Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Tree Plantings, Old Tree Recycling

Much of Cobble Hill's beauty comes from the hundreds of fully grown trees canopying the neighborhood. While most grow more beautiful as they mature, some trees must be trimmed or removed entirely as branches die. This past summer two trees on Clinton Street (one at the corner of Verandah Place, and one opposite Cobble Hill Park) were cut down and dug out by the parks department. Thankfully, two replacements have just gone in recently. It'll take many years for them to recreate the green glory of their predecessors but be sure to stop by and show some eco-appreciaton for the new White Oak and Golden Rain Tree next time you're strolling Clinton Street.

In other tree news... Xmas is over so please remember to recycle your trees at the Cobble Hill Mulchfest.

Saturday, January 9 & Sunday, January 10.

Cobble Hill Park: Clinton and Verandah Place, 10 am – 2:00 PM

Drop off your Christmas trees at the location below. Wreaths and garlands cannot be accepted. Please remove lights and decorations. No artificial trees!


Sponsored by: Cobble Hill Tree Fund, Cobble Hill Association, Friends of Cobble Hill Park, & Boy Scout Troops 213 & 815

Friday, December 4, 2009

F Train Town Hall

If you live in Cobble Hill and take the train, odds are you've stood on the Bergen Street platform and watched packed subway car after packed subway car rolls through during the morning rush hour. This chronic problem needs a solution and State Senator Squadron has pushed the MTA to conduct a full line review of the F Train.

In October, the MTA released the findings from this review in a comprehensive report (available at: www.squadron.nysenate.gov). To make this report even more accessible to the public, Senator Daniel Squadron and Community Boards 2 & 6 invite you to attend a Town Hall Meeting about the F train. MTA representatives will discuss the recent report about F train performance, and discuss proposals for improving service.

F Train Town Hall
Hosted by State Senator Daniel Squadron
WHEN: Thursday, December 10, 6:30 pm
WHERE: PS 58 Auditorium
330 Smith Street, Brooklyn NY
(Corner of Smith and Carroll streets, at Carroll Street stop on the F line)

Amazing image of F train in action is republished from venusinfurs.net/2006/06/10/f-train/


This coming Monday, Senator Squadron will be hosting a meeting to give the community an opportunity to hear a presentation from the City of New York about Brooklyn Bridge Park.

BROOKLYN BRIDGE PARK TOWN HALL MEETING Hosted by State Senator Daniel Squadron WHEN: Monday, December 7, 7:00 pm WHERE: Long Island College Hospital, Conference Rooms C & D (Corner of Hicks and Atlantic Avenue, enter on Hicks Street)

Since the 1985 the Cobble Hill Association has worked to create a great park to honor the Brooklyn Bridge and to serve the growing population of young families with year round recreational facilities, welcoming entrances, access along its length, and a financial plan that does not privatize public parks with housing inside its borders.

Mayor Bloomberg now wants the State to give him control of the Park.
Please come to a meeting at which the Mayor's plan will be presented: This Monday, December 7th at 7 PM at Long Island College Hospital.

Please ask the Mayor:
1. Will he eliminate new housing that has been shown to be unnecessary and corrosive to this park?
2. Will he put back the recreational facilities taken out in favor of landscaping for condos?
3. Will he support Senator Squadron's plan for financing, or other plans we have put forth over the years to support this park's operations?

We apologize for the delay in notifying you about this meeting. It is the mayor's timing, not ours. But this is an important meeting and do hope you will be able to attend!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Community Round Table POSTPONED

Unfortunately, the Cobble Hill Association's Community Roundtable with State Senator Daniel Squadron, that was to be held at 7:30 PM on Monday, November 23rd, must be Re-Scheduled.

The State Legislature is being called back next week to vote on the state budget so State Senator Daniel Squadron will not be available. We are re-scheduling the Roundtable and will let you know the new date as soon as possible.

Sorry for the inconvenience!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Community Round Table with Senator Squadron

The Cobble Hill Association Kicks off its Community Roundtable Series with State Senator Daniel Squadron

7:30 PM on Monday, November 23rd
@ Christ Church, at the corner of Clinton and Kane Streets

This will be the first of a series of "Community Roundtable" meetings hosted by the Cobble Hill Association to provide an opportunity for you to meet directly with your elected officials. We are honored that our first guest will be State Senator Daniel Squadron. This will be an informal meeting where you can discuss any issue or concern directly with Senator Squadron.

"These meetings will provide an opportunity to meet directly with your elected officials to discuss any issue or concern," said Roy Sloane, president of the CHA.

This event is free of charge and is open to the public.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

CHA / BGI Ride 2009

On an unseasonably perfect Sunday this past weekend, nearly 35 cyclists gathered for 2nd annual Cobble Hill Association/ Brooklyn Greenway Initiative Ride. With six marshals escorts, riders toured ten miles of Brooklyn's surrounding neighborhoods. The route included the brand new Sands Streets protected bike path, the paved stretch of Columbia Street's future Brooklyn Greenway, waterfront views of the city from the Brooklyn Cruise ship terminal, and a visit to the newly constructed pedestrian plaza at the Hoyt-Schermerhorn subway station. The ride also included two rest stops; first was at the Ikea Esplanade where Meg Fellerath from BGI spoke about the Brooklyn Greenway and second was on Livingston Street where Ryan Kuonen from the Street Memorials project spoke about ghost bikes as they related to cycling and pedestrian safety in the city. Big thanks to all Meg, Ryan, and all the marshals who helped, and a double thanks to Ryan Philips for snapping these great photos.
Want to see more pics from the ride? Check out the Cobble Hill Flickr pool.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cobble Hill Association Fall General Meeting

Monday, November 9, at 7:30 pm @ Long Island College Hospital, 339 Hicks Street (at Atlantic Ave) at the Avram Conference Room A.

With New York City’s unemployment rate at a reported 8.9% and with under-employment estimated at 17%, many Cobble Hill residents have been affected by the economic downturn , especially with so many working in the fields of finance, media, and law that have been hard-hit. The Cobble Hill Association’s Fall General meeting will feature a panel discussion on coping strategies for this difficult economic environment.


William S. Ross, Director of Development Marketing, Halstead Property
Henry Zook, of BookCourt @ 161-163 Court Street
Michelle Manix, of Ted and Honey cafe @ 264 Clinton Street at Vernadah Place
Lauren Young, Personal Finance Editor of Business Week

About the Panel:

William S. Ross, Director of Development Marketing for Halstead Property, has over 25 years of real estate experience. An expert in both residential and commercial realty, Bill was the owner of William S. Ross Realty in Cobble Hill until he sold to Halstead. He is an expert on New York City's complicated zoning laws, and Landmarks Preservation regulations. Bill has been involved in many major building conversions and new developments where his ability to work with architects on floor plans and layouts and his understanding of the market is invaluable. Bill is a lifetime resident of Brownstone Brooklyn.

Henry Zook has co-owned BookCourt at 161 – 163 Court Street since 1981. Rated a 10 out of 10 by New York Magazine and voted the “Best Bookstore Expanding in the Face of a Vanishing Industry” by the Village Voice in their October 2009 “Best of New York” issue, the store is more than just a bookstore. Along with co-owner, Mary Gannett, and son Zack, Henry has created a destination where you can find an excellent selection of fiction, non-fiction and children’s books and literary magazines. The store offers readings from well-known authors - E.L. Doctorow and Jonathan Lethem among the writers featured in the past two months. There are weekly events for children and young adults including readings, story hours, and one of a kind events like a midnight release party for the last Harry Potter book. BookCourt has recently expanded to better serve their fans, ignoring the common wisdom that Barnes and Noble and Amazon are the only business model for book sellers.

Michelle Mannix, co-owner of Ted and Honey at 264 Clinton Street at Verandah Place, is a lifelong foodie who came to the culinary world after spending several years in corporate America working in human resources and marketing. After being laid off from her job as Director of Marketing Partnerships and Promotion for Loews Cineplex Entertainment, Michelle took her career in a different direction. She attended the New School for culinary arts, completing the Master Class in professional cooking, catering, and Italian. She was asked to be the assistant to the Chef Instructor in the next Master course. Michelle then worked as a line cook and prep cook in Danny Meyer’s Café 2 in the Museum of Modern Art. In 2008, she and her brother, Chris Jackson, opened Ted and Honey. It became such an instant hit that when they added a public rest room, New York Magazine listed it as “Brilliant” in their approval matrix! Michelle, her husband, and their new baby, Jackson, live down the block from Ted & Honey in Carroll Gardens.

