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Photo by Teri Brennan

Lane Rosen, right, with Dewey’s student scientists. Photo by Teri Brennan

The waters around New York City were once home to a thriving population of oysters, which served an important ecological role. After virtually disappearing in the 20th century, several efforts are underway to bring the species back.

Students of John Dewey High School (50 Avenue X) Marine Science program are on the front-lines of the revitalization effort in Gravesend Bay, monitoring a collection of oyster beds off of the 69th Street Pier in Bay Ridge.

The school teamed up with the Harbor School’s Billion Oyster Project, one of the organizations leading the oyster reef restorations around New York Harbor. Oysters, which work like living water filters, are a vital component to improving the water quality around New York City, and the reefs they form protect the shoreline by weakening waves and provide habitat to other marine life.

They were once abundant in our area, but vanished almost completely in the early 20th century as pollution, over-harvesting, disease and environmental hazards grew. New York City was developing, and as the population boomed so did the amount of sewage.

One of the oyster cages monitored by Dewey students. (Photo by Teri Brennan)

One of the oyster cages monitored by Dewey students. (Photo by Teri Brennan)

Thanks to new regulations implemented in the late 20th Century, water quality has seen a dramatic improvement and researchers are finding that the area can once again support the oysters, which were not just an environmental helper, but a staple of the New York City economy as it developed.

Restoration efforts began on a sizable scale back in 2009. As their initial pilot sites showed signs of success, organizations backing them began finding new sources of funding to grow the project – ultimately creating the goal of bringing one billion oysters back to the harbor over the next 20 years.

The team of Dewey students were on-site in Bay Ridge last Wednesday, pulling in cages and doing their regular checkups. Their teacher, Lane Rosen, said it’s a great way to teach them about marine biology and ecology in a living laboratory in a hands-on way.

The cages are moored to the eco-dock attached to the pier, and students collect data on growth and development of the oysters, analyze the water and make observations that are sent to the Harbor School for further analysis.

We look forward to the point when the reefs are not only self-sustaining, but able to be harvested (in a population-sensitive way) for fresh, tasty slurping.

Photo by Randy Contello

Looks like it’s going to be a heck of a day, especially for anyone stuck working outside. Neighbors across Brooklyn are facing a double threat today, with the National Weather Service warning of both high temperatures and the threat of flooding.

With temperatures expected to hit the high 80s and the heat index pushing that further up into the mid-90s, the National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for all of New York City from noon today until 5:00 p.m. tonight. The conditions can be dangerous to health, and residents are advised to avoid strenuous activity. People without air conditioning, older adults and those with chronic health conditions are most at risk. Make sure to check on elderly or disabled neighbors. It does not appear that New York City has opened its cooling centers, and the Office of Emergency Management’s cooling center locator website is not currently activated. Libraries are always a safe bet for those in need of cooling off, though. The city also has these tips on staying cool.

And while we bake, we await the rain. All of New York City is under a Flash Flood Warning today through Friday morning. According to the National Weather Service:

A cold front will slowly move across the region today before departing late tonight through Friday morning. This front will interact with some tropical moisture streaming into the region from the south, resulting in periods of heavy rainfall. A total of one to three inches of rainfall is expected, with locally higher amounts. Thunderstorms will be possible, helping to enhance these rainfall totals.

Low-lying streets and roadways, and areas with poor drainage, could quickly fill with water. Residents are advised to clear out any drainage systems on their properties.

Remember, folks: check on your neighbors, and lend a hand where you can!

The Brooklyn Public Library has expanded its annual Summer Meals Program, offering no-cost lunch to children and teens ages 18 and under.

It’s a major expansion for the program, run by the New York City Department of Education with federal funds, more than quadrupling it from the six sites available last year.

The program is made to ensure that during the summer months, when kids are out of school, no child or teen will go hungry. The season kicked off June 27 and last until August 29, with lunches served every weekday from 1:15 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. at each of the libraries.

It’s a no-questions-asked policy, and citizenship status is not a factor.

The following local branches are part of the program:

For the full list of participating branches, look here.

missing

The NYPD is turning to the public in their search for Damei Liang, a 72-year-old woman who went missing from 54th Street and 8th Avenue in Sunset Park yesterday morning.

