Brooklyn

Community Outrage After Hate Speech Graffiti Discovered

The spread of hate speech graffiti targeting the black, Jewish, and LGBT communities in Brooklyn has caused a lot of concern locally, and questions were raised as to how to best report it after a series of U.S. postal stickers with hate speech was discovered last week along McGuinness Boulevard in Greenpoint.

North Brooklyn Democratic District Leader Nick Rizzo condemned the hate speech and in a statement pointed out the connection between Nazism and White Nationalism.

This incident shows the connection between Nazism, which we all know is un-American, and White Nationalism, which a bunch of American politicians openly support. Please be alert to rising Far Right incitements: We cannot allow hate to gain strength in Brooklyn. Know that ’14 words’ and 88 (code for ‘Heil Hitler’) are both White Nationalist symbols.

Brooklyn resident Mallory Seegal, who discovered the stickers on Sunday, adds that she was ‘disgusted’ by the language.

When I found these stickers on Sunday, I was disgusted but by no means surprised. This is just one example, out of many, of how white supremacy manifests. The complex and ongoing system of white supremacy is the disease, and the individual actions of white nationalists and white supremacists are a symptom. We are looking at two sides of the same coin.

While Greenpointers intended to help bring attention to the incident, the NYPD says that posting on social media first hinders investigations into these crimes.

Officer Rivera of the NYPD’s 94th Precinct Community Affairs informed Greenpointers that the most effective way to report hate graffiti is to leave the graffiti untouched and call 911 immediately, as 911 operators will be able to determine if it’s a situation that can be referred to 311. Not contacting the authorities first and posting on social media impedes the timing of the investigation. A proper investigation is paramount and can lead to an arrest, he said.

A joint statement from Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, Council Member Stephen Levin, Assembly Member Joseph Lentol, State Senator Julia Salazar, and Representative Carolyn Maloney says they are committed to bringing the community together to combat the issue.

We strongly condemn the virulently anti-Semitic, homophobic, and racist language that was inscribed on United States Postal Service stamps at lampposts and public spaces in multiple locations across north Greenpoint, including McGuiness Boulevard, Dupont Street, Eagle Street, and Freeman Street. Most disturbingly, the materials contained Nazi swastikas and the numbers 14 and 88, which refer to the fourteen-word slogan ‘we must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children,’ and the Heil Hitler salute respectively.

Unfortunately, these stickers are part of a wider pattern of neo-Nazi activity in the area around Greenpoint and Williamsburg, including swastikas that were spray-painted and etched on Manhattan Avenue and McGolrick Park in the past two years.

In response to this pattern of hate, we will be collaborating with a diverse range of community stakeholders across community-based organizations, houses of worship, and local businesses to bring residents of Greenpoint closer together. We cannot let this despicable act go unanswered, particularly as it is meant to intimidate members of our One Brooklyn family in a community that is made up of a diverse range of backgrounds from all walks of life.

We urge anyone with any information on who may be responsible for this reprehensible act to contact the NYPD by calling 800-577-TIPS.

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Hazardous Conditions Claimed by Rent Stabilized Greenpoint Tenants

97 – 99 Clay St. in Greenpoint

After 97 – 99 Clay St. was sold to developers in 2014, the 25 rent-stabilized tenants in the building reduced to five, following what current tenants claim has been a sustained effort by the new landlords to push them out through untenable demolition and construction conditions. “The first thing that happened is that they changed the locks on Christmas day and didn’t tell us,” said Gretchen, who wishes to withhold her last name and continues to live in a rent-stabilized studio at 97 Clay St. despite alleged harassment.”We live between a halfway house and two homeless shelters and there was no front door for two months,” she said adding that one of the other tenants is a wheel-chair bound senior citizen, making him especially vulnerable.

“They let everything get very run down and then started offering buyouts. They first offered me $4,000 and I said no.”

