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Alternate side of the street parking regulations for the purpose of street cleaning will be suspended Monday, November 11 for Veterans Day. All other regulations, including parking meters, shall remain in effect.

You can download your own 2013 Alternate Side Parking Suspension calendar — in English, as well as in ChineseHaitian CreoleItalianKoreanRussian or Spanish (all PDFs) — from the NYC DOT’swebsite.

Source: nycedc.com

Future plans for Coney Island Creek. (Source: nycedc.com)

As Mayor Michael Bloomberg exits the stage, he is hoping a big part of his legacy will include the successful follow through on a $20 billion “resiliency” plan that would seek to protect the city’s coastlines from rising sea levels and future storms. The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) laid out one such plan that involves both beautifying and fortifying Coney Island Creek, through a plan that would unite Coney Island’s Kaiser Park with Bath Beach’s Calvert Vaux Park.

During the events of Superstorm Sandy, Coney Island Creek got hammered, suffering massive flooding and heavy damage. The NYCEDC described the damaged sustained to the area by the storm, the strategy to protect the area and how the proposals would improve the surrounding community:

During Hurricane Sandy, Coney Island Creek was the main source of inundation for much of the Gravesend and Coney Island neighborhoods.  Low edges and topography contributed to “backdoor” flooding that caused enormous damage.  Building off recommendations from the Mayor’s Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency (SIRR) released in June 2013, a key recommendation was a detailed feasibility study of integrated hydrological management strategies.

These strategies would prevent and mitigate upland flooding in adjacent areas while improving waterfront open space, strengthening connections between neighborhoods, and establishing principles for sound development around the Creek. This assessment would consider technical feasibility, cost, phasing, environmental considerations, and other important issues that will inform implementation.

The city’s website broke down the specifics of these plans even further as well as what the project needs going forward to become a reality:

The proposal for Coney Creek includes:

  • Coastal Protection: The installation of a new levee and tidal barrier system at the mouth of the creek to manage the flow of water during a similar future coastal storm. As a first phase, the City intends to install shoreline protection along the creek’s lowest lying edges to provide interim protection in advance of a larger investment.
  • Stormwater Management: By incorporating operational controls to the City’s stormwater management system, this system would allow the creek to absorb stormwater runoff and improve drainage to protect adjacent neighborhoods and infrastructure during coastal storms or extreme precipitation events.
  • Parks: By combining Calvert Vaux and Kaiser parks around a renewed and restored wetland and lake complex, this system can bring together two neighborhoods historically separated by Coney Island Creek and achieve better waterfront access and a new destination park in Southern Brooklyn.

Next steps: A portion of the City’s Community Development Block Grant funding has been allocated for the planning of this project. An RFP is currently being developed for a team to develop the concept further and provide critical information about technical, environmental and planning issues as well as costs.

The whole concept sounds fantastic and expensive but no one said storm proofing the New York City coastline was going to be easy or cheap. I suppose forking over a lot now might prevent being forced to pay a ton later when the city is engulfed by ocean waters.

symphony

The following is a press release from our amigos at Friends of Historic New Utrecht:

Friends of Historic New Utrecht opens its 2013-2014 concerts series with the Susan E. Wagner High School Symphonic Band, conducted by Paul Corn, on Saturday, Nov. 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Parish House of the New Utrecht Reformed Church, 18th Ave. and 84th St. in Bensonhurst. Admission is free.

The appearance of the highly regarded band from Staten Island is part of a series of musical performances, historial lectures and other events offered each year by the Friends organization.

In recent years the band has won highest accolades in state and national band competitions. Mr. Corn is Assistant Principal for the Arts at Wagner and an adjunct professor at the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music.

The New Utrecht Parish House, well known for its acoustics, dates from 1892. The adjacent sanctuary building was opened in 1828 and currently is undergoing restoration. The New Utrecht congregation was organized by Dutch settlers in October 1677.

More information about the November concert, the Friends organization and its programs is available by calling 718-256-7173 and by logging on to facebook.com/FriendsofHistoricNewUtrecht.

Click to enlarge

CompStat reports are produced by the New York Police Department on a weekly basis. We publish the week’s statistics for the 62nd Precinct reports every Friday. The 62nd Precinct is the police command responsible for Bensonhurst and Bath Beach.

A new Nexus 7 tablet. (Source: Wikipedia)

A new Nexus 7 tablet. (Source: Wikipedia)

It’s rare whenever Southern Brooklyn get a cool new tech or cultural addition ahead of, like, anywhere else in the city, but the Brooklyn Public Library and Google are looking to reward us for our suffering from Sandy.

