stephen levin

A Tree Grows in Greenpoint, and We’re About to Get 499 More

Kids and trees! The young saplings of our future.
Kids and trees! The young saplings of our future.

Last Friday, Greenpoint took a small step in the direction of better living up to its name.

With one tree planted out of a proposed 500, the “Greening Greenpoint” project is well on its way to transforming our corner of Brooklyn into the verdant oasis we always knew it could be.

Neighbors, local officials, and students from the nearby St. Stanislaus Catholic Academy looked on during a tree-planting ceremony that took place Nov. 6 near 189 Driggs Avenue. There, a Hackberry tree was planted: a native shade tree that’s popular with the birds. Thanks to the students, the block then received over 300 new daffodil bulbs. Continue reading

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How Did a Massive Halloween Rave Almost Go Down in One of Greenpoint’s Most Dangerous Buildings?

Roux answered for what seem to be the sins of multiple parties at Monday's NAG meeting.
Roux answered for what seem to be the sins of multiple parties at Monday’s NAG meeting.

By now, most of you are familiar with the story of the Cityfox rave that never was. To sum it up briefly, a club promoter sold thousands of tickets to an all-night Halloween fête in Greenpoint’s toxic NuHart Plastics building. Due to intervention from the Fire Department, the party never quite made it to witching hour, but many residents are super pissed that something like this almost went down at a state Superfund site — and across the street from a senior center, no less.

Beyond that, the details are somewhat difficult to follow, which makes it hard to know exactly where to point fingers, even if the impetus is hardly in short supply. Cityfox issued a public apology yesterday, and organizers at Monday night’s NAG meeting made a point to save any rave-related questions for last, but the Q&A session quickly became a sounding board for public outrage. As one resident summed it up, the whole thing was a “huge slap in the face” for a community that’s been impacted by the building’s toxic history and is now grudgingly attempting to trust developers who claim to have its best interests in mind.

Fielding many of these questions was geologist Michael Roux, the environmental consultant for Dupont Street Developers LLC, which bought the NuHart site in 2014. He was joined by Yi Han, a representative of the group. Together, their account was confusing and at times seemingly contradictory to some of the other things we now know about the incident (for instance, Han said the owners never signed a contract, but NAG has supplied copies of the signed party permit on its website. To be clear, the building is owned by multiple parties). Additionally, Roux said that he wouldn’t be “totally forthcoming with everything [he knows],” as he’s been put on notice of potential legal action by the state.

In order to help make heads of tails, here’s a rough chronological timeline presented from multiple perspectives. Continue reading

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Investigating the India Street Ferry (Or lack thereof)

© Kristin Laughter/ Green pointers

We’re well aware by now that the imminent five-week G suspension this summer (from late July through the end of August) has many commuters spooked. Adding insult to injury, the New York Waterways ferry landing at India Street—by far the second-best option for many—has been suspended indefinitely since February, when a gangplank failed and plunged into frigid East River waters moments after passengers climbed aboard.

This looming transportation brownout has raised eyebrows for months. At an April 3 meeting organized by State Senator Daniel Squadron at the Polish and Slavic Center on Kent Street, officials addressed community transportation concerns, including the ferry, but they declined to announce a reopening date. Now, almost two months later—and only eight weeks before the G shutdown—that date is still elusive.

The road to Pulaski bridge traffic jams and sweltering MTA shuttle buses is paved with good intentions. So, for the past several weeks, Greenpointers has been investigating the India Street Ferry closure to determine whether anyone can say with confidence that the ferry landing will be operational before the G shuts down.

(The answer: very likely, but not entirely certain.) Here’s what we found out:

Continue reading

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Waterfront Construction Will Begin in 2015

Look, it's a park...overshadowed by a GIANT BUILDING (rendering of 77 Commercial St)

The notion that not one, but two parks, are coming to Greenpoint as early as 2015 may SOUND like good news. Who doesn’t love green space?

But, don’t forget to read between the lines.

On 5/2, Crain’s reported:  Construction on the first of two long-awaited parks along the Greenpoint waterfront is set to begin in 2015, spurred by money from the developers of two massive residential projects on the waterfront that were approved last year. Continue reading

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Victory for McGuinness Slow Zone

Bureaucratic Victory! © Vision Zero

For a while now, we’ve been talking about the danger zone of speeding vehicles that is McGuinness Blvd, where some truly tragic incidents have happened over the last year, most notably the death of 32-year-old Nicole Detweiler, who was crossing the street in December when she was fatally hit by two vehicles.