Lauren Young is a department editor for BusinessWeek’s Personal Business section. She joined BusinessWeek in October 2003 after working as a senior writer at SmartMoney. Ms. Young also covered mutual funds for the Dow Jones Newswires and was a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal. Her articles have appeared in many publications including The New York Times, The Baltimore Sun, The Houston Chronicle, The Wall Street Journal Europe, USA Today, and T. Rowe Price Investor. She currently blogs about investing and parenting issues for BusinessWeek and is a frequent guest on major network television and radio programs. Ms. Young lives in Cobble Hill with her husband Jon Gordon, a patent lawyer, and her son Leo, who is in kindergarten at P.S. 29.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Cobble Hill Association November Newsletter

Read below for CHA recaps on the Halloween Parade, Book Swap, and upcoming Bike Ride, Fall General meeting, and more.

Fall General Meeting to Feature Panel Discussion, "Surviving the Economic Downturn in Cobble Hill"

With New York City's unemployment rate at a reported 8.9% and with under-employment estimated at 17%, many Cobble Hill residents have been affected by the economic downturn , especially with so many working in the fields of finance, media, and law that have been hard-hit. The Cobble Hill Association's Fall General meeting will feature a panel discussion on coping strategies for this difficult economic environment. It will be held on Monday, November 9, at 7:30 pm at Long Island College Hospital, 339 Hicks Street (at Atlantic Ave) at the Avram Conference Room A.Featured will be an expert on local real estate, William S. Ross, Director of Development Marketing, Halstead Property; co-owners of two successful neighborhood businesses, Henry Zook of BookCourt at 161-163 Court Street and Michelle Mannix of Ted & Honey cafe at 264 Clinton Street at Verandah Place; and Lauren Young, Personal Finance Editor, of BusinessWeek.

For detailed background about the Panelists, please read further here.

- $22 Million NY State Grant Will Assist Proposed Merger of Long Island College Hospital and SUNY-Downstate Medical Center

Governor David Patterson authorized a $22 million grant to Long Island College Hospital, a move that was interpreted as a show of support for LICH's proposed merger with SUNY- Downstate Medical Center, according to Dominick Stanzione, acting LICH President. Mr. Stanzione reported that negotiations between LICH and SUNY-Downstate continue. There have been ongoing discussions between various state and federal agencies to come up with a business plan that would reduce LICH’Äôs current malpractice premiums and increase its reimbursement rates.Murray Adams, former CHA president and co-founder of the Ad Hoc Committee for LICH, said Mr. Stanzione told their committee that "the financial picture at LICH has improved, but LICH is still a long way from break-even". LICH's finances may also be negatively impacted by new cuts in reimbursement rates effective December 1 and possible additional cuts arising from New York State’Äôs anticipated deficit. However, on a positive note, support by the area's elected officials allowed LICH to keep open their school-based clinics this fall.

- Cobble Hill Bike Ride to Meet Sunday, November 8 in Cobble Hill Park

The Cobble Hill Association and Brooklyn Greenway Initiative are hosting a 10-mile casual bike ride on Sunday, November 8 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. It will begin at Cobble Hill Park at Verandah Place and travel through Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo, the Columbia Waterfront District, Red Hook, and Carroll Gardens then loop back to Cobble Hill. There will be several scenic rest stops as the group rides along the mostly calm streets with some light vehicular traffic. Several bike marshals and a mechanic will accompany the group in case of urgent bike repairs Riders should bring helmets and observe all the proper rules of the road.There is no cost but space is limited to 50 riders maximum. Preference will be given to those who register ahead of time, as well as Cobble Hill Association members. Riders must RSVP to: cobblehillbikeride@gmail.com

- Halloween Parade Draws 4000 to Cobble Hill Park

Halloween has become as festive as Mardi Gras with a crowd estimated at 4000 participating in the Cobble Hill Association’Äôs parade and enjoying the scary decorations in Cobble Hill Park. Every block had people sitting on their stoops distributing candy to children who came from the neighborhood and beyond. One generous Clinton Street homeowner had treats for both young and old with candy for the kids and a mini keg of Heineken for adults.
Kudos to Melissa Glass, the Halloween Queen, for organizing the event, decorating the park, hiring the steel drum band, and putting everything back to normal before midnight. Additional thanks to David Black, Allen Scheuch who made the fabulous totem poles, helped with set-up, and spearheaded the cleanup, Peter La Bonte, Nicole from Congress Street, Liz Velikonja and her fourth- and fifth-grade sons Karl and Nicky, Captain Corey and the policemen from the 76th precinct for closing the parade route to traffic, Roy Sloane, and Jerry Armer.

- CHA Lobbying Efforts Result in Important Expansion of BQE Rehabilitation Project

Peter King, NYS DOT Project Manager, announced his agency's intention to expand the area of the BQE Rehabilitation project south to Hamilton Avenue-- subject to the concurrence of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). His announcement made at the October 21st meeting of the BQE Rehabilitation Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) appeared to be in response to lobbying by the CHA and community organizations. This means that the BQE Rehabilitation will now include all Atlantic Avenue entrances and exits and the BQE "ditch" rather than ending just before. Expansion of the project area also means that the primary study area will be expanded south at least as far as Hamilton Avenue and will include all of the neighborhoods west of the Gowanus Canal.

The BQE Triple Cantilever Roadway Reconstruction Project has the potential to be an infrastructure reconstruction project of truly unprecedented scale and extent. Our entire area could be profoundly impacted for the years required to complete the rehabilitation. Peter King and his team are considering an ambitious range of options to mitigate the potential impact including tolling strategies, a temporary outboard highway over the water and even more permanent solutions such as tunneling underneath downtown Brooklyn. You can learn more about the project and the planning effort at: http://www.nysdot.gov/bqedowntownbrooklyn

- Community Roundtable Meeting with State Senator Daniel Squadron Scheduled for November 23

The Cobble Hill Association is pleased to announce that the first in a series of "Community Roundtable" meetings will feature State Senator Daniel Squadron on Monday Nov. 23rd at 7:30 PM -- location to be announced. The "Community Roundtable" meetings will provide an opportunity for you to meet directly with your elected officials to discuss any topic and to communicate your concerns with them. Please save the date!

- First Cobble Hill Book Swap Was a Hit!

Despite a postponement and shortened hours, the first Cobble Hill Association Book Swap was a very successful event. Over 1000 books changed hands with the remainders donated to patients at Long Island College Hospital.
LICH librarian George reoirts that the book cart is getting great responses from patients and that the kid's books disappear the moment the clinic staff puts them out. In addition to the book swap, police from the 76th precinct registered bicycles and cell phones and LICH nurses took blood pressure readings and provided information about asthma. Organizers Judi Francis and Margaret Ablon thank all who participated and are planning another swap for this spring.

- Joanne Nicholas, editor

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cobble Hill Bike Ride 09

Come join the Cobble Hill Association and Brooklyn Greenway Initiative for the second annual...


When: November 8th, 2009, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Verandah Place at Cobble Hill Park
Cost: FREE, simply rsvp to cobblehillbikeride@gmail.com.
Space is limited to 50 riders maximum. Preference will be given to those who register ahead of time, as well as Cobble Hill Association members.

The Cobble Hill Association and Brooklyn Greenway Initiative are hosting a 10-mile casual bike ride that will start at Cobble Hill Park and pass through Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo, the Columbia Waterfront District, Red Hook, and Carroll Gardens then loop back to Cobble Hill.

There will be several scenic rest stops as we ride along mostly calm streets with some light vehicular traffic. Several Bike Marshals will travel alongside as well as a mechanic for any urgent bike repairs needed. It may be chilly so please dress accordingly, and know that riders should bring helmets and observe all the proper rules of the road.

Monday, June 15, 2009

BQE scoping meeting: June 22

The NYS Department of Transportation's multi-year study of how to repair the triple-cantilever section of the BQE continues to creep forward. The next event is a public scoping meeting on June 22. Scoping meetings tend to be fairly technical. As such, they are very important to get right. The purpose of a scoping meeting at the start of a project study period is to ask questions like, What is the proper scope of the study? How far out should we look? Where should we draw the limit? What should we include and exclude? Everyone has a different answer to these questions, and those answers are often driven by self-interests.

We have at least three goals for setting the scope of the BQE study:

1. Atlantic Avenue

Expand the project area to include the southern entrances and exits to the BQE at Atlantic Avenue. We all know how treacherous it is to get on the BQE at Atlantic. See Werner Cohn's BQE Watch blog for photos of accidents.

2. Protect our community

Make it clear that the use of residential streets (Court, Clinton, Henry, Hicks) as part of an alternate traffic plan during construction will not be acceptable. We don't want the BQE diverted through Cobble Hill while the highway is being repaired. Imagine how awful that would be. They are going to have to put those 100,000 cars somewhere.

3. Sound attentuation

Whatever technology or structure is used to repair, rebuild, or replace the triple-cantilever portion of the BQE, i.e. the roadway under the Promenade and above the future Brooklyn Bridge Park, should be designed to reduce noise.