Google, a company which knows all and has all the money, generously donated 1,000 fresh Nexus 7 tablet’s to libraries in Brooklyn devastated by Superstorm Sandy. According to a press release, Google, along with Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Fund for Public Schools, donated a whopping 17,000 tablets to New York City libraries, senior centers and community centers, amounting to a $2.7 million donation.

The tablets will be used to support a range of functions, including English as a second language training, job training or simply serving as eReaders. Library patrons will even be able to borrow the tablets, just like a book, free to add music, movies and other apps, as long as they come back freshly deleted when returned.

The tablets will be available for loan from Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Gerritsen Beach, Red Hook and Sheepshead Bay libraries.

Linda Johnson, the president of the Brooklyn Public Library, was thrilled with the donation.

“These communities were some of the worst hit by Hurricane Sandy, so they are receiving priority access to our new tablet lending program. Providing digital learning opportunities is at the forefront of our Library’s mission, so now, one year after the storm, we are thrilled to be able to offer this wonderful new resource to our patrons,” Johnson said in the release.

Wow, the library just got a lot cooler. Also, if you think that borrowing a tablet and never returning it would only cost you 15 cents or so in overdue fees, think again. According to the Brooklyn Library’s webpage on the Tablet Lending Program, you are going to owe $200 bucks for a lost or broken tablet, so be sure not to spill any coffee on it (looking at you, Ned).

Photo courtesy of Priscilla Consolo

From a July clean-up (Photo courtesy of Priscilla Consolo)

The following is a notice from the offices of Assemblyman William Colton. The event is open to all, and neighbors are encouraged to stop by and pitch in. Keeping the community clean is a group effort!

In response to concerns about cleanliness in the neighborhood, Assemblyman William Colton has organized a community clean-up event as part of his ongoing “Speak-Up & Clean-Up” campaign.

The campaign, which was launched in August 2011 by Assemblyman Colton, has become tremendously popular with neighborhood residents and businesses, as well as with local youth who continue to participate in the clean-up events.

Volunteers, who are local youth from neighborhood schools and organizations, have signed up to clean a large stretch of Bay Parkway from 65th to 72nd Streets, and Avenue U from McDonald Avenue to Stillwell Avenue, as well as the streets surrounding Seth Low Park. In addition to cleaning up, participants will also pass out flyers and speak to residents and businesses about sanitation rules and guidelines to encourage them to “do their part” and help clean the neighborhood clean.

This clean-up event will mark third effort of the year for the ongoing “Speak-Up & Clean-Up” campaign, after the year’s kick-off event the weekend of Earth Day this past April. Colton hosted a second event with Councilman Vincent Gentile in July. In addition, this Saturday’s clean-up event will also be the eleventh initiative for the campaign since it began over two years ago.

Assisting Assemblyman Colton in organizing this effort and recruiting volunteers are dynamic community leaders Priscilla Consolo and Mark Treyger.

Assemblyman Colton stated, “Not only are we physically cleaning up our streets and parks, but we are spreading awareness about the importance of keeping our neighborhood clean. We pass out flyers containing sanitation rules and guidelines to residents and businesses.” Colton then added, “We want to motivate others to do their part in making sure our community is a clean place to live, work, shop, and play.”

Priscilla Consolo, who founded the “Speak-Up & Clean-Up” campaign in 2011 with Assemblyman Colton, asserted, “When we started this campaign over two years ago, we never would have imagined that it would have grown like it has. This is already our eleventh clean up event, and our local youth have consistently volunteered to help clean up the neighborhood.” She continued, “They should serve as an example for our entire community.”

Councilman-elect Mark Treyger, who has contributed to organizing and leading the “Speak-Up & Clean-Up” campaign, said “A clean neighborhood is a win-win situation for everyone. Businesses and residents benefit, and our young people are learning the valuable lesson of making a positive difference in their community. There is no greater civics lesson for our young people.” Treyger then continued, “I thank our youth volunteers for their hard work and dedication to this campaign.”

The list of volunteers include: members of District 9 High School Key Club, students from New Utrecht High School, members from Our Lady of Grace Teen Group, students from Midwood High School’s Key Club, students from Brooklyn Technical High School’s Red Cross Club and Key Club, students from Edward R. Murrow’s Key Club, members from Bensonhurst Cluster Youth Ministry, students from Madison High School’s Key Club, members from Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School’s Key Club, John Dewey High School’s Key Club, and members from the United Chinese Association of Brooklyn, among others.

Additionally, the Department of Sanitation and Home Depot will supply the groups with tools to assist them in the clean-up effort. All volunteers will receive community service hours and be treated with free refreshments in appreciation of their hard work.

