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Residents Asking for Easier Access to Fort Greene Park with a Curb Cut

March 8, 2017

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The entrance to Fort Greene Park located at Washington Park and DeKalb Avenue needs a curb cut to allow easier access to people in wheel chairs or pushing strollers, say residents.

“It’s a spot in the community that people use,” said Anne-Elizabeth Straub, a Fort Greene resident who uses a wheelchair. “It’s not just wheelchairs, people with baby carriages, people with any kind of walkers.”

Currently residents who want to visit the park but can’t make it over the high curb must walk about a block away to the South Elliot Place entrance to get on the pathway. In her wheelchair Straub must either take the curving route to the farmer’s market she visits weekly, or else take a chance damaging her wheelchair by backing up over the curb.

The federal Americans with Disabilities Act mandates that the city must install curb cuts at crosswalks when they are either repairing old curbs or installing new ones. It is possible that this crosswalk is older than the 1990 law, and therefore has not yet had the cut added. But disability rights activists say this crosswalk is clearly in desperate need of an upgrade. They would like city officials to examine the issue and take action.

“I would certainly hope the city would pay attention to missing curb cuts in a very public area with lots of activity when there are two adjacent walkways,” said Elizabeth Grossman, an attorney with advocacy group Disability Rights New York.

In July Straub and a sympathetic stall operator from the farmer’s market submitted an official request to the Department of Transportation to upgrade the curb. The local community board district manager Rob Perris said the curb has been added to the list for “possible inclusion” for an upgrade.

Unfortunately, there are two problems with adding a curb cut, according to the DOT. The first is that the curb there is made with octagon brick pavers and not ordinary concrete. The second issue is that the curb is part of the Fort Greene Historic District, requiring any changes to be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. There might also be a problem with pipes located under the curb.

Celebrate the Best Brooklyn Eateries During Dine In Brooklyn

February 23, 2017
Looking north at Brooklyn Bridge, spanning East River between Brooklyn & Manhattan, New York City, New York County, NY. View of Brooklyn tower emerging behind nineteenth century commercial buildings on the corner of Front Street and Old Fulton Street (also called Cadman Plaza West).

Looking north at Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn is going out to dinner. Borough President Eric Adams announced this year’s incarnation of “Dine in Brooklyn,” a ten-day festival of the borough’s best restaurants.

“Dine in Brooklyn celebrates the five-star flavors that make Brooklyn a ‘must-taste’ destination,” Adams said in the announcement.
“Our restaurants fuel our borough’s economic engine, and this event is an opportunity to support their continued growth while encouraging diners to discover — or rediscover — their favorite Brooklyn dish. Most importantly, Dine In Brooklyn fosters the connections and memories that make ‘One Brooklyn’ like no place else on the globe.”

Beginning on March 20, and ending ten days later on March 30, Brooklyn’s restaurants (that sign up) will offer a special dinner for a pre-arranged price of $28 (not including gratuity or tax). Some establishments will also offer a $15 lunch and a $12 brunch, so there is no reason not to join in the fun.

So far there are already 60 restaurants signed up, with more on the way. The list will grow until the deadline for sign-up on March 13.

At least two great Clinton Hill restaurants are participating:

  • Rustik Tavern
  • Wray’s Caribbean and Seafood Cuisine

So either go to the website to find out which restaurants are participating, and come celebrate the best tastes in Brooklyn.

Clinton Hill House Getting the Attention It Deserves

January 11, 2017

An historic Clinton Hill house, located at 476 Washington Avenue, is finally getting a facelift after years of indifference.

The building went up in 1882 and once had a wonderful porch. But the years have been hard on the house, leading it to literally crumble, with parts of it actually falling down. The Historic District Council’s Kelly Carroll called the site a case of “demolition by neglect.”

Happily, now that a new design has been approved unanimously by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the four-floor, four-apartment residential structure is going to blend in beautifully with its neighboring buildings, at least as far as its height is concerned.

The façade might stand out a bit, as the design by Tom Van Den Bout of NV/design.architecture, seems to be quite modern, with an all-cedar face.
Whatever it is, it is sure to be an improvement to what has become a neighborhood eye-sore.

New Building Holding Lottery for 29 Affordable Apartments

December 15, 2016

As the construction of the mega-apartment building on Myrtle Avenue comes to completion, 29 of the 143 total apartments will be offered to would-be residents through a lottery.

The apartments are located at 50r Myrtle Avenue in Clinton Hill, an eight-floor mixed-use building. The affordable apartments range in size from studios apartments to two bedrooms, and are reserved for tenants with yearly incomes between $30,206 to $54,360. The monthly rents will vary from $735 for the studio to $888 for the two-bedroom.