The construction will not begin for another ten years or so, but important decisions will be made now. It is important to defend our interests from day one.

WHAT: BQE public scoping meeting
WHEN: Monday, June 22, 2009 between 3 and 6 p.m. and also between 7 and 10 p.m.
WHERE: Dibner Building, Pfizer Auditorium, Polytechnic Institute of NYU, 5 MetroTech Center, Brooklyn 11201

go to Governors Island this summer

As we said at the CHA's spring general meeting, we want more people from Brooklyn to visit Governors Island this summer. The CHA and CB6 have been trying to strengthen the island's ties to Brooklyn by, among other things, pushing for direct ferry service to the island from Brooklyn. One day soon we hope that there will be service from Pier 6 at the foot of Atlantic Avenue.

Governors Island is open to the public every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through October 11 for the 2009 season. Currently, the ferry leaves from Fulton Ferry Landing every twenty minutes. Here is the ferry schedule. Alternatively, you can also get a ferry from Manhattan at the Battery Maritime Building adjacent to the Staten Island ferry terminal.

The island has a full summer schedule this year: films, dance, music, food, and more. They also have free bicycle rental, and you can bring your own. The island is only 400 yards from Brooklyn, and it's a beautiful place to spend a summer afternoon. Let's take full advantage of it this year.

Carroll Gardens rezoning hearing: June 25

The Department of City Planning is commendably moving ahead with a comprehensive rezoning of Carroll Gardens and the Columbia Street District that will preserve the low-rise character of the neighborhoods to the south and west of Cobble Hill. This is excellent news. The matter is scheduled for consideration by the CB6 Land Use Committee on Thursday, June 25. We have only one objection to the plan: we don't think Henry and Clinton Streets immediately south of Degraw should be zoned R6A.

Why does it matter? The Cobble Hill Historic District's southern edge is Degraw Street. R6A zoning allows for heights up to seventy feet. The Historic District has a fifty-foot height limit. We think the zoning of the blocks of Henry and Clinton immediately south of Degraw should not rise so abruptly. City Planning has said that many of the homes on those streets are already quite tall. Even so, we don't want to encourage more tall buildings so close to the Historic District. We hope that community members will attend the meeting and reiterate this point to the committee.

WHAT: CB6 Land Use Committee meeting on rezoning
WHEN: LICH, Conference Rooms A and B, 339 Hicks Street
WHEN: Thursday, June 6, 2009 at 6 p.m.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Brooklyn Greenway benefit: Thursday

On Thursday, June 18, there will be a benefit for the Brooklyn Greenway. What is the Greenway? As their website explains,
Once it's finished, the Brooklyn Waterfront Greenway will:
Be a 14-mile path for recreation and transportation
Run from Greenpoint to Sunset Park
Connect 4 regional parks and numerous open spaces on Brooklyn's waterfront.
A half-mile segment on Columbia Street is already open. Brooklyn deserves a proper recreational waterfront as lower Manhattan has along the Hudson.

WHAT: Brooklyn Greenway benefit
WHEN: Thursday, June 18, 2009, from 6 to 9 p.m.
WHERE: IKEA's Erie Basin Park

CH Happy Hour returns: June 24

Thanks to Jennifer Wiese, the Cobble Hill Happy Hour will now be a monthly event: every final Wednesday of the month, from 7 to 9 p.m., at Last Exit, located at 136 Atlantic Avenue.

The next three happy hours will be: June 24, July 29, and August 26.

Be sure to tell the bartender that you are with us.

BBPark news: CB6 opposes new housing in the park

On Wednesday, June 6, Community Board 6 voted to support Senator Daniel Squadron's revenue plan or any other alternative revenue plan that would rule out the construction of any new housing in the park. The vote was 23 to 6 with three abstentions. (The six no votes came from CB6 members generally associated with Carroll Gardens and Gowanus. It was not clear why they oppose a housing-free park.)

From day one, the CHA has opposed the proposed construction of new apartment buildings within the future park. CB6 has taken similar measures in the past and has reaffirmed its position now that Senator Squadron's PIRC proposal is on the table. We can only hope that the message will one day get through to the powers that be: no one wants twenty-story apartment towers—or any apartment towers—in a so-called park.

Concerts in the Park start on June 25

Thanks to the work of our concert organizer Rudy Kamuf, the CHA's annual series of summer concerts in Cobble Hill Park is about to begin again. The concerts are always tremendous fun for people of all ages and a great way to meet your neighbours. All concerts are scheduled for Thursday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. The rain date for each is always the next night, i.e. Friday. Here is the schedule with Rudy's description of each band.

June 25: Linda Ipanema and the Dixie Cats
The best of New Orleans jazz. The queen of Dixieland has been with us for four years. She excites the crowd with her toe-tapping, finger-snapping music.

July 2: The Beatniks
Old-time Rock and Roll. A unique husband and wife team that belts out the music of all the great artists you are sure to remember.

July 9: Bobby Harden
He sings the blues. A world-wide entertainer who gives every performance his utmost in excitement and energy.

July 16: Luisto Ayala Trio
This trio is one of the greats of salsa music. Their excitement and flair and salsa sound will stay with you long after the concert.

Bring your friends or make new ones. Fun is guaranteed.

The concert series is sponsored by Long Island College Hospital and Ridgewood Bank.

LPC hearing on 166 Amity: Tuesday

On Tuesday, June 16, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will hold a hearing regarding 166 Amity Street. Here is the description from the LPC's calendar:
09-8655 - Block 720, lot 40-
166 Amity Street - Cobble Hill Historic District
A Greek Revival style rowhouse built in 1843. Application is to install mechanical
equipment at the roof, alter the rear facade, and excavate at the rear yard.
Zoned R8B
The matter came before the CB6 Landmarks Committee on May 28, a night when Roy Sloane and I were at the first meeting of the CHA's new History Committee. Jerry Armer did attend the committee meeting and gave the CHA board his report.

In the end, the committee voted to object to the number of doors to be added to the existing rear-yard addition: that it should be one door, not three. Possibly of more concern is that the applicant appears not to have notified the neighbours as required. The CHA board decided not to send a statement to the hearing one way or the other, but you may want to express yourselves to the LPC on any of the issues involved: the number of doors, the non-notification of the neighbours, or any of the other elements.

WHAT: LPC hearing regarding 166 Amity Street
WHERE: 1 Centre Street, 9th floor, LPC Conference Room, Manhattan
WHEN: Approx. 9.30 a.m.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dock Street: more action needed

Back in March, the CHA testified against Two Trees' proposed building on Dock Street in Dumbo, a building that would destroy the historic views of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. See the before and after representations above.

Our friends in the Fulton Ferry Landing Association have started a letter-writing campaign to the City Council to ask them not to approve Two Trees' historically destructive proposal. The CHA is joining their letter campaign, and we encourage our members who care about the bridges to send letters, too. Here is FFLA's sample letter. Let's save Brooklyn's greatest asset: our bridges.

Monday, June 1, 2009

City Council candidates on Brooklyn Bridge Park

On May 21, I attended IND's endorsement meeting. IND, the Independent Neighborhood Democrats, is the local Democratic club for the 52nd Assembly District. While there, I asked each and every candidate for the 33rd and 39th City Council Districts (David Yassky and Bill de Blasio's seats), the same question: 'Do you oppose new housing in Brooklyn Bridge Park?'

All the candidates for the 39th District unequivocally said that they opposed new housing in the park. The only difference among them was the degree of detail that they offered in demonstrating their opposition.

The situation was much different in the 33rd. Here are the holdouts:

1. Steve Levin declined to attend the event. He reportedly has a habit of doing that.

2. Isaac Abraham refused to answer the question. He beat around the bush and said he would have to talk to the parties involved. It was clear that he did not understand the issue.

3. Jo Anne Simon described housing as a 'last resort'. Later in the evening I spoke to her one-on-one to see if, given a second chance, she would take a stronger position against housing. She did not.

The position of the CHA has always been to oppose new housing in the park. It is a clear, simple position, and we encourage everyone to take a similarly hard line against the construction of new housing in a public park.

Bite of BoCoCa: Saturday

Whether you like the acronym 'BoCoCa' or not, you will enjoy this event. On Saturday, June 6, there will be another Bite of BoCoCa food tasting event. Here are the details from the official notice:

Saturday, June 6, 2009 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Rain date: Sunday, June 7

A Food & Wine Tasting Event at The Transit Garden,
Smith Street and 2nd Place

Featuring samplings from over 20 of our wonderful Smith Street & Court Street restaurants, food & wine shops, bakeries etc. at only $2.00 per tasting.

