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photo via tsc nyc marathon

This Sunday, November 2 is the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon–and whether you’re planning to go out and cheer or steer clear of race-related traffic concerns altogether, there’s an extensive list of street closures you might want to get to know. Via the NYPD:

Beginning at midnight on Sunday, November 2, the upper level of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge will be closed to vehicle traffic. At approximately 7 a.m. rolling street closures will commence along the route in preparation for the marathon… Street closures and parking restrictions are expected to cause traffic delays. The use of public transportation is highly recommended.

Below are the Brooklyn roads being affected by closures (see full five borough list here):

  • Dahlgren Place between Verrazano Bridge and 92nd Street (North Bound)
  • 92nd Street between Dahlgren Place and 4th Avenue
  • 4th Avenue between 92nd Street and Flatbush Avenue
  • Flatbush Avenue between 4th Avenue and Lafayette Avenue
  • Brooklyn Queens Expressway (South-bound) between Verrazano Bridge and 79th Street
  • 7th Avenue between 79th Street and 75th Street / Bay Ridge Parkway
  • 7th Avenue between 74th Street and 75th Street
  • 74th Street between 6th Avenue and 7th Avenue
  • 6th Avenue between 74th Street and 75th Street
  • Bay Ridge Parkway between 7th Avenue and 4th Avenue
  • 92nd Street between Gatling Place and Fort Hamilton Parkway
  • Fort Hamilton Parkway between 92nd Street and 94th Street
  • 94th Street between Fort Hamilton Parkway and 4th Avenue (North-bound)
  • 4th Avenue between 94th Street and Flatbush Avenue (South-bound)
  • Bedford Avenue between Lafayette Avenue and Nassau Avenue
  • Nassau Avenue between Bedford Ave / Lorimer St and Manhattan Ave
  • Manhattan Avenue between Nassau Avenue and Greenpoint Avenue
  • Greenpoint Avenue between Manhattan Ave and McGuiness Boulevard
  • McGuiness Boulevard between Greenpoint Avenue and 48th Avenue
  • Pulaski Bridge (South-bound)

Police also note the security measures for this year’s event for both runners and spectators, including how to make the day easier on yourself:

Prior to taking their starting positions on Staten Island, runners will be screened and their bags inspected. The New York Road Runners has provided the participants with clear bags to expedite this process. Individuals who require event credentials and special access to secure areas, such as organizers, volunteers and other personnel, have been pre-screened in addition to the physical screening they will receive on Sunday.

Along the course, bags and backpacks may be subject to search. Bag checks and magnetometer screenings will be conducted in the area of the finish line. Spectators can help expedite, if not alleviate some of the security process, by leaving backpacks at home.

If you’re running in this year’s event, good luck!

Photo via TSC New York City Marathon

Photo by Knightmare6

Photo by Knightmare6

A Brooklyn court ruled that the city was not responsible for the drowning of a 10-year-old girl in 2008, saying that the city is “not an insurer” of the safety of parkgoers.

The case stems from the July 2008 drowning of Akira Johnson, who was swimming with her cousin, also 10, on Coney Island. They became distressed and a nearby lifeguard came to their aid, only saving Johnson’s cousin. The girl, lost to the water, washed ashore days later.

Brooklyn Eagle reports:

The family filed a wrongful death suit against the city with claims of negligence. A lower court judge found merit in the family’s suit and allowed the case to proceed. The higher appeals court, however, acknowledged the city’s responsibility to its park users, but held that the city’s lifeguards did not deviate from its public safety obligations.

Evidence showed that the city “had furnished a sufficient number of lifeguards, that those lifeguards were experienced and competent…that they were adequately trained and properly certified… and that they reacted to the situation in accordance with proper procedure,” the appeals court noted

The victim’s family argued that the training was inadequate as it takes place in a swimming pool.

New York Law Journal reports:

Plaintiff’s attorney Arnold E. DiJoseph argued that the lifeguards were not properly trained to handle rescues in rip currents. “Basically, they are trained in swimming pool rescues,” he said in an interview.

But a unanimous panel of Justices Ruth Balkin, John Leventhal, Joseph Maltese and Betsy Barros held the city had met its duty to maintain the beach in “reasonably safe condition,” citing the lifeguards’ prompt mobilization and the fact that they rescued Akira’s 10-year-old cousin in the same incident. At least six lifeguards responded when they observed the two children in distress.

“[The] city is not an insurer of the safety of the users of its parks, including its beaches,” the court ruled.

