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Courtesy of Councilman Vincent Gentile

Courtesy of Councilman Vincent Gentile

The neighborhood just got a little more dog-friendly.

The abandoned yard on the northwest corner of Dyker Beach Golf Course has long been used by locals as an unofficial dog run, but today, after being closed for a full year, the area has been transformed into a perfect play space for pups.

About 20 dogs and their owners came out today for a ribbon-cutting event with Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey and Councilman Vincent Gentile at the new “official” Dyker Beach Park dog run.

“It is often said that the ‘greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated,'” said Gentile at the event. “Well, before us today we can see the greatness of a neighborhood and just how much we care about our four-legged friends!”

Charly hasn't been to the dog run in over a year because of the renovation.

Charly hasn’t been to the dog run in over a year because of the renovation.

Previously, the abandoned space on the corner of 86th Street and 7th Avenue was muddy, rocky, overgrown, and strewn with broken chairs and trash.

Gentile said he worked closely with the community to best meet their dogs’ needs in designing the space. Gentile’s office spent $600,000 in capital funds, and the renovated park has already gotten some great reviews.

Today the dog run boasts clean, white gravel, a duel water fountain (one spout for human and one for beast), benches, and a separate section for smaller dogs. Less noticeable – but equally important – is the new drainage system, safety lighting, and plants. The grass is still brown and sparse, but Gentile told us it will be lush and green by springtime.

Gentile

Dogs explore the new grounds.

The Parks Department says it can avoid routine maintenance by wooden planks that warp over time, seen above, with concrete and plastic. (Photo by Ned Berke)

A site trailer and construction fence were installed at Brighton 15th Street this month – a first step in a controversial plan to replace the Riegelmann Boardwalk’s iconic wooden planks between Brighton 15th Street and Coney Island Avenue with cement and plastic. But several elected officials are expressing outrage about the work, and at least one is threatening to cut off funding to the project.

Construction on the Coney Island Boardwalk officially began on November 11, the Parks Department confirmed, despite fierce objection from community members, advocates, and local politicians who disagree with the plan to replace the boardwalk with artificial materials.

“I remain very disappointed that the Parks Department is moving forward with this major change to the boardwalk without completing any safety studies to determine the impact it will have on the community,” said City Councilman Mark Treyger. “The Parks Department is also ignoring the will of the local state lawmakers who allocated this funding for repairs, and not for a new concrete road down the middle of the iconic boardwalk.”

The state lawmakers in question are Assembly members Alec Brook-Krasny and Steven Cymbrowitz, who together allocated $10 million to the Parks Department in 2009 for general repairs and improvements to the 2.5-mile span. The funding can be cut off at the lawmakers’ discretion – but only before the contracts are signed. That time has passed, but Cymbrowitz said he’s still going to find a way to close the funding spigot.

“I am outraged that Mayor [Bill] De Blasio and Commissioner [Mitchell] Silver have fast-tracked the destruction of an iconic landmark in southern Brooklyn. As I wrote to Mayor de Blasio, concrete and composite plastics are a poor approximation for a boardwalk. It’s a boardwalk, not a sidewalk. There are also significant safety concerns with this project since no impact study has been done,” said Cymbrowitz in a statement. “This is an underhanded misuse of the money and the mayor knows it. I will work to make sure that the millions of dollars I allocated are cut off. I fought hard for the boardwalk to be repaired, not to fund the elimination of the boardwalk as this community and all New Yorkers know it.”

He’s backed up by both Treyger and Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who say that the funders’ intentions should be considered in how their money is spent.

“The money came from Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, and whoever gave the money for theboardwalk should have a voice in it,” Deutsch told this outlet.

Even though Coney Island’s boardwalk survived Superstorm Sandy relatively unscathed compared to the Rockaways’ concrete walk, Mayor Michael Bloomberg deemed all wooden boardwalks insufficient to withstand the ocean’s surges, and commissioned them to be replaced with concrete. That was the plan anyway, following a 2008 directive from Bloomberg’s office that city agencies would stop using tropical hardwoods – the type used to construct the boardwalk – for environmental reasons. The de Blasio administration has continued to press forward with those policies.

“Using tropical hardwoods could contribute to the climate change that helped destroy the boardwalk in the first place and it would be more expensive,” said a spokesperson for the Parks Department. Critics point out that there are other options, including sustainable domestic hardwoods such as Black Locust or White Oak, that can be used.

