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Volunteers helped with the first plantings last Sunday. (Source: Laura Vladimirova)

Volunteers helped with the first plantings last Sunday. (Source: Laura Vladimirova)

In the months after Superstorm Sandy swept through Southern Brooklyn, including Bath Beach, there was help for people and pets, buildings and businesses. But one victim flew under the radar: the soil.

When the ocean met the land, the salty water crept into the root systems of gardens and tree beds along the borough’s coast. While the Parks Department has been lopping down decaying trees and replacing them with salt-resistant varieties, most local gardeners have simply replanted, neglecting the quiet killer that lurks several inches under the earth, the salt deposits that formed in the flood’s wake.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

What began as a project for a straightforward community garden in Bath Beach evolved into one with a focus on resiliency. It became a local laboratory for its planner, Laura Vladimirova, who had been granted control over a plot of land that was flooded by the storm. To make sure it survived the future, she had to become a quick study on tenacious flora that could withstand another Sandy.

“The premise of my project was to build a community greenspace with sustainable materials in Southern Brooklyn, with consideration of water usage, local and native plants, and with the idea that we all need a real green haven in our densely populated concrete jungles,” Vladimirova said.

Vladimirova’s project kicked off after she won a COJECO Blueprint Fellowship, a year-long program for Russian-speaking Jewish adults to undertake community projects. That covered the costs, but she still needed the land.

The former Bensonhurst Bean writer and Bath Beach resident reached out to SNAP to Grow! Urban Farm, another excellent community green-thumb program. They put her in touch with the Shore Parkway Jewish Center (8885 26th Avenue), which gave her the green light to develop a broad swath of their outdoor space, part of which is also where SNAP to Grow! is based.

Vladimirova hopes that teaming up with the local shul will be a win-win. It gives a ready base for volunteers, and will also help protect the building in future storms.

“This shul was hit hard by Sandy. By creating a local plant garden, I’m hoping this will effectively help drain rainwater if other large scale storms were to occur,” she said.

Volunteers helped with the first plantings last Sunday. (Source: Laura Vladimirova)

Volunteers helped with the first plantings last Sunday. (Source: Laura Vladimirova)

The garden doesn’t just have to prepare for the future; it’s still grappling with the effects of the past. It was slated to open in early September, but soil testing turned up a massive amount of those salt deposits left behind by Sandy.

Planting had to be delayed, and Vladimirova had to add “soil remediation” to her growing expertise.

“It’s so crazy how long Sandy lasts,” she said. “I imagine many lawns will that were flooded will face this issue.”

It’s a ticking time-bomb for local gardeners, she said. Many simply mowed their lawns, dug up the dead, and replanted their flowers after the storm. But as salt deposits sink deeper, gardeners are lulled into a false sense of security.

“When anyone plants, the rooting, the sprawling of the root system is just beginning and so it doesn’t go very deep,” she said. “Then they hit a salt pocket. And they die. It’s not immediate, but it damages long-term plant life and changes the pH of the soil.”

There are several types of soil remediation techniques, she said, including chemicals, worms and various holistic approaches. With sustainability a part of her focus, she avoided using chemicals, and instead opted for gypsum, a mineral compound. That was spread across the plot and given time to soak in to the soil, where it disperses deeply, breaking down and neutralizing the salt deposits.

Volunteers were finally able to plant the first batch of greenery last weekend during a soft opening. They’ll hold a grand opening this Sunday, October 19, at 1pm. During the greenthumb party, they’ll have more plantings, refreshments, and will host live music and art activities.

Sea Park Apartments (Source: Google Maps)

Sea Park Apartments (Source: Google Maps)

A 19-year-old man is charged with second degree murder in connection with the September 3 shooting death of a Coney Island man.

Jalik Banks, 19, was collared by cops yesterday and charged with second degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. He lives in the Surfside Houses, a New York City Housing Authority development two blocks away from the scene of the crime.