Congressman Michael Grimm and Councilman Domenic Recchia

Congressman Michael Grimm and Councilman Domenic Recchia

Republican Congressman Michael Grimm and Democratic challenger Domenic Recchia faced off for their third debate last night, trading barbs about corruption, influence and skinny dipping in the Sea of Galilee.

The televised debate was widely covered as the campaign attracts national attention, due in part to Grimm’s 20-count federal indictment and Recchia’s blunders on the campaign trail. The debate followed much the same formula, with Recchia deflecting questions of policy and focusing on the incumbent’s legal woes, while Grimm portrayed the Democrat as a left-wing ideologue unprepared for the job.

On the simpler, seemingly innocent questions, the candidates still faltered. Neither could recall the name of the last book they had read.

“These are not supposed to be stumpers,” said moderator Errol Louis, according to the New York Times.

Recchia also divulged that he has smoked pot, while Grimm said he never did, according to the Daily News.

And when the Democrat accused Grimm of skinny-dipping during a trip to Israel, the incumbent called him a liar, pointing out that, though he was there, it was a member from Kansas who took the nude plunge.

You can find more detailed coverage of the debate here:

The general election will take place November 4.

Photo by Jesse Coburn

Photo by Jesse Coburn

By Jesse Coburn

Mayor Bill de Blasio called the day “transcendent.” Senator Charles Schumer predicted “a glorious future” for the neighborhood. Shola Olatoye of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) dubbed the plans “a triumph.”

They sang these praises while announcing that $108 million in federal funding would go toward renovating a low-income Coney Island housing project severely damaged in Superstorm Sandy.

But some living in the Coney Island Houses have their doubts. “I don’t trust them,” said Judy Toro, 66, a resident since 1996. “They make a lot of promises.”

It’s been two years since Superstorm Sandy tore through New York, but many public housing tenants are still feeling its effects. The storm caused $19 billion in losses across the five boroughs, and these low-income residents were among the hardest hit. The Coney Island Houses, a five-building complex with nearly 1,400 residents at 2410 Surf Avenue, will be the first such property damaged by Sandy to undergo major repairs, and the city now hopes to acquire roughly $1 billion in additional federal funding for similar improvements in other public residences.

“My house is falling apart, little by little before my eyes, and I don’t see anything being done.”

 

–Coney Island Houses resident.

But decades of strained relations with NYCHA have left some tenants deeply suspicious of the beleaguered city agency, causing even good news to be met with wariness.

Toro’s tenth-floor apartment overlooks Coney Island’s beach and boardwalk, but the interior doesn’t quite match the view. Black mold grows in her bathroom, plaster is crumbling in the living room, and she said roaches and spiders have infested the kitchen walls. “My house is falling apart, little by little before my eyes, and I don’t see anything being done,” she said.

Problems like these have long afflicted public housing, but Toro said that they’ve only gotten worse since Sandy. A large water stain on her grandson’s bedroom floor provides a blunt reminder of the storm, which left residents of the Coney Island Houses without heat and electricity for 22 days.

The long list of outstanding repairs in Toro’s apartment is symptomatic of the ailments plaguing the housing authority, the largest such provider in the nation, with 334 developments that accommodate more than 400,000 tenants. Its 2014 projected deficit is $191 million, due largely to a steady reduction of federal funding. And though the backlog of work orders has decreased greatly in recent years, it still runs in the tens of thousands.

Superstorm Sandy only exacerbated these chronic issues. The storm affected more than 400 public housing buildings across the city and left more than 80,000 residents without basic amenities for weeks. The Coney Island Houses is one of many properties still relying on temporary boilers two years after the storm.

“The funding, design, and implementation challenges [of NYCHA's Sandy-related repairs] are unparalleled,”

 

–Nicholas Bloom, an urban historian.

As part of the renovations, NYCHA will install back-up generators, build an elevated structure to house new boilers, and replace numerous mechanical, electrical and architectural features damaged by the storm. It also will install new surveillance cameras to provide everyday security and to allow authorities to monitor the property in the event of another storm. The funding will not, however, cover repairs for storm-related damages in apartments like Toro’s that are above the first floor.

A NYCHA spokesperson said work should begin next summer. If successful, this approach to implementing Sandy repairs, which relies on funding from FEMA, may serve as a model for renovations in at least 15 other public housing developments that sustained heavy damage in the storm.

According to Nicholas Bloom, an urban historian and professor at the New York Institute of Technology, the sheer magnitude of damage at some properties has made it uniquely difficult for the authority to carry out repairs. “The funding, design, and implementation challenges are unparalleled,” he said. As for the two-year wait for extensive Sandy-related renovations, Bloom praised the city agency for not “rushing a fix.”

