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community-garden

A new community garden is coming to the neighborhood with a special focus on flood resilient vegetation, but before its grand opening celebration next weekend they’re looking for your help getting roots in the ground this Sunday.

The garden is being built by a recipient of the COJECO Blueprint Fellowship on land owned by the Shore Parkway Jewish Center (8885 26th Avenue), where the very excellent SNAP to Grow! Urban Farm is also located.

The lot is one that was flooded during Superstorm Sandy, and the soil is still filled with salt. The Blueprint Fellow, Laura Vladimirova, a former editor of Bensonhurst Bean, is going to be teaching those that come about resilient plants and techniques to mitigate damaged, salt-logged soils.

Come get your hands dirty, learn something, and make the community a more beautiful, resilient place!

Assemblyman Brook-Krasny (left) and challenger Lilikakis (right). Photo by Bailey Wolff.

Assemblyman Brook-Krasny (left) and challenger Lilikakis (right). Photo by Bailey Wolff.

By Bailey Wolff

The Bay Ridge Real Estate Board hosted a “Meet the Candidates Event” Wednesday night at the Dyker Heights Golf Course. Present at the forum was four-term incumbent of the 46th District, Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, and his opponent, first time political hopeful, Stamatis Lilikakis.

Vice President of the Bay Ridge Real Estate Board Aldo Iemma and his wife Deborah organized the forum in order to establish communication between members of the community and elected officials who represent them in government.

“We want to educate, and encourage connections so that everyone is involved with the political process,” said Deborah Iemma.

Stamatis Lilikakis was the first of the two candidates to speak. He discussed the need to lower taxes to stop the “exodus” of businesses from New York State.

“I actually know what most people in this room feel,” said Lilikakis. “And I’m running for office because I’ve had enough of being a blank check for Albany and for our federal government … my goal is to try and lessen some of that burden.”

The 46th Assembly District spans the waterfront from Brighton Beach to Bay Ridge.

The 46th Assembly District spans the waterfront from Brighton Beach to Bay Ridge.

Running as a Republican-Conservative, Lilikakis said that he has united “different factions” in his party, and if elected, wants to create more opportunities for business and education in the district.

He also spoke about illegal conversions—the process of turning singe-family homes into multi-family, non-permitted housing units. “They’re illegal. They shouldn’t be here. There should be a task force, by the police department and fire department to go in and stop these things.”

Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny took the floor after Lilikakis and defined the 46th voting district as “very diverse.”

“From very liberal Coney Island to the more conservative part in Dyker Heights … you have people speaking more than 50 different languages with many different political opinions.” Because of these reasons, Krasny stated, the district needs a “balance minded politician” to represent every member of the district.

“One of the first priorities of every government,” said the assemblyman, “should be supporting the economy and increasing the number of jobs in his district.” He pointed to low state income taxes and universal Pre-K as two of his achievements, but also quoted the statistic that 70 percent of his constituents rely on government funding “in one form or another.” For this reason, he said, “I have to be very careful when cutting taxes.”

When a member of the audience asked Krasny about government funds to rebuild after Superstorm Sandy, he quoted recently announced numbers of $25 million to build jetties and $2.9 million for a seawall to protect his district’s waterfront.

“Some services, some departments, some programs—like Build it Back—they didn’t do the right job,” the assemblyman said. “I know as a private citizen what is going on with Build it Back. It’s terrible. But it’s getting better.”

These two opponents will debate at 7:30pm on October 14, at St. Phillip’s Church in Dyker Heights. The church is located on 80th Street and 11th Avenue. The General Elections will be held November 4, 2014.

State Senator Marty Golden (Photo By Erica Sherman)

State Senator Marty Golden (Photo By Erica Sherman)

Federal prosecutors are looking into the campaign finances of State Senator Marty Golden, the pol confirmed.

“The campaign fund is being looked at,” Golden told the New York Post, regarding a probe by United States Attorney Preet Bharara.

The paper reports:

Golden has hired Gottlieb & Gordon, a law firm that specializes in government investigations and white-collar crime defenses, in response to a subpoena from the Manhattan federal prosecutor’s office.

… [Golden] said he didn’t know why his campaign fund was being targeted.

Bharara’s office leads the nation in political convictions, having also put away former Sheepshead Bay State Senator Carl Kruger and several others. The prosecutor has not indicted Golden or made any public announcements about its investigation.

