Brooklyn Heights Blog » Health Dispatches from America's first suburb Wed, 01 Apr 2020 11:32:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Seen From Promenade, USNS Comfort Arrives Mon, 30 Mar 2020 23:42:16 +0000

Alerted by PortSide NewYork’s mailing list that the hospital ship USNS Comfort should pass the Statue of Liberty at 10:00 a.m., your correspondent walked the short distance from his building to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade at 9:57, carefully observing social distancing. The big ship – 900 feet long and 70,000 gross tons – was right on time.  It was a dreary, gray morning; the ship’s white hull and superstructure did not contrast well with the sky or water.

Comfort is now docked at Pier 90, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. She has a full complement of medical personnel and 1,000 beds. Her purpose will be to handle the overflow of non-COVID-19 patients who would otherwise be treated in hospitals on land.

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Post Office Workers Walk Out for Lack of Protective Gear Sat, 28 Mar 2020 01:49:01 +0000

We have it on good authority – our mail carrier, who was here yesterday – that there may be no mail delivery for several days, because the Postal Service has failed to deliver sufficient protective gear – gloves and masks – to workers at the main Brooklyn post office (photo; By Beyond My Ken – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Can you blame them? We hope they get the needed supplies soon.

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Montague Bid Update-March 26th Fri, 27 Mar 2020 18:53:32 +0000

The Montague BID has another helpful update with additions to the businesses and services that are open with links to their websites.

The resource list is extensive and includes, but is not limited to, business supports and tools, social services, volunteer opportunities, ways to help your neighbors, housing, mental health and much more. The information is all on the Montague Bid website.

 THANK YOU to everyone that’s been sharing information and resources with us. Please keep it coming. E-mail us at with news, updates, closings, and resources. Follow us on Instagram @montaguebid and Facebook for updates. Stay well.”



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A MESSAGE FROM THE MONTAGUE BID Tue, 24 Mar 2020 19:00:26 +0000

“Thanks again to EVERYONE who has been sharing information and resources with us. Keep the information coming!

Here’s a list of businesses on Montague Street that are OPEN as of right now. Click the business name to go to their website. Things are changing so quickly, so be sure to check the business website and follow them on social media for up to the minute changes, menus, specials, hours, and closings.
Below the list are important updates for this week so far.
We’ll update things as we get information.

Stay well, Everyone.