Tickets will be on sale at the garden gate.
$10 for 5 tastings or the super bargain of $20 for 12 tastings. We are family-friendly, too. For the kids we have pizza, mini bagels, etc., while their parents sample the gourmet fare.

Enjoy your tastings while you listen to the sounds of an array of local musicians and vocalists who will entertain us all day long.

Bette Stoltz 718-207-9570
Rita Miller 347-661-8819

All proceeds to go to garden plantings, maintenance and our non-profit sister SBLDC covering garden-related and insurance costs.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Brooklyn Bridge Park meeting at CB6: Wednesday

The Parks Committee of Community Board 6 will host a public meeting on Wednesday with Regina Myer, the president of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation. According to the CB6 website, the main topic of the meeting will be 'the status of the approved Brooklyn Bridge Park plans including updates on the ongoing site preparation work, projected construction phasing/timetables, and other matters related to the park'.

The meeting will also include a discussion with State Senator Daniel Squadron 'who will be sharing his ideas for how the development of Brooklyn Bridge Park should proceed, including a proposal to change the revenue structure for the park'.

We strongly encourage everyone to attend this meeting. The CHA supports Senator Squadron's alternative revenue model for the park. We believe that it would eliminate forever the need for new housing in the park. Here is our earlier letter in support of his plan.

WHAT: CB6 meeting about Brooklyn Bridge Park
WHEN: Wednesday, May 20 at 6.30 p.m.
WHERE: LICH, 339 Hicks Street, Conference Rooms A and B

CHA History Committee

As announced at our 50th Anniversary Celebration on May 7, we are now launching the Cobble Hill History Project. The project will have several components. First and foremost is a written history of the neighborhood by our great local historian Franics Morrone. In addition to Francis's text, we are forming a history committee that will oversee a Cobble Hill wiki, like Wikipedia. How will the wiki work? Everyone in the community will be able to write the histories of their blocks, their buildings, and their businesses. It will be neighborhood history written by the neighborhood. We hope that this will be a community resource that will outlast all of us.

If you want to be part of the Cobble Hill History Committee, please send us an e-mail message. The first meeting of the committee will be on Thursday, May 28 ay 7 p.m. We hope the committee will be a mix of the historically minded, the tech-savvy, and the downright curious.

Friday, May 15, 2009

DOT's BQE Rehabilitation website

Here is the link to the DOT's BQE Rehabilitation website
. Here is their preposterous timetable. More later.
'The current status of the project is In Development.
Project Development began in Fall 1997.
The Bid Opening is expected to be in Summer 2017.
Construction is expected to begin in Summer 2017.
Construction is expected to be completed in Summer 2020.'

e-recyling in the Heights: tomorrow

CHA First Vice-President Deborah Schenk points out that there will be an electronics recycling day at First Unitarian Church tomorrow, i.e. Saturday. The event is sponsored by First Unitarian Church, Grace Church, Plymouth Church, First Presbyterian Church, and the Brooklyn Heights Association. Call 718-624-5466 for more information.

WHAT: E-recyling.
WHEN: Saturday, May 16 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
WHERE: First Unitarian Church, Pierrepont Street between Clinton Street and Monroe Place.

rezoning coming soon to a neighborhood near us

The Land Use Committee of Community Board 6 held a meeting last night to hear a presentation by the Department of City Planning (DCP) on their proposal 'to contextually rezone the residential zoning district which covers the Carroll Gardens and Columbia Street Waterfront neighborhoods'. The study area wraps around the Cobble Hill Historic District to the west, south, and east. This is a very big deal with long-term implications for our part of Brooklyn. Fortunately, the implications are nearly all positive.

Overall, the proposal is a very good piece of work by DCP's Brooklyn office. They deserve credit for listening to the community and producing work that corresponds to what people have asked for. The proposal limits the height of buildings on Columbia Street, down to Hamilton Avenue, and over to Bond Street. We will post a link to the proposal at DCP's website when they make it available online.

I had only two criticisms to make of the plan. One is that Henry and Clinton Streets south of Degraw would be zoned R6A. That zoning permits building heights of 70 feet. Jerry Armer, our zoning guru, raised this point, too. Naturally, we think the zoning should stay lower.

My other criticism is that the new zoning would only run up the east side of Court Street as far north as Warren Street. North of Warren, i.e. directly across the street from the edge of the Cobble Hill Historic District, Court Street would remain unprotected. We will keep trying to get DCP to reconsider these two aspects of their proposal. Other than that, it's a very good plan that will insure that the neighborhoods near us will remain small in scale.

33rd District candidates' forum: May 19

Since we are not hosting our own candidates' forum, we will try to post notices of other forums for the 33rd and 39th City Council Districts (David Yassky and Bill de Blasio's seats). The New Kings Democrats have notified us of the following event:
On May 19 at 7:00 PM in the Harry Van Arsdale High School Auditorium, 257 North 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211, the New Kings Democrats will host a new kind of forum for local elections in Brooklyn. The debate will provide the public at-large with an opportunity to directly engage the candidates for this hotly contested race to succeed David Yassky. The New Kings Democrats will be posting video of the entire debate on their website for the public to access at any time before the election on September 15.
WHAT: Candidates' forum, 33rd District
WHEN: Tuesday, May 19 at 7 p.m.
WHERE: Harry Van Arsdale High School, 257 North 6th Street in Williamsburg

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

TONIGHT: important meeting on the BQE

I apologize for the short notice, but there is an important meeting tonight regarding the future of the triple-cantilever section of the BQE. That is the section that runs north of Atlantic Avenue and includes the Promenade. The state Department of Transportation is launching a study to decide how to renovate the structure. The study is scheduled to end in 2017, after which the construction will begin. (No, I can't believe it either.)

The time to start shaping those 2017 outcomes is now. The choices made could deeply impact our quality of life. Where will the traffic go during the construction? Will Brooklyn Bridge Park be colonized as a staging area? Will the highway be covered to mitigate noise?

WHAT: BQE Stakeholders Committee Meeting
WHEN: TONIGHT at 6.30 p.m.
WHERE: NYU Polytechnic University, Dibner Building, Pfizer Auditorium, 5 Metrotech Center (corner of Jay Street and Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn)

If you want to have a say in these matters, now is the time to get involved.

party postscript

Last week's 50th Anniversary Celebration was a great success. Thanks to all of you, over a hundred neighbors, who made the occasion festive and friendly.

The celebration was the result of the hard work of our Anniversary Committee Chairwoman Linda Blyer, our Second Vice-President Susan Dowling, and the entire committee:
Janet Barrett
Elaine Hellew
Ann Moore Hutton
Laurie Maurer
Anne Renda
Franklin Stone and
Jo Weber.
We are also grateful to our outstanding local merchants and musicians who joined us for the occasion. All of them donated services or offered us generous terms.

-The Heights Chateau on Atlantic Avenue donated all of the wine for the occasion. That is a generosity that we should all remember.

-Floral Heights supplied the beautiful flowers, many of which they donated. Thank you, Floral Heights.

-Stephen Stein and Popular Printing did the graphics work and printed the invitation and journal.
-Eventfull Catering served the delicious food and was very easy to work with.
-Michael and the Dreamland Orchestra played the music, which was very well-suited to the occasion.

Please support these outstanding local businesses.

Some of our elected officials joined us as well: Borough President Marty Markowitz, Representative Nydia Velázquez, State Seantor Daniel Squadron, and State Assemlywoman Joan Millman.

And we owe special thanks to the Borough President for letting us use beautiful Borough Hall for the occasion. Thanks, Marty.

Rest assured, we will not wait another fifty years to hold another swell party.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

CHA 50th Anniversary Celebration: CORRECTION

There was a printing mistake on the reply envelopes for the 50th Anniversary Celebration. The ZIP code on the envelopes should be 11201, not 11231. *If you have not replied by mail yet but intend to, please cross out 11231 and handwrite 11201. Easier still, get your ticket online:


If you have already replied by mail, the post office has begun returning envlelopes to senders. Please forgive the error and re-send your reply to 11201. Thanks very much and sorry.

CHA Flickr photo pool

We are pleased to announce the launch of the CHA's Flickr photo pool. (Yes, that is regrettably how they spell it.) Here is the address:


If you have a Flickr account, please join the group 'Cobble Hill History'.

We invite everyone to add their photos of Cobble Hill, past and present, to the pool. We would like this to become a community resource of neighborhood visual history.

If you share photos in the pool, please tag and name the photos with the following helpful information: street, year, event, and anything else that would aid searching by others. Example: a photo of Halloween 2008 on Clinton Street would be 'Clinton Street, 2008, Halloween'.

Many thanks to Jennifer Wiese for overseeing the pool and to Franklin Stone for uploading many lovely photos of Halloween 2008.

Thanks for joining the pool.


