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Archive for the tag 'bay ridge'

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.

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.

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.

bridge

The Belt Parkway is about to get a little more congested, as the highway is slated to lose one lane at Bay Ridge Avenue beginning tomorrow night.

The lane closures will begin at 11:00 p.m., on Friday, May 30. The eastbound and westbound lanes of the Belt Parkway at Bay Ridge Avenue Bridge (Exit 1) will be shifted. The eastbound roadway, currently three lanes, will be reduced to two travel lanes. Meanwhile, the two travel lanes of the westbound roadway will be narrowed and shifted to the left-center of the bridge.

These changes are being done to allow for the establishment of a work zone at the existing right and center of the Bay Ridge Avenue Bridge in order to begin the first stage of the bridge rehabilitation.

The bridge’s overhaul is part of the city’s Seven Bridges project, a large-scale renovation of seven spans on the Belt Parkway that began in 2009. Several of the bridges are already near completion, and the beginning of the Bay Ridge Avenue work marks the final phase of the project.

The existing bridge at Bay Ridge Avenue will be reconstructed using pre-cast concrete deck sections. The clearance will be increased to 14-feet 6-inches, which removes the need for clearance signs currently posted for a substandard condition. Also the new deck will eliminate the need for under deck wood shielding, according to a DOT fact sheet on the project.

According to the fact sheet, work on this bridge was slated to begin in June 2013 and wrap up in February of 2015, but a DOT representative told this outlet that it will now be closer to the beginning of 2016. All construction related to the seven bridges project is expected to be completed by mid-2017, with landscaping wrapping up in 2019.

An illustration of the extent of the lane shifts. (Source: DOT)

An illustration of the extent of the lane shifts. (Source: DOT)

Kemmerer via LinkedIn

Kemmerer via LinkedIn

Political activist and executive director of the Bay Ridge Democrats, Jamie Kemmerer, will formally announce his bid to represent the 22nd District in the State Senate on Monday, challenging 12-year Republican incumbent Marty Golden for his seat.

“The speculation is true. There’s a lot of work to be done, and we’re going to try and put [an announcement] out on Monday,” Kemmerer, 41, told us by phone today, confirming a report this morning by City & State that said the small business owner and Ridge resident was considering a challenge.

The Bay Ridge Democrats, a progressive Democratic club that has seen its influence rise after becoming an early backer of Bill de Blasio during the mayoral campaign, voted to endorse Kemmerer last night. Kemmerer has not yet filed a committee with the state, but said he will do so soon.

City & State reported:

Kemmerer has never run for public office before, but already local officials are expected to throw their weight behind his candidacy, including Councilman Vincent Gentile, who took over Golden’s Council seat after losing his Senate seat to him in 2002. Kemmerer made some waves in February after accusing Golden of “money laundering” by spending large amounts of campaign contributions at his brother’s catering hall in Bay Ridge.

Kemmerer told us that he not only has the backing of Gentile already, but that the Bensonhurst-Bay Ridge councilman, who has been engaged in a longtime rivalry with Golden, was key to influencing him to run.

“I had been approached by some district leaders [including Joanne Seminara, chairperson of Community Board 10 and the female Democratic District Leader of the 60th Assembly District] and thought about it a bit but wasn’t sure if now was the time,” explained Kemmerer. “I certainly believed someone should run against him. Then Gentile asked me to do it as well, and given all the recent issues with corruption and campaign finance questions, some of which you’ve reported on, and some of the other things going on, I began thinking about it more seriously. Putting all those factors together, it’s something that I think is important to do.”

Kemmerer is a Pennsylvania native who moved to Brooklyn with his wife approximately a decade ago. He runs a marketing and technology firm, and blogs on a personal website about politics affecting Bay Ridge residents.

Between servicing clients and the cries of his 21-month-old son, Kemmerer declined to discuss details of his platform or his thoughts on Golden until the Monday announcement.