BANKS and ATM Machines
Variety Mart
Cohen Optical
Pearl Vision
Haagen Dazs
Food Delivery Services:
Brooklyn Heights Laundry
Montague Cleaners
(1) Staff at New York Small Business Development Center is available to help small businesses navigate disaster loan applications and answer all questions related to the current COVID-19 situation for small businesses. Contact the Brooklyn branch by phone at 718-797-0187 or by email at
(2) The federal government has authorized the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to issue Economic Injury Disaster Loans for businesses impacted by COVID-19. These loans will be reviewed on a first-come-first-serve basis for eligible businesses in New York State. Click here for more information.
(3) SBA is offering assistance with loan applications online here, by phone at (800) 659-2955, or by email at Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can call (800) 877-8339.
4) Information about Empire State Disaster Recovery loans and resources is available here
(5) New York State Entrepreneur Assistance Center is offering guidance and information here
(1) Credit Card Relief and Bank Information. Some banks and credit cards are offering relief from payments and interest rates. Click here to find out more.
(2) Meals for Kids. Beginning on Monday, March 23, the New York Public Schools will be distributing meals at more than 400 sites throughout the City. Click here for locations and more information.
(3) Google’s coronavirus website is up. Click here to see it and keep up to date
(4) Entertainment. Here are a few links to some free online entertainment to add some levity to your days and nights:
(1) As of today, March 22 at 8pm all businesses must close until further notice unless they are considered an essential business. Essential businesses and essential workers may continue to operate as normal unless a special restriction has been placed on them (e.g. restaurants may only provide take out and delivery. For a list of essential services and essential workers, click here
(2) Tips for Small Businesses Owners:
  • Talk to your landlord about your situation.
  • Call your insurance
  • Call your credit card company and see what they are offering
  • Keep written records of all of the above emails, calls, texts and conversations, when they happened, next steps and outcomes.
(3) Need free advice? The Brooklyn Small Business Development Center may be able to help. Click here for more information.
(4) The IRS/Treasury/Labor has announced help regarding Tax Credits and Paid Leave. It may be worth you chatting with your accountant. Click here for the website with more information.
(5) Grantspace has put together a resource page for artists and non-profits to find assistance for financial hardship. Go here and the NYFA is giving $5,000 grants to artists.
(6) The Hebrew Free Loan Society is offering interest-free loans. Click here for more information
(7) New York State’s Shared Work Program provides an alternative to laying off workers during business downturns Watch the video which explains how it works and how to apply, here’s the website
(8) NYC Small Business Services – Employee Retention Grant Program application process is now live. This program is available to New York City businesses with one to four employees that can demonstrate at least a 25% decrease in revenue as a result of COVID-19. Eligible businesses will receive a grant covering up to 40% of their payroll for two months. Businesses can access up to $27,000. For more information and to apply, click here
(9) The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Economic Injury Disaster Loans offers up to $2 million in low-interest loans to help small businesses overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. The loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses without credit available elsewhere; businesses with credit available elsewhere are not eligible. The interest rate for non-profits is 2.75%. For more information, click here
(10) Information about deferred mortgage and tax payments along with daily updates from Governor Andrew Cuomo, can be found here
(11) File for tax abatements here
(12) Information from Mayor de Blasio and the City of New York can be found here
(13) For information from Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, click here
(14) Job Seekers click here to keep up to date on available resources
(15) The Montague BID Ambassadors have increased cleaning in public spaces, and are observing strict sanitary protocols such as frequent hand washing and social distancing.
(16) All events remain canceled until further notice. Follow our social media (Instagram and Facebook) for future event updates.
(17) If you have a need, an idea or something to share with the community, please reach out to us here.
(18) New York Police Department has continued normal operations and they are asking the public to call the non-emergency number 311 for any issues that are not life threatening, which will help keep the 911 line and staff available for emergencies.
(19) Stay safe and up-to-date. Follow the CDC webpage and WHO webpage and New York City’s webpage for the most up-to-date information.
(20) Need to get out for some exercise? The Parks are still open! Enjoy yourself and practice social distancing
(21) To receive text updates from the City, Text COVID to 692-692
If you or someone that you know needs personal help beyond what is mentioned above:
(1) Invisible Hands can help with groceries and prescription deliveries for vulnerable people. Visit to request assistance.
(2) If you are feeling extremely anxious, depressed or hopeless, text 741741 to be connected to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. This service is free, confidential and available 24/7. For more information, visit
Can you lend a hand?
(1) Restaurants need our help! Order takeout or delivery. Tell Congress restaurants need help. Text RECOVERY to 52886 #restaurantrecovery
(2) Shop local. Shop online. Many of our businesses are offering gift cards. Visit their websites or our Instagram feed @montaguebid to keep up to date on the latest information.
(3) Kindness. We’re all in this together.
  • Check on neighbors
  • Offer to shop for a senior in your building who may be vulnerable
  • Report price gouging to 311
  • Make eye contact and smile with people on the street while you’re social distancing — it goes a long way during times of isolation
  • If you have a doorman or maintenance person in your building, think about ordering them a meal or giving them a gift card
  • If you can, tip and thank delivery people.
(4) Invisible Hands: If you’re healthy and able to, sign up with the nonprofit to help deliver groceries, prescriptions and whatever else they may need to their doorstep. Visit them at
Special thanks to all of you who continue to support our neighboring business by purchasing gift cards, shopping online and ordering take out and delivery.
Click here to join Neil Diamond in a little Sweet Caroline handwashing song.
Stay well, stay safe and shop local.”
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No GreenMarket Tomorrow; May Resume Thursday Mon, 23 Mar 2020 14:20:20 +0000

Alert reader Ann of Orange advises us there will be no Borough Hall GreenMarket tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24 (and none at Union Square in Manhattan on Wednesday, March 25) “while officials work out further containment steps,” but that they are “[e]xpected to reopen after that.” We’ll keep you posted. Update: reader KBells40 says the GrowNYC Blog indicates the Borough Hall market will be open Thursday. It also indicates that the Union Square market, which is closed today, will be open Wednesday.

Photo: C. Scales for BHB.

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Brooklyn Bridge Park During PAUSE Mon, 23 Mar 2020 01:25:22 +0000

Brooklyn Bridge Park President Eric Landau has issued the following guidance for use of the park while New York is on PAUSE:

The health and safety of our staff, visitors, and community is our top priority. While the Park is open, please note that it is open for passive use and solitary recreation only. We encourage people to walk their dog, go for a run, or just spend a few minutes outside. While in the Park, please be sure to practice good social distancing, keeping at least 6 feet apart from others.