Banks is accused of killing George Carmona, 23, on September 3. As we reported at the time, Carmona was found in the hallway of the Sea Park Apartments at 2980 West 28th Street just just after 8:00pm with a gunshot wound to his head.

He was declared dead at the scene.

Police did not say how the suspect knew the victim.

Source: Ephox Blog

Alternate side parking regulations will be suspended Thursday and Friday, October 16 and 17, for Shemini Atzereth and Simchas Torah. All other regulations, including parking meters, remain in effect.

You can check out the rest of the 2014 parking calendar here.

Hag Sameah, Bensonhurst!

Alex Shlaferman China factory selfie

Alex Shlaferman selfie via Business Insider

The last time we wrote about Alexander “Xander” Shlaferman, it was for ending up in cuffs for throwing a huge hipster party on the Manhattan Bridge, shutting it down to traffic in 2013. Now, the millionaire wunderkind says he’s done with the parties, and focusing on the Chinese factory he just bought for his budding business empire.

“I used to think partying was so fun and crazy. Not so fun and crazy any more,” he told Business Insider, which profiled the 20-year-old entrepreneur this weekend. Instead, he’s using the revenues from his $10 million company to buy his parents a new house, having built his business in their Bensonhurst home on their dime.

“A few years ago, I was 16 and running my company out of my bedroom, using my parents’ credit cards. My first year in business I filed taxes for $110,000. Before we knew it, we hit $1 million and then $3 million. We’ve been growing by 300-400% every year,” he says. Last year, revenue was about $5 million but if he hits his hoped-for 2014 holiday sales, “We expect $10 million in sales this Christmas.”

The company’s “big thing” at the moment is Wallet Ninja, a Swiss army knife-styled tool that’s the size and shape of a credit card. To produce the merchandise, he’s purchased a factory in China and employs nearly 50 people.

Wallet Ninja comes after previous successes slinging a boomerang toy airplane called the Super Looper at age 16, and, his first start-up product, a DVD that teaches buyers how to levitate, which he made at age 11.

“I made a DVD that taught you how to levitate. I found a guy on Craigslist to film in my room with a bed sheet. Just me and this guy from Craigslist. I can only imagine if my parents came home, what their reaction would have been,” he told BI.

His next monied magic trick? Apparently he’s in discussions for his own reality show.

“I was really opposed to it in the beginning. I don’t want some drama-filled” show, he says. But the network (which he wouldn’t name) has him convinced it will be a real show about his real life, which between work, China, and training is crazy enough.

Check out the full profile.

Source: Ibagli via Wikimedia Commons

Source: Ibagli via Wikimedia Commons

A reader sent us the following letter to the editor, making a case for a pedestrian and bike path spanning the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and urging neighbors to attend a rally for the cause this Saturday:

A dedication was held on November 21, 1964 to open the Verrazano Bridge to the public. That day, a group of people spoke out that the bridge should have a walkway. One carried a sign, “Are Feet Obsolete?”

Robert Moses, then the head of the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority, didn’t want a pedestrian / bicycle path. Now, at the 50th year anniversary, it’s a good time to fix this mistake.

Some feel that a Verrazano foot / bike path would be too long because the length would be 2.59 miles. However, there are paths longer than this that are being built. San Francisco’s Bay Bridge foot path is two thirds completed. When done, the path will be 4.46 miles long. The Tappan Zee Bridge is being replaced. The new bridge will include a foot path that will be three miles long.

The cost of this foot / bike path? When a Department of City Planning study was done in 1997 the price to put a path between the cables of the bridge was estimated to be 26.5 million. That would be 39.2 million in today’s dollars. Is that too much for a path that will be there for generations when the net profit from the Verrazano tolls is estimated to be 250 million per year? Let the MTA use more of our Verrazano toll money on enhancements to the bridge instead of subsidizing their other projects.

It is time to put a path on the Verrazano Bridge. We have waited long enough. Come out to the rally for the path on October 18, 2014. That’s from 11:00am to noon at the Alice Austen House, 2 Hylan Boulevard, at Edgewater Street in Staten Island.

