Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pier 6 Restaurant Slated For Fall 2011 Opening

Pier 6 rendering released today shows the restaurant overlooking a popular children’s playground within the park at the edge of Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn Heights. Also illustrated: a sand volleyball court - set to open next summer - and a planned lawn area expected to open in Spring 2011.


It’s a view for eating that will certainly rival the nearby River CafĂ© -- but at much cheaper prices.

City officials overseeing the Brooklyn Bridge Park project began soliciting bids from developers today interested in running a full-service restaurant that serves booze on Pier 6, at the edge of Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn Heights, according to the New York Post.

The restaurant, which is expected to open in Fall 2011, will include a 2,000-square-foot indoor section, an adjacent outdoor terrace and a rooftop seating area that overlooks Manhattan.

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New York Post - The Brooklyn Blog - By Rich Calder

Monday, November 29, 2010

Community Garden Supporters Seek Greater Protections

Community garden activists rally on the steps of City Hall today before a City Council Committee on Parks & Recreation oversight hearing seeking greater protections. This will be the first public hearing since the City adopted its controversial new community garden rules in September. As a concession, the administration announced today that community gardens registered and licensed by the Parks Department will be good for four years instead of two. (Video capture: NY1 news)

Testifying today about the new rules adopted by the city, Bloomberg operative Larry Scott Blackmon, now a Deputy Commissioner for the Parks Department said, "There were those who spread fears that these rules were written as a means to further development. That is not and has never been our intent."

City Wide

Earlier this year, the city took steps to preserve hundreds of community gardens. But some critics say those protections didn't go far enough. NY1's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.

Even activists say the Bloomberg administration has been a friend when it comes to protecting the city's 600 community gardens. But they worry what could happen under a different mayor, one like Rudy Giuliani, who once sought to auction off gardens to developers.

"Some of it is flashing back to a previous administration that wasn’t supportive. And worrying that if an administration in the future is also not supportive, that they’re gonna have to fight for the future of their gardens all over again," said Steven Frillmann of Green Guerillas.

In September, the city’s Parks Department issued new regulations that protect community gardens so long as they're in good standing. But critics, some of whom rallied at City Hall Monday, say they want more permanent protection. They say the process for finding a garden in default is vague and worry it could lead to gardens being taken over by developers.

"We want to make sure that the city, if that’s the intent, that if there’s a problem with garden members, that the garden members are removed, but the garden itself remains intact," said Karen Washington of the New York City Community Garden Coalition.

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Community Garden Advocates Seek Greater Protections

NY 1 News - November 29, 2010 - By Bobby Cuza

Parks Announces Extension Of Community Garden License Agreements

City of New York/Parks & Recreation - Press Release - November 29, 2010

No Permanent Protections For Community Gardens Under New NYC Rules

A Walk In The Park - September 16, 2010

Bloomberg Campaign Operative Hired as Deputy Parks Commissioner

A Walk In The Park - January 11, 2010

BID's Failing To Pay Prevailing Wage - Union Alleges

A Union Square Partnership (USP) worker sweeps up garbage in Union Square Park where its workers have replaced many Parks Department employees. 32BJ SEIU has filed a complaint with New York City Comptroller John Liu alleging that the Union Square Partnership business improvement district is covered by existing prevailing wage law and has been underpaying workers by more than $14 an hour. In the complaint, the union alleges workers employed by BID subcontractor Atlantic Maintenance Corp. are paid as little as $7.41 per hour. The BID's sanitation workers are represented by Amalgamated Industrial and Toy and Novelty Workers Local 223 according to a (USP) spokesman. (Photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on image to enlarge.

City Wide

In a new wrinkle to a larger legislative dispute that has festered for months, building-service powerhouse 32BJ SEIU has filed a complaint with New York City Comptroller John Liu alleging that the Union Square Partnership business improvement district is covered by existing prevailing wage law and has been underpaying workers by more than $14 an hour, according to Crain's new york business.

The union says it bases its argument on interviews with workers and a copy of the BID's contract with the city, which it obtained via a Freedom of Information Law request. It has requested contracts of BIDs across the city to evaluate whether they too might be in violation of the prevailing wage law.

In the complaint, the union alleges workers employed by BID subcontractor Atlantic Maintenance Corp. are paid as little as $7.41 per hour. The hourly prevailing wage for office cleaners in the city is $21.80, plus $8.36 in benefits; for security officers, it's $11.75, plus $4.46 in benefits.