Here are the details:

Date: Saturday, November 9
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Meet-Up Location: 155 Kings Highway (Between West 12th Street and West 13th Streets)
Clean-Up Locations: Bay Parkway between 65th Street and 72nd Street, Avenue U between Stillwell Avenue and McDonald Avenue, and the streets surrounding Seth Low Park.

Councilman Vincent Gentile, Source: council.nyc.govCouncilman Vincent Gentile won his third full-term to the City Council on Tuesday, but his re-election carries with it a promise to voters to bring home more resources for his district. A failure to deliver on that promise would make him unfit to serve in public office beyond his final term in the Council.

It was a heated, drawn out campaign, but Gentile beat his Republican opponent John Quaglione by nearly 30 percentage points. In nearly any other corner of the nation, such a wide margin would represent a mandate from the public to keep on keepin’ on. But in Brooklyn, where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by five to one (although it’s probably closer to three to one in Southwest Brooklyn), that’s a rebuke from constituents. Here we’re much more accustomed to larger margins benefiting Democratic incumbents. Take, for example, the victories of David Greenfield, who won with a 64-point margin, or Jumaane Williams, who won with a 93-point margin.

Gentile’s victory seems a little diminished next to those stats.

No doubt it’s because of the the viability of his opponent’s message. While Greenfield’s opponent, the somewhat manic Joseph Hayon, ran a campaign of hate, singularly focused on Greenfield’s misconstrued support of LGBT causes (an argument shamefully made by presenting a continuous parade of photos with Greenfield standing next to Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is gay), and Williams’ opponent was an unfunded third-party candidate, Quaglione seized upon a compelling narrative: “Where’s our share of the money?”

By and large, any traction gained by the Quaglione campaign can be credited to his relentless hammering away at that most primitive and resounding of sentiment in New York City politics, the sense that someone else is getting more than you.

Certainly, Quaglione didn’t make in-roads with his 24-item “To-Do” list, which was little more than wishful thinking, mostly shared by Gentile, with no roadmap to accomplishment. And it wasn’t the insufferable campaign tactic deployed at the beginning of Quaglione’s run, which one insider likened to “pointing out a candy wrapper on the street and acting like it’s hell on Earth, and Gentile’s the devil.” And it wasn’t his claims that Gentile was absent on this or that issue – the X28 weekend service or community cleanups being good examples – because they just weren’t true; we have two years of press releases in our inbox to prove it.

While you can lure a few votes with that kind of approach, most of the electorate is intelligent enough to see through it.

No, Quaglione’s most effective weapon to win votes was also Gentile’s, and that was the incumbent’s record.

The Republican, an aide to State Senator Marty Golden, consistently won applauds at debates by pointing to the inarguable fact that Gentile is 50th on the list of 51 members of the City Council in receiving discretionary funds for his district.

These funds are the most flexible of any in the city budget, doled out to members based on favoritism, and allowed to be spent on a wide range of community projects, parks, schools, groups, clean-ups, et cetera. It’s not very much money, averaging about a million per district each year, but it’s enough to make much needed improvements to the neighborhood’s quality of life and sense of community.

Now, to say that Quaglione’s attack was effective is not to say it was fair (well, all’s fair in love, war and politics, but we mean fair in the factual sense). The upstart frequently compared it to his boss Golden’s record in the Council, claiming that even as a minority member of the Council, he received the most funding of any district. We found that claim to be unverifiable, having even poured through a few old budget documents to no avail. It rested solely on Quaglione and Golden’s word.

And while Quaglione argued that the lack of funding showed the incumbent was a do-nothing, Gentile argued the opposite. And this is where he made his promise to voters.

He pointed out, although with a frustrating lack of eloquence, that his influence in the Council had been diminished by a principled stand on issues in opposition to a vindictive Council leadership. Most prominent of those issues is the extension of term limits without a public referendum, for which he was denied funding and committee appointments.

Furthermore, Gentile was aided in his defense by simple math. With 21 new members in the Council, and Gentile’s decade of experience in the body, he would be the chamber’s most senior and knowledgeable member. He would know his way around, while others are still learning the ropes. And he would be of the same political makeup as the majority (which, after Tuesday, is swinging further leftward, making Quaglione an even odder duck). Finally, he was one of few legislators who supported Bill de Blasio from the start, which will give him sway in the mayor’s office.

Even if Quaglione’s argument were true that Golden, as a minority member of the Council, had secured impressive funding, that was a different era, more than a decade ago, which might as well be the Dutch era of New York City governance. Quaglione never would never be able win influence in the Council today.

Gentile has already proven that he’ll take a principled stand on behalf of constituents, even if it’s to his disadvantage. And he told voters that as the most senior member of the Council, he will be able to secure more resources for the neighborhood.

