So-Nu
Klezmer and Balkan Music

August 7 - Lara Ewen, Story-Telling Songs
and Jeff Jacobsen, Singer/Songwriter

The summer concert series is sponsored by the generous support of Long Island College Hospital, Ridgewood Savings Bank, and the Brooklyn Heights Press & Cobble Hill News.

More information about some of our newest performers:

Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Lara Ewen combines the lyrical focus of classic storytelling songs with an acoustic-driven sound familiar to fans of today's alternative country and Americana music. During 2007, she travelled throughout the U.S. to support the release of "Ghosts and Gasoline," which the editors of described as "the kind of album which sticks with you long-term, leaving an emotional imprint in the same league with your first kiss, your first road trip and your first heartbreak." Lara's music appeals to fans of Townes Van Zandt, Patty Griffin, and Lucinda Williams, and the editors of Encore magazine describe her as "Emmylou Harris singing Neil Young songs."

Jeff Jacobson is a folk-pop singer/songwriter whose self-titled debut album was released in May 2007. He has received numerous songwriting awards and was voted one of the "14 Best Singer/Songwriters of Greenwich Village" by Underground Music Online three years in a row. Critics have favorably compared him to Paul Simon and Lindsey Buckingham, and Amie Street calls Jeff "one of the most accomplished musicians in New York." He is also one of the co-founders of NYC indie favorites The Undisputed Heavyweights. "Poignant, polished, well-executed pop songs full of memorable hooks and exquisite guitar lines."—Urban Folk

Friday, June 20, 2008

Landmarks: CHHC renovation meeting

The Cobble Hill Health Center is planning a major renovation which requires approval by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. They have agreed to meet with the community to show us their plans and receive feedback before they proceed (as the developer for 110 Amity Street recently did). Please come out and be heard.

What: CHHC renovation plans.
When: Monday, June 23 at 7 p.m.
Where: CHHC, 380 Henry Street.

The matter will likely be added to the CB6 Landmarks agenda for Thursday, June 26, and their LPC hearing is scheduled for July 22.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

update: LICH to shut down rape crisis program

There is bad news from LICH. The Cobble Hill Association has learned that LICH is terminating its Rape Crisis Intervention/Victims of Violence Program, effective June 30, 2008. The rape crisis program is run in coordination with the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault, the Criminal Justice Coordinator's Office, and the Kings County District Attorney Office.

[The rest is a substantial revision of an earlier account.]

I spoke to LICH's public affairs person this afternoon, June 18, for further information. They emphasized that their emergency room will still be prepared to receive rape victims and to use rape kits. They also described the Rape Crisis Intervention/Victims of Violence Program, which they have had for twenty years and which they are now shutting down, as a social work outpatient program. As they see it, shutting it down will allow them to concentrate on medical services.

However they describe the termination of the program, there is no benefit to the community in losing a program that served rape victims. They had already shut down their birthing center in 2006, as reported by the Daily News.

Cobble Hill needs a full-service hospital run by people who are committed to serving the community first and foremost. If more programs are shut down and more properties sold off, hard questions will have to be asked about the relationship between LICH and Continuum Health Partners.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

hospital emergency?

Doctors at Long Island College Hospital held a press conference yesterday, covered in today's New York Times, where they raised allegations about Continuum's recent sales of property. From the article:
'The doctors contend that the parent company, Continuum Health Partners, has been downsizing the institution where they work, Long Island College Hospital, in the Cobble Hill neighborhood, and diverting resources to its more prestigious hospitals in Manhattan, primarily Beth Israel Medical Center.'
What does it mean? Let us know what you think.

110 Amity: good government at work

Today's hearing at the Landmarks Preservation Commission regarding 110 Amity Street was largely uneventful. Nadezhda Williams of the Historic Districts Council, Amy Breedlove of Cobble Hill, and I were the only people there to testify. We each saluted the cooperation of the developer, Jonathan Wachtel of Lucky Boy Development, and pointed out the few remaining features in dispute: the asymmetrical rail/wall design of the stoops, the height and design of the rear, and the doorways.

Only when the public testimony was over did the occasion become interesting as the commissioners went even further than the three of us and the statement from the CB6 Landmarks Committee. The commissioners objected to the flatness and material of the cornices, the lintels, and other details that they felt made the design's 'conversation' between traditional and modern 'confused'.

The outcome: the plan for the Lamm Building was approved, but the townhouse plans were set aside for further consultation between the developer and LPC staff. It's nice to see government go the extra mile without being beaten with a stick.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

110 Amity: LPC hearing Tuesday

110 Amity Street will have its next hearing at the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday, June 10 at 9.30 a.m. The location is the LPC hearing room at 1 Centre Street. Mercifully, 110 Amity will be the first item on the agenda, so it will be important to get there for the start of the hearing.

People who intend to testify may want to mention of how little notice was given of the hearing. The meeting was only added to the LPC agenda on Friday afternoon, less than two full business days before the hearing.

The developer, Jonathan Wachtel, has genuinely listened to community output. His example should be emulated by others in his line of work.

Outstanding issues of concern to the community include the asymmetrical railings on the stoops, the design of the rear, and the height of the rear. We will mention all of these in our official CHA letter/testimony to LPC. If there is anything that we have forgotten, please let us know either by e-mail or by blog comment. Thanks.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

rethink the clink

Laurie Maurer of the CHA attended Thursday's meeting of the Brooklyn House of Detention Community Stakeholders Group and files this report.

On Thursday, May 29, a community meeting was held to discuss the future of the Brooklyn House of Detention (HOD), located on Atlantic Avenue between the Adams Expressway and Smith Street. The meeting was convened by the Stakeholders' Group, which consists of several neighborhood associations (including CHA) as well as adjacent residential associations.

The facility has been closed for five years and the Department of Corrections' current plan for the site is to double the inmate population from the current 750 to 1500. The Stakeholders' Group is adamantly opposed to this proposed expansion. The purpose of the meeting was to bring the community up to date on the project and to discuss alternatives uses for the site as well as alternatives to actual incarceration.

Main speakers included Stanley Richards, COO of the Fortune Society, and Abby Hamlin of Hamlin Ventures. Mr. Richards explained some of the numerous activities of his organization with respect to assisting people who have been released from prison, and which includes court-appointment custodial care of people in lieu of incarceration.

Ms. Hamlin presented her organization's proposal for the site (prepared for the RFEI requested by the City), which included demolition of the present building and constructing an assemblage of mixed use buildings—support services for released prisoners, including job training and counseling; temporary housing with support services for those coming out of prison; affordable and market rate housing units. There were no inmate beds provided in the scheme.

In addition to these speakers, representatives from various elected officials—Millman, Connor, the Comptroller's office, Yassky, de Blasio and the Mayor's office—offered brief comments.

The Stakeholders' Group would like to see a great deal more open discussion with all concerned parties regarding the future of this key site before the enormous amount of public funds are allocated for the project. They would like to see the discussion include issues of public policy and law, in addition to those involving the actual real estate in question.

The group urges all interested residents to get involved with this issue. Their website has more information, including the Hamlin proposal.