Golden was previously being eyed by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Moreland Commission before it was disbanded. Bharara’s office took over several of the cases the Moreland panel was looking into.

The New York Post speculated that the commission was eyeing the $541,599 that the pol steered to the Bay Ridge Manor, a catering hall he once owned and is now owned by his brother.

It’s also possible that the probe is looking at activity surrounding multi-million dollar tax breaks given to luxury developers in Manhattan, including a $44 million waiver to Extell Development. The commission sent subpoenas to those developers last summer. Golden sponsored the legislation in the Senate, and pleaded ignorance when asked about it.

25 mph speed limit

The New York City Council yesterday passed legislation that reduces the citywide speed limit on residential streets from 30 miles per hour to 25 mph, a move that lawmakers and advocates said would, if properly enforced, dramatically reduce traffic-related injuries and fatalities.

After state legislators voted in June to allow the city to lower the speed limit, the Council approved the bill, sponsored by Councilman David Greenfield, that aims to slow vehicles on streets where speed limits are not posted – meaning roads overseen by the state Department of Transportation (such as expressways and parkways) will not be affected. The reduction is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero initiative, which aims to dramatically curb traffic injuries and deaths over the next decade.

“Reducing the default speed limit in New York City is the lynchpin of Vision Zero,” Greenfield said in a statement to the press.

City officials said they plan to launch a three week publicity campaign about the speed reduction on Monday, according to the New York Times, and the new speed limit will go into effect on November 7.

The nonprofit Transportation Alternatives also backed the Council’s move, saying “if properly enforced, the new speed limit could prevent more than 6,500 traffic injuries in the next year and cut the annual number of pedestrian fatalities in half.”

The group urged de Blasio to quickly give his stamp of approval to the bill – which the mayor is expected to do and sent out his own statement praising the Council’s vote – and stressed that the NYPD and city Department of Transportation need “to send a stronger message about the dangers of speeding by continuing to improve traffic enforcement and public information initiatives.”

“Unsafe driver speed is the number one cause of traffic deaths in the city, killing more New Yorkers than drunk driving and cell phone use at the wheel combined,” Transportation Alternatives said in the same statement. “A pedestrian hit by a driver going 25 mph is twice as likely to survive as a person hit at 30mph.”

While Councilman Jumaane Williams, who represents portions of Midwood as well as Flatbush and Ditmas Park, was in Cleveland for the vote, he said in a statement Tuesday he would have voted against it.

“I fully support the need to reform traffic laws in New York City, and the majority of proposals offered in ‘Vision Zero,'” Williams said. “When the issue of the citywide reduction previously came before the Council, I voted to give the City discretion on lowering the speed limit, since I believed the City deserved to make this decision. At the same time, I believe that this legislation is too broad in the form passed today and I would have voted against it.”

“Instead of an overall speed limit reduction, the better approach is to study the City’s various neighborhoods and major arteries and assess, with specificity, where a lower speed limit makes the most practical sense,” Williams continued. “For example, it makes sense to carve out school zones as necessary places to have a lower speed limit, as many young people populate these areas. Many side streets and other ‘Slow Zones’ in my district would also benefit from a lower limit. In fact, I would vehemently support lowering the speed limit on many residential streets in my district – with some areas even lower than 25 mph.

Williams goes on to say that he will “continue to support increased enforcement, through speed cameras and stepped-up enforcement of current traffic rules and regulations, and have consistently done so.”

Another local member of the Council, Mark Treyger, who represents Coney Island and Gravesend, voted in favor of the bill, but expressed concerns about enforcement.

“There’s little dispute that there has been a serious number of traffic-related fatalities and there’s no dispute that speed kills,” said Treyger. “The issue that I continue to raise is the issue of enforcement … and making sure it does not become a mechanism for increased revenue, like for these cameras where some of them are problematic. I think it should be for the true intention – to save lives.”

Treyger pointed to the controversial placement of a speed camera on Shore Parkway next to a Belt Parkway exit ramp, as first reported by Sheepshead Bites, as an example of “gotcha” enforcement to be avoided.

“To me, ['gotcha' enforcement] undermines the entire program [of Vision Zero]. The intention should not be to harm working families who are just trying to get home,” he said.

Another area pol praised the legislation as potentially life-saving.

