Previewing, Pumping and Polluting – The Hook-up (8/10)

Happy Friday, Greenpoint!

There has been much in the news this week about L-pocalypse, what with this weekend’s L closure, and the city’s cap on ride-share vehicles, but that’s not all. On Monday, the MTA showed of it’s L-ternative bus routes to city officials, who rode public transit throughout the two-mile route.

While there are few things as dirty as the way the MTA has been handling the L-train closure, it turns out that one quarter of the city’s most polluted sites are in Greenpoint and Williamsburg.  Continue reading

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What You Need to Know about The Ride-Sharing Cap

Bedford L Station (photo: Julia Moak)

As the L-Pocalypse looms and the L train shuts down for 15 weekends starting this weekend, the City Council’s vote to put a cap on the number of ride-share cars is not welcome news to many in North Brooklyn. As local businesses already face the challenge of retaining customers over the course of the 15-month L Train Shutdown, we wonder how limiting the number of ride-share cars will affect local businesses and workers.

Over the years as the neighborhood’s population has exploded, North Brooklyn has seen a higher number of yellow cabs cruise through the neighborhood—and in fact, we house many of them here—but still nowhere near the number of yellow cabs you see on the streets of Manhattan. Before Uber and Lyft came to town, there were a handful of local car services like Northside, Java, or Metroline you’d call to get a ride somewhere, often paying a flat cash fee that included tip. And those drivers usually knew the best back streets to take to get you to JFK in about half an hour.

Uber & Lyft via Unsplash
photo illustration via Unsplash

These days, getting a cab is as easy as pressing a few buttons on your phone without having to wait on hold or talk to anyone or give your credit card info—and in North Brooklyn, a 1-minute or less wait for an Uber or Lyft (or Juno, or Via) is common. But often, drivers of ride-share vehicles are not local to your neighborhood and are blindly following robotic-voiced directions on their phones. (Ed note: Northside and Metroline have their own apps, and you can book online with Java).

New York City currently has more than 100k ride-share vehicles on the streets, compared with less than 15k yellow cabs. Six yellow cab drivers have committed suicide in the last few years—depressed and traumatized about not being able to pay their bills—while Uber and Lyft drivers of all ages, races and backgrounds have raked in some extra side hustle cash.

The suicides, combined with general concern about traffic congestion and lack of regulation prompted the city to do something about this rapid explosion of vehicles on our streets that have very visibly threatened the livelihoods of thousands of Yellow Cab drivers—who are still iconic of New York City. Two months ago almost 150 taxi medallions hit the bankruptcy auction block. According to Curbed, “In 2013, a medallion was worth as much as $1.3 million, however, competition from ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft has driven medallion prices down to as low as $160,000.” According to the Post, earnings for Yellow Cab drivers have plummeted to $29k per year by some estimates.

The legislation passed on Wednesday will require ride-share companies to purchase a for-hire vehicle license (or face a $10k penalty) currently set at $275 per car, exempting wheelchair accessible vehicles from a fee, and requires the TLC to set a minimum wage for ride-share drivers. And, of course, the cap. The law also says that no new licenses (except for accessible vehicles) will be given out for one year, while the TLC conducts a transportation study. New York is the first major city to impose a limit on the number of ride-share vehicles. In response, Uber says it’s planning to recruit the tens of thousands of drivers who already own a valid for-hire-vehicle license. The company, currently the highest valued startup at $68 billion, was a staunch opponent of the bill, launching an ad campaign to drum up support against it.

A 2018 TLC study found that setting a minimum wage for ride-share drivers to $17.22 per hour would increase driver net pay by 22.5%. And by instituting a minimum wage for drivers, Uber and Lyft would take less of a cut. It would, “…substantially reduce growth in the number of new drivers and vehicles and provide some indirect benefits for medallion drivers.” According to Mashable, “Lyft said it supports a livable wage for its drivers and is already paying close to the $17.22 minimum hourly rate (after expenses) to its drivers.”

It’s a fact that more ride-hailing apps means more cars on the streets, which in turn creates more traffic and congestion. City bus routes are affected (if you ride the B62 you know this is true), and of course first responders and emergency service workers can be delayed too. Jon Orcutt, the director of communications and advocacy at TransitCenter, says we are currently in “our worst transportation crisis in decades.”

L Train Illustration via @brooklyncartoons Instagram
Illustration via @brooklyncartoons Instagram

Of course, all of this is happening above ground and that’s not the only way New Yorkers travel. In April of 2019 the L Train will shut down for repairs for 15 months, forcing thousands of Brooklynites to find a different way to get into Manhattan. The MTA’s plans have been heavily criticized, with many arguing that they have only accounted for a fraction of workers who will need to get into the city every day. The Village Voice calls it a “recipe for gridlock.” Some North Brooklyn lifers shrug their shoulders while they wait for rents to drop and café crowds to thin out.

