March 16, 2008
Where Did All the Truckers Go?
By DEBORAH KOLBEN
In the last couple of years, the high-end boutiques, cafes and restaurants that transformed Fifth Avenue have been spilling onto Fourth Avenue. But few residents expected Third Avenue to start going upscale so quickly, and some are already fearful that Park Slope and Carroll Gardens will merge to form one big brownstone Brooklyn neighborhood.
“They’re going to call Gowanus ‘West Park Slope’ or ‘East Carroll Gardens,’ ” Ms. Yurick said with a grimace. “It’s a joke. This is a truck route.”
The first major sign of gentrification on Third Avenue arrived in the beginning of February, when Bar Tano, an Italian restaurant with large glass windows and a bar that serves 40 types of Scotch, opened at Ninth Street in an abandoned storefront opposite a tire repair shop. Entrees include braised short-rib sandwiches with caramelized onions and homemade potato chips for $15, not exactly the plate of chicken and rice on the menu for $4.50 at Sonia’s, a Latino restaurant across the street.
Inside the walls and barbed wire fence that largely hides the nondescript facility beside Newtown Creek in Brooklyn, a handful of trailers sit in a cluster surrounded by smaller buildings that belong to Exxon Mobil.
It is not much to look at, but Exxon Mobil officials say the operation is slowly eliminating the contamination that has been deep underground in the Greenpoint neighborhood for decades. The operation, and the contamination, stem from an oil spill that occurred more than half a century ago and has been described as more than twice as large as the Exxon Valdez disaster, which released 11 million gallons of crude oil off the Alaskan coast.
The Brooklyn spill, which resulted from an industrial explosion in 1950, released an estimated 17 million gallons of oil and oil products, polluted the soil, left traces of toxic chemicals in Newtown Creek, led to years of community and environmental outcry and became the basis of several continuing lawsuits.
Nearly eight million gallons remain beneath the Exxon Mobil property and nearby properties along Kingsland Avenue, though the contamination cannot be seen or smelled. How long it will take to get rid of the remaining material is unclear. “We’ll be here until the job is done and done right,” said Barry Wood, a spokesman for Exxon Mobil.
Bagels, Bialys and Raspberries
By EMILY BRADY
It seemed like a harmless enough name, but when Ravi Aggarwal decided to call his new shop Arena Bagels and Bialys, he learned otherwise.
Mr. Aggarwal's two teenage children had suggested the name after reading online about the planned new home of the New Jersey Nets. He thought it was a smart idea; the shop is in Park Slope, a few blocks from the site of the proposed Barclays Center arena, part of the Atlantic Yards development.
So, in mid-April, workers installed the name in red letters above the new store on Fifth Avenue near Bergen Street. Soon, however, workers in the space began noticing negative reactions from passers-by.
"Four out of five people that walked by just stood and stared at the sign," said Rich Kahn III, who helped his father install the bagel oven and water kettle. His father added that one sarcastic passer-by remarked, " ‘Oh, yeah, he's going to do good business with that name.' "
Teens take to streets with pollution detectors in NYC, elsewhere
By COLLEEN LONG
Associated Press Writer
May 30, 2007
NEW YORK --
The residents of Brooklyn's Sunset Park neighborhood often wonder about the quality of the air as they gaze at the power plants, the waste-transfer station and the traffic-clogged expressway that surround their homes.
The answer to their question could rest with a group of teenagers walking the streets of the neighborhood this summer.
Volunteers from a Hispanic community organization are taking to the streets with handheld pollution detectors to determine the quality of the air. Similar efforts are happening in three other cities around the country, with the goal of developing a clearer picture of the pollution that plagues the nation's urban areas.
"In order for us to really change things, we need to know what's there, on a daily basis," said Frank Torres, director of youth leadership for New York-based UPROSE. "We want to educate to the community, put the power in their hands so they can change their surroundings."
Amid all the recent clean-air initiatives being launched around the country is a sometimes-overlooked fact: The worst pollution exists in poor and minority neighborhoods.
More than 90 percent of Hispanics and 86 percent of blacks live in urban settings, which are typically at higher risk for air pollution, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Hispanics are more than twice as likely than non-Hispanics to live in places that fall short of EPA standards for airborne particle matter.
Study: Park Slope Clogged by Parking Seekers
BY ANNIE KARNI - Special to the Sun
February 27, 2007
Almost half of the cars clogging Park Slope's main commercial arteries are driving in circles in search of parking, a new traffic study from a transportation advocacy group shows.
While vehicles competing for parking spaces account for only 28% of street traffic on some of Manhattan's most congested streets, 45% of drivers on the road in this primarily residential Brooklyn neighborhood are searching for curbside parking, according to the study, which Transportation Alternatives will release today.