An authority spokesperson echoed the need for patience: “Very early on in the aftermath of the storm, once we made temporary repairs to restore critical utilities, we made a determination that it would be irresponsible to simply repair in place and rebuild for short-term expediency instead of long-term sustainability, which could potentially compromise our infrastructure and leave our residents vulnerable.”

But this protracted wait has left some residents skeptical of the authority’s ability to care for its aging buildings. “When I see it, I’ll believe it,” said Carmen Gonzalez, 61, of the planned renovations. “They’re always promising.”

Amelia Riviera has called the Houses home for more than three decades, and the 57-year-old said the problems facing the buildings predate Sandy. “We had to wait for a storm to get help like this?” she asked, mentioning longtime issues like faulty elevators, broken security cameras, and trash on the facility’s grounds. “The buildings were already corrupt.”

Photo by Jesse Coburn

Photo by Jesse Coburn

The Coney Island Houses consist of five 14-story towers that accommodate 1,398 low-income residents. The buildings were completed in 1957—one of many high-rise, low-income developments built on the outskirts of the city.

Cheap land, low population density, and preexisting poor communities made places like Coney Island and the Rockaways seem like logical places to put these new housing blocks. Since then, however, these beachside locations have proven a mixed blessing, as residents are isolated both geographically and economically from the rest of the city. Crime continues to trouble the neighborhood, although it has significantly improved in recent decades. And the area’s median household incomeremains among the city’s lowest.

But as the 2012 storm made painfully clear, natural phenomena count among the most serious threats to the neighborhood and its almost 10,000 public housing residents.

The city has received pointed criticism for its response to public housing impacted by Sandy. In “Weathering the Storm,” an independent report by a group of community advocacy and research organizations from 2013, the authors wrote: “The City’s response to Superstorm Sandy was slow and communication to residents before, during and after the storm was inadequate.”

But the report saw promise in the wave of progressive politicians and officials who have arrived in local public office in recent years. Chief among them is Mayor de Blasio, for whom housing is a central concern. And according to Judy Toro, the authority’s response time to work orders has improved in the past few months. Recently she received a new refrigerator, three years after submitting her request.

For residents like Toro, however, such developments will have to become the norm rather than the exception if perceptions of the authority are to improve. The upcoming renovations could represent such a sea change. But Toro is less than certain: “I’m not holding my breath.”

Source: assembly.state.ny.us

Source: assembly.state.ny.us

Borough Park Assemblyman Dov Hikind is in hot water with outraged constituents after co-sponsoring a job fair that charged unemployed workers a $20 entrance fee.

The New York Post reports:

The event in Midwood was jointly promoted by the Orthodox Union and state Assemblyman Dov Hikind.

… Hikind, who has $792,691 in his campaign treasury, defended the fee.

“There are expenses involved. It takes money to put this together,” Hikind said of the Jobs Fair held at Young Israel of Midwood on Thursday.

Hikind said many people who showed up at the door were allowed in for free, if they said they couldn’t afford the fee.

A notice put out by the Orthodox Union Jobs Board last month also required employers to pay $200 to participate and not-for-profit groups, $100.

The controversial job fair fee was first reported by JPUpdates. The site said approximately 30 companies attended, paying the fees mentioned above.

The participants consisted mostly from middle aged, 18 and older to special needs kids. “Why are you charging me money to enter? I am unemployed,” one angry person, who refused to identify himself, told a staffer at the entrance. Another person, a lady who arrived at around 6:15 pm, was furious that she was still asked to pay the fee to spend the last 45 minutes at the event.

Hikind spent approximately two hours at the event, with campaign workers hanging posters on the wall and handing out palm cards. An update on the story says that the OU took issue with the blatant campaigning, and the pol had been told he would not be permitted to hang posters or to distributed literature.

The organization also defended the fee, citing expenses, but said they accommodated those who could not pay.

Hikind is running for reelection on November 4.

Photo by Ben Cooper / LaunchPhotography.com

Photo by Ben Cooper / LaunchPhotography.com

With gorgeous weather slated for the rest of the evening, New Yorkers may be gifted a rare treat thanks to NASA: a first-of-its-kind rocket launch from the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia should be visible just after sunset.

The egg-heads down south will be shooting the fiery phallus into space at 6:45pm. Hopefully the sun will have sunk below the horizon, making the otherwise clear skies dark enough to see it as it streaks through the atmosphere, but there’s really no guarantee.

