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Archive for the tag 'Bay Parkway'

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This overflowing trash can was taken near Seth Low Park on the Bay Parkway side.
Photos by Eric Jankiewicz

The trash of  Bensonhurst has become something of an unwanted neighbor over the last few years. Last year the Department of Sanitation issued fewer  tickets to residents who illegally dump their home trash in the public bins than in previous years. Around that same time, Bensonhurst Bean reader Carmela sent us disgusting pictures of trash on Bay Parkway and 67th Street, near the N train. The Bean has taken another look at Bay Parkway’s trash problem and, not surprisingly, we’ve found the situation hasn’t improved.

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Someone must’ve been thirsty with all those empty water jugs on the corner of 70th Street and Bay Parkway.
At least they’re not piss jugs.

New Utrecht Avenue subway station. (Source: MTAphotos via Flickr).

New Utrecht Avenue subway station. (Source: MTAphotos via Flickr).

Subway riders gasping for air while climbing the five flights of stairs at the New Utrecht Avenue subway station are getting some sweet relief… in about five years.

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle is reporting that the MTA is constructing an elevator at the station that should be operational sometime in 2019, just in time to ring in the roaring 2020s.

The MTA plan is part of an ambitious overall effort to improve nine of the cruddier stops along the N line in Brooklyn. The other stops receiving treatment include Eighth Avenue, Fort Hamilton Parkway, New Utrecht Avenue, 18th Avenue, 20th Avenue, Bay Parkway, Kings Highway, Avenue U and 86th Street.

The plan will begin in a year during the fall of 2014 and take an estimated 48 months to complete. Kevin Ortiz, an MTA spokesman, told the Daily Eagle that the project was still in the design stage. The Daily Eagle laid out the details for the other stations as well:

In addition to building the elevator at New Utrecht Avenue, the MTA will reconfigure another station, Eighth Avenue to bring the subway stop into compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, a law that mandates that the physically disabled be provided with equal access to public transportation.

The plan calls for wheelchair ramps to be constructed at the Eighth Avenue station.

The MTA’s website states that the agency currently operates 120 stations that contain elevators or ramps.

The mezzanine area in each of the nine stations will get new windows, canopies, and lighting. The rooftops will be rebuilt and waterproofed. Artwork will be installed in each station. The stairs leading from the mezzanine to the subway platform will be replaced in all of the targeted stations.

Work will also be done on the subway platforms and walls.

For those too impatient to wait for these fabulous new additions to take place, you can always slip into a coma or try freezing yourself with experimental cryogenic technologies. The rest of us will just have to keep marching up those stairs for the next half decade, losing so many precious calories along the way.

Photo courtesy of Carmela

Photo courtesy of Carmela.

It is no great revelation that outerborough neighborhoods are becoming increasingly filth-addled, but it doesn’t mean we have to stand for it. Bensonhurst Bean reader Carmela sent us some horrible photographs she took along Bay Parkway outside the N train station near 67th Street with the following message:

This photo was taken this morning (and it’s the same scene every morning) in front of the Bay Parkway N Train Station on 67th Street and Bay Parkway.  This disgusting mess is front of the train station; and next to the train station is a Chinese Fruit Store; a Chinese Bakery; Dunkin Donuts and another 24 hour fruit store on the corner of 67th Street and Bay Parkway.  It is an unbelievable disgrace that these store owners cannot keep their sidewalks and the streets of Bay Parkway clean.  Bay Parkway is a disgusting mess from 67th Street to 70th Street.  Doesn’t anyone care???  These store owners should be ticketed every single morning until they realize they need to keep the streets of Brooklyn/Bensonhurst clean.  It’s disgusting!!!!!

We agree that the trash problem is a disgrace and is ultimately harmful not only to the environment, but to the people in the community and the businesses within it. Imagine if you, or a child slipped and scraped your knee in or near this waste. How about people with wheelchairs rolling through this garbage, or the elderly with canes? Littering in such a manner has consequences to community members and drastically lowers the quality of life for everyone. Most importantly, in my opinion, it sets a terrible and imprinting example for children. How can we expect them to respect litter laws and care about the quality of their community if they grow up surrounded in filth?

Thank you again, Carmella, for helping us bring this to the larger attention of the community.

Photo courtesy of Carmela.

Photo courtesy of Carmela.

Source: Google Maps

Source: Google Maps

A 79-year-old woman was killed around 9 p.m. last night when she was struck by a car while trying to cross the street.

According to a report by Gothamist, King Fong was killed crossing west on Bay Parkway near 72nd Street in Bensonhurst. Police believe that Fong did not have the right of way while crossing. The driver, who stayed at the scene, is not expected to be charged, though an investigation is ongoing.