In the interest of everyone’s wellbeing, areas of the Park where social distancing is not practical (e.g., Pier 6 Volleyball Courts, Pier 2 Basketball and Handball Courts) are closed until further notice. All athletic permits for Pier 5 have been suspended, including Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy’s Youth Soccer League.

Additionally, Jane’s Carousel, Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy’s Environmental Education Center, Brooklyn Historical Society DUMBO, and Brooklyn Pubic Library Annex are all closed until further notice.

Photo: C. Scales for BHB

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Special Hours for Seniors Only at Local Grocery Stores [EDITED WITH MORE STORES] Thu, 19 Mar 2020 02:45:48 +0000 Of course, the best thing for everyone would be to stay inside as much as possible. But for people over 60 and others more vulnerable to COVID-19 who must shop for themselves, the following local grocery stores will provide special hours for those folks only at:

Key Food, 169 Atlantic Avenue (Brooklyn Heights):
7:00 am-9:00 am (unable to confirm, please call ahead)

Stop and Shop, 625 Atlantic Avenue (Atlantic Center):
6:00 am-7:30 am

Whole Foods, 214 3rd Street (Gowanus):
7:00 am-8:00 am

Target, 139 Flatbush Avenue (Atlantic Center):
Every Wednesday, 8:00 am-9:00 am


All Trader Joe’s:  9:00 am-10:00 am

All Walgreen’s:  Tuesdays 8:00 am-9:00 am (with discounts for 55 and over all day Tuesday)

Also, Trader Joe’s staff “will maintain an additional line outside the front door for our senior customers. This will ensure that those customers in need will have an expedited entrance to the store to help make their experience a more positive one.”

Why senior hours? Stop & Shop explains in this press release that:

  • These hours are to help our more vulnerable customers shop in a less crowded environment, if they prefer.
  • We plan to make these hours available EVERY day during this period, so it’s not necessary for everyone to come on the first day. This could result in large crowds, the very situation we are looking to prevent as it will make it more difficult for customers to practice social distancing.
  • While we recognize we may be experiencing product shortages in some areas, our stores receive deliveries throughout the day so our shelves will be replenished for shoppers at all hours. We are making our best efforts to have products available across high-demand categories throughout the day.
  • Stop & Shop has implemented added cleaning and sanitation efforts, which will continue throughout the day at all stores.
  • Finally, when you shop for your family, be sure to keep other families in mind. Shop responsibly and buy just what you need.

Let’s all drop a note for our elderly and vulnerable neighbors and ask if they need anything. We’re all in this together.

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DeBlasio Finally Closes NYC Public Schools Sun, 15 Mar 2020 22:59:42 +0000

After mounting pressure, NYC Mayor Bill Deblasio finally made the decision to shutter NYC public schools effective Monday, March 16th.

This is a decision I have taken with no joy…I regret to have to announce that our public schools will be closed. There is no school tomorrow and we will be suspending our public schools until after our Spring vacation…We will make a first attempt to re-open our schools on Monday, April 20th. But I have to be honest, we are dealing with a lot of unknowns and a lot of challenges. …We may not have an opportunity to re-open them for the remainder of the school year.”

The goal is to roll out remote learning on Monday, March 23rd. In addition, DeBlasio plans to set up multiple “specialized sites” within the five boroughs to support the children of “essential workers” such as Transit, Healthcare, First Responders, etc. Schools will also be outfitted as “grab and go” locations for much-needed meals. The DOE will also be working to supply technology to as many children as possible.

The DOE lagged behind private schools such as St. Ann’s, Brooklyn Friends, Poly Prep and Packer who all closed their doors last week. The United Federation of Teachers had also threatened a lawsuit if NYC schools were to remain open on Monday.

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More Coronavirus Updates: Borough President Adams, BPL, BHS, BBP Fri, 13 Mar 2020 01:56:23 +0000

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (photo) has announced that, starting this coming Monday, March 16, all events at Borough Hall are cancelled, excluding “Grow Brooklyn Free Tax Prep, for which appointments remain necessary, pending eligibility.”  The Constituent Assistance Center won’t be available for walk-ins, but can be reached through email – – or by calling 718-820-7800.

The Brooklyn Public Library is suspending “public programming and events” from tomorrow, March 13 until March 31. More details are found on the BPL website. This decision was made in conjunction with the New York and Queens public libraries, who, along with BPL, issued this joint statement:

The decision to cancel library programs was not taken lightly, as programs such as story times, technology training classes, and English language classes are lifelines for so many. But considering the current situation, and the need to limit large crowds, this was the most responsible path forward to support the health and well-being of our communities.