“Lowering the speed limit can drastically reduce a serious fatality. My district has a high population of seniors and reducing the speed limit could mean the difference between life and death.  No one should ever have to experience the loss of a loved one to a traffic accident,” said Councilman Chaim Deutsch.

To see a copy of the bill, you can go here.

Photo via Governor Andrew Cuomo.

With additional reporting by Ned Berke.

columbus-parade--9

From last year’s parade.

The following is a press release from the offices of Assemblyman William Colton:

Assembly Member William Colton (47th Assembly District – Brooklyn) will be one of four grand marshals for Brooklyn’s 33rd Annual Columbus Day parade. The parade will take place on Saturday, October 11th at 1:00pm on 18th Avenue (also known as Cristoforo Columbo Boulevard) from 63rd Street to 85th Street in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. The parade will be preceded by a celebratory Mass at St. Athanasius Roman Catholic Church at 10:15 am on the day of the parade.

The other three grand marshals include Council Member Vincent Gentile (43rd Council District), Monsignor Jamie Gigantiello (Director of the office of Parish Giving, Vicar for Development, & Pastor of St. Bernard’s Church), and Regina Scire (Vice President of Market Manager Investors Bank). The Grand Marshals were chosen for being outstanding individuals whose achievements and contributions to society exemplify those traits which the FIAO values. The FIAO also believes that the Grand Marshals serve as positive role models for our youth.

The FIAO’s Brooklyn Columbus Parade Committee stated that it chose Colton as for the honor because of his “outstanding commitment to the community and support of the local organizations that make Brooklyn thrive.” The FIAO further declared Colton as an “outstanding leader in the New York State Legislature” whose “advocacy and legislation in the Assembly has supported the needs of tens of thousands of Brooklyn residents across all communities and culture.” They continued, stating that the Assembly Member’s “extraordinary leadership and contributions to the communities” has made “a true different in the lives of residents” in southwest Brooklyn.

Each year the Federation of Italian-American Organizations (FIAO), along with numerous other organizations, sponsors the Brooklyn Columbus Day Parade. The parade celebrates the rich contributions and the dynamic vibrancy brought to our society by Italian-Americans. In addition, the Brooklyn Columbus Day Parade instills a true pride in our identity as Italian-Americans as well as fosters brother-hood among the many ethnic groups in our community.

This year’s parade is very important because the FIAO will open Il Centro – New York City’s first Italian-American Cultural Community Center later this fall. This 44,000 square foot, six story facility will house event space, classrooms, an interactive learning library, a fitness center, gymnasium and pool, and expand the work of the Federation’s services to incorporate language, culinary, arts, writing, job training and economic development programs.

The neighborhood of Bensonhurst, in Brooklyn, has been home to a large population of Italian-Americans for over fifty years.

Assembly Member William Colton was born and raised in Bensonhurst, attending St. Athanasius School as a child and being an active parishioner in St. Athanasius Church. His Italian heritage stems from his maternal grandparents, who immigrated to the United States from Naples, Italy in the early twentieth century. His father was an Irish-American. Colton has been a lawyer and community activist in the Bensonhurst community for over twenty years before being elected to the State Assembly in 1996. He also was a New York City public school teacher and UFT Chapter Chairperson before becoming an elected official.

On Sunday, October 5th, The FIAO honored Assembly Member Colton and the other parade Grand Marshals at their annual Columbus Day Parade Funding Raising Brunch. The event was held at the Dyker Beach Golf Course.

Colton asserted, “I am extremely honored and humbled to have been selected by the FIAO to be one of the Grand Marshalls for the 33rd Annual Brooklyn Columbus Day Parade. I credit my grandparents who immigrated to this great country from Naples in the early 1900’s for providing me with the faith, the moral values and the traditions which makes this possible. My Italian heritage is important to me, as I work to serve and fight for the people of southwest Brooklyn. I thank the FIAO for this tremendous honor.”

Source: Ephox Blog

Alternate side parking regulations will be suspended Thursday and Friday, October 9 and 10, for Succoth. All other regulations, including parking meters, remain in effect.

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

Happy Succoth, Bensonhurst!

Source: DOT

Source: DOT

Department of Transportation contractors have wrapped up repairs to the eastbound portions of the Belt Parkway between Flatbush Avenue and Rockaway Parkway, and last night kicked off repaving of the westbound lanes on the same segment.