Last week, on Sheepshead Bites, we posted a report citing that pedestrian seniors are disproportionately being killed in traffic accidents in the Tri-State area. For Brooklyn specifically, 51 seniors died in accidents between 2009-2011. That breaks down to a fatality rate of 4.05 per 100,000 seniors, making the area the eighth most dangerous spot for seniors in the entire Tri-State area.

Jay Silverheels (Source: Wikipedia)

Jay Silverheels (Source: Wikipedia)

Johnny Depp may be reinventing the role of Tonto in the film resurrection of The Lone Ranger, but the television show’s original sidekick – and his Bensonhurst roots – will not be forgotten if neighbors have anything to say about it.

The effort to bring back the classic radio serial and early television franchise has brought some renewed interest to the life of the original Tonto, Jay Silverheels. Silverheels was a Canadian born, Mohawk First Nation actor who at one time resided just off of Bay Parkway near East 4th Street and Ocean Parkway in the Bensonhurst/Gravesend area of Brooklyn.

His home was famous to locals for the giant mural of a Native American chief in full head dress painted on the garage. The home was recently remembered in the “I grew up in Brooklyn New York” Facebook group, when a member described it in a trivia question, asking for the name of the celebrity who lived here, and what the mural was of.

David Rice, who asked the question, later in the thread wrote about his experience meeting Tonto, and squashed a suggestion that it was only a rumor:

He DID actually own it and lived there, but part time. He had other homes as well. My parents took me there, before it was widely known and they even took a photo of him holding me up in front of the garage.

Neighbor Sammy Sanchez piped in with a little more information:

Yep…from the 1950′s till the 1970′s he lived next to Washington Cementary in a small house just off Bay Parkway near East 4th street in the Bensonhurst/Gravesend section of Brooklyn. His late-50′s Cadillac was often parked in his driveway and proud symbols of his Native American pride were displayed in his house window. Native Americans were celebrities in New York and had often been treated well there compared to the treatment received in other areas of the country.

And resident Jerry Bullard shared how he came to learn of it, likely how many of the rest of us did:

I distinctly remember my dad pointing that house out from the car and telling me Tonto lived there…

According to the Lone Ranger Fan Club, Silverheels was born Harold J. Smith on May 26, 1912, on the Six Nations Reservation in Canada. His father was a decorated World War I veteran who went deaf due to a bomb explosion. Smith grew up to be an excellent athlete, showcasing his skills as one of the top lacrosse players. He also placed second in a middleweight Golden Gloves tournament.

Due to his athleticism, Smith earned the nickname “Silverheels,” which he adopted as his stage name when he broke into show business as a stunt man. His big break came when he landed the role of Tonto on the long-running Lone Ranger television series. Silverheels appeared in 217 episodes between 1949 and 1957. His iconic performance in the early age of television led him to be typecast as the “Indian” for the rest of his career, but he was able to make fun of his character during appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show.

In his personal life, Silverheels raised and bred race horses. He was married and fathered four children, three girls and a boy. When his career in acting petered out after a stroke in 1975. He died five years later in 1980 at the age of 68 shortly after he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Do you have any memories of Tonto’s Bensonhurst home? Even better: do you have any photos? Share them with us!

Yep, there will be zeppoles! (Source: x-eyedblonde/Wikimedia Commons)

Don’t forget: this Sunday sees the return of the 86th Street Festival!

Today and Saturday may see rain all day, but it’s supposed to be warm on Sunday with only a chance – just a chance! – of showers. So hit the streets, listen to live music by Frankie Marra and His Band, check out the kiddie rides and patronize your local businesses!

(And don’t forget some zeppole.)

If you go, make sure to bring you camera (cell phones will do) and send all of your photos to nberke [at] bensonhurstbean [dot] com.

The festival takes place Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., on 86th Street between Bay Parkway and 20th Avenue.

Yep, there will be zeppoles! (Source: x-eyedblonde/Wikimedia Commons)

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Judging from the amount of e-mails and messages we’ve received about it, it’s the question on everyone’s mind: when will this year’s 86th Street Festival take place?

Well, event organizer Chip Cafiero informed us today that the 15th annual festival takes place on Sunday, June 9, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cafiero describes the event as a “shopping paradise” with 86th Street lined with food and merchandise vendors, kids activities and musical entertainment, all packed in between 19th Avenue and Bay Parkway.

Kiddie rides and activities will be placed between 19th Avenue and 20th Avenue.

Music kicks off on a stage near Radio Shack, between Bay 25th Street and Bay 26th Street, with local legends Frankie Marra & His Band headlining.