The full magnitude of the L-pocalypse and the effect on our daily commutes to Manhattan remains to be seen. We do know, however, that it’s going to be epic. The shutdown will have its own documentary, already has a news series on Vice, and has been making national news. And there have been plenty of crazy-not-so-crazy alternatives to the subway proposed.

Local business owners are none too happy about the shutdown either, knowing that without the daily influx of tourists coming into the neighborhood and with some residents moving out of the neighborhood entirely, their business will drop. Maybe even to 2008 levels. With a ride-share cap in addition to the shutdown, many businesses who rely on people from outside the neighborhood—restaurants, entertainment venues, retail establishments—will certainly feel a pinch. But others ask, is the idea of less people coming into the neighborhood really a bad thing? Isn’t the neighborhood overcrowded as it is? It’s a complicated issue.

Greenpointers, we want to know how the ride-share cap and the shutdown will affect you. Are you a business owner or a Lyft driver? Let us know how you feel in the comments.

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Say Amen, Somebody: Movie Screening + Bake Sale at Park ChurchCo-Op

Park Church Co-Op Bake Sale

The Park Church Co-Op (129 Russell St) is celebrating gospel music and community building with a screening of the 1982 documentary Say Amen, Somebody! and a bake sale on Saturday, August 18th at 7pm. Tickets to the film are $5, and there will be homemade baked goods for sale, with the funds going towards the church.
If you want to donate a baked good, you can sign up on this form.
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Volunteers Needed: Greenpoint Tree Watering Day is This Saturday (8/11)

Greenpoint Tree Corps

Volunteer tree watering is happening this Saturday August 11th at 10am, meeting in Transmitter Park! In this brutal heat, the trees get dehydrated and need a little neighborly help to keep them growing—if you volunteer you’ll help water young trees along Kent and West Streets.

*Watch out for the park’s mockingbirds; we received a tip they are still actively defending their nests as of yesterday.

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L-Pocalypse Pre-Show Countdown: L to close for 15 weekends prior to “official” shutdown

How is this weekend like Christmas? No L!

In fact, the MTA announced on Saturday, The L train will not run between Manhattan and Brooklyn for 15 weekends between now and April, when the agency plans to usher in L-pocalypse.

While North Brooklyn has been aware of, and preparing for, April’s planed 15-month suspension of service through the Canarsie Tunnel with a litany of enterprising, madcap solutions, commuters were entirely unaware of the MTA’s pre-show closure countdown.

Now, purveyors of L-ternatives will have to fire up their tanks earlier than expected, because the first of the 15 weekend closures will take place this weekend (from 11:30pm Friday, August 10 – 5am Monday, August 13th). 

The other 14 weekend closures will take place throughout October, November, February, March and April.

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What’s New For Maker Park

A rendering of the tanks, transformed. Via Maker Park

Maker Park, the proposed 7-acre waterfront space once home to Astral Oil Works and now within the larger scope of Bushwick Inlet Park, has been aiming to bring art, education, community and performance to the Williamsburg waterfront by adapting industrial infrastructure since 2015. Now, the team behind the reimagined industrial-space-turned-community-hub is moving forward with a whole new vision based on open dialogue, communication and feedback from the community.

Since their December 2016 design display for Maker Park, Stacey Anderson and Karen Zabarsky, co-founders of Maker Park, and the project’s Executive and Creative directors respectively, have taken the past year to listen to the community. Each time, they heard community members call for open space, and environmental remediation of the land.

Stacey and Karen touted North Brooklyn’s “Civic Warriors,” who have worked so hard to get the city to deliver on the full 28-acres Mayor Bloomberg promised for Bushwick Inlet Park in 2005. They hope that Maker Park will be one feature of Bushwick Inlet Park, which they aim to incorporate into the community’s vision for the park space as a whole.

Given the increased density that Bloomberg’s 2005 rezoning has engendered, open space is a paramount concern on the North Brooklyn Waterfront. In order to increase green space, Maker Park will no longer advocate for repurposing the  3-story brick factory building on the site, and will instead focus on remediating the 50-foot decommissioned fuel tanks that speak to the land’s long and sometimes painful industrial history.

The Maker Park team hopes to honor the community’s complex relationship with the tanks, and the industrial history they represent, while also reinventing them in “playful and contemporary ways” that will make them available to the community as a resource for art, education and performance.

The idea has successful precedent. For example, in 2017, the Mapo Oil Depot in Seoul, South Korea was repurposed as Mapo Cultural Depot Park; the site’s oil tanks are now used as exhibition spaces and concert halls.