However, he did note that a top priority for his campaign will be addressing ongoing concerns stemming from Superstorm Sandy, which hit a large portion of the district, including Gerritsen Beach, Sheepshead and Manhattan Beach.

“I’ve been very active in Hurricane Sandy work. I’m a founding member of the Brooklyn Long-Term Recovery Group,” a community organization that helps steer victims to resources, he said. “Issues around Sandy, and not just the immediate issues of getting people back in their homes, but about resiliency and infrastructure, are important to me, and that will be at the top of the list.”

He also said he will campaign for fair elections and ethics reform in Albany.

Golden, the only Republican state senator in Brooklyn, has coasted to victory with only marginal opposition in most elections during his tenure. That changed in 2012 when Andrew Gounardes, also out of the Bay Ridge Democrats, mounted a heated campaign featuring feisty debates and well-coordinated attacks told through press releases and campaign literature. Golden won out, but with a relatively narrow margin. He racked up 58.1 percent of the vote to Gounardes’ 41.9 percent.

grimm

Michael Grimm’s former girlfriend is in trouble, too.

Michael Grimm’s ex-girlfriend Diana Durand, 48, pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges that she violated federal campaign laws.

Her lawyer said she didn’t know she was doing anything wrong, according to the Daily News. The lawyer, Stuart Kaplan, added, “My client is not a sophisticated woman.”

Durand is facing a three-count indictment for felony violations of federal campaign finance law for allegedly reimbursing three straw donors a total of $10,600 in contributions to Grimm’s campaign. These alleged activity was uncovered during a two-year federal investigation into Grimm’s fundraising, which is still ongoing.

The Daily News writes:

Durand was arraigned one week to the day after Grimm was charged in the same courthouse with fraud, tax evasion, perjury and hiring undocumented workers at a health food restaurant he co-owned.

And:

Durand, a Houston-based single mom employed by a company that sells oil products, was romantically involved with Grimm while he pursued business ventures in Texas before his election to Congress. She faces a maximum of eight years in prison if convicted of all the charges, her lawyer said.

He lawyer also said that Durand probably wouldn’t even be in court if she didn’t have a relationship to Grimm and that it was all political, echoing what Grimm has said about his own troubles.

Meanwhile, Grimm spent his first weekend in the wake of the 20-count indictment strolling Staten Island’s Midland Beach, an area that bore the full brunt of Superstorm Sandy. In a New York 1 video of Grimm in Staten Island, he’s seen talking to members of the disaster relief organization, Yellow Boots. According to NY1 he was there to tour Sandy hit homes but one can’t help and wonder how heavy the indictment charges sit on him.

He told the new channel:

“I think I said it very clearly, I’m back to work. This is my primary focuses doing my job everyday. The people of Staten Island and Brooklyn pay my salary,to work for them so that’s what I do and this is part of that,” Grimm said.

Domenic Recchia, his Democratic challenger for this year’s midterm election, was on the same island also touring Sandy hit homes and campaigning.

“Michael Grimm has to decide what’s best for him. He has a lot of issues and he has to deal with them himself. But this is not about Michael Grimm. I didn’t get into this race, you know, I got into this race because I’m going to win. We deserve better,” Recchia said.

Source: Facebook

Congressman Michael Grimm continues to face fallout from the criminal charges levied against him on Monday, with New York Republican leadership seeking ways to kick him off the ballot, and the national party booting him from programs to aid his reelection bid.

Grimm turned himself in to authorities Monday morning to respond to a 20-count federal indictment alleging tax fraud, systematically hiring undocumented immigrants and hiding more than $1 million in revenue from the government during his time as a restaurant owner before he became congressman. Grimm pleaded not guilty, and is portraying the investigation as a “political witch hunt” to unseat New York City’s only Republican in Congress.