On the six month anniversary of Superstorm Sandy yesterday, local politicians, activists, and neighbors gathered once again to decry the waste transfer station proposed for the Bensonhurst waterfront, saying that the station could turn a Sandy-like storm into a toxic maelstrom.

Close to 200 people rallied on Sunday, April 28, on the Bay Parkway Promenade near Ceasar’s Bay to support the cause. Their message was clear: A united Southern Brooklyn will continue to fight and oppose the waste station pitched to stand by 25th Avenue and Bay 41st Street.

Assemblyman William Colton joined Brooklyn activist and New Utrecht High School teacher Mark Treyger to fight against what they say will be a “dire strain on this community.”

Treyger, a City Council candidate and the founder of the Sandy Taskforce Recovery Organized by Neighborhood Groups, or STRONG, said that Bensonhurst is not alone in their efforts.

“Today’s rally showed that this hyperlocal movement has swelled into a South Brooklyn movement.” Treyger said.

Treyger added that Sandy has taught some hard lessons that have bolstered their argument against the waste station.

“This time, our message is stronger. [Superstorm] Sandy showed us, once again, why this dumping station shouldn’t be here,” he said.

In the last big rally against the garbage station in August 2012, Treyger paired with Colton to raise awareness of the toxins lurking in Gravesend Bay that could be stirred up by the dredging required to build the station.

Last August, Colton said: “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?”

Colton attempted to drive the point home by citing the disastrous effects caused by Superstorm Sandy. Colton stressed his anxiety about the dangerous toxins that will be unearthed in locals’ homes should another coastal storm occur.

“Mold is hard enough to clean out. Imagine if it was mercury,” Colton said.

Ari Kagan, the 45th Assembly Democratic District Leader running for City Council in Sheepshead Bay, agreed.

“It’s not just Bensonhurst that this affects. It’s Brighton… Coney Island… Sheepshead Bay… Bay Ridge. It affects all of us, all over Brooklyn,” Kagan said.

Paying tribute to the local beaches and prominent fishing community, Kagan added: “We need to help the community after Hurricane Sandy, not destroy it. I don’t see a single person in South Brooklyn who supports this. Enough is enough.”

Other activists joined in the cry to ‘Dump the dump,’ citing the neighborhood’s children, elderly, and overall residential population as reasons that the proposed waste station is unsatisfactory.

Ludger Balan, a member of the Urban Divers Estuary Conservancy, said that this quality of life issue isn’t just harmful for Bensonhurst locals, but that it will affect everybody in this borough.

Referencing another daunting idea in the completion of this project, Balan spoke in an interview with Bensonhurst Bean of the 1500 rounds of 20mm munitions discovered from a capsized WWII military barge in Gravesend Bay, the focus of a public statement made during the protest by Ida Sanoff , executive director of the Natural Resources Protective Association. According to Balan, Sanoff and Colton, dredging for this waste site could even lead to an explosion of those munitions.

“They could not have chosen a worse place to put this project,” Balan said.

And now, in the wake of an election year, activists are urging Bensonhurst locals to see where candidates running for office stand in regard to this garbage transfer site.

“We need politicians that are really for the people,” Treyger said.

“The next mayor will have the power to continue or end this. The next mayor will make a decision. Before we vote, we will listen to their position on this issue. You want our votes? Stand with our community. This location is just not suitable,” he said.

Waste transfer station protest on August, 5, 2012

Congressman Michael Grimm sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers raising concerns over the proposed waste transfer station at Bay 41st Street.

Grimm joins with Assemblyman William Colton, Andrew Gounardes and a host of other local leaders and concerned citizens in questioning the erection of the station at the edge of Gravesend Bay. It also puts him in the rather odd position of agreeing with his Democratic opponent, Mark Murphy, who seems to go through great pains to show how different from Grimm he is.

But, hey, it doesn’t get more apolitical than garbage, right?

The local representatives have noted a variety of issues pertaining to the station. For one, residents believe that the waste incinerator that was situatied in the same place several years ago is toxic and may cause cancer. Thus, dredging the water would bring up the toxic ash that has long been sitting at the bottom of the bay.

Grimm brings up the dangers surrounding unexploded ammunition that fell to the bottom of the harbor from the USS Bennington in 1954. He is requesting more information pertaining to any possible dangers surrounding the dredging.

“Safety should always remain a top priority when moving forward with any project, and the presence of unexploded munitions certainly raises strong concerns among members of the southwest Brooklyn community.  Before any action begins on the proposed waste transfer station, I am seeking assurance from the Army Corps of Engineers that any dredging will not compromise the safety of the residents, their property, or the bay.  No project is worth jeopardizing public safety, and I look forward to working with the Corps to receive its full assurance that the dredging will be 100 percent safe,” he said in a release.

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.”

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