— Roy Fischman

doe-logo

Students applying to high school for the 2015-2016 school year can register for the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT) through Wednesday, October 22, at noon. Eighth graders or first-time 9th graders who are residents of New York City can register for the SHSAT through their guidance counselor. Students with disabilities and English Language Learners (ELLs) may be eligible to receive testing accommodations on the SHSAT.

There are nine Specialized High Schools in New York City:

  • The Bronx High School of Science
  • Brooklyn Latin School
  • Brooklyn Technical High School
  • Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts
  • High School for Math, Science and Engineering at City College
  • High School of American Studies at Lehman College
  • Queens High School for the Sciences at York College
  • Staten Island Technical High School
  • Stuyvesant High School

For eight of these schools, admission is based solely on the score attained on the SHSAT. For LaGuardia High School, admission is based upon auditions and a review of student academic performance.

You must register by October 22, and most of the testing will be done the weekend of October 25 and October 26.

You can find more information on Specialized High Schools here.

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

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

A concerned neighbor alerted Community Board 11 to a string of car break-ins and vandalism along Cropsey Avenue during the group’s October 7 meeting.

A man who introduced himself as Theodore said the incidents have stretched along the commercial corridor from Bay 16th Street to Bay 20th Street, requesting that the Board urge the 62nd Precinct to ramp up patrols in that area.

Reps from the precinct were in attendance and noted the break-ins, and also responded to other concerns. One included a woman’s frustration that soccer practices at the New Utrecht High School fields were causing parking problems and unfair enforcement.  The woman stated that parking is impossible in the most evenings between 7pm and 9pm. The resident said she received a ticket from a police officer for parking “right across” from her home when there were a handful of cars illegally and double parked  on the same street.

Also at the meeting, a representative from Councilman David Greenfield’s office reminded residents that the speed limit has been lowered in most areas from 30 to 25 miles per hour in order to reduce traffic fatalities. Some drivers, unaware of the change, have been getting caught in speed traps on Ocean Parkway because no official announcement has been made yet, the rep said.

Board members were excited to discuss upcoming plans once they began their portion of announcements. It was noted that Community Board 11 has been selected for a Planning Fellowship Program that will focus on Urban Planning. Steven Maples, a second year master’s student at Hunter College, will be aiding the community board in planning regarding illegal curb cuts and front yard parking pads.

Also, regarding budget consultations; the board mentioned some changes they would like to see from the Parks Department—trees being installed in front of curb cuts. There was a motion for a resolution to be submitted.

The board also took notice of complaints surrounding trash at the Waldbaum’s parking lot. Since the establishment is private property, the Department of Sanitation cannot be held responsible. Therefore, the board hopes to ensure close monitoring of the establishment to promote up-keep of the lot.

– Anna Spivak

five-guys

A Five Guys Burger and Fries will be Bensonhurst’s newest neighbor. The popular food chain in under construction and is set to open at the Ceasar’s Bay Shopping Plaza. Standing at 1608 Shore Parkway, adjacent to the new Vitamin Shoppe, the venue will boast burgers, hot dogs, and its famous zesty cajun fries.

Good news? I don’t know; I’ve never had a Five Guys burger. But the Washington Post contends that Five Guys restaurants are the “Willie Wonkas of Burgercraft,” and GQ Magazine has dubbed the food chain,“The Best $5 Burger A Man Can Eat.”

And, if you can’t wait for the bacon cheeseburgers and bottomless topping-options, have no fear. There are currently four other locations in Brooklyn — two in Dumbo, one in Prospect Heights, and one in Bay Ridge.

Happy future food coma!