Crews will be milling and resurfacing portions of the westbound Belt Parkway between Rockaway Parkway and Flatbush Avenue from 11pm until 5am, beginning last night.

Full closures of all westbound lanes will occur every night of the week except Saturday night to Monday morning, and will last for approximately two weeks.

Drivers will be directed to a detour that exits at Rockaway Parkway, makes a left onto Flatlands Avenue, continues to Utica Avenue, and then proceeds south onto Flatbush Avenue. See the map above for additional details, including the alternate route using Pennsylvania Avenue.

Work will not occur on the night of Monday, October 13, in observance of Columbus Day, but it will resume Tuesday night.

 

grimm

When news broke in 2012 that Congressman Michael Grimm was the target of a federal investigation, the pol said it was a liberal media conspiracy. Now the pol’s defense team is depicting it as a political witch hunt led by a prosecutor with electoral aspirations, and aided by former FBI colleagues settling a score.

Grimm pleaded not guilty to a 20-count indictment that alleges, among other things, tax evasion, fraud and illegal hiring practices connected to a restaurant he owned before running for office. The trial is set to begin in December, but the pol’s legal team sent a pair of letters earlier this month that appear to suggest the direction their defense will take – not one that clears his name of tax fraud, but one that says he was only caught because the prosecution sought to take down a Republican.

Staten Island Advance reports:

In a letter dated Oct. 1, Grimm’s lawyers, Jeffrey A. Neiman and Daniel Rashbaum, fired off a list of 14 questions to federal prosecutors, many asking about the role of former Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd Kaminsky in the investigation into the congressman.

Kaminsky, a Democrat, left the U.S. attorney’s office after the tax evasion indictment was announced to run for state Assembly.

“What role did former Assistant United States Attorney Todd Kaminsky have in the investigation of Mr. Grimm?” one question asks.

“When did Mr. Kaminsky first notify the United States Attorney’s Office of his intention to seek political office, informally or formally?” asks another.

… Grimm’s team also asked what role FBI Supervisory Special Agent Anthony Bivona and Assitant Special Agent in Charge Mary Gallingan played in the investigation, as well as many other indictments the U.S. Attorney’s office has sought in the past five years regarding restaurants paying employees in cash, under-reporting cash sales to the Internal Rvenue Service, or “hiring illegal aliens as employees.”

Neiman and Rashbaum wrote a second letter on Oct. 1, asking for documents, notes, copies of inconsistent statements, and criminal or psychiatric histories of witnesses in the case.

In a response dated October 2, Lynch’s office said they would provide relevant info prior to trial as required by law. But her office bristled at the 14 questions, saying they were neither pertinent, nor legally required.

“It should be noted, however, that the 14 questions about the investigation and other cases seek information that is irrelevant to the charges of this case…. The government therefore respectfully declines to provide the information sought in these 14 requests,” Lynch writes.

The Daily News has a little more about the request for information regarding the special agents:

Team Grimm appears poised to take on supervisory FBI Special Agents Anthony Bivona and Mary Galligan. Sources said Bivona had a falling-out with Grimm and Galligan led an internal probe of Grimm before he left the bureau.

SILive.com has full copies of the letters.

14th Avenue and 86th Street, the scene of the accident. (Source: Google Maps)

14th Avenue and 86th Street, the scene of the accident. (Source: Google Maps)

Bensonhurst resident Cristina Alonso, 38, died yesterday evening after being hit by a car on 86th Street and 14th Avenue.

Alonso was crossing 14th Avenue “outside of the crosswalk” just after 7pm Monday when a red 2002 Ford Explorer traveling south on the avenue hit her, police said.

The woman, who lives on 17th Avenue near 66th Street, was rushed to Lutheran Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

The driver, an unidentified 33-year-old man, remained on the scene and was not immediately charged with wrongdoing, though the investigation is ongoing.

cb11

Photo by Elle Spektor

Community Board 11 will hold its next meeting tomorrow, October 7 at 7:30 pm at the Bensonhurst Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare, 1740 84th Street.

The Board serves as a local conduit to the government of New York City, representing neighbors’ needs and concerns. If you have a problem with a city agency or quality of life issue, the Board exists to relay your concerns and spur action.

There will be time to hear residents’ concerns and discuss various committee reports, and elected officials may be in attendance.

For additional information, call (718) 266-8800.