Cobble Hill Plant Sale

It's time once again for the Cobble Hill Tree Fund's annual plant sale. From the Tree Fund's website:
Come join the Cobble Hill Tree Fund at our Annual Plant Sale, Saturday May 2, 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
We expect to have an excellent selection of Annuals for planting in gardens, tree pits, window boxes, and some nice Perennials. There will be plants for both sun and shade.

Proceeds go to planting and supporting our neighborhood's street trees. Help be a part in keeping Cobble Hill Green!
WHAT: Cobble Hill Plant Sale
WHEN: Saturday, May 2, 10.30 a.m. to 3.00 p.m.
WHERE: Cobble Hill Park

Brooklynite in the New Yorker

Vincent 'Jimmy' Cincotta was featured in a short item in Thew New Yorker for April 20, 2009. Jimmy was a Cobble Hill institution for decades. Here is the link.

LICH head and neck cancer screening

LICH is offering free head and neck cancer screening. Here are the details from LICH:

While lung cancer cases are down, cancers in the head and neck appear to be increasing. Fortunately, most head and neck cancers produce early symptoms and are curable if caught early. You should know the possible warning signs so you can alert your doctor to your symptoms as soon as possible.

"Remember—successful treatment of head and neck cancer can depend on early detection. Knowing and recognizing the signs of head and neck cancer can save your life," says Dr. Krish Sundaram, Vice Chairman of Otolaryngology at Long Island College Hospital (LICH) of Brooklyn.

If you are experiencing any of the following problems which won’t go away, please call the number below to schedule an appointment for Long Island College Hospital’s FREE screening:

A growth or sore in the mouth which does not improve,
Throat pain,
Difficulty or pain while swallowing,
Bloody cough, or
Lump in the neck.

Please call Elaine or Abby at 718-780-1498, ext. 0, to schedule an appointment.

For more information about head and neck cancers, visit the comprehensive website of the American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, at http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation.

WHAT: Free head and neck cancer screenings at LICH
WHEN: Thursday, April 30, 2009, 1.00 to 3.00 p.m.
WHERE: Department of Otolaryngology (ENT) at LICH, 134 Atlantic Avenue, between Clinton and Henry Streets

Sunday, April 26, 2009

get your tickets soon: CHA party on May 7

The Cobble Hill Association will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary at a gala party at Borough Hall on Thursday, May 7, 2009, and you are invited.

This is going to be a fabulous event with music by Michael's Dreamland Orchestra and catering by EVENTfull.nyc. Just click the link to get your ticket. We are going to announce a major project that could run for the next fifty years. Come to the party to find out what it is.
What: CHA 50th Anniversary Party
When: Thursday, May 7, 2009, 6.30 p.m. to 9.00 p.m.
Where: Brooklyn Borough Hall

Thursday, April 16, 2009

100 trucks a day at Pier 7?

The CB6 Economic and Waterfront Development Committee (which I co-chair) has recently held meetings about the plans of the City's Economic Development Corporation to locate Phoenix Beverages, a beer distributor, at the Atlantic Basin in Red Hook. At the committee's March 16, 2009 meeting, EDC announced that Phoenix would relocate to Pier 11 in the Basin but also at Pier 7, near Cobble Hill. Not only that, but Phoenix would use Pier 7 as the launch and return point for one hundred trucks a day. Where is Pier 7? See for yourself:

Pier 7 is one pier south of Brooklyn Bridge Park and almost as close to Cobble Hill.

The Red Hook community has been kept in the loop about this. Now that it concerns Cobble Hill, we need to be heard, too. I urge the community to make itself heard at the committee's next meeting. Here are the details:

WHAT: CB6 Economic and Waterfront Development Committee meeting
WHEN: Monday, April 20, 2009 at 6.30 p.m.
WHERE: 250 Baltic Street

Brooklyn Bridge Park: the case against the berm

The Cobble Hill Association has been one of the strongest advocates for a Brooklyn Bridge Park for more than two decades. For the past five years, we have carefully critiqued the financial model and proposed design of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation. We have recently focussed attention on the park's housing-based financial model. Today, let's turn some attention back to the park's unfortunate design.

A key element of our critique is the proposed berm. Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines a 'berm' as:

1: a narrow shelf, path, or ledge typically at the top or bottom of a slope; also: a mound or wall of earth or sand.

2: the shoulder of a road.
The berm proposed for the park would be a long, thirty-foot-high mound that would run along the upland portion of the park parallel to the BQE. It will take up a lot of land and be off-limits to park users. What is its purpose then? The park's designers claim that it will act as a sound attenuator for the noise from the BQE. We don't believe it.

We object to the berm for the following reasons:
1. No one has convincingly demonstrated that it will achieve the proposed level of sound attenuation or that that level, even if possible, would be worth the costs.

2. The land that it will occupy and render off-limits could be put to better use.

3. It will turn Furman Street into a dark cavern.

4. The coming renovation of the BQE could result in a covered roadway anyway, thus obviating the need for the berm.
The state Department of Transportation has begun a study to decide how to renovate the BQE's triple-cantilever structure. The triple-cantilever includes the Promenade and the two levels of highway beneath it. The study is scheduled to conclude in 2017. (Yes, that's a long time.) Covering the roadway is one of the options that the DOT study group will consider.

We can make a covered roadway a more likely outcome if we begin working now to generate Brooklyn-wide consensus on its desirability. The CHA is beginning that work now, eight years ahead of time. We believe that the park's success depends in part on the quiet that a covered BQE would make possible. And if we can create that consensus, convince our elected officials to join us, and get the roadways covered, then for sure we will not need a berm that wastes valuable parkland. Let's use that land for recreation instead.

And we are not the only ones with this idea. The Brooklyn Paper recently reported that Donald Rattner of the Studio for Civil Architecture has proposed
'a solar-panel-covered envelope to encase the highway. The proposal calls for wrapping the BQE’s triple cantilever in translucent acrylic shells to suppress roadways sounds, allowing the builders of the open space component of the ailing waterfront development to eliminate the planned sound-stifling hills.'
We look forward to seeing their proposal and any other ideas for eliminating the wasteful berm from the park, with or without a covered BQE. But if we start working now to convince the DOT to cover the BQE, we can potentially have the best of both options.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

props to Mike McLaughlin

Congratulations to journalist Mike McLaughlin. The Brooklyn Paper reported last weekend that Mike has been honored by the New York Press Association as the best young journalist in the state of New York. Our community has certainly benefitted from Mike's work. His reporting on Brooklyn Bridge Park in particular has been indispensable. Keep up the good work, Mike. Democracy depends on good journalism.

new: Cobble Hill Neighborhood Happy Hour

The CHA is not just about politics. We are also trying to build community and draw young people and new arrivlas into the mix. With those goals in mind, we are launching a new monthly series of bar nights called the Cobble Hill Neighborhood Happy Hour. Jennifer Wiese has taken the lead in organizing these events. We hope you will come out and help us launch this new initiative by having a drink with your neighbors. Who are they? Now you can find out.

WHAT: The first-ever CH Neighborhood Happy Hour
WHEN: Wednesday, April 22, 2009, 6 to 9 p.m.
WHERE: Last Exit, 136 Atlantic Avenue

Jennifer says,
'Come on over and meet your neighbors! Cobble Hill residents get $4 pints and well drinks, and buckets of Miller High Life for $15.'
High life, indeed.

candidates' forum, 33rd District

Besides the 39th City Council District debate on April 25 that we already told you about, there is also a debate scheduled this month for the 33rd District, currently represented by David Yassky.

WHAT: 33rd District candidates' debate
WHEN: April 20, 2009, 7 to 9 p.m.
WHERE: St. Francis College, 180 Remsen Street

The event is sponsored by the Independent Neighborhood Democrats and the Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

write a letter for Brooklyn Bridge Park

Senator Squadron has devised a visionary yet viable plan for Brooklyn Bridge Park. The plan calls for more amenities, better governance, and, most importantly, a revenue-generating model that would allow the proposed high-rise apartments to be permanently eliminated from the park. You can see his presentation at his website.

The Cobble Hill Association is asking everyone to join us in writing to Mayor Bloomberg and others to support Senator Squadron's plan. Every public meeting that we have held for the past several years has reiterated that removing the proposed new apartments from the park is a very high priority for our community. Now, with a new proposal on the table and the old plan in greatest doubt, is the time for all of us to act.

Below is the text of our letter to Mayor Bloomberg. We ask that you copy it, add your name and address to it, print it, and mail it. You may modify it as you see fit.

If you would like to go a step further, please see the list of addresses of other officials, at the bottom, to whom we are sending our letter.

Finally, if you don't mind, we would appreciate an e-mail message letting us know that you have sent the letter. This is just because we would like to have an approximate head count of how many letters we generate.