While the congressman vowed to continue his reelection campaign, where he faces an aggressive bid from former Councilman Domenic Recchia, it seems Republican leadership in both his home borough and in Washington are reconsidering their support.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Staten Island GOP leadership are looking for ways to boot Grimm from the ballot altogether:

The road to replacing the Staten Island congressman on the ballot is narrow and complicated because the deadline for a challenger to get on the ballot passed earlier in April. Election-law experts and Republican Party officials said the sole viable option under New York law appears to be to nominate the Staten Island congressman for another office, such as running for an open judge position.

… Potential GOP candidates to run in Mr. Grimm’s place include state Sen. Andrew Lanza and state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, a person familiar with the matter said.

The paper reports that a judgeship might be the only route available, but there are no open positions at the moment. Leadership told the paper that could change by September. A defense attorney who has worked on other federal tax evasion charges noted that it’s a tough rap to beat since the prosecution builds its case on documentation as opposed to witness testimony.

Meanwhile, in D.C., Grimm’s Republican colleagues are cooling on his prospects, according to the Daily News. He’s been removed from the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Patriot Program,” which helps candidates in swing district raise money and receive other support from the national party. He’s also been dis-invited from a fundraiser, and House Speaker John Boehner declined to defend the Congressman when questioned about the case.

The change in fortune for one of the GOP’s more charismatic candidates has him speaking in the third person:

“There are people that don’t like Michael Grimm because Michael Grimm is outspoken,” Grimm said. “I’m a Marine. I don’t relent.”

The congressman also took his message straight to supporters, posting a somewhat lengthy update on Facebook yesterday thanking them for their continued support and claiming that the “trumped-up charges against me are false.”

grimm

After turning himself into authorities yesterday morning, Republican Congressman Michael Grimm, a former FBI agent, pleaded not guilty to a 20-count indictment alleging the local pol hid more than $1 million in sales at a business he owned to avoid paying taxes, as well as illegally employing undocumented immigrants.

The charges surround the operations of Upper East Side eatery Healthalicious, a venture he ran from 2007 to 2010. However, he’s also charged with perjury for lying to investigators about the business’ operations when he was questioned in 2013, while already serving in the House of Representatives.

“Grimm made the choice to go from upholding the law to breaking it. In so doing he turned his back on every oath he had ever taken. Even after his return to public service, when called to account for his actions and questioned under oath Grimm went for the cover up, and lied about his role in his own business,” said U.S. attorney Loretta E. Lynch, who is prosecuting the case.

Lynch accused Grimm of under-reporting workers’ wages, many of whom were illegally working in the U.S., and also underreported the amount of money earned through the business – dodging local and federal tax liabilities by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

When Grimm was questioned by authorities representing Healthalicious employees suing him in 2013 as part of a federal lawsuit, he allegedly lied under oath hide the company’s questionable practices, including denying that he paid workers cash.

The entire indictment can be read here [pdf]. He is charged with perjury, wire fraud, mail fraud, obstruction of justice, employment of illegal immigrants, obstructing and impeding tax laws, and conspiracy to defraud the United States – among others. He faces up to 257.5 years in prison.

The pol, who represents all of Staten Island as well as a large swath of Southern Brooklyn that includes Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Gravesend and Sheepshead Bay, was released on $400,000 bail after pleading not guilty yesterday.

The charges were somewhat surprising, as many believed that Grimm would eventually be the target of an indictment for campaign fundraising violations following an investigation that has been ongoing for at least two years. Although several associates of the pol have been busted in relation to that investigation, it appears the government seized on his business dealings after failing to connect fundraising improprieties directly to the elected official.

But Lynch said yesterday that the current charges could be expanded as the investigation continues.

The New York Times reports:

Loretta E. Lynch, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, did not detail why the investigation had changed. “Whenever there’s an investigation into someone’s business activities, it is usually very broad-reaching,” she said, adding that a larger investigation was continuing.

But, she said, Mr. Grimm had a sophisticated understanding of the law and finance, thanks in part to his background as an F.B.I. agent, where he did undercover work on Wall Street.