It’s on that promise that voters sent him back to City Hall. The 30-point victory was certainly an affirmation of his record, but it was also predicated on his commitment to bring home the bacon.

The next four years should be flush for Bensonhurst, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Bath Beach. He may not be able to keep every commitment – stopping the Gravesend Bay Waste Transfer Station seems unlikely – but he ought to be able to rise to the highest echelons of Council leadership, and bring home the bacon for his district. In that, the community has won an extraordinary victory – a council member with a history of sacrificing for the greater good (term limits) and a future in which the community is rewarded for its past deprivation.

Now, with the election behind him and every advantage before him, if Gentile fails to deliver despite his seniority he will, unfortunately, prove himself an ineffective leader unworthy of future public office.

We’ll be watching and, we hope, reaping the rewards of a thriving, fairly-funded district at the forefront of Brooklyn’s renaissance.

Ned Berke is the editor and publisher of Bensonhurst Bean.

Sheepshead Bay Library

Sheepshead Bay Library

City Hall’s budget battles and shortfalls are constantly putting a strain on the city’s library system, including Southern Brooklyn’s libraries, where they serve large immigrant populations. The New York Times is reporting that the library squeeze has consequences for the city’s immigrant population, which relies on the institutions for learning and cultural integration.

Since 2008, funding for New York City libraries in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens was cut by $65 million, increasing the strain on the system by decreasing hours and limiting the hiring of much-needed employees. Brooklyn Public Library executive David Woloch told the Times that the borough’s 60 branches need $300 million in capital improvements. According to Woloch, only $15 million was available in 2013.

Julie Sanford from the Charles H. Revson Foundation, which recently awarded the Sheepshead Bay Library $10,000, summed up the problem to the Times:

“The libraries often can’t plan beyond a year because they don’t know what the budget is going to be,” said Julie Sandorf, president of the Charles H. Revson Foundation… “It’s not like schools or parks, who start with a set budget. The libraries start from zero.”

Ms. Sandorf said that for $50 million more each year — “a rounding error in the city’s $70 billion budget” — all of the city’s libraries could be open 50 hours a week, instead of the current average of 43 hours. “If we are talking about a knowledge-based economy, this is what we need to do,” she said. “The problem is there is a huge gulf between the decision makers in this city who can pay for books or iPads and what is going on in every single library branch in the city.”

As the budgets for libraries shrink, demand for their services have increased, especially for the ever-growing immigrant population that uses them as cultural and learning centers. The Times described the cross-cultural services offered at the Sheepshead Bay branch:

Despite these challenges, branches like Sheepshead Bay offer countless services to an unending stream of people, including language and citizenship classes, arts and crafts, preschool story time, chess and even a Russian literature fan club.

Last Wednesday, a couple played Scrabble at a table while another couple studied for a nursing test. Nearby, a man browsed a selection of Korean movies, while another thumbed through recently arrived books in Russian. Upstairs, children did their homework or checked their e-mail

“If you are going to be educated, you have to be in touch with the culture,” said Laura Sermassan, an immigrant from Romania who meets her three sons at the library each day after school. “It’s a point of integration into American culture. It’s a support.”

Ms. [Svetlana] Negrimovskaya, in her office — where the shelf behind her desk has dictionaries in Yiddish, Russian, English and Chinese — was already looking forward to Tuesday’s gathering to mark Hurricane Sandy’s passing and the community’s rebound. She said people came alive when they were able to come back.

The following is a paid announcement from il Fornetto Italian Restaurant & Caterer (2902 Emmons Avenue), Sheepshead Bay’s premier waterfront dining experience.

showcase

The above is a paid announcement by il Fornetto Italian Restaurant & Caterer. Bensonhurst Bean has not verified the claims made in this advertisement. If you own a business and would like to announce a special offer to tens of thousands of locals, e-mail us at nberke [at] bensonhurstbean [dot] com.

de Blasio (Source: Streets Blog)

Well, if you’ve managed to stay away from the television, radio, newsstands, social media or any website geared towards New York residents, here’s the list of citywide and borough winners from last night’s election, as well as those in Southern Brooklyn races:

  • Bill de Blasio (Mayor)
  • Letitia James (Public Advocate)
  • Scott Stringer (Comptroller)
  • Eric Adams (Brooklyn Borough Presidnet)
  • Kenneth Thompson (Brooklyn District Attorney)
  • Chaim Deutsch (CD48)
  • Vincent Gentile (CD43)
  • Mark Treyger (CD47)
  • Alan Maisel (CD46)
  • David Greenfield (CD44)
  • Jumaane Williams (CD45)

What do you think? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss? Or a whole new era for Brooklyn and New York City?

Let us know in the comments below.