Liang suffers from dementia, diabetes and high blood pressure. She’s 5-foot-5-inches tall and 130 pounds, with short black hair. She was last seen wearing a white and green shirt, brown pants, a blue backpack and black Nike sneakers.

A resident of Bay Ridge, at 83rd Street and 5th Avenue, Liang went missing at approximately 9:15 a.m. on Tuesday.

If you see Liang or have information regarding her whereabouts, please call 911 immediately.

contaminent

The sediment-filled waste coming out of a covered sewer overflow pipe. (Source: Pete Castro)

flier

Event flier. Click to enlarge.

We broke the story last week about neighbors’ concerns over potentially toxic runoff from a Department of Environmental Protection operation to clean out the sewers in Coney Island. Now Councilman Mark Treyger is keeping good to his word, organizing a public meeting with the agency to bring its representatives into the community to hear residents out and answer questions.

Treyger announced yesterday that the meeting will take place Tuesday, July 8, at 4:00 p.m. at the Coney Island YMCA (2980 West 29th Street). The topic isn’t just the spillage occurring on West 33rd Street, where black gunk is flowing from a sewer outfall pipe into Coney Island Creek. It’s also about the project behind it – a long-awaited effort by the agency to clear out blocked sewer lines peninsula-wide, which they say will reduce the amount of street flooding during storms.

The local pol will be at the meeting, joined by Deputy Commisioner for Water and Sewer Operations Jim Roberts, and they’ll be giving an overview of the project and answering questions from the public.

The meeting is open to everybody. For more information, contact Treyger’s office at (718) 307-7151.

batman

Holy snatch-and-split, Batman!

A man donning the famed crime fighter’s insignia made a not-so-daring escape after snatching an unattended bag from McDonald’s in Coney Island last month.

Now police are on the hunt for the unmasked man, releasing the photo above captured by the 606 Neptune Avenue fast food chain’s surveillance video.

According to authorities, the victim left his personal bag on the counter of the restaurant on June 5. The Batman wannabe grabbed the bag and fled to the street, making off with credit cards, checks and other personal items. No one was injured, other than the reputation of a true, if often misunderstood, superhero.

The suspect is described as a male, approximately 40 years old, with black hair, a partially bald head and a medium complexion.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website, or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.

(Source: Ideal Properties Group)

Looking for a new place to call home? Bensonhurst Bean has got you covered. Our rental roundup is a new feature showcasing some of the deals on the market now. If you know of a great place available for rent or are a broker representing a property you want included, contact nberke [at] bensonhurstbean [dot] com. And if you live in or near one the places below, let neighbors know what you think in the comments.

Two Bedrooms in Gravesend
Price: $1,850
Location: 74th Street and Bay Parkway
Description: Isn’t it strange that every prewar building is described as “charming”? Is this just a quick way for realtors and their ilk to make an apartment seem appealing? Or maybe the realtors represent a symptom in our society for this misplaced nostalgia we have of the “prewar” days. And what exactly are these “prewar” days? With an American conflict taking place roughly every decade, it’s hard to really say there was a “prewar” time, unless you’re referring to pre-Revolution time. And in that case, that’s one pretty damned old building.
Contact: Audrey Negron, Properties Group, (718) 594-6623

Four Bedrooms in Bensonhurst
Price: $2,200
Location: 203 Avenue P
Description: This apartment is basically an homage to the days of yore. The apartment is huge, according to the realtor, and every blessed item of furniture seems to come from the 80s, including the floral-printed futon.
Contact: Coldwell Banker, (718) 921-3100

One Bedroom and a Slightly Ajar Fridge in Mapleton
Price: $1,320
Location: 64th Street and 24th Avenue
Description: One of the rooms, which one I cannot say, in this apartment is L-shaped. But what would really be great is a J-shaped pool. Short of this modest proposal, there is a bathroom and it has a window. (I know, you were worried for a second there.)
Contact: Sophia Kapassakis, Ardor New York Real Estate, (646) 266-7598

Three Bedrooms in Bensonhurst
Price: $1,800
Location: 1826 67th Street
Description: While the pictures in this listing give you a good sense of the outside, there is only one picture of the inside. This picture looks more like a sanitized hospital room with white walls and white-tiled floors. According to the realtor, this area is the biggest shopping center. Coming from a real estate agency from Staten Island, that must mean something.
Contact: Mariya Ganelina, Homes-R-Us Realty, (917) 512-5827

If you know of a great place available for rent or are a broker representing a property you want included, contact nberke [at] bensonhurstbean [dot] com.