The rocket, owned by Orbital Sciences Corporation, is capped off with a Cygnus cargo spacecraft that will make its way to the International Space Station. According to NASA’s info page, “Cygnus is loaded with about 5,000 pounds of science investigations, food, supplies and hardware for the space station and its crew.” It should reach its destination on November 2.

An example of what tonight’s launch could look like if the sun hits it just right. (Source: USCLA Dept. of Physics and Astronomy)

This is the fifth ever launch of the Antares orbital rocket, and the first time it’s blasting off after sundown, so nobody is really sure what you will be able to see. Making it even more dicey is that it’s not really happening at night, but rather at twilight.

We asked our resident space guru Ben Cooper, of Manhattan Beach, who photographs such rocket launches for a living, what to expect from tonight’s launch.

“This one won’t be quite as bright [as the one I photographed last year, seen above this post],” he said. “It is also possible that the upper stage exhaust will catch the sunlight and look like a white comet type thing. It’s hard to say what tonight will look like. The Antares rocket has never launched at night before. A similar past launch from California could look like [the adjacent photo] if it is impressive enough.”

The best places in the area to catch a view of the rocket is the waterfront along Southern Brooklyn. Plumb Beach, Manhattan Beach, the Riegelmann Boardwalk in Brighton Beach or Coney Island and the Shore Parkway greenway spanning Bay Parkway to the Verrazano are your best bets.

According to a map distributed by NASA, you should be able to see the rocket between 180 and 210 second after it launches, when it climbs high enough over the horizon. You can also keep tabs on the launch here, where NASA will host a livestream. Launch coverage begins at 5:45pm.

In the unlikely event that weather hampers the launch – it’s currently considered 99 percent favorable – it will be postponed until Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. If you get a great photo, make sure to send it to nberke [at] bensonhurstbean [dot] com!

20141015_orb-3_visibility_w-traj_w-title_2

grimm2

An e-mail shows that Congressman Michael Grimm requested illegal donations to his 2010 campaign, marking the first time the representative has been directly implicated in the probe of his finances since allegations first surfaced in 2012, according to an exclusive report by the New York Post.

The email, shared with a Post reporter by an anonymous source, is from Grimm to the organization of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, requesting $10,000 donations from six people – well over the legal limit of $2,400.

The paper reports:

“We have very little time, as I need to start collecting checks as soon as today or tomorrow,” Grimm wrote in the Oct. 18, 2010, missive to Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto’s organization. “I think that if the Rabbi calls the six people and asks them to each write one check for the $10,000, then we can finish this in the next few days.”

Grimm went on to say he needed $190,000 to buy two weeks of television commercials and direct-mail solicitations.

“I can raise $120-$130 [thousand], but I must have the other $60,000 as soon as possible. Please e-mail me back, as I am very nervous and concerned about the final amounts of money,” he wrote in the e-mail, which was seen by The Post.

The Post’s source said that the money was given, but none of it showed up on his campaign filings. That would mean that, if true, it was funneled through multiple “straw donors” to hide the sources. Straw donors are phony donors who are given the funds to donate back to the campaign under their own names in order to keep it under the legal limit.

Diana Durand, a former flame of the congressman, pleaded guilty earlier this year to recruiting straw donors to give money to Grimm and another congressman in 2010.

Durand kept mum, and Grimm was not implicated in that case. While several instances of finance improprieties have surfaced around the congressman’s 2010 campaign, none have directly implicated the congressman of being aware of the schemes.

A spokesperson for the Grimm called the accusation “baseless,” and part of a “smear campaign.”

“The incredulous source of these baseless accusations has proven over four years to be nothing more than part of a smear campaign that does not warrant a response,” a spokesman told The Post.

Grimm’s contact in the Pinto organization, Ofer Biton, pleaded guilty to visa fraud last year, after the FBI claimed that much of the money needed to obtain a special visa for investors came from fraud and extortion. It had previously been reported that Biton sought help from Grimm in obtaining a green card after raising more than $500,000 for the pol through Pinto’s organization.

It was Pinto himself who sparked the probe into Grimm’s campaign after he told federal authorities that Biton and another close aide extorted the donations from his flock. Pinto was allegedly threatened by Israeli authorities to cease his cooperation with the FBI’s investigation or face charges in that nation; he was later charged with attempting to bribe officials.

Grimm faces unrelated charges of tax evasion, fraud and illegal hiring practices in connection to a Manhattan-based restaurant he once owned. Biton, too, seems to have a connection to the restaurant; the congressman’s former business partner in the venture, Bennett Orfaly, put up $30,000 for Biton’s bail. Orfaly also has ties to the Gambino crime family, according to a report in the New York Times.