Thanks very much for your participation. It means a lot right now.


April 12, 2009

The Honorable Michael Bloomberg
City Hall
New York, New York 10007

Re: Senator Daniel Squadron’s proposal for Brooklyn Bridge Park

Dear Mayor Bloomberg,

The Cobble Hill Association has been one of the strongest advocates for a Brooklyn Bridge Park for more than two decades. Continuing our historic role as park advocates, we are writing to encourage you to support Senator Daniel Squadron’s plan for the Park’s amenities, governance, and revenue. The Squadron plan is a viable way forward that we believe will lead to a world-class park on the site and will heal the divisions sown in our community when new housing was added to the Park as a revenue-generating element.

We wholeheartedly endorse the Squadron plan in nearly all its particulars. In the amenities portion of the plan, we support the Senator’s call for:

• active, affordable, year-round athletic recreation, housed within a bubble if necessary;
• a floating pool dedicated to the Park;
• a seasonal ice-skating rink;
• a ferry landing at Pier 6 that will link Atlantic Avenue to Governors Island; and
• a facility for community recreation and the arts.

We are intrigued by Senator Squadron’s call for a public school at 360 Furman Street, or elsewhere in the Park, and we urge the City and State to consider it seriously. A school in the Park would have the added benefits of insuring year-round use of the Park and would obviate the need for a school at 10 Dock Street in Dumbo, a project that threatens to obscure the historic views of Brooklyn’s great bridges.

In the governance portion of the plan, we agree with Senator Squadron on all of the following points:

• designating Brooklyn Bridge Park as parkland, as defined by law and regulation;
• creating a Harbor Park Task Force to coordinate governance of all the parks in the harbor; and
• creating a Marine Infrastructure Task Force to coordinate efforts to attract federal and state revenues for the maintenance of the harbor parks’ marine infrastructure.

We are especially excited by Senator Squadron’s proposal for a new revenue model, the Park Increment Recapture (PIRC). The PIRC will not raise anyone’s property taxes, nor will it take any revenue from the City’s financial plan since it is based only on future rezonings. It is a simple and elegant solution to a problem that has vexed Park supporters for half a decade: how to maintain the Park without the proposed new housing. The argument all along has been that housing is necessary to pay for the park’s operations budget. No one wants the housing per se. The housing plan has only sown division and distrust since it was first foisted on the neighborhood. Nor does housing belong in a park as a matter of principle. What an awful precedent the City would be setting by building apartments inside a park. Senator Squadron’s PIRC proposal may be the way to prevent that dreadful precedent from ever happening. It deserves your support.

We disagree with the Squadron plan on only one substantive point: we believe that the PIRC’s cap ought to be raised so that the proposed hotel at Pier 1 can also be removed from the Park.

Our community in Cobble Hill has been known for its keen criticism, these past five years, of nearly all aspects of the Park: its revenue model, its design, its governance, and so on. We have made these criticisms because we care deeply about the Park. We believe that the Squadron plan is the best way forward. It eliminates the need for new housing inside the park by replacing the revenue from the development parcels with revenue from future rezonings that, by definition, are no part of the City’s financial plan. If the Park increases property values, as it undoubtedly will, we think it’s a fine idea for the Park itself to benefit from that outcome.

We urge you to adopt the Squadron plan so that the Park can be built housing-free and without the re-direction of a single budgeted dollar from the City’s coffers.



The Honorable David Paterson
State Capitol
Albany, NY 12224

The Honorable Christine Quinn
224 West 30 Street, Suite 1206
New York, New York 10001

The Honorable Marty Markowitz
Brooklyn Borough Hall
209 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201

The Honorable Sheldon Silver
250 Broadway
Suite 2307
New York, NY 10007

The Honorable Joan Millman
341 Smith Street
Brooklyn, New York 11231

The Honorable Bill de Blasio
2907 Fort Hamilton Parkway
Brooklyn, New York 11218

The Honorable David Yassky
114 Court Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201

Ms. Regina Myer
President, Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation
633 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017

The Honorable Malcolm A. Smith
205-19 Linden Boulevard
St. Albans, NY 11412

Friday, April 10, 2009

candidates' forum: April 25

Because Bill de Blasio has decided to step down as the member of the City Council for the 39th District, there is a wide open campaign to succeed him this year. We decided not to host a candidates' forum ourselves because we thought it would be redundant, given how many other forums were already scheduled. We encourage everyone in Cobble Hill to attend the upcoming forum in Carroll Gardens on April 25. The event is sponsored by the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association.

Here are the details.

WHAT: Candidates' forum, 39th City Council District.
WHEN: Saturday, April 25, 10.30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
WHERE: Carroll Gardens Library, Auditorium B, 396 Clinton Street (at Union Street).

One way that you can participate in the event is by submitting questions by e-mail to cgcord [at] gmail [dot] com. The deadline for questions is April 17. There will also be questions taken from the audience.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Squadron hosts Bk Bridge Park meeting: Sunday

State Senator Daniel Squadron will present his proposal for Brooklyn Bridge Park at a public meeting on Sunday at LICH. Yes, this is the event that was postponed earlier.

I have seen the presentation already, and I think it is a very promising idea that everyone in the community should consider. Squadron may have found a way to eliminate the proposed housing from the park once and for all.

From Squadron's office:
'Senator Squadron will outline his plan for how to build a real, world-class Brooklyn Bridge Park. The meeting will consist of a presentation, followed by a Q&A session.'
It is very important that the Cobble Hill community come out for this event.

WHAT: Senator Squadron's public meeting about BBPark
WHEN: Sunday, April 5, 2009 at 3 p.m.
WHERE: LICH, conference room A

The CHA's goals for the park remain what they have always been. We want:

-A world-class park with year-round recreation;
-No new housing or hotels in the park;
-The proposed berm elements replaced by usable land;
-More neighborhood diversity on the board of the BBPark Development Corporation;
-Ferry service at Pier 6; and
-Full financial disclosure by the BBPDC.

Please come out on Sunday and join us in supporting these priorities.

next precinct council meeting: April 7

The 76th Precinct Council continues to meet on the first Tuesday of the month at 7.30 p.m. at the 76th Precinct. The Precinct Council is a great opportunity for everyone to contribute to public safety by discussing matters of local concern with the officers of the precinct. Whenever I have met with anyone from the 76th, I have always come away feeling like they listened very attentively to my concerns and I learned something valuable from the encounter.

We encourage everyone in the community to attend a precinct council meeting and to get to know the men and women who keep our neighborhood safe. We are all partners in public saftey.

WHAT: 76th Precinct Council meeting
WHERE: 76th Precinct, 191 Union Street
WHEN: Tuesday, April 7 at 7.30 (and every first Tuesday)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

watch more television: tonight

CHA Green Czar Dave 'Paco' Abraham has story-produced another episode of 'Man v. Food' on the Travel Channel. Paco says:
'Just in time for March madness, the host visits the North Carolina college basketball triangle and chows down on some southern staples. Don't watch it on an empty stomach.
The episode airs tonight at 10 p.m. Don't miss it.

House of Detention Rally: March 20

There will be a rally and press conference this Friday at City Hall hosted by Stop BHOD, the lead activist group in the fight against the City's proposed expansion of the Brooklyn House of Detention. From the BHOD statement:
On March 20th, the Department of Corrections will hold a budget hearing which will cover their plans to spend $1.2 billion on building new jails in the Bronx and Brooklyn. In response, Stop BHOD and Communities in Unity will join forces with community groups and elected officials in front of City Hall to send a unified message to the City that New Yorkers will not support wasteful spending on unnecessary jails at a moment of serious financial crisis. We hope you will join us Friday, March 20th at 11:30 AM for this important rally to stop the City from wasting $1.2B of our taxpayer money on jails we don't need.

We expect to hear from Council Members David Yassky and Letitia James, and are also hopeful that Comptroller Thompson will speak as well. We are also very excited to have speakers from our Bronx partner Communities in Unity, who we have partnered with in solidarity against the City’s plans for a new Bronx jail in Hunts Point.

Come out on Friday March 20th and join us in telling the City that more jails are not the answer. Fight for Rehabilitation, not incarceration!
WHAT: Stop BHOD rally
WHEN: Friday, March 20, 2009 at 11.30 a.m.
WHERE: City Hall

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

110 Amity Street: back on the market

As reported by Brownstoner and our many of our members, 110 Amity Street is back on the market. And yes, the Corcoran broker overseeing the offerings, which include adjacent properties, has the same last name as the developer who went before the Landmarks Preservation Commission last year. That is all we know at this point. If you know more than that, let us know.

props to Linda Blyer and Judy Willig

As reported in the Brooklyn Heights Press & Cobble Hill News, the CHA's own Linda Blyer has been honored by Brookyln District Attorney Charles Hynes. She and Judy Willig of the Heights & Hill Community Council will be saluted at the DA's annual Brooklyn's Extraordinary Women celebration. Congratulations, Linda and Judy.