But the lower cost of maintaining concrete, long a part of the Parks Department’s justification for switching to cement, does not necessarily mean it will hold up better during storms, said Councilman Chaim Deutsch, who represents the Brighton Beach portion of the Riegelmann Boardwalk. He, Treyger and Cymbrowitz want an impact study that considers the performance of concrete in storm surges. Other areas, including Manhattan Beach and the Rockaways saw huge concrete chunks barrel through the streets as they broke up during the October 2012 storm. The

“[This is] about what is safer with the community in case another storm comes in,” he said. “It has to be safe, not just more resilient in terms of repairs, but what’s safe in regards to any kind of surge.”

Even before the storm, advocacy groups filed a lawsuit hoping to stop the plan, demanding a full environmental review. But just weeks after Superstorm Sandy, a judge ruled that project did not need to undergo such a study since it would not constitute a signficant change the existing structure.

The boardwalk construction is expected to be completed in time for the 2016 beach season, according to the Parks Department. Elected officials are asking the city to terminate all construction until the concerns of residents are addressed.

Here is a map of the proposed plan via the Coney Island Boardwalk Alliance:

boardwalk-map

Click to enlarge

– With additional reporting by Ned Berke.

Hand-pull-noodle-soup

Food Stuffs is a column exploring the gastronomic landscape of Bensonhurst and the surrounding neighborhoods. Each entry will cover anything and everything even remotely related to food because here in Bensonhurst, food is always news.

Despite the nondescript pink sign and literal name, Hand Pull Noodle & Dumpling House, located in the heart of Bensonhurst (7201 18th Avenue), is worth a visit. Hand-pulled noodles are exactly what they sound like – they are made by stretching and folding dough into long strands until they are the desired thickness. Part of the experience is watching the chef stretch and pull the noodles by hand before tossing them into boiling water. Hand Pull Noodle is small enough that you pretty much get a front row view of the kitchen no matter where you sit.

The ambiance can only be described as chaotic. There are two birds squawking in a cage near the window, there’s the obligatory exotic fish in a too-small tank near the kitchen, and a chubby 4-year-old child seems to run the family-owned restaurant, barking orders at the kitchen and wait staff. But all that lends Hand Pull Noodle its charm.

I figured dumplings were going to taste the same everywhere, so I went with my colleague Ned’s suggestion, and ordered the scallion pancake with beef as an appetizer ($3.50). They were perfect: crispy and flavorful on the outside, and juicy on the inside.

Scallion-wrapped-beef

Choosing a main course was more difficult. Hand Pull Noodle offers about 70 variations of noodles with seafood, various cuts of beef, duck, pork, and lamb – and every combination in between. I ended up going with the beef stew ($5.95), which came in a generous bowl and looked gorgeous with the florescent green bok choy. The chunks of meat were slightly chewy with a sweet, subtle, barbecue flavor. The broth was light and tasted overwhelmingly of scallion – nothing a little Sriracha couldn’t fix. The texture of the noodles was on the doughier side, but they were long and delicious.

In the end, my bill came out to just over $10. I really wanted to try the steamed buns ($4.75), but the noodles were a bit of a carb overload for me and about halfway through the meal, I was feeling a little woozy. Oh, well, next time. I also would like to try one of the restaurant’s heartier combinations next time round, such as the #3, which includes beef, beef tendon, beef tripe, pork chop, and egg for $6.75.

Hand Pull Noodle also offers a dumpling “happy hour,” between 4pm and 6pm, when you can order eight dumplings for $2.99 – a $4.50 value!

Hand Pull Noodle & Dumpling House, 7201 18th Avenue, (718) 232-6191. Find them on Yelp.

Is there a restaurant or specific dish you think we should check out? Let us know!

Nostalgia Train

If you’re looking for fun outside of the neighborhood this weekend, and have a young (or old) train fan in your life, be sure to catch the MTA’s Holiday Nostalgia Train, running along the M line between 2nd Avenue and Queens Plaza on Sundays (10am to 5pm) through December 28.

The cars, originally in service between the 1930s and 1970s, ran along the lettered lines from the Grand Concourse to Coney Island and have everything from ceiling fans and padded seats to incandescent light bulbs and vintage advertisements.

It’s definitely a great (and inexpensive…there’s no admission outside of your normal subway fare) family activity to check out this holiday season.

For more information on the nostalgia train, and other special events taking place this month, visit the MTA website.