Libraries will remain open during their normal hours, and will “continue to offer access to books, public computers, wi-fi, expert staff recommendations, and a variety of resources and computers dedicated to the Census.”

Brooklyn Historical Society will be closed to the public and all public programs cancelled from March 13 through March 31. Any registration fees or ticket purchases for these events will be refunded. BHS says: “This decision was not made lightly. We know that this is the best way to support ongoing efforts to protect our city and its inhabitants.”

Brooklyn Bridge Park will, of course, remain open, but the Environmental Educational Center will be closed from March 13 to 31.


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East and West Wellness Heads South Thu, 12 Mar 2020 21:13:10 +0000

I can’t remember who wrote in the comments a while back about the good experience that they had at East and West Wellness on Clark Street, but based on the signs on the door, I hope that person is doing OK…

Seen on Wednesday evening:


Seen on Thursday morning:



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Dog Poop Vigilante Redux 2020 Tue, 10 Mar 2020 01:55:12 +0000

[Warning: Do not read this while eating, or if you generally have a weak stomach.]

Long time readers may recall the dog poop vigilante of 2011 who took matters into her own hands and taped signs around two lumps of dog feces left on Hicks St. reading, “Pick up your sh*t or don’t have a dog” and “What kind of lazy person leaves dog sh*t?” Why was she driven to such extreme measures? Her one-year-old almost picked up a log with his bare hands.

This morning, while walking through Cadman park at about 9:00 a.m., I came upon a fresh, still-wet pool of dog diarrhea that showed a half-hearted, shameless, and narcissistic attempt at clean up. If you’ve ever been to Cadman park on a nice day, you’ve seen the masses of kids rolling around on the turf.

20200309_190924I mean, look at that. I couldn’t just leave that there for someone’s toddler to roll in it or grab at it. So, I marched to the field office behind the monument and spoke to a Parks worker. She was very nice and grateful for the heads up and said, “We’ll be clearing the litter soon anyway.” Not trusting how long that would take, I went back home, printed a sign, and covered up the biohazard. By that time, there were already four tiny tots toodling around on the turf.


Asked for comment, the O.G. dog poop vigilante said, “It’s nice to see that someone has carried the torch to keep curious toddlers safe from disease in the Brooklyn Heights community.”

To the very selfish, very reckless offender: The EPA classifies dog poop as a toxic pollutant in the same category as chemical and oil spills. If your dog is sick and has diarrhea, I’m guessing it’s even more hazardous. Do you really need a lesson on zoonotic diseases given the recent news?

To all dog owners who use Cadman as a dog run before 9:00 a.m.: Please look out for each other. As one reader commented in the past, “If you see sh*t, say sh*t.”


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BHA Annual Meeting: BQE, Clark Street Station, Empty Storefronts, and More Sat, 29 Feb 2020 22:27:01 +0000

Wednesday’s Brooklyn Heights Association annual meeting began with a summary, by BHA President Martha Bakos Dietz, of BHA’s accomplishments during the previous year.  First among these was the apparent elimination of the city Department of Transportation’s plan to demolish the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and replace it with a temporary six lane highway. Both the expert panel appointed by Mayor de Blasio and the City Council have now rejected that plan. Still, Ms. Bakos Dietz said, there is work to be done. The BHA has joined with A Better Way NYC and the Cobble Hill Association to form the Coalition for the BQE Transformation which, in conjunction with other affected community groups, will strive to assure a plan for the future of the BQE that respects the needs of these communities and realistically reflects future transportation needs. In the photo above (by and © Andrew Porter) Ms. Bakos Dietz is shown holding the new poster designed for the Coalition, which she said can now replace the “No Highway to Hell” posters.

The planned eight month closure of the Clark Street subway station to replace its three decrepit elevators will, Ms. Bakos Dietz said, begin sometime in 2021. The Transit Authority has given assurances that it will take steps to help the merchants whose shops line the arcade outside the turnstiles by putting up signs that inform the public that the arcade, and the shops, are open during the construction.  During the later question and answer session, someone noted that during an earlier and shorter closure of the station about twenty years ago, the merchants had been given rent abatements.

The Brooklyn House of Detention is outside but close to the Heights, and plans for its expansion, in conjunction with the City’s planned closure of Rikers Island, are a concern for Heights residents. Ms. Bakos Dietz said the existing House of Detention is now closed and will be demolished. Its replacement, scheduled to be completed in 2026, will, thanks to advocacy by the BHA and other community groups, be much lower than the City’s original plan.