Earth Hour: March 28

CHA Green Czar Dave 'Paco' Abraham writes in to remind us that Earth Hour is coming up:
Earth Hour: All parts of the world big and small making a conscious decision to turn off their lights for one hour on March 28, 2009 as a reminder of our planet's conditions and that we DO have the collective ability to change it.

I first heard about this last year and recall specifically unplugging everything I could in my apartment and just hanging out with friends. I kind of envisioned shutting all my lights, unplugging any cords, and perhaps having dinner outside. Maybe some people will play cards by candlelight or just sit and chat enjoying the company of old friends and new acquaintances.
What: Earth Hour
When: March 28, 2009, 8.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m.
Where: Everywhere

join the party: Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Cobble Hill Association will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary at a gala party at Borough Hall on Thursday, May 7, 2009, and you are invited.

This is going to be a fabulous event with music by Michael's Dreamland Orchestra and catering by EVENTfull.nyc. Just click the link to get your ticket. We are going to announce a major project that could run for the next fifty years. Come to the party to find out what it is.
What: CHA 50th Anniversary Party
When: Thursday, May 7, 2009, 6.30 p.m. to 9.00 p.m.
Where: Brooklyn Borough Hall

Saturday, March 7, 2009

CHA letter on Brooklyn Bridge Park

The Brooklyn Paper's editorial this weekend refers to a letter that we have circulated to elected officials and the press this week. I thought we should also share the letter with the community because we all have a stake in the park, as well as in the management of public funds. Here it is.

March 3, 2009

Ms. Regina Myer
President, Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation
633 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017

Re: Brooklyn Bridge Park, financial data, and the federal stimulus

Dear Ms. Myer,

On January 29, 2009, the Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation released some financial data about the park’s construction and operations budgets to the public. We are grateful that, since its last public disclosures in October 2005, the BBPDC agreed once again to provide such data.

The Cobble Hill Association has been one of the strongest advocates for a Brooklyn Bridge Park for more than two decades. Continuing our historic role as park advocates, I am writing to you out of concern regarding both what the January 29 financial data reveal and what they do not.

We would like to ask your help in seeking answers to lingering, important questions about the financial disclosures. We make this request for the sake of transparency and good government. Putting aside for the moment controversies about the park’s design, we are concerned that the park’s finances are a mess. The worst-case scenario would be one where millions of dollars were ill-managed and ill-spent and the public wound up without a world-class park. No one wants that to happen. Can you help us in seeking answers to these Ten Unanswered Questions about Brooklyn Bridge Park? We are confident that greater transparency will make a great park more likely.

1. Utilities for what exactly?

The financial disclosures for construction show a $61 million cost for utilities. That is so high a cost that we believe it includes the cost of providing utilities to the development parcels. The unique funding scheme for the park’s maintenance calls for the development parcels to pay for the park. If any portion of the park’s construction budget is spent to benefit the development parcels, then the reverse would be true: the park would be paying for the development parcels. That would be a theft of public moneys and must never be allowed to happen.

Question: Will any portion of the $61 million utilities cost provide utilities or utilities infrastructure for the development parcels?

2. Construction or Operations?

The unique, controversial funding scheme for the park’s maintenance and operations budget designates certain items as “Maintenance and Operations” which would, in any other park financial model, be classified as “Construction Costs.” One such example is the pilings beneath the piers. Slide 26 of the January 29 presentation reveals that these “Marine Infrastructure Costs” are part of the Maintenance and Operations Budget. The annual amount of Marine Infrastructure Cost is $4,060,000, or 25% of the annual Maintenance and Operations budget of $16,104,000. These costs are obviously misclassified.

Question: By classifying traditional Construction Costs as “Maintenance and Operations,” isn't the result that the M&O budget is artificially high and that, therefore, the development parcels will have to generate commensurately more revenue to pay for the park’s inflated M&O budget?

3. Where will the money come from?

We have a second question about the marine infrastructure mentioned in question 2. Slide 26 of the January 29 BBPDC presentation reveals the following: “The cost of this work could be as high as $150 million, which must be performed over the next 15 years.” That is a lot of money without any apparent funding source.

Question: How can marine infrastructure costs be budgeted at $4,060,000 per year in the M&O budget yet also cost $150 million over 15 years? And where will the money come from to pay this unbudgeted $150 million cost?

4. Soft costs?

The construction budget shows “Miscellaneous Soft Costs” of $13,100,000. That’s a lot of miscellaneous.

Question: Can we obtain a breakdown of this large miscellaneous cost?

5. Architects and engineers?

The construction budget shows “Architecture and Engineering” costs of $20,400,000. In answer to a question of mine at the January 29 public meeting, Regina Myers of the BBPDC revealed that, so far, Van Valkenburgh Associates has been paid $18 million. That leaves only $2.4 million for all remaining landscaping design and architectural work, not to mention all past and future engineering.

Question: Since the architecture and engineering costs have almost entirely been spent already just on the landscape architect, how will the engineers’ and architects’ fees be paid as the project moves forward?

6. How much development?

The acreage devoted to private development has grown from 7 acres in 2006, to 8 acres in 2007, to 10.2 acres at the January 29 meeting. We do not understand why the acreage keeps growing since the total park area has not grown.

Question: What accounts for the progressive growth in land area occupied by the development parcels? Can we see the development acreage broken down by building and surrounding private amenities?

7. Alternative funding?

The unique, controversial funding scheme for the park’s maintenance and operations budget relies chiefly on housing, a revenue source that is subject to huge market swings. We know that there will also be concessions and automobile parking in the park, yet these were not included in the financial disclosures, nor was the revenue generated by the River Café.

Question: What amount of revenue is expected to come from park concessions and automobile parking, and might it be enough to allow reductions in the height of the development parcels? Will the revenue from the hotel restaurant and a possible grocery store at 360 Furman Street go to the park, or will it be kept by the operators of the development parcels?

8. Furman Street Freeze-Out?

The building at 360 Furman Street is expected to generate annual revenue of $2,982,000 towards the park’s Maintenance and Operations budget through PILOTs and ground rent.

Question: If the developer of 360 Furman Street, Robert A. Levine, defaults on his loan, who will be responsible for paying the revenue that the site is expected to generate?

9. Pop-up money?

We learned at the January 29 meeting that the BBPDC incurred costs to create the so-called “pop-up park” for the summer of 2008, but no other details were provided.

Question: Can we see a detailed breakdown of the costs to create the pop-up park and the revenue that it generated? We are particularly interested in itemized costs for design, construction, programming, security, operations, food, and liquor, as well as to whom the costs were paid.

10. Old data or new?

The Final Environmental Impact Statement was issued in December 2005. Appendix C devoted many pages to explaining in detail the park’s Revenue Assumptions and Maintenance & Operations budget.

Question: Since the financial data released on January 29, 2009 are so different than the data that were the basis of the 2005 FEIS, would the BBPDC provide similarly detailed explanations of its Revenue Assumptions and M&O calculations in 2009?

One more point: the federal stimulus

We are aware that our elected officials are considering asking Governor Paterson to direct some of the state’s 2009 federal stimulus money to pay for the $150 million in marine infrastructure costs mentioned above. I myself publicly asked Senator Gillibrand on February 18, 2009 to consider lending her support to this idea.

We believe that the stimulus money should be used for this purpose but only on one condition: that in exchange for removing this massive cost, which the BBPDC classifies as Maintenance and Operations, the hotel and the new housing in the park should be eliminated forever from the park plans.

Why do we feel that this arrangement would be justified? The reason for the new housing has always been explained in terms of the park’s uniquely expensive operating costs. But consider this: With the annual $3 million from 360 Furman Street and without the need for the annual $4 million for marine infrastructure costs, the park would no longer be uniquely expensive to operate. With this combined $7,042,000 plus the unknown revenue from concessions, the park’s operating costs would be cut in half. Why then would we need new high-rise apartments at Pier 6 and a hotel at Pier 1?

Let’s find a way to use the federal stimulus money to make the new housing and the hotel unnecessary. Haven’t we all said that we do not want housing if it proves unnecessary to pay for the park?

Please let us know when we might be able to meet with you in person to discuss these questions and to ask your support in finding the answers.