This wasn’t an isolated incident. In 2010, a 28-year-old was the victim of a hit-and-run and later taken off life support after days of being unresponsive due to serious brain injuries.  In 2009, a 33-year-old British woman was struck and killed by a flatbed truck where Nassau meets McGuiness. And the list goes on. Continue reading

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Vote to give $$ to Greenpoint! (3/29-4/6)

Mock-up for BOOKlyn mobile library, courtesy of St. Nick's Alliance

Just the name “Participatory Budgeting” might want to make you hit the snooze button, but it’s actually a unique opportunity to vote on a project that YOU want to see funded in our community. NYC has reserved $14 million in taxpayer dollars for this very purpose and as part of the 33rd District, there are some pretty innovative projects in the running that could potentially affect our parks, schools, and community centers.

The $14 million will be divided by district; the 33rd also covers Dumbo, Boerum Hill, and Brooklyn Heights, so Greenpoint is going to have to step it up at the polls if we want to get some of the bounty for our neighborhood, Hunger Games style (but by peaceful democratic vote, instead of mudering!). Continue reading

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Will Greenpoint Become the Next Williamsburg? BKLYNR Investigates

Construction has begun on Commercial Street for 2 high-rise residential towers, Photo © Courtney Dudley/BKLYNR

We recently came across a great piece from BKLYNR that traces the emergence of Greenpoint Landing from its Bloombergian roots to the looming tension today, investigating how the proposed paradise of open waterfront parkland has, nearly a decade later, become a source of frustration and dread for the many residents that want the neighborhood to remain a unique blend of bohemian and old world culture, rather than another sea of Williamsburg condos.

The piece begins in 2005, when the City Council approved the rezoning proposal for nearly 200 blocks of Greenpoint and Wiliamsburg, calling for 50 acres of new parkland along the waterfront, affordable housing, and recreational space, all publicly accessible. Writer, Vanessa Ogle, follows progression of the proposal to physical reality (construction has already begun in part), asking what it all means for the neighborhood. Continue reading

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Greenpoint Landing Is Really Happening

A rendering of 33 Eagle Street, which will have 98 units

Remember all that controversy about the TEN 30-40 story towers that were approved by the City Council to be built on pretty much the entirety of the Greenpoint waterfront? Not to mention the new school and public park, all of which will have foundations on a toxic oil plume.

Need a refresher? We, along with many outspoken Greenpointers, were concerned with probable infrastructure strains, transportation congestion, affordable housing and most urgently, the environmental impacts of developing on and near a National Superfund Site. Council member Stephen Levin assured us that he did the best he could, wining more affordable housing, and that was that….leaving us with lingering disappointment and frustration.

Well, as of Friday, the developer, Greenpoint Landing Associates, has filed permits for two of the buildings, at 21 Commercial Street and 33 Eagle Street. The Real Deal reported that both buildings will be entirely affordable…however, the affordable and market price apartments were supposed to be integrated, so only time will tell if that agreement is upheld.

We were also supposed to see evidence proving that there are no harmful health impacts before construction begins. But of course, that information was never made public, and we’re pretty doubtful that it even exists. UGH.

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A Message to Greenpoint from Council Member Stephen Levin

A week or so ago we published an article titled The Conspiracy Against The People Opposed To Greenpoint Landing, after the painful and last public meeting about the high rise towers inevitably to rise on Greenpoint’s waterfront.

That evening while sipping on a beer at Brouwerij Lane, a call with a NJ area code appeared on my phone. It was Stephen Levin and he was pretty insulted by our decision to run that post. I stood outside in the cold while he explained to me (in many words) what I have invited him to share with you.

Yes we have been extremely critical of him and will continue to be as long as he makes decisions that we feel are not in the best interest of Greenpoint. I did offer him the opportunity to explain himself here. After, I invite readers to reply in the comment section. (Keep it classy.)

A letter from your Council Member Stephen Levin: Continue reading

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77 Commercial Street Update

As expected, Council Member Stephen Levin voted to approve the proposed development at 77 Commercial St yesterday (12/19) . That means that the city can officially sell the “air rights” of 65 Commercial St to the developers to build higher towers at 77 Commercial. Continue reading

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