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The following is a press release from the offices of Councilman David Greenfield:

Councilman David G. Greenfield is inviting community residents to attend a participatory budgeting information session tonight, August 14, at 7 p.m. to find out how they can get involved in this exciting initiative that he is introducing to the district this year. Participatory budgeting aims to give the public more say in how their tax dollars are spent locally by having residents brainstorm, nominate and vote on capital projects they would like to see completed in their neighborhood.

Greenfield will allocate $1 million from the upcoming 2014 New York City budget to fund this effort, and is urging the public to attend tonight’s 7 p.m. information session at P.S. 205, located at 6701 20th Avenue, to find out how they can become charter members for this exciting exercise in open government and democracy. At tonight’s meeting, residents will learn more about how participatory budgeting works and how to get involved. With that in mind, Greenfield is urging anyone who would like to learn more about participatory budgeting to attend this meeting.

“Residents know the types of projects that are needed most in their neighborhood, and participatory budgeting gives them a voice in determining how their tax dollars are spent. I am proud to bring the power directly to the taxpayers and to bring greater transparency to the budgeting process. I hope that people from every part of the district will get involved and make their opinions heard,” said Greenfield, who has followed through on his campaign promise to make the budget process more open and transparent by holding annual workshops for any non-profit and charitable group seeking discretionary funding. He is furthering that effort this year as one of eight Council Members bringing participatory budgeting to their constituents.

In all, 1.3 million New Yorkers, including the approximately 180,000 residing in the 44th Council District, will have the opportunity to take part in participatory budgeting this year, making it the largest such program in the nation. Last year, 6,000 residents in four districts across the city voted on projects such as $150,000 for an E-Tech Campus at a public school Beacon program, $80,000 for new books and equipment at the Kensington public library, $100,000 for senior transportation services and a Meals-on-Wheels delivery van, and $147,000 for equipment for a neighborhood volunteer fire organization. This year, residents in the 44th District, which includes Boro Park, Midwood and Bensonhurst, will have a similar opportunity to identify needs within their neighborhood that could be funded with part of the $1 million in government funds set aside for this effort.

Participatory budgeting will take place over the next eight months or so as meetings are held and ideas are brainstormed and eventually formally nominated. Tonight’s meeting will provide an overview of the process and answers to residents’ questions. Additional meetings will be held over the next two months to begin coming up with ideas and selecting delegates to sit on the formal committee. Delegates will meet in committees over the winter before presenting draft project proposals to the public next spring. Final proposals will be presented to the public in March or April, at which time the entire public will be allowed to vote on which should move forward. The delegates will then work to implement the projects next spring and summer.

“I’m very excited to see what types of projects residents come up with for their neighborhoods. This is a great chance for every member of the public to get involved and take an active role in their community. I hope to meet and work with many constituents on this exciting initiative over the next few months,” added Greenfield.

Tonight’s information session will be held in P.S. 205, located at 6701 20th Avenue in Bensonhurst, starting at 7 p.m. For more information, call Greenfield’s district office at (718) 853-2704 or visit pbnyc.org.

When out-of-towners ask for a bakery recomendation in Bensonhurst, the name that comes up again and again is Villabate at 7001 18th Avenue.

Villabate-Alba has been a Bensonhurst institution for over 30 years. Hot bread, espresso, cappuccino and cannolis are all specialties at the bakery.

Though this clip is from 2010, the panetteria still stands as a neighborhood favorite. Check out the BRIC episode starring the Alaimo family (the family that has ran the shop since its opening).

Let us know, is Villabate’s your go-to place for Sicilian pastries or do you recommend another local bakery?

Source: Jack Keene via Wikimedia Commons

When Grace Di’turi was walking on 86th Street three years ago, she was hit in the head with a flying watermelon.

Workers from Big Apple Produce were apparently unloading the fruit from their truck by chucking it to each other. Di’turi was caught in the line of fruit fire when one of them must have fumbled.

Di’turi fell and had to be rushed to the hospital. Now, she is suing the produce stand for unspecified damages.

Papers filed in court state that “throwing watermelons across a public sidewalk . . . was dangerous and unsafe.”

Source: Lana I.

The recent media coverage of the dilapidated N-line subway stops has Assemblyman William Colton demanding that they be repaired before the slotted 2014 date.

“They [the staircases] need a significant amount of structural work done and if that doesn’t get done soon we’re going to have a tragedy. Somebody will get seriously injured or killed because of the disrepair,” said Colton.

He also stated that the repairs needs to be “done sooner” and that this is an “emergency.”

The nine subway stops at the outdoor N-line stations are in shambles. They have water leaks, peeling paint, rusty stairs and cracked cement.

The nearly 100-year-old stations have not been fixed up since the 80s, according to MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz.

Being outdoors, the wear and tear has made the Bensonhurst and Sunset Park stops ugly to look at and dangerous to visit.

While the MTA plans to do a major overhaul of the stations in October of 2014, thus far, no work is set to begin sooner.

The next CEC 21 meetings is Wednesday, August 15 at 5:30 p.m.

First up is the business meeting followed by the regular calendar meeting at 6:30 p.m. Public comment is encouraged for the calendar meeting.

The location is I.S. 303, the Herbert Eisenberg School at 501 West Avenue in the first floor library.

Source: New York Community HospitalRichard Cohen, 31, from Midwood was arrested for stabbing his mother to death on Saturday night.

His mother, Anne Cohen, 64, went to visit him at his Midwood home on Ocean Avenue. They began arguing and Richard, who has a history of violence and mental illness, stabbed her in the torso and neck.

“There was a record of domestic incidents, domestic violence in that household between the son and the mother,” NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said to the New York Daily News.

The feuds between mother and son may have stemmed from financial issues. Anne sold her Bath Beach home for $800,000 and her son was not happy about it. She also had money from a  medical malpractice suit related to her husband’s death.