“Well-funded BIDs have no financial reason for cutting costs on the backs of working New Yorkers,” said a 32BJ spokeswoman. “And some may be violating the law that prohibits tax dollars from being used to finance poverty-like jobs.”

Dan Biederman, chairman of the BID Association, an umbrella group representing the city's 64 BIDs, said the complaint is the latest in a series of “ongoing lobbying efforts” by 32BJ surrounding a prevailing wage bill under consideration in Albany that would end exemptions for public utilities.

A spokesman for the Union Square Partnership said in a statement that the BID's sanitation workers are represented by Amalgamated Industrial and Toy and Novelty Workers Local 223 and that a new contract went into effect July 1. “Atlantic Maintenance negotiated a comprehensive, fair and mutually agreed upon compensation package through a collective bargaining process that includes wages ranging from $8 to $14 per hour, paid vacation, and health coverage,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Liu had no comment.

The complaint is likely a pressure tactic by the union to get the BIDs to drop their opposition to the bill as the legislature heads back into session this afternoon. The measure would extend state prevailing wage laws to contracted building service workers at public utility companies like Con Edison and National Grid.

In addition to the BIDs, utility companies like ConEd have forcefully campaigned against the bill, arguing it would mean rate hikes for customers. ConEd is a member of the Union Square Partnership. It funds the group's website and sponsors its annual Harvest in the Square and Summer in the Square events. The utility giant's secretary is treasurer of the partnership's local development corporation, and its director of corporate communications sits on the BID's board.

A ConEd spokesman said the BIDs' opposition is independent from the utility's. “They have their own issues,” he said.

Read More:

Union plays hardball with BID over wages
SEIU alleges Union Square Partnership violates law and underpays some workers by more than $14 an hour. Other BIDs in city targeted, as union pushes broader issue in Albany.
Crain's new york business - November 29, 2010 - By Daniel Massey

Push To Restore Brighton/Manhattan Beach Waterfront Access

A storm damaged the Manhattan Beach Esplanade.   Morgan Presswater/Brookyln View
A crumbling esplanade connects Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach Park. A chain link fence was built by the late Jack Laboz in the 80's to prevent the general public from accessing the promenade in front of his large house at 293 Amherst St. between Amherst & Beaumont Sts. along the waterfront. In December 1993, a State court ruled in favor of Mr. Laboz, "a politically connected Brooklyn developer" which allowed the fence to remain. (Photo: Brooklyn View)


Brooklyn leaders are pushing a public-promenade plan that would reconnect the exclusive seaside neighborhood of Manhattan Beach with the rest of the borough’s less affluent southern shorefront, according to the New York Post.

Under the proposal, an eight-block rickety walkway that was fenced off from "outsiders" through a 1993 court order would be reopened and replaced with a new promenade. It would connect with the neighborhood’s public beach to the east and the Brighton Beach and Coney Island boardwalk to the west.

"Waterfront views should never be blocked," said Theresa Scavo, chairwoman of Brooklyn Community Board 15. "The city is finding ways to bring greenways for walking and biking to Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn. Why can’t Southern Brooklyn have something like that?"

The proposal is one of many being pitched by the Brooklyn Borough Board — comprised of Borough President Marty Markowitz and community board leaders like Scavo — for consideration as the city Planning Department drafts its "Vision 2020" comprehensive citywide waterfront development plan.

Other Brooklyn goals of note include establishing recreational access at both Plumb Beach in Mill Basin and polluted Coney Island Creek, bringing back ferry service to the 39th Street, 69th Street and Steeplechase Piers and widening a heavily used waterfront bike path running from Bensonhurst, past the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and to Bay Ridge.

The weatherworn Manhattan Beach cement esplanade dates back to the mid 1800s and was once heavily used.

But a state judge in 1993 ruled it private property belonging to shorefront homeowners by siding with Jack Laboz, a politically connected Brooklyn developer.

Laboz six years earlier blocked off part of the walkway by erecting a massive fence behind his grand home at 293 Amherst St. His deep pockets helped withstand a legal challenge by some of Manhattan Beach’s roughly 800 homeowners.

