Joe Lentol

The City is Still Without a Plan for L-pocalypse and North Brooklyn is Trying to Hold Leaders Accountable

L-Pocalypse Press Conference
Photo by Victoria Varney

When it comes to the Zombie Apocalypse, you’re officially covered. The Pentagon has been prepared to resist the undead menace since 2011, when the headquarters of United States strategic command compiled a “Counter-Zombie Dominance” plan. This is absolutely a real thing. The document even carries the disclaimer, “this plan was not actually designed as a joke,” but instead as “a useful and effective training tool.” Other useful and effective tools that may help you in planning for the Zombie Apocalypse include the Center for Disease Control’s Zombie Preparedness Campaign, and this handy list of the 25 Best Majors for Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse.

On the other hand, if you are concerned about the eminent L Train Shutdown, the 15-month transit closure planned to take effect in April 2019, when the the MTA will repair the Canarsie Tunnel, it seems you may have no such survival guides. According to The Village Voice, the City and the MTA have no plan in place for how they’ll get the L Train’s 200,000 daily riders between Manhattan and Brooklyn and back again.

On Tuesday, December 5th, North Brooklyn community activists led by The L Train Coalition and local politicians, held a press conference at The West BK (379 Union Avenue) calling on the MTA and DOT to meet with community representatives before the end of the year. A media release for the event said, “the community needs a report of the current plans for transportation remediation, a serious discussion around help for local businesses, and any street use changes proposed by the Department of Transportation. We will also call for a commitment by the responsible agencies and their contractors to meet with a community advisory board on a monthly basis starting in January 2018.” The coalition also invited community members to get involved in the campaign.  Continue reading

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On the Waterfront and Off the Leash — The Hook-up (10/11)

Cruising on Newtown Creek. Via Freeport Princess
Conservationists Cruising on Newtown Creek. Via Freeport Princess

Greenpointers have been watching the changing East River Waterfront. A community development meeting on Wednesday allowed residents to hear from developers, and voice their concerns about on-going construction projects in North Brooklyn. While the luxury towers seem to leave a lot of Greenpointers out in the cold, this week The Brooklyn Eagle toured Level BK, in Williamsburg, offering a look inside.

Elsewhere on the waterfront, Newtown Creek Stakeholders took to the waterway for a cruise aboard the Freeport Princess. Business owners, residents, environmentalists, government representatives were all on board.

Transmitter Park is one of the great gems of the Greenpoint waterfront, but the oasis has turned terrifying for pet owners. A shaggy, unleashed, black dog has brutally attacked several other dogs in the park without cause or warning.  Continue reading

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Notes from Wednesday’s Community Development Meeting

Rendering of 21 India Street via Corcoran
Rendering of 21 India Street via Corcoran

On Wednesday, Greenpoint residents came together at the Polish and Slavic Center (176 Java Street) for a community development meeting organized by Councilman Stephen Levin. The meeting promised information about how new construction along the waterfront, will impact Greenpoint.

Representatives from Greenpoint Landing, The Greenpoint (21 India Street) and Heritage Equity Partners (25 Kent) presented the most recent developments regarding their on-gong construction projects, and took questions from community members. Then community organizations took the floor to discuss their recent work. Neighbors Allied for Good Growth, the Department of Environmental Conservation, Curb Your Litter, and Evergreen all turned out to detail their ongoing efforts on behalf of Greenpoint. Here are notes from the 2 hour meeting:

Continue reading

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Artists And Art Friends Unite: Loft Law Rally Tomorrow Night!

Rally for a Better Loft Law | Thursday May 25 | 7-9pm
@ San Damiano Mission | 85 N 15th St

If you know any North Brooklyn artists in live/work spaces, you probably know someone who is affected by the Loft Law. Artists and creatives are being pushed out of many NYC neighborhoods, including our own Greenpoint and Williamsburg, and luckily you can support the local art community to help artists stay put. On Thursday evening, all are welcome to join tenants, artists, elected officials and housing advocates to show support for the 2017 Loft Law “Clean-Up” Bill. Speakers will include state and local elected officials, loft lawyers, artists and tenant advocates.

RSVP on Facebook Continue reading

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Mayor de Blasio Helps Community Celebrate Bushwick Inlet Park Victory

Mayor de Blasio

This past Saturday, December 17th, Mayor de Blasio came to Bushwick Inlet Park to praise the community activists who after ten years of struggle finally prevailed and forced the city to purchase the twenty-seven acre site for the park. De Blasio continually referred to the community’s victory and praised the local group Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park for their tireless advocacy for the park. In his remarks the Mayor laughed about the persistence of local City Councilman Stephen Levin, who incessantly nagged him until the park was purchased. The Mayor spoke of the high cost of acquiring the land ($150 million just for the final piece), but said that the city was fulfilling its promise to the community to acquire the waterfront site.