A lack of parking options translates into lost business, as potential customers grow frustrated circling the block and eventually take their business to other neighborhoods, the study shows. About 15% of parked cars are also illegally stationed in front of fire hydrants, no-standing zones, and ambulance lanes near hospitals.
Urban Studies | Parking
By BEN GIBBERD
AT 8:30 on a recent morning, a line of cars snaked into the J & L Parking lot on Pacific Street in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. There to greet them, as always, was the lot's manager, John Trombino, a substantial figure with a jet-black mane.
Like many lots, J & L accommodates "dailies" - commuters who arrive and depart at rush hour - and "monthlies," locals who generally use their cars only in the evenings or on weekends. The dailies occupy the inner two rows of the lot, firmly blocking in the two outer rows of monthlies.
In an ideal world these two tribes would coexist without intervention, but this being New York, emergencies arise: monthlies need to leave in the middle of the day; dailies stay later than planned. Further complicating matters, Mr. Trombino heads off for the day at 10 a.m. to help his father in another lot nearby. Fortunately, this is where the gift of his automotive choreography comes into play.
Discount Sneakers in a Duplex World
But a great deal of new luxury housing is built or on the drawing board for Downtown Brooklyn, from the BellTel Lofts one block north of the mall to the new condos one block southwest at 110 Livingston Street. With the influx of affluent neighbors, related plans to refurbish Fulton Mall have worried Ms. Cruickshank and some other patrons of the vibrant shopping strip. The mall, they fear, will no longer be for them.
“This mall caters to African-Americans, Latinos, Caribbeans,” said Ms. Cruickshank, sitting in Albee Square at the mall’s edge on an unseasonably balmy afternoon last week. Nearby, a jewelry counter displayed 200 styles of gold door-knocker earrings, and a small running-shoe shop offered Nike Air Force Ones decorated with candy-colored glitter and pictures of Tupac Shakur.
•“When they close down all these local shops that cater to our hair, the clothes we buy, the food we eat, where are we going to shop?” Ms. Cruickshank asked. “Round up 10 people here, and I guarantee you they won’t say they want a Banana Republic. We don’t want another Manhattan. Let Brooklyn be Brooklyn.”
Developer Said to Cut Size of Brooklyn Project
By CHARLES V. BAGLI and DIANE CARDWELL
Published: September 5, 2006
Facing mounting criticism of its $4.2 billion Atlantic Yards project, the developer Forest City Ratner plans to reduce the size of the complex by 6 to 8 percent, eliminating hundreds of apartments from the largest development proposal in the city, according to government officials and executives working with the developer.
Forest City is also considering reducing the height of the project’s tallest tower, which is known as Miss Brooklyn, to get it under the height of the borough’s tallest building, the nearby Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower, according to real estate executives.
Blight, Like Beauty, Can Be in the Eye of the Beholder
By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE
Of all the real estate jargon, bureaucratic buzzwords and plain old insults exchanged over the proposed Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, no term has evoked quite such unruly passion as “blighted.”
Ron Shiffman is a professor at the Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment at the Pratt Institute, director emeritus of the Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development, and from 1990-96 a commissioner on the New York City Planning Commission.
June 30–September 3, 2006
Morris A. and Meyer Schapiro Wing, 5th Floor
An exhibition of twenty large-scale graffiti paintings from such influential artists as Michael Tracy ("Tracy 168"), Melvin Samuels, Jr. ("NOC 167"), Sandra Fabara ("Lady Pink"), Chris Ellis ("Daze"), and John Matos ("Crash"), Graffiti explores how a genre that began as a form of subversive public communication has become legitimate—moving away from the street and into private collections and galleries. Forms of graffiti have been discovered on ancient Roman and Mayan architecture and like today were both illegal and a form of communication. Modern graffiti, which is associated with hip-hop culture and spans all racial and economic groups, began in the mid- to late 1960s; it made its way to New York City and quickly became a phenomenon. Urban youth used the sides of subway trains and buildings as their canvases, reclaiming sections of their neighborhoods by "tagging" them with stylized renditions of their names or the names of the groups they formed. The self-taught graffiti artists turned the walls of public (and sometimes private) buildings into giant panoramas and subway cars into moving murals. Later, graffiti artists began to paint on canvas or large sheets of paper, attracting the attention of art dealers and collectors. One of the first dealers to collect graffiti was Sidney Janis. His heirs Carroll and Conrad Janis donated almost fifty works from his estate to the Brooklyn Museum in 1999. Graffiti is drawn primarily from this gift and supplemented by material the Museum's Libraries and Archives.
PARK SLOPE TENANTS RENOVATING THEIR 23 BUILDINGS - New York Times
By MICHAEL R. BENSON
Published: September 29, 1985
Work has begun on 23 Brooklyn brownstones purchased last year by their residents from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development after more than five years of complex negotiations with Federal and local housing officials.....