Scavo said that, if the city gets involved, she believes it could use its clout to easily overturn that ruling because some property deeds describe the esplanade as a pedestrian street.

Read More:

New York Post - November 29, 2010 - By Rich Calder

New York Times - November 28, 1993 - By Lynette Holloway

New York Times - December 26, 1993

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Extra PEP Added In Washington Square Park Over Dog Killing Squirrel Incident

"Dogs are not allowed off the leash anywhere else in the park. A $1,000 fine can be issued for hunting, trapping or wounding an animal in a city park."

Greenwich Village Squirrel at Park

The Parks Department issued a summons to a woman who park goers said was allowing her two dogs to kill Washington Square Park squirrels. Uniformed PEP were seen at the entrance of the dog run on Sunday. (Photo: Gabriela Resto-Montero/DNAinfo)


Squirrel-mauling dogs have upset people in Washington Square Park and forced officials to launch undercover operations to catch the illegal hunters' owner, according to DNAinfo.

The Parks Department has undercover officers in Washington Square Park following reports that a woman was letting her dogs attack and kill the park's squirrels.

The department issued a summons to an unidentified woman who other park goers claim was letting her two large dogs off the leash to hunt down the critters.

"Our parks enforcement patrol has deployed additional patrols and undercover officers to the park, and they are prepared to issue additional summonses for injuring park animals if she is observed encouraging her dogs to kill squirrels," said Philip Abramson, a Parks spokesman.

The Parks Department would not identify the woman.

Park Enforcement Officers reportedly found five dead squirrels and one who survived an attack with broken legs, the blog Animal Tourism first reported.

Read More:

DNAinfo - November 28, 2010 By Gabriela Resto-Montero

A Walk In The Park - November 26, 2010

Jackson Heights Community Hopes To Extend Travers Park

City Councilman Daniel Dromm wants city to purchase yard from cash-trapped school to expand Travers Park.
City Councilman Daniel Dromm wants city to purchase yard from a cash-strapped private school to expand Travers Park. Dromm secured $4 million in Council funds to buy the property and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall is ready to kick in an additional $1 million. (Photo: DelMundo for NY Daily News)


A growing community in western Queens could get the additional park land that local families and advocates have long been fighting for - if the city acts fast.

The city is looking into purchasing the yard of a Jackson Heights private school that just happens to sit across the street from Travers Park, according to the New York Daily News.

But officials are worried the city won't be able to come up with the $5.25 million needed to secure the Garden School's 20,000-square-foot property before a developer snatches up the prime real estate.

"This is an ideal location and it would be a dream come true for the community if we could make this happen," said City Councilman Daniel Dromm. "Jackson Heights is in desperate need of additional park space."

The Jackson Heights Democrat has championed the fight for more open space in the neighborhood, which has one of the lowest acreages of green space per capita, according to the Parks Department.

Dromm secured $4 million in Council funds to buy the property. Queens Borough President Helen Marshall is ready to kick in an additional $1 million.

The price of the property is still under negotiation, said Mark Daly, a spokesman for the Department of Citywide Administrative Services. Even once that's settled, it could take up to two more years to go through the steps to acquire the property, he said.

Read More:

New York Daily News - November 28th 2010 - By Clare Trapasso
City Councilman Daniel Dromm champions park space in Jackson Heights
New York Daily News -April 16, 2010 - By Clare Trapasso

New York Daily News - September 24, 2010 - By Clare Trapasso

Kaiser Park To Calvert Vaux Park $ 30 Mil Bridge To Nowhere Plan

Talk about building a bridge in the middle of nowhere.

A Brooklyn assemblyman is pushing a $30 million plan to build a pedestrian bridge over a heavily polluted creek to connect two city parks – one next to a gated Coney Island community and the other by the site of a planned waste-transfer station in Bensonhurst, according to the New York Post.

Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny said connecting 26-acre Kaiser Park in Coney Island and 78-acre Calvert Vaux Park in Bensonhurst with a walking bridge across Coney Island Creek makes sense — not only because it creates larger, contiguous green space to benefit two neighborhoods, but because "it helps wipe out the potential" for a seaside disaster.

He said residents in the gated-community Seagate and others on Coney Island’s west end face difficulty fleeing the island during a massive hurricane or other emergency. Many who live in the area are more than a mile away from the nearest exit, the Cropsey Avenue Bridge.