Aside from his work at the FBI, Grimm was an accountant.

Grimm remained defiant after appearing in court, holding a press conference where he described the investigation as a “political witch hunt” and vowed to continue his campaign for reelection.

The congressman did forfeit his seat on the House Financial Services Committee as a result of yesterday’s indictment.

Lynch said that her office will now also begin reviewing the cases he worked while at the FBI for potential malfeasance.

grimm

Congressman Michael Grimm turned himself into authorities this morning and will face federal charges. While the Republican politician has been dogged by a federal probe into his campaign fundraising for several years, it appears the charges to be unveiled today are connected to a restaurant he operated before entering Congress, and is separate from the campaign investigation.

The Washington Post reports:

While the investigation has focused on Grimm’s fundraising, U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch is expected to announce an indictment centered on his restaurant business, which Grimm launched after leaving the FBI in 2006, according to officials familiar with the investigation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the pending charges.

The state fined the Upper East Side restaurant, Healthalicious, $88,000 for not providing workers compensation. In a lawsuit against the company, workers accused the owners of not paying proper wages and sometimes giving out cash payments to skirt tax and business laws.

It is unclear whether federal prosecutors will eventually expand the charges to encompass Grimm’s campaign activities, but investigators have been moving on that side of the case against several key players, some with ties to the restaurant.

The company itself appears to have ties to persons involved in the fundraising probe. The operating company run by Grimm was connected to a company affiliated with Ofer Biton, the Israeli national who pleaded guilty to visa fraud. Biton not only helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Grimm, he reportedly sought the politician’s help in obtaining a green card.

Biton also served as the middle man between Grimm and popular Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, who helped raise money for Grimm’s 2010 campaign, and who is now facing allegations of bribing Israeli law enforcement officials and looting his charities.

The business’ accountant was also the accountant for Grimm’s campaign, and was a key witness before the federal grand jury in the case. While the indictment is expected to surround the business, the Daily News reports that the alleged financial irregularities are also linked to the campaign.

The Daily News reports:

Wayne Muratore answered questions about suspicious expense claims and tax documents just days before the panel opted to charge Grimm after a two-year federal probe, the sources said.

… The charges against Grimm are linked to alleged financial irregularities in the ex-FBI agent’s 2010 congressional run and to the eatery Healthalicious.

Muratore faces no criminal charges, but was visited several weeks ago by FBI officials and eventually grilled by prosecutors, the sources said.

He reportedly told the feds that certain expenses and tax documents linked to Grimm were not his work, the sources said.

Grimm, through an attorney, said that, ultimately, his name would be cleared, and he is expected to continue his campaign. New York Times reports:

Since word of his indictment emerged on Friday, Mr. Grimm has shown no sign of curbing his campaign. A lawyer for Mr. Grimm said he was the victim of a “politically driven vendetta.” And for now, party leaders are sticking with Mr. Grimm, whose district includes Staten Island and part of southern Brooklyn.

John Antoniello, the Staten Island Republican chairman, said he spoke to Mr. Grimm on Friday, and Mr. Grimm said he definitely planned to continue his campaign.

Meanwhile, on Friday, prosecutors indicted Grimm’s former girlfriend, Diana Durand, on charges of using straw donors to make illegal campaign contributions to Grimm and other Republican politicians.

Grimm represents Staten Island, Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Gravesend, Coney Island and parts of Sheepshead Bay.

State Senator Marty Golden will be hosting two annual Easter egg hunts for the children and families of his district. Each Easter Egg Hunt event, in Marine Park and Bay Ridge, includes games, music, and activities for the whole family, as well as prizes for the children.

The first one will be held April 6 at 2:00 p.m. in Marine Park, at Fillmore Avenue and Madison Place, followed by the second one, which will be held April 12 at 2:00 p.m. in Shore Road Park, at Shore Road and 79th Street.

To learn more, call Golden’s District Office at (718) 238-6044.

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