Rats have been a problem on the Promenade. Ms. Bakos Dietz said the City Parks Department will provide twenty rat-proof trash receptacles, and increase extermination efforts. During the Q&A period, a Heights resident said the area below the circle at the north end of the Promenade and the walkway paralleling Columbia Heights is a dumping ground for trash and an ideal rat habitat. Andrew Porter pointed out that this area, which is adjacent to the BQE, is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation. Ms. Bakos Dietz said, “We have lots of experience dealing with them.”

Finally, Ms. Bakos Dietz said there is a six month moratorium in effect on film shoots in the North Heights; when it expires a six month moratorium for the South Heights will become effective.


Ms. Bakos Dietz was recognized for her three years of service as the BHA’s President. Following her report, WNET-13 host and Heights resident Tom Stewart (in red tie in the photo above by C. Scales for BHB; at left in the photo is BHA Executive Director Lara Birnback) presented awards for community service. The first was to architect, urban planner, and Heights resident Marc Wouters (at right in photo above) for his work with the BHA in designing alternative routes for the BQE.


The other was to a group of local residents who formed the Promenade Gardens Mapping Project to map the locations of plantings in the Promenade Gardens. The map will be a useful resource should BQE work cause damage to the Gardens. Members of the group are in the photo above (by and © Andrew Porter), with Mr. Stewart standing behind them.


Following the community awards there was a panel discussion on the topic “Empty Storefronts and Our Commercial Corridors: How Can We Help Great Local Businesses Survive and Thrive?” The panelists were (left to right in the photo above, by and © Andrew Porter): Randy Peers, President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of CommerceDeborah Marton, Executive Director of the Van Alen Institute and a Heights resident; and Nur Asri, Senior Research Analyst at Streetsense. The moderator, at right, was New York Times reporter and Heights resident Eliza Shapiro.  It quickly became evident that the panelists didn’t think there was any primary cause of the proliferation of vacant commercial properties, or any single or easy solution. High rents have been an important contributing factor, but they have recently been declining. On line shopping has disrupted retail for items like clothing, and even groceries, but it hasn’t affected the demand for restaurants or for services like barber shops and hair stylists, nail salons, and urgent care facilities. Some traditional stores survive because they provide good value and service, and because of a loyal customer base. In some neighborhoods, like Williamsburg, new construction has increased the supply of available commercial space while in others, like Brownsville, spaces that become vacant find few takers. High property taxes, regulations and bureaucratic inefficiency, an example being the long waiting time for liquor licenses, are an impediment to new business formations.

The panelists were unenthusiastic about the efficacy, or desirability, of a “vacancy tax.” During the Q&A, an audience member noted that an owner of a vacant property could, assuming they had another property or properties generating income, get a tax write off for the vacant property.  One panelist suggested that property owners should be encouraged to allow temporary “pop-up” users of vacant spaces.  Perhaps most important was the advice to be loyal to any local business that you love.

For more detail on the BHA Annual Meeting, see  Mary Frost’s Eagle story.

Addendum: an item I should have added to the original post was that, during the Q&A, one audience member raised a perennial issue; that of helicopter noise. He asked if there was any reason helicopters had been hovering above Remsen Street. Another person suggested that an increase in helicopter use of the Downtown Manhattan Heliport might lead to hovering while waiting for landing space. Someone else mentioned the Uber helicopter service from downtown to JFK. Ms. Bakos Dietz said the BHA is aware of the problem, and has contacted the organizers of Stop the Chop to plan a response.


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Mulchfest This Saturday at Brooklyn Bridge Plaza Wed, 08 Jan 2020 23:28:21 +0000

It’s that time of year again when ornaments and stockings are put away and your once green, fragrant tree drops dry needles all over your apartment. Bring your formerly festive tree to Brooklyn Bridge Plaza this Saturday, January 11th from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm to Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Mulchfest. Trees must be free of all decorations and netting.

“Watch your tree get chipped in front of you, and get a free bag of mulch to take home.” Then grab a hot chocolate and check out the “Touch-A-Truck” event at Water and New Dock Streets.

Photo credit: KissClipart/Creative Commons


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Electeds Ask de Blasio and FAA to Ban Non-Essential Helicopter Flights Tue, 05 Nov 2019 04:18:27 +0000

We previously noted that three Congressional Representatives, including Nydia Velazquez, who represents Brooklyn Heights, co-sponsored a bill introduced in Congress that would effectively ban all non-essential helicopter flights, including tourist and commuter flights, over all boroughs of New York City. AM New York reports that these same Representatives, along with three others, all from the New York City area, have written to Mayor Bill de Blasio asking him to ban such non-essential flights

because of the risk to New Yorkers’ quality of life, health and safety, saying they’d already written to him about the impact of helicopters several times over the course of his administration.