"If there’s ever a disaster, thousands, especially seniors, could be stuck getting out," he said.

Brook-Krasny (D-Brooklyn) said he has an architect lined up who’d design the bridge for free and that estimated construction costs are $30 million. The shortest distance between both parks is about 800 feet.

"In theory it sounds good, but it’s impractical," Ida Sanoff, a local activist and former CB 13 member.

"The $30 million would be better spend trying to come up with ways to limit the number of cars in Coney Island through mass-transit improvements. And seriously, how many people are going to want to walk from one park to the other just to travel between neighborhoods?"

Read More:

'$melly' span plan to link B'klyn parks
New York Post - November 28, 2010 - By Rich Calder

Disabled Woman Murdered In Marcus Garvey Park, Mother Of Six-Year Old

Nina Rivera
Nina Rivera - 29, was found naked under a pile of leaves in Marcus Garvery Park on Wednesday at approx. 8:45am. On Friday the Medical Examiner classified the incident as a homicide. Ms. Rivera - who lived with her six-year old son a few blocks away from the park - was strangled an autopsy revealed. Police have not made any arrests but have questioned several people, including her new boyfriend. The family told the Daily News that Rivera had suffered four strokes and had been partially paralyzed by one of them.


The naked woman found dead in a Harlem park overcame a series of disabilities to become a devoted mother - only to be coldly murdered, her body dumped under a pile of leaves, police and relatives said Saturday, according to the New York Daily News.

Nina Rivera's body was found at the base of a rocky hill in Marcus Garvey Park early Wednesday. An autopsy revealed she had been strangled, police said.

Rivera's family said the 29-year-old woman overcame a life of hardship - including four strokes, the most recent of which left her partially paralyzed - to become a loving mother to her 6-year-old son.

"She proved them wrong," said her aunt Evelyn Rivera, who said doctors told Nina Rivera she would never be able to have a child.

"In spite of all the conditions she had, she was so strong - her heart, her mind," said Evelyn Rivera, 50. "This is a young lady who suffered from medical issues her whole life, and for her to go this way is just horrific."

Read More:

New York Daily News - November 28, 2010 - By Henrick Karoliszyn and Jonathan Lemire

DNAinfo - November 28, 2010 By Della Hasselle and Adam Nichols

A Walk In The Park - November 24, 2010

Desperate Park Naming Rights Plan Suspended

Naming Rights. Bloomberg friend, financier Carl Icahn gave $ 10 million dollars towards the track and field facity on Randall's Island which was then named after him. The administration's plan to sell naming rights to certain park facilities has been put on hold. According to the Parks Commissioner however, they plan on coming back to the idea next year after further study and "when they can be the most effective and return fair value" to taxpayers. Park properties have historically been named after prominent figures.


What's in a name?

Not the millions of dollars a year the Parks Department had been counting on by peddling naming rights, according to the New York Post.

The agency has temporarily pulled the plug on a plan to raise money by auctioning off exclusive branding franchises at such venues as the restored pool in Williamsburg's McCarren Park (valued at $3 million) or the tennis center in Central Park (asking price: $5 million).

As The Post first reported, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe floated the plan 18 months ago, hoping to raise desperately needed revenue.

Benepe acknowledged that would "be difficult right now" to pull off, considering the dire state of the economy in mid-2009.

Nevertheless, he said he intended to test the market because "parks remain attractive opportunities for people who want to do good work."

Last week, Benepe had second thoughts.

"It's not a viable idea in this economic climate so we've removed it from the budget," he said in an e-mail. "We don't budget for what we can't attain."

Jackson Square - Manhattan. Cash Cows. Sponsorship signs like these are popping up more and more as the Bloomberg/Quinn administration continue to allocate a fraction of the funds needed to properly maintain, secure, and provide programing in our parks.

This year the administration allocated a record low in city funds as a percentage of the city budget, while continuing to extract more revenue from parks. Park properties are now responsible for generating 91% of city concession revenue. In FY 2010, parks generated more than $ 39 million dollars. (Photo: Geoffrey Croft/NYC Park Advocates) Click on image to enlarge.