To make sure our own tanks here in North Brooklyn will be a safe and sustainable asset to the community, the Maker Park team is working with environmental lawyers, scientists and architects on a preliminary remediation plan, which they will make accessible to the public.

Ultimately, Stacey and Karen said, they hope Maker Park will help transform the tanks into something “beautiful and green,” which will be “literally creating new life.”

For on-going updates on all things Maker Park, you can follow the project on Instagram @makerparkBK

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Dr. Strangelove, Lane Kim, Rubulad and CounterCulture — What’s Happening, Greenpoint? (8/8-8/14)

Cruel Summer: 80s + 90s Dance Party @ The Bell House (149 7th Street), Friday 8pm
Get Into The Groove at an All Night Long dance party set to the soundtracks of the 80s and 90s with 80s anthems performed by kick-ass 10-piece cover band The Engagements, 90s hits spun by Party Like It’s 1999’s DJ Steve Reynolds, music video sing-alongs by SecretFormula, and 80s + 90s music videos from Music Video Time Machine. Just $5 in advance with promo code “Bananarama” or $10 at the door, Buy tix  [Sponsored]

WEDNESDAY 8/8

♫ Rodes Rollins, No Swoon @ Elsewhere Rooftop (599 Johnson Ave.), 5pm, FREE, RSVP 
* Evening Cha Dao Tea Ceremony
@ Anima Mundi Apothecary (35 Noble St.), 6pm, $25, buy tix
♦ Dr. Strangelove @Bushwick Inlet Park (50 Kent Ave.) 8pm, FREE, pop up movie in the park includes free popcorn! More Info
♫ Balún Record Release Party w/ Mons Vi & Tigue @ Baby’s Alright (146 Broadway), 8pm, $10-12, Buy Tix

THURSDAY 8/9

♫ Risky Business Presents: Special Guest: Tom & Collins/Risky Crew @ The Roof (74 Wythe Ave.) 5pm, FREE, More Info
^ Aliza Kelly’s The Mixology of Astrology Book Launch @ Space Ninety 8 (98 N 6th St.) 6:30pm, FREE, astrology and cosmic cocktails, RSVP
# Beyond Bagels: Jewish Food and Jewish Eating @ MOFAD (62 Bayard St.), 6:30pm, $25-30, Buy Tix
♫ Starina @ Troost (1011 Manhattan Avenue), 8pm, FREE, More Info
Acid Mama @ Black Flamingo (168 Borinquen Pl.), 10om, FREE, More Info

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Selamat Pagi’s Summer Menu Now Offers Van Leeuwen’s Ice Cream Sundaes

Van Leeuwen’s Ice Cream is now featured at Selamat Pagi

If there’s not enough heat in your summer, stop by Selamat Pagi to further spice it up. Right off idyllic McGolrick Park at 152 Driggs Avenue, Seamat Pagi is one of Greenpoint’s few Indonesian restaurants, serving dishes with a kick and — as of this summer — sundaes infusing Van Leeuwen Ice Cream to help you cool down.

Under the direction of new executive chef Jack Roche, these delectable new treats include the Sumatra Sundae (vegan cold brew ice cream, coconut whip cream, cacao nibs, and luxardo cherry sauce) and the Subtropic Summer Sorbets (strawberry and soursop, mango sorbet, coconut whip cream, and house-made candied fennel brittle). Continue reading

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Vendor Call!! Greenpointers Indie Makers Market!! (Sept 16)

On Sunday, September 16th, 2018 alongside TASTE Williamsburg Greenpoint, we are taking over BIBA of Williamsburg (110 Kent Ave) to feature 20-25 talented independent makers, artists, and crafters!

Formerly a rubber factory, BIBA is now home to an original beer hall that leads out into an outdoor patio that borders the East River State Park. With vintage charm and spectacular views of the NYC skyline, we are expecting thousands of visitors to come celebrate the local community around creativity, food, and drink!

We are looking for beautifully designed, high quality, handcrafted goods of the recycled, upcycled, ethically produced, environmentally friendly variety. Sound like you? Apply here or down at the bottom of this post.

TASTE Williamsburg Greenpoint 2017

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Are You Into Environmental Justice? This Job May Be For You

NAG's Toxicity Map
NAG’s Toxicity Map

Local environmental organization Neighbors Allied For Good Growth (NAG) is currently hiring for a full-time Environmental Justice Program Manager. For one of their most well-known projects, NAG created an online interactive ToxiCity Map, to map out environmental conditions in the neighborhood for all to see. They also do a lot of community advocacy, soil testing and sustainability outreach. Continue reading

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