The AM New York story also notes that these Representatives had earlier written to the Federal Aviation Administration, asking it to use its authority to ban such flights.

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Bill to Ban Non-Essential Helicopter Flights Over City Introduced in Congress Tue, 29 Oct 2019 02:32:13 +0000

The Eagle’s Mary Frost reports that three U.S. Rrepresentatives, all of whom serve districts at least partly in Brooklyn, including Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (photo), whose New York 7th District includes all of Brooklyn Heights, and Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler, have introduced the Improving Helicopter Safety Bill of 2019. If enacted, the bill would ban all non-essential helicopter flights over New York City. The Eagle story quotes Rep. Maloney, the bill’s chief sponsor, as saying its prime motivation is safety:

I truly, deeply believe that non-essential flight should be banned from New York City. It is just too densely populated, it is too dangerous, and there is absolutely no safe place to land.

What flights does the bill consider “essential”? According to Rep. Maloney’s website these are essential:

law enforcement, emergency response, disaster response, medical services, or for the public interest; does not affect military aircrafts [sic].

“Eye in the Sky” traffic monitor flights by news media are considered “for the public interest.” Flights considered “nonessential” are those by

any helicopter flown by a pilot with a Part 135 or Part 91 license (i.e. any private or commercial pilot) whose purpose is not “essential”

which would include tourist or commuter flights, including the Uber flights from Manhattan to JFK. Nonessential flights would be prohibited from

flying in covered airspace of any city with a population of over 8 million people and with a population density of over 25,000 people per square mile—including waterways within the city’s jurisdiction.

LaGuardia and JFK airports are excluded from “covered airspace” but helicopters must “fly through the shortest, most direct routes possible to access or depart from airports.”

While this legislation does not address the issue of helicopter noise, if enacted it would of necessity have the effect of reducing it noticeably. In Gothamist’s estimation, “[t]he fate of this new attempt at a ban is up in the air, for now.”

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Helicopter Noise Press Conference Saturday Thu, 24 Oct 2019 04:01:51 +0000

Our friends at the Brookyn Heights Association have notified us that this Saturday morning, October 26, at 10:00

[y]ou are invited to join Congress Members Nydia Velázquez, Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler this Saturday on the steps of City Hall for a major announcement introducing federal legislation. The Improving Helicopter Safety Act of 2019, seeks to ban all non-essential helicopter traffic over New York City.

The BHA has been very active in efforts to reduce helicopter noise, and encourages as many Heights residents as possible to be at City Hall in Manhattan on Saturday morning for this event.

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Ice Cream Trucks a Problem? Sun, 20 Oct 2019 03:05:50 +0000

Mary Frost, in the Eagle, has a story about DUMBO residents who “have had it with the noisy, fume-spewing ice cream trucks clogging their streets and sidewalks.” However, if you follow the link and read to the end of Mary’s story, you’ll find some reports of Brooklyn Heights residents complaining about noise and fumes from trucks parked on Cadman Plaza West, and on Middagh and Hicks streets. Mary notes that BHB reader and commenter Roberto Gautier

has been sounding the alarm about the pollution being spread by the diesel truck on Cadman and others parked nearby for years. Gautier points out that parts of London have banned the diesel trucks, and hopes he can push the city to do likewise here.

Meanwhile, he is arranging a study to measure the pollution levels from the truck on Cadman and one that parks near P.S. 8 on Hicks Street.

Back in May of 2012 there were complaints on Open Thread Wednesday about fumes and noise from a truck regularly parked next to the Pierrepont Playground, at the conjunction of Pierrepont Street, Pierrepont Place, and Columbia Heights. The truck is still regularly there – your correspondent lives at Montague Street and Pierrepont Place, and can see it from a window – but the problems seem to have been alleviated.


What say you, readers? Any specific, or general, complaints?

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BQE Vibrations Affect North Heights Residents Wed, 11 Sep 2019 02:22:42 +0000

Scott Enman in the Eagle reports that residents of the North Heights, particularly at the north end of Willow Street, near where the Brooklyn Queens Expressway curves, are frequently disturbed by strong vibrations that disturb their sleep. These often happen in the early morning and late evening when traffic on the BQE isn’t backed up, and trucks can pass at speed.