Photo via the MTA

- Christine Bush

Turkey-cake

Believe it or not, this is a cake. Find it at Villabate Alba (7001 18th Avenue). Happy Thanksgiving!

Take any photos in Bensonhurst recently? Send them to editor@bensonhurstbean.com, or tag them #Bensonhurst on Instagram, and we’ll post them here.

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Photo by John Marra

Photo by John Marra

NBC’s upcoming spy thriller “Allegiance” will be filming in Bensonhurst tomorrow.

Actors and crew members will be milling around 17th Avenue between 78th Street and 81rst Street as early as 6am, a location manager told us. The show, which stars Gavin Stenhouse as a rookie CIA agent, looks pretty great.

Here’s the premise via NBC:

Alex O’Connor, a young idealistic CIA analyst specializing in Russian affairs, learns a shocking secret and his close-knit, affluent family is about to be split apart when it’s revealed that his parents, Mark (Scott Cohen) and Katya (Hope Davis), are covert Russian spies deactivated decades ago. But today the Kremlin has re-enlisted them into service as they plan a terrorist operation inside the U.S. border that will bring America to its knees.

Personally, I’m hoping to bump into Scott Cohen, or as I choose to think of him, Max Medina from “Gilmore Girls.” (Am I the only one who wishes Lorelei ended up with Max?) The pilot is expected to air sometime in January 2015.

Anyway, if you happen to see any film crews, trailers, or actors, snap a couple photos and send them to editor@bensonhurstbean.com and we’ll post them up on the site.

Also, if you live on the aforementioned blocks, don’t forget to move your car! If you can’t move your vehicle before 10pm tonight, call 311 with your license plate number and it will be moved to another parking space, free of charge.

Community Board 11's offices at 2214 Bath Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

Community Board 11’s offices at 2214 Bath Avenue (Source: Google Maps)

By Kimberly Connor

Community Board 11’s meeting on November 20 focused heavily on the hot-button issue of illegal home conversions, the practice of subdividing one or two-family homes into single room occupancy dwellings. Also discussed were problematic parking laws on New Utrecht Avenue and the date of the annual Festa di Santa Rosalia.

Illegal Home Conversions

Bob Cassara of the Brooklyn Housing Preservation Alliance made a passionate plea for increased vigilance and swift action on the part of local residents and politicians regarding illegal conversions.

“It’s an extreme danger for the residents of these buildings and their neighbors,” said Cassara. “It also places a huge stress on our schools, police department, fire department, and other resources.”

Cassara mentioned a fire that destroyed an illegally converted building in Flatbush on Wednesday. One man died in the blaze and 15 people were injured. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

District manager Marnee Elias-Pavia said it’s important to make a distinction between single room occupancy (SRO) units and simple basement conversions. She added that prioritizing those conversions that present a clear safety issue could help alleviate the Department of Building’s backlog of complaints.

Councilman Vincent Gentile announced that he has already proposed two bills aimed at curbing illegal home conversions.

A representative for State Senator Marty Golden said that the senator is working on organizing a “multi-agency taskforce” to confront the growing problem.

In the meantime, Cassara encouraged community members to report suspected violators through 311 or by contacting the Brooklyn Housing Preservation Alliance.

Parking Dispute

Gabriel Ingrassia said his repeated requests for a compromise on an ongoing parking dispute have fallen on deaf ears.

Ingrassia represents residents who are unhappy about the alternate side parking rules along New Utrecht Avenue between 79th Street and 84th Street. As we reported last year, parking is prohibited six days a week between 6:30am and 7:00am along this stretch. This stipulation was put in place by the Department of Transportation to facilitate regular cleaning.

However, Ingrassia and other residents say the restrictions are an unreasonable burden that requires them to wake up early in order to comply. The group has written letters to the DOT, but is seeking the support of Community Board 11.

“We just want a reprieve of a couple of days a week,” said Ingrassia.

Fight Over the Feast

Community Board 11, along with the organizers of Festa di Santa Rosalia, continues to fight to change the date of the annual event so that it doesn’t fall just before Labor Day Weekend. The Department of Sanitation takes a hiatus during that time which leaves festival trash to rot on the curb. The board has submitted a letter to the Street Activity Permit Office (SAPO).

Other Announcements

On November 22, Assemblyman William Colton and the United Progressive Democratic Club will organize another cleanup. It will encompass 86th Street from 25th Avenue to 14th Avenue, plus parts of Bay Parkway and Bath Avenue.