Jeff Strabone
President, Cobble Hill Association

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dock Street statement at City Planning Commission

Many thanks to Linda Blyer for delivering the CHA's testimony regarding Dock Street to the City Planning Commission yesterday. Here is our statement.
Statement of the Cobble Hill Association to the City Planning Commission
regarding matters C 090181 ZMK, C 090183 ZSK, C 090184 ZSK,
10 Dock Street, Brooklyn

March 4, 2009

City Planning Commission
Spector Hall
22 Reade Street
New York, New York 10007

Good afternoon, members of the Commission. My name is Linda Blyer. I am testifying today on behalf of the Cobble Hill Association in the matter of 10 Dock Street. We urge the Commission to oppose the application at its current height.

The three greatest icons of New York City are the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and the Brooklyn Bridge. All three appear on calendars, logos, billboards, book covers, tourist info, and in the hearts and minds of all New Yorkers. Aside from their grace and beauty, all three benefit from their unobstructed visibility from multiple directions and prospects. The matter before you today would forever destroy the greatest set of views of the Brooklyn Bridge. It is every New Yorker’s responsibility to stand up for our City’s great history and to defend it from attack. Members of the Commission, the application before you represents an attack on Brooklyn’s greatest historic icon.

The application has gotten as far as it has because the developer, Two Trees Development, has cleverly tacked on a school to the project. Of course we all want more schools. But forcing the City to choose between historical preservation and school construction is a cynical false choice. We can have both. By pitting preservation against education, the applicant has set the past against the future. This tactic is reminiscent of the colonial policy of divide and conquer. The applicant is trying to divide our community, but we are one in rejecting this false choice and insisting on both education and preservation. Everyone who wants the historic views of the bridges preserved also wants a school in Dumbo. Indeed, the reason we want the views preserved is precisely because we want to pass our City’s legacy on to the next generation.

This developer, Two Trees Development, is the same one who is responsible for 10 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. That is the now famous case where they tried to build sixth-floor luxury penthouses in the Cobble Hill Historic District by calling them 'stair bulkheads' on the official architectural drawings that they submitted for approval to the City. These same so-called 'bulkheads' were then pitched to the rental market as 'penthouses' when the City's back was turned. Are we now supposed to trust this same developer to build a 'school'? What is their idea of a 'school'? Do we want to find out? This developer has no regard for history, for laws, for neighborhoods, or for Brooklyn.

Members of the Commission, we ask you to defend the City's historic legacy and reject this application as presented. We ask that you limit the applicant, and all others, to build no higher than the roadway of the Brooklyn Bridge. Any building this close to the Bridge should be prohibited from towering over the Bridge. The developer can build high-rises further away from history. Please stand up for the Bridge, for the City, for the past, and for the future by opposing this application.

Thank you.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Dock Street hearing: March 4

In January, we told you about the proposed building planned for Dock Street by Two Trees Development. The picture above shows before and after views. The next hearing on the matter will be very important. It will be held on Wednesday, March 4 at the City Planning Commission in Manhattan during the afternoon session.

As we have explained before, all of Brooklyn has a stake in preserving the historic views of the bridges. The main point to make is that no building that close to the bridges should exceed the height of the roadway. Again, this is the same Two Trees that tried to pass of penthouses as 'stair bulkheads' at 194 Atlantic Avenue.

What: City Planning hearing re Dock Street.
When: Wednesday, March 4, 2009, after 12.30 p.m.
Where: 22 Reade Street, Manhattan.

Please attend the hearing if you can and defend the integrity of historic Brooklyn and the bridges. The next step after this is contacting our City Council members to oppose the plan.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Senator Squadron's Community Convention

State Senator Daniel Squadron has organized the first-ever 25th Senate District Community Convention, and you are invited. From the official announcement:
Join Senator Squadron, elected officials and more than 100 neighbors on Sunday, March 15th to discuss pressing issues facing the 25th Senate District. Senator Squadron seeks your input and participation on housing, transportation, education, and many other district needs.
What: 25th Senate District Community Convention
When: Sunday, March 15, 2009, 3.00 to 6.00 p.m.
Where: Borough of Manhattan Community College,
199 Chambers Street

Yes, that's in Manhattan.

If you would like to go, Senator Squadron asks that you RSVP to Jasmin Sanchez, 212-298-5565, convention [at] danielsquadron [dot] org.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

join the LICH mailing list

To stay in touch with events at LICH, join their mailing list. Zippi Dvash, LICH's Assistant Vice-President of Public Affairs and Development, writes in to say:
If you are interested in receiving advance notice of health talks, screenings, lectures and events at LICH, please email Zipporah Dvash in the Department of Public Affairs & Development at zdvash@chpnet.org, and ask to be added to their electronic news bulletin community. The list is private and will never be shared with a third party.

take advantage of LICH

One of our complaints about the management of LICH has been that they don't get the word out about either the services they offer or the high quality of those services. With all the news reports about financial uncertainty, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that LICH is still an excellent hospital with the same range of services that it offered a year ago.

With that in mind, we have offered to help LICH get the word out about their positive news as well. Here is a notice from LICH about a free community education workshop series about diabetes:
Diabetes is on the rise in the US, largely due to lifestyle choices. Long Island College Hospital (LICH) of Brooklyn, in conjunction with the Dodge YMCA at Atlantic Avenue, is hosting a community education workshop series about diabetes. The sessions include use of medication, foot care, new technology, counting carbs, glucose monitoring, type I diabetes vs. type II and more. Registration is required, but the sessions are free to the community.

WHAT: Community education workshop series about diabetes.
WHEN: 1.00 to 2.30 p.m. on
Tuesday, February 10,
Tuesday, February 17,
Tuesday, February 24.
WHERE: Dodge YMCA, 225 Atlantic Avenue, Classroom B (second level).

Info/Registration: Sara Reyes, Dodge YMCA, 212-912-2421, sreyes [at] ymcanyc.org.

Diabetes Self-Management Education: Brooklyn has some of the highest rates of diabetes in the state. If untreated or poorly controlled, diabetes can have devastating health consequences. Research has shown that controlling the blood glucose levels help neutralize the risk of health complications from diabetes. There have been many recent advances in diabetes management from better understanding the role of diet to development of new medications/insulins and high-tech devices. Come learn about diabetes management and self-management. This weekly three session work shop will provide a comprehensive overview of the diabetes and instruction in the self-management tasks that will allow people with diabetes to be in the best position to work with their HealthCare provider to help assure optimum diabetes management.

LICH properties for sale

LICH has put some of its properties up for sale, as reported by Brownstoner and other sources. Here is the list of properties:
74 Amity Street
76 Amity Street
78 Amity Street
82 Amity Street
86 Amity Street
113 Congress Street
43 Columbia Place
385-389 Hicks Street
As we all know by now, LICH is under the thumb of Continuum Health Partners, a relationship that both entities would like to terminate. When news broke that LICH properties were being sold, the first question was whether Continuum was going to sell the properties and then take the money and run. Based on the imperfect fact-gathering that we have done, it looks like the profits from the property sales will not line Continuum's pockets.

There are two explanations that we have heard from reliable sources, both of which we find plausible although we would still like more evidence. One explanation is that the money will be used to pay down LICH's building mortgages, which are held by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York and guaranteed by HUD. The other explanation that we have heard is that the money will go towards a reserve fund for possibly lingering malpractice claims. If, as expected, LICH enters into a partnership with SUNY Downstate, their high malpractice insurance premiums will vanish because they will be part of the state system. But LICH would still need to hold a reserve for pre-SUNY claims that may arise.

As we find out more, we will pass it on.

Atlantic Yards event today

I apologize for the short notice, but this just came in yesterday. The Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods is hosting a public event with the Atlantic Yards ombudsman. Yes, he exists, and he will answer your questions.

WHAT: Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods Hosts Q & A re Atlantic Yards
WHEN: Wednesday, February 11, 2009 at 7.30 p.m.
WHERE: St. Cyril of Turau Belarusian Cathedral, Atlantic Avenue at Hoyt Street

From the CBN notice:
The Empire State Development Corporation's Atlantic Yards Ombudsman, Forrest Taylor, will be at the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods' bi-monthly general meeting next week to field questions about the stalled mega-development project.

Mr. Taylor took questions from the public and elected officials at CBN's January 2008 meeting, and this will be good a opportunity to follow up on answers he gave then.

If you're curious about when the ESDC expects the Carlton Avenue Bridge to be rebuilt; why the Governor has been slashing budgets on just about every state-funded program while remaining mum about Atlantic Yards; just what the heck is going on with security plans for the planned basketball arena; or anything else having to do with the project—this is your chance. CBN has also extended invitations to several Brooklyn elected officials, who may welcome the chance to pin down the ESDC on the many unaddressed issues and unanswered questions hanging over the Atlantic Yards project.

In addition, if you're a member in good standing of one of CBN's member organizations, and you're interested in joining CBN's Steering Committee, there will be at least two seats open in the election that will be conducted at Wednesday's meeting. Nominations can be submitted from the floor. The Steering Committee meets once a month.