The ground floor will be occupied by retail space while the upper floors will contain apartments whose square footage will average about 736 square feet. The building comes with quite a few perks, such as a fitness center, storage space for bicycles, a deck on the roof with dining and barbecue areas, plus laundry facilities.

Residents of Brooklyn Community Board 2 will be given half of the affordable units. Applicants can apply online via NYC Housing Connect or by sending a self-addressed envelope to 504 Myrtle Avenue c/o Breaking Ground, PO Box 760, New York, NY 10018. The deadline for applications is February 1st, 2017.

PS/MS 282 to Eliminate Middle School

November 8, 2016

PS/MS 282 in Park Slope. Photo by Jim.henderson.

In Park Slope, there is a school with the rare problem of not enough middle-schoolers and too many grade-schoolers. The K-8 school, PS/MS 282 in District 13, will most likely begin the phasing out of grades 6-8 over the next three years, while simultaneously increasing the number of K-5 students, as soon as the Department of Education’s proposal is approved by the Panel for Educational Policy.

“This proposal is expected to help reduce the excess of middle school capacity in District 13, by decreasing the number of middle school seats at P.S. 282 and allowing this middle school seat capacity to be re-purposed for much needed elementary school capacity,” DOE officials wrote in their Educational Impact Statement.

The makeover will begin during the 2017-2018 school year when sixth graders will no longer be enrolled. In 2018-2019 seventh graders will no longer be accepted, and in 2019-2020 school year eighth graders will no longer be found at PS 282. During these same years, the K-5 population would be allowed to grow by 330 students. The entire school’s population this year is 817.

The proposal is not going to effect the school’s pre-K program of 90 students, not its gifted and talented classes.

Last Remaining Temple-Fronted Home Now on Sale

September 25, 2016
Lefferts-Laidlaw House. Photo by  Onorland.

Lefferts-Laidlaw House. Photo by Onorland.

Looking for a landmark building to call home? With that desire and an additional $4.5 million, the Lefferts-Laidlaw House can be yours. Build in the 1840s, the home received individual landmark status in 2011, and is also part of the Wallabout Historic District, which takes up several blocks adjacent to the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The home is distinct as Greek Revival style home with a temple front, the last one left in Brooklyn. Even more remarkable, the house at 136 Clinton Avenue was famous for its non-living occupants. In the late 19th century former owner Edward F. Smith complained that he was sharing quarters with ghosts. The story is not so famous any longer, but at the time the tale was the subject of no less than two articles in the New York Times.

Most of the home’s outer details are original, including its clapboard siding, decorative moldings and such. The Corinthian columns that make up the unique Greek temple look have been replaced over the years. The interiors are somewhat wanting, considering the price-tag, but the home is spacious, with 6 bedrooms in 2,250 square feet. There is also lots of wonderful outdoor space surrounding the residence.

Is Your Pet Unemployed? Here are Some Ideas to Get Him Off the Couch

August 25, 2016
Typical hard-working cat

Typical hard-working cat

Is your pet dependent on you for all his needs, without lifting a finger, or should I say paw or hoof, to help? Here are a few New Yorkers of the furry four-legged variety who can teach your lazy, good-for-nothing pet a thing or two about the importance of good, hard work.

Happen to have a goat around? Well if you do, perhaps he can send his resume to the Prospect Park Alliance where they have already hired eight goats from upstate to come down to the city and eat up some of the more annoying and invasive plant species that seem to grow like weeds in the park’s Vale of Cashmere. For a lovely sum of $15,000 the goats have rented out their services to devour goutweed and poison ivy. Although I always thought only ‘little lambs eat ivy,” these goats are so good at what they do that they had to be laid off temporarily in June “due to their voracity.”

What, you don’t have a goat? Well perhaps you have a border collie. If so your collie might like to join the “Geese Chasers.” This group of border collies has hired themselves out to the Hudson River Park to “clear the park of geese.” These dogs are so good at what they do that just the site of them scares the feathers off the geese, and they take off, no questions asked. The hours aren’t bad either; The Geese Chasers’ handlers bring them out to the park three times a day.

There are goat people, dog people, and then there are those who somehow manage to put up with cats. You might think a cat could never be persuaded to actually work to earn their keep, but if you thought that, you would be wrong. Cats are making their own special niche in the workforce at cat cafés around town. At Little Lions in SoHo and Meow Parlour on the Lower East Side, cats are employed to hang with the humans, and in some cases the humans can adopt and take an especially adorable cat home. At the Brooklyn Cat Café the cats charge by the half-hour, at Little Lions the entry fee is $11, and at Koneko’s Cattery it costs $15 to enter the premises.

Falcons, sheep and other animals have found their way into the workforce, so why not your pet, too? Get him off the couch and out to work, it will be good for both of you!