While this affects only a small portion of Heights residents, consider that some of the houses in this area are of historic value, and could be affected structurally by continued exposure to these vibrations. Moreover, any work to renovate the cantilevered BQE in place is likely to increase these vibrations greatly, and expand the area affected by them to the length of Brooklyn Heights.

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Is Brooklyn Heights Cool? Tue, 06 Aug 2019 20:28:07 +0000

Not “cool” in the sense of “hip”, though we may be a little of that (at least Montague Street gets name-checked in a Bob Dylan song), but in terms of ambient temperature. Right now, as I write this, that’s 81 degrees Fahrenheit; not quite as bad as it’s been lately. According to Curbed NY, citing a study by, the Heights is one of the four coolest neighborhoods in the City. The others are Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Brooklyn’s Prospect Heights, and the Concourse in the South Bronx. What all have in common, according to the Curbed piece, is proximity to parks. It notes the Heights’ proximity to Brooklyn Bridge Park, but observes the park’s lack of mature trees. It doesn’t mention the phalanx of trees along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade (photo, by C. Scales), which certainly have some effect, along with our many street trees and other abundant greenery.

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Brooklyn Heights Vies in Greenery, Ties in Drinking Contest (with Help from Fort Greene) Tue, 30 Jul 2019 01:26:39 +0000

The Eagle’s Mary Frost reports that the Greenest Block in Brooklyn Contest, conducted by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, is close to its conclusion. Montague Street, she reports, is a finalist in the Greenest Commercial Block division. Montague was nominated by the Montague Street BID and its entry is being effected by “[t]he talented and passionate team at James Weir Floral” (photo) led by the store’s owner, Estela Johannesen. The winner will be announced on August 8.

On a less salubrious note, the Eagle’s Scott Enman reports that the Heights, coupled with Fort Greene, is tied with Carroll Gardens/Park Slope, in having Brooklyn’s largest percentage of population, twenty five percent, who engage in binge drinking, “defined as five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women in one sitting.” Factors that seem to correspond with high binge drinking rates are: (1) lots of relatively young (25-44) affluent white people; and (2) lots of bars.

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Eagle’s Mary Frost Goes Deep With New BHA Exec Director Mon, 22 Jul 2019 02:21:18 +0000

The Eagle’s Mary Frost interviewed in depth the new Brooklyn Heights Association Executive Director Lara Birnback. Ms. Birnback is a California native, but has lived in the Heights for many years. Her husband grew up here. She has extensive experience in community development in the U.S. and abroad.

As a Heights resident she is aware of the major issues affecting the community: the BQE reconstruction: development around the Heights; and the proposed new jail on Atlantic Avenue. She also wants to focus on “micro” issues, like broken tree pits and rat infestations. She has a special affinity for small businesses and their problems. Education is another of her priorities. She also wants to create closer relationships with our neighbors in Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, DUMBO, and others to deal with issues affecting all these neighborhoods.

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E-Waste Recycling Event This Sunday Fri, 17 May 2019 03:57:07 +0000

The Brooklyn Heights Association has let us know that there will be an e-waste recycling event this Sunday, May 19 from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. It’s sponsored by the First Unitarian Church. Items may be disposed of on Pierrepont Street between Monroe Place and Clinton Street. For more information click on “Read full story.” More information here.

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Irish Cyclist Ends Transcontinental Ride in Brooklyn Bridge Park Sun, 05 May 2019 01:55:15 +0000

The Irish Times reports that 26 year old Shane Finn, of County Kerry, Ireland, today completed a 36 day bicycle journey that began at San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge and ended at Brooklyn Bridge Park, where he was greeted by his cousin, Mary Evans, who flew over from Ireland for the event. Mr. Finn undertook the transcontinental challenge, as he has several marathon runs, to raise funds for Spina Bifida Hydrocephalus Ireland; spina bifida hydrocephalus is a condition with which Ms. Evans was born. See photos in the story linked above. There is a U.S. organization that also raises funds for the same purpose: see here.

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Teresa’s to Re-Open Tomorrow Morning? Thu, 14 Mar 2019 23:28:23 +0000

The Brooklyn Paper reports that popular neighborhood eatery Teresa’s was closed Tuesday by order of the Health Department because of “evidence of mice inside, and … that the kitchen’s setup did not adequately protect food from contamination.” However, this afternoon the yellow Health Department sign was gone, and in its place was a hand-lettered sign saying the restaurant was “closed for maintenance” and would re-open tomorrow (Friday) morning.