Assemblyman Colton will hold a holiday toy drive for various charitable organizations and the Marine Corps League. New, unwrapped gifts can be dropped off at the assemblyman’s office at 155 Kings Highway.

National Grid is in the process of relocating gas lines – in preparation for the city’s project to replace neighborhood water mains – in the following locations:

  • 15th Avenue between Cropsey Avenue and 83rd Street
  • 84th Street between 14th Avenue and 16th Avenue
  • 86th Street between 14th Avenue and Bay 11th Street
  • Bath Avenue between Bay 8th Street and Bay 10th Street
  • Benson Avenue between Bay 8th Street and Bay 10th Street
  • 85th Street between Bay 14th Avenue and 16th Avenue

62ncPct

Four men were arrested and charged for robbing two Bensonhurst residences last week, and police believe they are responsible for a month-long burglary spree in the neighborhood.

Louis Desalvatore, 36, John Catullo, 46, Paul Debenedetto, 37, and Joseph DeBenedetto, 30, were charged with two counts of burglary, two counts of larceny, trespassing, criminal possession of stolen property and other charges on November 19, prosecutors said.

At last week’s Community Council meeting at the 62nd Precinct, Captain William Taylor described how police zeroed in on the suspects and arrested them on November 17.

“This was a great, great arrest,” Taylor said, describing the suspects “some of the biggest burglars that I have ever heard of.”

The 62nd Precinct observed a 30 percent spike in home burglaries last month, so they narrowed down the area in which the crimes were concentrated to a tight zone of several blocks, Taylor said.

While cops spent two weeks scoping out the area, another burglary occurred on November 17 at 12th Avenue near Bay Ridge Parkway. The female resident left her home in the morning and when she returned in the afternoon, she found the rear door forced open and $2,500 cash had been removed from her home. Her downstairs neighbor was missing jewelry.

That same day, an on-duty officer noticed one of the suspects – a known felon – lurking around the neighborhood, Taylor said. The suspect spotted the cop and immediately jumped in a Ford Explorer, leading to a car chase.

“It was a real game of cat and mouse,” Taylor said. “These are the guys we targeted from the first day and I’m convinced they were doing all of it.”

When police caught up to the men, they found $2,500 in one suspect’s pocket and a bag of jewelry, a crowbar, gloves, and a mask in the glove department.

Subway-sign

A few service changes to keep in mind this week: Late night D and N lines runs express between 36 Street and Atlantic Avenue-Barlays stations, and F and R service are both partially suspended. Details via the MTA:

D LINE

Late night, Manhattan-bound D runs express from 36 St to Atlantic Av

11:45pm to 5am, Mon to Wed, Nov 24 – 26
No Manhattan-bound service at 25 Street, Prospect Ave, 4 Av-9 St, or Union St.

F LINE

No F trains between Avenue X and Stillwell Av

All times until 5am Monday, December 1
Free shuttle buses run between Avenue X and Stillwell Av, stopping at Neptune Av and West 8 St.
F service operates between 179 St and Avenue X.
• Transfer between buses and trains at Avenue X or Stillwell Av.
• For direct service between Stillwell Av and Manhattan/Downtown Brooklyn, take the D or N instead.

N Line

Late night, Ditmars Blvd-bound N trains run express from 36 St to Atlantic Ave-Barclays Center

Late nights, 11:45pm to 5am, Monday to Friday, November 24 – 26
No Manhattan-bound service at 25 Street, Prospect Ave, 4 Av-9 St, or Union St.

R Line

No R shuttle train between 59 St and 36 St
Late nights, 11:45pm to 5am, Monday to Friday, November 24 – 26
R service operates between 95 St and 59 St. Take the N instead. Transfer between trains at 59 St.

Additionally, look out for changes further along the D line.

These schedules will occasionally change, so check MTA.info for the latest updates.

kinnison

Source: DCPI

Police are looking for Gerald Kinnison, a 66-year-old suffering from dementia, who went missing Friday morning from his Coney Island home.

Kinnison was last seen leaving his assisted living center (2316 Surf Avenue) at 8am on November 21 wearing a black jacket, black shirt, black sneakers, and blue pants.

He is described as a black male, 6 feet tall, 180 pounds, with a thin build, dark complexion, brown eyes, black hair, and black and grey beard.

He has gone missing at least three times before, but was eventually found, police said.

Here’s another photo of Kinnison:

missing

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577.