Gentile's new office was previously Ellen Fish Market. New signage is on the way. (Source: Google Maps)

Gentile’s new office was previously Ellen Fish Market. New signage is on the way. (Source: Google Maps)

Councilman Vincent Gentile has announced new digs for his district office, now open at 8018 5th Avenue, bringing it several blocks closer to Bensonhurst and Dyker Heights.

The office operated for years out of 8703 3rd Avenue, but the new space opened up this Monday as the old one shuttered its doors for good.

According to Gentile spokesperson Justin Brannan, the new location is still a work in progress, with signage and more on the way. Brannan notes it’ll be fully up to speed within a few days, and then a grand opening party will follow.

While the finishing touches might take some time, the office is fully operational when it comes to assisting constituents. Phone numbers and hours are staying the same, so you can call (718) 748-5200, e-mail vgentile@council.nyc.gov or stop by the new storefront for help.

seal

The New York Aquarium is celebrating the birth of a still-to-be-named harbor seal, only the second of its species to be born at the facility in the past 15 years.

The cuddly-looking creature was born on May 27 with a weight of 22 pounds, and has already been out and about in the aquarium’s displays.

“He has already made an impression on visitors and staff,” said Jon Forrest Dohlin, director of the New York Aquarium, in a press release. “He is a delightful addition to the aquarium and a treat to everyone who comes through the facility while we work to recover from Hurricane Sandy and toward the opening of Ocean Wonders: Sharks!”

The pup is one of three harbor seals at the aquarium in Coney Island, all of which live in the Sea Cliffs with their penguin buddies, some sea otters, sea lions and walruses.

The new seal is quite healthy, gaining weight at a rate of a half-pound to a pound a day, much like your editor, and could weigh up to 250 pounds when fully grown.

As our readers ought to know, harbor seals are native to the waters around New York City and their population has been on the rise lately – as evidenced through numerous sightings on area beaches and marinas.

Harbor seals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. The New York Aquarium works to protect harbor seals through the New York Seascape, a conservation program designed to restore healthy populations of local marine species in New York City waters.

In case the photo above does not convey the appropriate amount of cuteness, I’ve made this gif for you.

seal

Source: iandavid/Flickr

Reminder: On Friday, July 4, Independence Day, all subways, buses and the Staten Island railway operate on a Saturday schedule.

D LINE

From 10:45 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Thursday, Coney Island-bound D trains skip 182-183 Sts.

From 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m., Tuesday to Thursday, Coney Island-bound D trains run local from 145 St to 59 St-Columbus Circle.

From 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m., Tuesday to Thursday, Manhattan-bound D trains run express from 36 St to Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr, and skip DeKalb Av.

N LINE

From 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m., Tuesday to Thursday, Ditmars Blvd-bound N trains run express from 36 St to Atlantic Av-Barclays Ctr, and skip DeKalb Av.

All times until October 2014: there are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late-night N (11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and weekend R trains operate via the Manhattan Bridge. No service at Jay St-MetroTech, Court St, Whitehall St, Rector St, Cortlandt St, and City Hall. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

R LINE

From 11:45 p.m. to 5 a.m., Monday to Thursday, there are no R trains in Brooklyn between 59 St and 36 St—take the N instead. R trains run in Brooklyn between Bay Ridge-95 St and 59 St.

All times until October 2014: there are no N or R trains running between Court St, Brooklyn and Whitehall St, Manhattan. Late-night N (11:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.) and weekend R trains operate via the Manhattan Bridge. No service at Jay St-MetroTech, Court St, Whitehall St, Rector St, Cortlandt St, and City Hall. Use alternate service and stations on the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, or C instead.

F LINE

From 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m., Tuesday to Thursday, F service operates in two sections:

  1. Between 179 St and Hoyt-Schermerhorn Sts A/G station – the last stop.
  2. Between Bedford-Nostrand Avs and Stillwell Av.

From 12:01 a.m. to 5 a.m., Tuesday to Thursday, southbound F trains run local from Roosevelt Av to 21 St-Queensbridge.

From 12:30 a.m. to 5 a.m., Tuesday to Thursday, northbound F trains run local from 21 St-Queensbridge to Roosevelt Av.