Read More:

'Million-dollar' parks name game yields nada
New York Post - November 28, 2010 - By David Seifman

Friday, November 26, 2010

Long "Lost" Abraham Lincoln Statue To Return To Grand Army Plaza

LINCOLN CENTER: - The 10-foot statue of Abraham Lincoln will be moved from Prospect Park to Grand Army Plaza.
$ 64,000 has been allocated to move the 9-foot statue of Abraham Lincoln from Concert Grove in Prospect Park to near its original location at the northern end of Grand Army Plaza, according to the New York Post. For the last 50 years, the statue has faced a chain-link fence near Wollman Rink. Additional funds are being sought.(Photo: Paul Martinka)

President Lincoln is holding the Emancipation Proclamation and is pointing to the words "shall be forever free." The statue was designed by Henry Kirk Brown (1814–1886) and was dedicated on October 21, 1869. It remained at that location until May, 1895.

According to Richard Kessler, editor of Brooklyn Mirador, the elliptical Plaza was dedicated in 1867 with its axis pointed at the Manhattan mansion of William Backhouse Astor, the heir to the John Jacob Astor fortune. The centerpiece was a simple fountain named the "Fountain of the Golden Spray." In 1869, the Lincoln statue was dedicated at the north end of the Plaza's axis, facing north towards the unseen mansion. Olmsted, Vaux and Stranahan (the Brooklyn Parks Commissioner) were strong Lincoln supporters. Astor was not.

webassets/Lincoln Statue in the Plaza.jpg
This early 1890s photo shows the Lincoln statue in its original location at the northern end of Prospect Park Plaza (now Grand Army Plaza). Note the Plaza's alignment of the unadorned Arch, the Calvert Vaux Fountain and the Lincoln statue. (Photo: William Lee Younger)

In 1895 (three years after Duncan's Arch framed the fountain, statue, and invisible corridor to the mansion) Olmsted retired, the Lincoln statue was picked up, turned around and abandoned in the Prospect Concert Grove. In November, Vaux was found drowned in Gravesend Bay. Six months later, the Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation was Constitutional.

In 1965, two years after his assassination, the JFK bust was unveiled in the spot where Lincoln stood.

Henry Kirk Brown has a number important works in our park system including two in Union Square Park - one of President Lincoln (1868) in the north end, and one in the south, the equestrian statue of George Washington, the oldest sculpture (1856) in possession of the New York City Parks Department, and reportedly the first ever purchased by the agency. – Geoffrey Croft


After more than a century in exile, Abraham Lincoln is finally coming home, according to the New York Post.

Plans are in the works to move a larger-than-life bronze statue of "the Great Emancipator" that is tucked away in Prospect Park back to its original, prominent location at nearby Grand Army Plaza.

The 10-foot-tall statue, the first in the Union to honor the 16th president, was dedicated in October 1869, just four years after Lincoln's assassination.

The sculpture, which depicts the president draped in a cape and reading from a book, originally stood in what used to be known simply as "the Plaza," an oval parcel of land outside the park's entrance on Eastern Parkway and Flatbush Avenue.

In 1896, it was moved out of the shadow of the eight-story tall Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch, Brooklyn's tribute to the Union troops who died in the Civil War, to the Concert Grove in the park.

In 1960, the Wollman ice-skating rink was built nearby and a chain-link fence was constructed, detracting from the statue, which sits on a 20-foot stone pedestal.

"For the last 50 years, Abe has been looking at a chain-link fence," said Eugene Patron, of the Prospect Park Alliance, which is spearheading the effort to move the statue.

"It's still in the works, but the idea is to bring him back to Grand Army Plaza."

"The location he was in is not deserving of such a historical statue and prominent figure in our history," said Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates. "I am happy that he is going to a more appropriate location."

File:HK Brown Statue Abraham Lincoln.png

Henry Kirke Brown's statue of Abraham Lincoln in Prospect Park Plaza, Brooklyn ca. 1880. In 1866, the War Fund Committee of the City of Brooklyn organized a $1.00 subscription for a memorial to President Lincoln (1809 -1865) who was assassinated the previous year. (Sterograph from Robert Dennis Collection, New York Public Library)

Henry Kirke Brown was one of the first American sculptors to cast his own bronzes. He settled in the City of Brooklyn where he worked from his studio.

Read More:

New nabe for old Abe
New York Post - November 26, 2010 - By John Doyle

Honest, Abe to return to Grand Army Plaza
The Brooklyn Paper - February 4, 2009 - By Mike Mclaughlin