After a busy week, here’s a chance to catch up on some of the news happening outside of our neighborhood! We’ve pulled together some of our favorite recent stories from our site and our sister sites, as well as some other fascinating pieces that are worth a read this weekend:

A 22-year-old man died after accidentally setting himself on fire in Borough Park. [KensingtonBK]

A sneak peek inside The Finch, Clinton Hill’s new farm to table restaurant from a former Roberta’s chef. [Fort Greene Focus]

Will the landmarked Brooklyn Lyceum be turned into condos? [Park Slope Stoop]

A Sheepshead Bay man and Texas woman locked in a suicide pact committed the deadly deed using cyanide on Monday. [Sheepshead Bites]

New York expands its role in caring for immigrant children, sometimes using shackles during transportation. [Capital NY]

A 20-year-old man was arrested in last week’s fatal home invasion in Ditmas Park. [Ditmas Park Corner]

Locals want to re-imagine what the 4th Ave/9th St subway station could look like. [South Slope News]

Pedestrian-friendly changes are coming to Brooklyn’s Myrtle and Park Avenues. [FGF]

MTA breaks ridership record, still $15B in the hole. [Gothamist]

Puppy City, where the Wee-Wee Pad was invented, closed for good after 50 years in Sheepshead Bay. [SB]

In case you were wondering, even bike share programs are really just for the rich. [City Lab]

After six weeks of no cooking gas, irate tenants push for change. [DPC]

A study on the controversial rezoning proposal for Prospect Lefferts Gardens is going forward. [Brownstoner]

Exploring Midwood, one bite at a time. [SB]

The Statue of Liberty could’ve ended up in Central Park – or, worse, Philly or Boston. [Failure Magazine]

This is an actual photo of the Gowanus Canal. [PSS]

All of Brownstoner’s Buildings of the Day, mapped. [Brooklyn, one (thousand) building(s) at a time.]

Annual Halloween party on Saturday doubles as fundraiser to Cure Huntington’s Disease. [SSN]

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for our daily newsletter. If you have any news tips, story ideas, questions or anything else, e-mail us at editor [at] sheepsheadbites [dot] com.

(Source: Aaron Landry/Flickr)

D LINE

From 11:45pm Friday to 5am Monday, Coney Island-bound D trains are rerouted via the N from 36 St to Stillwell Av. To 9 Av, Fort Hamilton Pkwy, 50 St, 55 St, 71 St, 79 St, 18 Av, 20 Av, Bay Pkwy, 25 Av, and Bay 50 St, take the Coney Island-bound D to 62 St-New Utrecht Av or Stillwell Av and transfer to a Manhattan-bound D or N. From these stations, take a Manhattan-bound D or N to 62 St-New Utrecht Av or 36 St and transfer to a Coney Island-bound D.

From 11pm Friday to 5am Monday, D trains run local between DeKalb Av and 36 St.

From 10:45pm Friday to 5am Monday, 205 St-bound D trains run express from 145 St to Tremont Av.

N LINE

From 11:45pm Friday to 5am Monday, Ditmars Blvd-bound N trains are rerouted via the D from Stillwell Av to 36 St. To 86 St, Avenue U, Kings Hwy, Bay Pkwy, 20 Av, 18 Av, Fort Hamilton Pkwy, and 8 Av, take the Ditmars Blvd-bound N to 62 St-New Utrecht Av or 36 St and transfer to a Coney Island-bound D or N. From these stations, take a Coney Island-bound D or N to 62 St-New Utrecht Av or Stillwell Av and transfer to a Ditmars Blvd-bound N. To/from 59 St, take the R instead. Transfer at 36 St.

From 11pm Friday to 5am Monday, N trains run local between DeKalb Av and 36 St.

R LINE

There are no service advisories scheduled at this time.

F LINE

From 11:15pm Friday to 5am Monday, Coney Island-bound F trains are rerouted via the M from Roosevelt Av to 47-50 Sts. Trains run express from Roosevelt Av to Queens Plaza.

MetroCard machine don't want your money

Heads up to anyone who might be riding the subway late tonight with a MetroCard that’s low on funds — you better have some cash on you, just in case.

All MetroCard vending machines will experience an outage because of a system upgrade on Saturday, October 25 from 2-6am, during which time no credit or debit card purchase will be accepted. You can still use cash, though.

The MTA says they expect the system to be back up and accepting cards no later than 6am.

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