Stephen Levin and Carolyn Maloney

A number of other local politicians spoke. Borough President Eric Adams mentioned that the park was proof of the city’s commitment to provide waterfront access to all the people of Brooklyn, not only those with the means to purchase luxury waterfront real estate. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney also addressed the gathering saying that the actions of community groups in gaining the park would serve as a future model. State Assemblyman Joseph Lentol reminded people that he had been an advocate for the park for a decade.

Joe Lentol

The mood at the gathering was celebratory, almost euphoric. Many of the people in the crowd had done the hard work of advocating for the park for years. They had made phone calls, signed petitions, and even slept out in the rain to gain the parkland, and they were in the mood to celebrate. As they walked home to Greenpoint, Stephen Chesler, Scott Fraser and some of the other people who fought the hardest to gain the park posed for pictures by the fence, which recently read Where’s Our Park? but now reads triumphantly, Here’s Our Park. Those words said it all.

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L Train Service Increasing In June 2017

L Train Illustration via @brooklyncartoons Instagram
Illustration via Emmett Truxes, @brooklyncartoons,

In a move that seems like it can’t come soon enough, the MTA has announced that it will start increasing L train service starting next June.

Beginning in June 2017, to accommodate the increased rider trends, the L line will have:

  • 11 additional weekday roundtrips between 9am – 7:30pm.
  • 12 additional Saturday roundtrips between 7am – 3pm.
  • 27 additional Sunday roundtrips between 7am – 8pm.

During these hours, L train service is currently running at more than 100% capacity (or “peak load point”) guidelines. The additional trains should help bump capacity down below 100%. Why it took the MTA this long to increase service on the ever-crowded L train is perhaps one of the great unsolved mysteries of North Brooklyn. Continue reading

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Lager Legislation, An Airbnb Nightmare, and The King of Greenpoint – The Hook-Up 10/07

firefighters
Firefighters responded to calls from multiple people who reported smelling gas near Franklin and Noble Wednesday night. After checking it out, firefighters determined that nothing was wrong.

After a string of recent robberies in Greenpoint, police are looking for four men. Images have been released of two of these men. Stay vigilant and be careful if walking late at night.

Ever wonder where McGuinness Boulevard got its name? It’s because of a man named Peter J. McGuinness, an influential character in the neighborhood’s history who, despite having never graduated high school, helped get such projects as the Meeker Avenue Bridge and McCarren Park Pool completed. Local historian and frequent Greenpointers writer Geoff Cobb has a new book coming out about him called King of Greenpoint, which is getting some attention!

After being forced out of their apartment of 23 years by nefarious landlords and forced to live in shelters and temporary housing for three years, a Greenpoint family has finally returned to their longtime home at 300 Nassau Avenue.

Ever wonder what an Airbnb nightmare looks like? Check out this story, on a Williamsburg family who rented out their duplex only to have $7k in damage occur.

Tired of feeling like your paycheck disappears faster than free pizza at Paulie Gee’s? Well, you may be on to something, according to this study from a real estate data company, which calls Brooklyn the most “unaffordable place to live in America”.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill that North Brooklyn Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol originally introduced providing tax credits for brewers in New York City. Greenpoint Beer and Ale, Keg & Lantern, and Brooklyn Brewery all got shout outs from Lentol in the press release!

Greening Greenpoint hosted the Greenpoint Community Tree Summit on Monday at the McCarren Park Play Center.

The 94th Precinct hosted their monthly Community Council meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 5 at St. John’s Lutheran Church.

t.b.d. (224 Franklin St.) hosted a fundraising event on Wednesday in support of Hillary Clinton.

Town Square is hosting Go Green Day, a volunteer afternoon on Friday, October 7 from 2-5pm in McCarren Park.

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Long-Awaited Pulaski Bridge Bike Path to be Unveiled This Week

After a lot of complaints, plenty of false starts, and a two-and-a-half-year wait, it looks like we are finally getting that Pulaski Bridge bike path. The path will connect the increasingly popular waterfront neighborhoods of Long Island City in Queens and Greenpoint in Brooklyn.

Photo via NYC DOT
Photo via NYC Department of Transportation

The project, backed by Assembly member Joe Lentol, was initiated in response to community complaints about the shared pedestrian and bike path on the six-lane bridge over Newton Creek.