Local restaurants participated in the event's launch and tasting last week at Borough Hall (Source: Kathryn Kirk/Brooklyn BP's Office)

Local restaurants participated in the event’s launch and tasting last week at Borough Hall (Source: Kathryn Kirk/Brooklyn BP’s Office)

The 11th annual Dine in Brooklyn event is set to kick off next Monday, and with $25 prix fixe dinners offered at more than 150 restaurants across the borough, foodies can pack their pie-holes with cuisines from every part of one of the nation’s most culinary diverse counties.

Over eight days beginning next week, diners can get $15 lunch and $25 dinner deals at more than 150 restaurants. The exact dates blackout restaurants’ most busy days, but those willing to go for weekday food fun will find the deals at the restaurants from Monday, October 20, to Thursday, October 23, and again from Monday, October 27, to Thursday, October 30.

A mere $25 covers prix fixe dinner menus, and most of the restaurants will offer two-for-$15 lunch menus.

Organized by the Brooklyn Borough President’s office, the event is about exposing neighbors to their local restaurants and supporting one of the borough’s most prodigious industries.

“Dine In Brooklyn celebrates the five-star flavors that make Brooklyn a ‘must-taste’ destination,” said Borough President Eric Adams in a press release. “Our restaurants fuel our borough’s economic engine, and this event is an opportunity to support their continued growth while encouraging diners to discover – or rediscover – their favorite Brooklyn dish. Most importantly, Dine In Brooklyn fosters the connections and memories that make ‘One Brooklyn’ like no place else on the globe.”

The number of Southern Brooklyn restaurants participating in 2014 has swelled a great deal from years past, with dozens now on the list. Just a few of our favorites:

  • il Fornetto (Sheepshead Bay)
  • Mill Basin Deli (Mill Basin)
  • New Ruan’s Restaurant (Bensonhurst)
  • Clemente’s Maryland Crab House (Sheepshead Bay)
  • L&B Spumoni Gardens (Gravesend)
  • Oleandr Restaurant (Brighton Beach)
  • Theresa’s Place (Dyker Heights)
  • Anatolian Gyro (Sheepshead Bay)
  • Peggy O’Neill’s (Coney Island)
  • Mama Rao Cucina Italiana (Dyker Heights)
  • Buckley’s (Marine Park)

Really, though, that’s just a sliver of the long list of truly local restaurants offering the deal, many of which we hope to try. Check out the full list here.

Which restaurants do you hope to get a taste of during Dine in Brooklyn?

D LINE

From 9:45am to 3pm, Monday to Friday, Coney Island-bound D trains are rerouted via the N from 36 St, Brooklyn to Stillwell Av.

  • Trains stop at 62 St-New Utrecht Av.
  • To 9 Av, Fort Hamilton Pkwy, 50 St, and 55 St, take the Coney Island-bound D to 62 St-New Utrecht Av and transfer to a 205 St-bound D.
  • To 71 St, 79 St, 18 Av, 20 Av, Bay Pkwy, 25 Av, and Bay 50 St, take the Coney Island-bound D to Stillwell Av and transfer to a 205 St-bound D.
    • From these stations, take a 205 St-bound D to 62 St-New Utrecht Av or 36 St and transfer to a Coney Island-bound D.

From 11:45pm to 5am, Monday to Friday, Manhattan-bound D trains run express from 36 St to Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr and skip DeKalb Av.

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

N LINE

From 11:45pm to 5am, Monday to Friday, Manhattan-bound N trains run express from 36 St to Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr and skip DeKalb Av.

R LINE

From 11:45pm to 5am, Monday to Friday, there are no R trains in Brooklyn between 59 St and 36 St—take the N. R trains run between Bay Ridge-95 St and 59 St, Brooklyn.

F LINE

From 12:30am to 5am, Tuesday to Friday, 179 St-bound F trains run local from 21 St-Queensbridge to Roosevelt Av.

From 10:15am to 3pm, Wednesday to Friday, Manhattan-bound F trains skip Avenue U.

From 10:30am to 3pm, Wednesday to Friday, F service operates in two sections:

  1. Between 179 St and Avenue X.
  2. Between Avenue X and Coney Island, every 20 minutes.