The son had been recently hospitalized for threatening his mother. She kicked him out of her home but had apparently made amends with him and went to pay him a visit.

Richard was taken into police custody, arrested and charged with second-degree murder.

Anne was taken to New York Community Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Source: Fir0002 via Wikimedia Commons

Two men were charged with burglary and arson after they stole $5,000 from a Dyker Heights home, and then set it ablaze to cover their tracks.

Saleh Musa, 22, and a 15-year-old accomplice were said to be behind the 3 a.m. fire early Thursday morning.  FDNY fire marshals investigated the Bay Ridge and 12th Avenues blaze and found it suspicious.

No word on how the suspects were apprehended.

The duo was charged with arson, burglary and reckless endangerment. They may be charged with assault because a firefighter was injured fighting the fire, according to the New York Daily News.

At a rally attended by approximately 150 area residents, Assemblyman Bill Colton and heads of various local organizations blasted a Department of Sanitation plan to install a waste transfer station in Gravesend Bay, saying they don’t trust the organization and will continue their fight to halt construction.

But the Sanitation Department said it’s moving ahead with their plans, anyway.

The opponents gathered on Sunday at the Bay Parkway Promenade next to Caesar’s Bay, toting signs of opposition. Assemblyman Bill Colton spoke against the plan, as did Congressional candidate Mark Murphy, State Senate Candidate Andrew Gounardes, District Leader candidate Ari Kagan and local environmental and neighborhood activists.

At issue is the Sanitation Department’s proposal to reactivate an old Sanitation facility on Bay 41st Street off Shore Parkway, turning it into a waste transfer station where trucks will bring garbage, formally known as the Southwest Brooklyn Marine Transfer Station, load it onto a barge, and ship it out. But, according to Colton, the plan will require dredging of the waters around it, which will stir up a toxic blend of chemicals laying dormant on the bay’s floor, a mix he’s dubbed “black mayonaisse.”

“Scientists have confirmed what many in the community feared…There were unsafe levels of mercury and other harmful toxins found at the bottom of Gravesend Bay. The samples were taken by just scratching the surface rather than by digging deep below the surface where the dredging will reach. This leads others and me to wonder: What other dangers lie further below Gravesend Bay?” asked Colton. “And how will this toxic material impact the adjacent beaches of Coney Island and Manhattan Beach?”

The toxic stew formed, in part, with the help of the agency itself. The proposed site is the former location of a waste incinerator. Colton said the department has a bad track record in the neighborhood, as the previous facility operated without proper permits, and did not take precautions to contain environmental damage. Colton, who led the fight to shut down the facility in the 1990s, said toxic ash from the incinerator rained down on nearby homes, senior centers and into the water – and the ensuing years have seen increased reports of cancer and related-illnesses.

Adding an additional layer of risk to the proposal, Colton said the discovery of live munitions from a capsized WWII military barge near the Verrazano Bridge means that dredging could lead to an explosion.

Just as in his fight to shut down the incinerator, Colton has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the community to block the agency from going forward with its plans.

But that doesn’t appear to concern the Sanitation Department, which told Bensonhurst Bean that the benefit of getting trucks off the road outweigh any perceived risk of an environmental catastrophe.

“The Department of Sanitation is moving forward with plans to construct this state of the art containerized marine transfer station that will allow waste from south Brooklyn to be shipped by barge to rail centers where it will be moved to landfills out of the state,” a Sanitation spokesperson said. “In doing so, a reliable and environmentally sound system for managing the city’s waste, a fair and equitable distribution of waste management throughout the five boroughs, and a significant reduction in truck traffic through city streets are achieved. The marine transfer station is part of the Mayor’s Solid Waste Management Plan that was overwhelmingly approved by the City Council and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.”

Aron with defense attorneys. Source: ctv.ca

From the offices of Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes:

DEFENDANT ADMITTED HE KIDNAPPED AND MURDERED THE BOY AND WILL BE SENTENCED TO 40 YEARS TO LIFE IN PRISON

Brooklyn, August 9, 2012 – Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes today announced the guilty plea of Levi Aron, 36, to Murder in the Second Degree and Kidnapping in the Second degree.  He will receive a sentence of 40 years to life in prison when he is sentenced on August 29, 2012.

“With this guilty plea, I hope the process of healing and hopefully closure can begin for the Kletzky family and community,” said District Attorney Hynes.  “No one should ever forget what happened to Leiby Kletzky but we can all take solace that Levi Aron will never, ever be able to hurt anyone again.”

On July 11, 2011, Aron abducted Kletzky from the vicinity of 18th Avenue and Dahill Road, in Brooklyn. Aron then took the child to Aron’s apartment, at 466 East 2nd St., also in Brooklyn, where Aron killed him.

The case is being handled by Counsel to the Homicide Bureau Julie Rendelman and Unit Chief in the Sex Crimes/Crimes Against Children Division Linda Weinman. Kenneth Taub is Chief of the Homicide Bureau. Rhonnie Jaus is Chief of the Sex Crimes/Crimes Against Children Division.

Source: Nagytibi via Wikimedia Commons

Musician James Taylor, not to be confused with the famous guitarist, attempted to end his life by jumping from the Verrazano Bridge.

Taylor, 24, moved here from Philadelphia to pursue music, but has not had any luck. Thursday evening, he was kicked out of his friend’s home and then got into an argument with his girlfriend, who told him to “jump off a bridge.” He took her advice.

He walked the lower level of the bridge with his saxophone case in hand. Drivers who saw him immediately called 9-1-1 to report a man with a suspicious package.

“He said he was trying to make his girlfriend happy because she told him to jump off a bridge,” a source said to the New York Daily News.

Police caught up with him and took him into custody.