In 2013, when the project was first approved, the NYC Department of Transportation released a report, which revealed that there had been a 106% increase in cyclists over the Pulaski Bridge in the previous four years, versus a 47% increase in pedestrians. As traffic increased over the bridge, the width became a cause for concern. The addition of a separate bike path will improve safety for bikers and pedestrians alike. Continue reading

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You’ve Heard About the L-Pocalypse. What About the G-Pocalypse?

greenpointg16
Photo: Jeremiah Cox

The L Train is facing an imminent, extensive shutdown in the wake of lingering Hurricane Sandy damage, and North Brooklyn hasn’t taken the news very well.

And why would it, given the amount of daily riders who travel through the Canarsie Tube every day — around 350,000 — not to mention the huge impact ridership has on local businesses?

Currently, the MTA is considering two options to implement as early as 2017: to close the entire tunnel nonstop for one year, or to leave one side open and reduce traffic to half-volume, which would take anywhere from three to four years.

Not ones to bide their time quietly, a number of local residents and business owners have already formed The L Train Coalition to demand a better solution from the MTA, though many know full well that the answer will definitely be “pain.”

Pain, of course, can be abstract or painted in sharp relief. And while a fair amount of ink has been spilled over the implications for L Train commuters, there are fewer educated guesses regarding the fate of surrounding areas like Greenpoint, which will absorb a great deal of shock from the closure as riders scramble to find alternative routes. Continue reading

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At CitiStorage Rally, Various Words that Amounted to ‘Where’s Our Park?’

This should have been a park by now: Photo by Steph Koyfman
This should have been a park by now

Yesterday was the year anniversary of the 7-alarm fire that razed the CitiStorage warehouse on the Williamsburg waterfront.

At a rally held near the site on N. 11th Street and Kent Avenue, more than a few attendees wondered why the Williamsburg waterfront never saw massive, suspicious fires prior to its 2005 rezoning into a lucrative development opportunity.

But the event wasn’t held in service of a whodunnit mystery. Instead, open space activists brought in local representatives to drive home the message that the local government still owes the city one (1) Bushwick Inlet Park.

To be clear, the 28-acre park has been in the works for nearly two decades. In 2005, when the Williamsburg waterfront was rezoned, the open-space promise was part of the deal Bloomberg cut with neighbors and local politicians in exchange for all those pricey condos and added congestion. With the CitiStorage building aflame (which sits atop a major parcel needed to complete the park), fears were reignited that the land would go to another developer, and though de Blasio recently said he would deny a residential rezoning in the area, activist group Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park isn’t about to rest easy until the city acquires the land via eminent domain.

After years of beating the same (hopefully not dead) horse, there’s little to say aside from “where’s our park?”

But really though
But really though

And that was, indeed, the rallying cry at yesterday’s meeting.

Here are a few more versions of this from yesterday’s demonstration.

“On this date, there was a huge warehouse fire that would not be put out. Today, there is also a fire that will not be put out in any of us.” Kim Fraser, Friends of Bushwick Inlet Park

“It is very important that we keep our word as a city, very important that we keep our word as a government, and very important that we keep our word as a community to one another. Because that means something — a commitment means something. So we need to continue to fight for this, we need to continue to remind our city and our mayor, respectfully, that this is something they committed to.” Councilman Stephen Levin

“I want to point out that this park is not a gift. It was a negotiated trade. It was a contract. It was a contract between the community and the city of New York. And this contract said, ‘you vote and support upzoning on the waterfront, and we will give you this park.’ It was a hard and fast agreement in exchange for the rezoning that has led to massive density and population increases. And if they do not follow through on this agreement, they’re telling communities all over the city that their word is worthless. That they cannot be believed or trusted.” State Rep. Carolyn Maloney

IMG_1917“I started in politics when we were talking about Bushwick Inlet Park. As an intern. And I stand here today as your Deputy Borough President, working with Eric Adams as your Borough President, committed to this 20-year plan, and committed to what is bringing dignity back to this community. Because I grew up not going to parks. Because in Williamsburg, when you went to a park, there would be a shootout. We are long past those days. We’ve worked hard to make sure we have a safer neighborhood. But it is not fair that after all that work, that we have to stand here again calling for the same negotiated contract that was already negotiated.” Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Diana Reyna

“Open space is as much of a [deciding factor] for people I know as to whether they can make a life here [as schools and property taxes]. It’s not a luxury we’re asking for. This is not a little cherry on top. This is part of what any person who ever thinks about the life and death of cities knows is a necessity when a city grows and changes.” State Senator Daniel Squadron

“A lot of people believe this is all about money. And I guess it is all about money, because either the Bloomberg administration or the de Blasio administration has said ‘we’re not gonna spend the money that’s necessary in order to give us a park.’…We’re not responsible for the cost of this park. This park could have been bought for pennies compared to what it costs today. The East River Park was purchased for $10 million. This park could have been purchased for less than $10 million back in 2005.” Assemblyman Joe Lentol

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