The new landlords originally planned to raze the building to make way for new construction, but with at least one tenant remaining in each of the buildings, the owners had to settle for renovations instead. Around February 2018, tenants say that demolition commenced and the living situation became increasingly hazardous. Complaints to the management company, Perfect Management, would simply result in a visit from the building’s super who tenants say has acted hostile toward their complaints. Perfect Management has not yet responded to Greenpointers.

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Greenpoint Named One of the ‘Hottest NYC Neighborhoods for 2019’ by NY Post

Image via NY Post

Greenpoint has received a lot of attention for the many great restaurant openings of 2018, and now the NY Post has identified Greenpoint as one of the ‘hottest NYC neighborhoods for 2019,’ largely due to new waterfront real estate development and the Amazon HQ2 announcement.

Some 42 buildings are under construction in Brooklyn’s northernmost ‘hood, with 1,754 units in progress and even more in the pipeline. The most attention-grabbing addition is 40-story condo tower The Greenpoint, which will be occupied early this year, but Localize.city notes “no fewer than five major developments are underway.”

The first market-rate building of the Greenpoint Landing megaproject, One Blue Slip, started leasing last summer, with rents starting at $2,600 per month for studios (higher than the current neighborhood median of $2,400 for a one-bedroom).

Not to mention Amazon’s HQ2 in Long Island City will be just two stops away on the G train.

“The Greenpoint” waterfront tower.

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L-Train Apocalypse Averted, Reconstruction to Take 15 – 20 Months

Gov. ‘Amazon’ Cuomo at Thursday’s press conference in Manhattan.

Governor ‘Amazon’ Cuomo held a surprise press conference in Manhattan on Thursday afternoon to announce last-minute changes in the two-year-old L train shutdown plan that was scheduled to start in April 2019. The plan for a full shutdown of the L train’s Canarsie tunnel has been scrapped in lieu of a new engineering plan (PDF) to keep the tunnel in operation during reconstruction. The announcement has a profound impact on Brooklyn residents working in Manhattan and the real estate developers with local interests, who are some of Cuomo’s largest donors.

Without offering many specific details, Cuomo said that L train commuters can expect service disruptions on some nights and weekends during the coming 15-to-20-months of construction on the Canarsie tunnel.

Cuomo didn’t talk about the MTA’s former plans to create express bus lanes on the Williamsburg Bridge and across 14th Street in Manhattan. Cuomo also continued to deny his control over the MTA: “No, I am not in charge of the MTA…Yes, I did ask this group, I convened this group, I got them access, I facilitated their research, they came up with their conclusion, they presented it to the MTA, and the MTA said it’s a better way to do it.”

The flooded Canarsie tunnel in the aftermath of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy

The Canarsie tunnel was damaged way back in 2012 from the salty, corrosive floodwaters of Hurricane Sandy. The MTA announced its mitigation plan in 2016, and since then dozens of meetings in North Brooklyn have been held by local activist groups such as the L train Coalition and NYC Council Members Stephen Levin and Antonio Reynoso.

Cuomo’s team of Ivy League engineers drafted a new engineering design “never used in the United States” to supplement the full shutdown, Cuomo explained during Thursday’s press conference:

To make a long story short: They have proposed a new design to use in the tunnel. It is a design that has not been used in the united states before to the best of our knowledge. It has been implemented in Europe. It has never been implemented in a tunnel restoration project. They came up with that design suggestion that uses many new innovations that are new to, frankly, the rail industry in this country. But the MTA has gone through their recommendations and gone through the new design, and the MTA believes that it is feasible, it’s highly innovative but that it is feasible. Long story short, with this design, it would not be necessary to close the L train tunnel at all, which would be a phenomenal benefit to the people of New York City. There would need to be some night and weekend closures of only one tube, so service would still work because there are two tunnels, but it would be a major, major breakthrough, and that’s what we want to discuss with you today.

Watch the full press conference:

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Cuomo to Make Surprise L Train Announcement Today

Governor ‘Amazon’ Cuomo will take a break from striking backroom deals with monopolistic billionaires and make a surprise announcement during a press conference today at 12:45 p.m. in Manhattan regarding the L train shutdown, Gothamist reports. Just two weeks ago Cuomo submerged himself into the Canarsie Tunnel that runs between Manhattan and Brooklyn to take a hard look at the reconstruction plan with a team of experts. As of now, the plan (four years in the making) is to shut down the tunnel to train traffic for 15 months begging at the end of April 2019.

A potential switch may be a three-year shutdown with one track remaining in operation, Gothamist reports:

MTA sources told Gothamist that they have heard rumors that the governor was planning on altering the L train shutdown. “We usually have provisions that allow us to get out of contracts at any given time, but there’s been a fair amount of work done already,” one source said. “If there’s a new plan only the very upper management knows what that is.”

Another source in contact with city decision makers said the governor may switch from the 1.5 year total shutdown timeline to one that would last 3+ years by partially shutting down one track.

Update: The NY Times reports that a full Canarsie Tunnel shutdown will not happen. Specific details are still to be announced.

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Legendary Urbanist Jane Jacobs’ Prophetic Warning to Greenpoint

Jane Jacobs in 1961 (Library of Congress.)

The name Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) is legendary in urban planning and in the last year of her life, Jacobs had a prescient warning about the future of our waterfront in Brooklyn. Her 2005 letter about plans to develop the local waterfront is so timely that it seems like it could have been written today.Jacobs was a revolutionary urbanist and activist whose groundbreaking writings championed a community-based approach to urban development and renewal. Although She had no formal training as a planner, her seminal 1961 work “The Death and Life of Great American Cities” is considered something of a bible amongst urbanists. In the book, Jacobs proposed novel ideas about how cities function, evolve and fail, that were groundbreaking then, but today seem obvious to generations of architects, urban planners, politicians and activists. Once a year in May, her contributions to cities are recalled on Jane’s Day when people around the world organize walks in cities.

In 2005, shortly before her own death, the legendary urbanist weighed in on the renewal of the Williamsburg-Greenpoint waterfront in a letter addressed to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. She advocated for the adoption of a community-sponsored development plan that was ultimately not adopted. In her letter, she warned that developers outside the community would take advantage of the rezoning of the East River waterfront to serve their own interests by building high rises and by gentrifying the area so that working class people would be pushed out. Jacobs’ letter contrasted the local community’s plan for the area versus the developer-friendly rezoning that ultimately was adopted. 13 years later her warnings have proven valid. It is amazing how timely Jacobs’ letter still feels today. Continue reading

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Former Greenpoint Hospital Set for Redevelopment

Greenpoint Hospital main building (via Brooklyn Relics)

In a city critically short of both affordable housing and homeless shelters, the long-abandoned former Greenpoint hospital can help alleviate both severe shortages in North Brooklyn. Over a year ago, plans were finalized for the conversion of the site and soon the former hospital will serve the public in these critical areas. The Greenpoint Hospital served the community for 70 years and many locals were born in the hospital. Constructed of brick and limestone, the attractive main building includes elements of Romanesque Revival, Italianate and Neo-Classical architectural styles. After opening in 1914, the hospital closed in 1982 amidst much local anger.

In a plan that includes a new homeless shelter and affordable apartments for low-income residents, the Hudson Companies, St. Nicks Alliance, and Project Renewal were chosen by the city’s Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development to redevelop the former Greenpoint Hospital site at 288 Jackson Street.

Rendering of redeveloped Greenpoint Hospital (Magnusson Architecture and Planning)

Magnusson Architecture and Planning and the firm Architecture Outfit will jointly develop 512 new units of affordable housing that will be housed in four separate buildings. The development will include an attractive campus with 21,500 square feet of communal space with a resident lounge, dining facilities, and a workforce development center. Completion of the project will involve two phases. In the first phase, the existing 200-bed shelter at the site will be moved to the southern portion of the development site in a rehabbed building. The first phase will also include construction of a new building with 267 apartments.

The Greenpoint Hospital (Magnusson Architecture and Planning)

Phase two will redevelop the main hospital building, that will be converted to a senior home with 109 apartments. The building that houses the boiler will be demolished and a 136-unit apartment building is slated to replace it. 30 percent of the total apartments are reserved for the formerly homeless. Continue reading

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Blue Flashes Caused by Con Ed Electrical Fire in Astoria Last Night

Transistor explosions at the Con Ed power station in Astoria Queens lit up the NYC sky on Thursday night.

Beginning at around 9:00 p.m last, night neon blue bursts of light turned the New York City skyline into a pre-apocalyptic backdrop while sending ripples of speculation and awe throughout the city. Con Ed initially said a transformer explosion at the Con Ed power plant in Astoria, Queens (known as the Astoria Generating Station) was the source of the flickering lights in the night’s sky and fortunately, no fatalities resulted.

 

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New Year, New Volunteer Opportunities in North Brooklyn

The Greenpoint Reformed Church (136 Milton St.)

With the end of the year approaching, you may be looking for ways to give back to the community during this holiday season. The local hunger-relief programs offer great opportunities to give back in North Brooklyn, either with a one-off session or on a weekly basis.

The Greenpoint Reformed Church Hunger Program serves dinner on Wednesdays and distributes groceries on Thursdays from 4-7 p.m. at 136 Milton St. View the upcoming schedule and volunteer here.

The hunger program is also currently hosting a crowdfunding campaign to provide essential hygiene products for young girls and women. The ‘fem-kits’ will be available at the food pantry and the campaign seeks to fund three months of supplies for 400 women.

The angel mobile serves up hot meals (photo via @brooklyncranksgiving)

The North Brooklyn Angels are a local nonprofit organization that started in the winter of 2016 and by the summer of 2017, launched the “Angelmobile,” a 40-foot mobile soup kitchen powered by volunteers, and started serving free meals on the streets of Brooklyn. NBA sends out bi-weekly emails with updates on the volunteer schedule. They also use social media (@northbrooklynangels) to post emergency volunteer opportunities. Signup for email updates here. Continue reading

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L Train Tunnel to Get Hard Look From Amazon Cuomo Tonight

Amazon Cuomo (courtesy of Zak Seward)

Governor ‘Amazon’ Cuomo is set to tour the L train’s Canarsie tunnel on Thursday night ahead of the subway line’s 15-month shutdown between Manhattan and Brooklyn that is scheduled to start in April 2019.

While not exactly an eleventh-hour visit (pun intended), Cuomo will descend into the hurricane-ravaged tunnel flanked by ‘national and international experts’ for a photo-op around midnight.

This means some late night schedule changes on the L train tonight: the overnight schedule will begin at 12 a.m. instead of 1:30 a.m., when trains will run every 20 minutes. Regular service will resume at 1:30 a.m.

Amazon Cuomo called into WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” on Monday to dish on an array of issues facing the Empire State, including the impending L train shutdown. Read Cuomo’s meandering take on his L train visit:

“I am this week going to take a look myself at the L train. And as a project to close the tunnel that carries the L train, it would be highly disruptive for many people, of course. You want to make sure the tunnel is safe, and the train is safe. But this Thursday night, midnight, I’m gonna take a tour to make sure we are doing everything we can and explore every option to reduce any possible disruption.

I did the same thing with the 2nd Avenue subway to make sure that the bureaucracy is being flexible and open and creative. Because these are vital services; you close down the L train, they’re talking about 15 months, it creates a major problem.

The city’s worked very hard, the MTA has worked hard to come up with alternatives. But the functionality of this agency is key, and when it becomes a major situation that I can get involved in directly, like the 2nd Avenue subway…But the MTA day-to-day having the funding, to buy new trains, put in that new signal system, do the construction on time, that is vital. Remebering that the whole system is, has been neglected for decades, it’s a 100 year old system, and the volume is multiple times what it was designed to handle.”

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