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BQE and Mega-Jail Dominate BHA Annual Meeting Fri, 01 Mar 2019 14:33:21 +0000

It was standing room only at the Founders Hall Auditorium of St. Francis College for Tuesday’s Annual Meeting of the Brooklyn Heights Association. As the Eagle’s Mary Frost reports, BHA President Martha Bakos Dietz said the BHA had submitted to the City’s Department of Transportation an alternative plan that would avoid putting a temporary six lane highway in the present location of the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, and that the DOT has said it is considering this alternative, as well as “three to five others.” Ms. Dietz also announced that the BHA will hold a town hall meeting on the BQE a 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, March 12 at Plymouth Church.

The Eagle story also reports that the City’s proposal to increase the size of the Brooklyn House of Detention, located on Atlantic Avenue a few blocks from Brooklyn Heights, to forty stories, is opposed by the BHA for its lack of context and environmental effects, as well as for the City’s failure to have, in Ms. Dietz’s words, any “meaningful engagement with the affected community.” She noted that the City wants to start its land use review process (“ULURP”) for the jail expansion next month. The BHA has urged the City to delay starting ULURP, “identify a second jail site within Brooklyn,” and consider “alternatives to incarceration” for certain inmates.

Photo: Andrew Porter

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Simon Says: Talk to Neighbors; Examine Data; Review EIS for BQE Renovation Sat, 19 Jan 2019 03:54:14 +0000

As expected, Thursday’s “Java with Jo Anne” event, with State Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon at One Girl Cookies in DUMBO, drew a number of Brooklyn Heights residents eager to question Ms. Simon’s stance concerning the City Department of Transportation’s plan to construct a temporary six lane highway in the present location of the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. Simon was booed and heckled at the rally on the Promenade last Saturday for not declaring herself opposed to the DOT plan. As Mary Frost reports in the Eagle, when asked why she hadn’t opposed it as other elected officials had, Simon replied that unlike those who had spoken against the DOT plan at the promenade rally — she didn’t name them, but they are City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams — she isn’t running for Mayor. (Another elected official who spoke against the DOT plan on Saturday, Assembly Member Latrice Walker, is running for City Public Advocate.)

Simon noted that there are only two plans now under consideration: the “innovative” plan to build a temporary highway at the level of the Promenade, and a “traditional” lane-by-lane approach that would involve partially closing the BQE, would take longer, and is projected to cause seven mile long traffic jams and cause diversion of much traffic to local streets. The “traditional” approach would affect constituents of hers in Cobble Hill, where she lives. The “innovative” approach would be a benefit to residents of DUMBO and Vinegar Hill, because it would allow traffic to flow freely to the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges from the BQE, rather than being routed through their neighborhoods. The Eagle story quotes Simon: “We’re in a state of equipoise here. Both plans suck. And they suck a little differently for different people.”

Asked about the alternative plan proposed by the Brooklyn Heights Association that would route the temporary highway below the Promenade, and above the sound attenuating berms and parking lot of Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Eagle story quotes Simon as saying “the DOT Commissioner [Polly Trottenberg] was very intrigued by it” but that the Department must determine if it is feasible. Simon also noted that it could adversely affect residents of 360 Furman Street, the Pierhouse, and Pier Six (presumably meaning the soon to be completed high rises on the Pier Six uplands).

Simon also noted that it was impossible to evaluate the impacts of the proposals until an environmental assessment has been completed. According to the Eagle:

Her office will be helping to advise people working on statements for input into the environmental review process — a process she is familiar with based on many years of involvement with the Gowanus Expressway and Atlantic Yards processes.

She said that the environmental report, when released, would be very long, and deal with a number of topics. She suggested that neighborhood groups should appoint people with expertise in various areas to analyze and criticize portions of the report. She also encouraged people from different neighborhoods that might be differently affected to get together and discuss how they could find common ground.

Several attendees asked about actions that could reduce the traffic using the BQE, and thereby mitigate the possibility of traffic jams and diversions of traffic. Simon said that eliminating the outbound toll on the Verrazano Bridge would require federal legislation. Congestion pricing, which would require action by the state, is a tough sell, because legislators representing districts in the farther reaches of Brooklyn and Queens, and Nassau County have all been told by their constituents that they oppose anything that would constrain their right to commute to Manhattan by car. Simon added that surveys have shown that people living in these areas rarely if ever use their private cars to go to Manhattan. Nevertheless, they object to anything that would limit their freedom to do so. Simon said she’s convinced that “there’s a direct connection between the steering column and the male groin.” In any event, she didn’t think that congestion pricing would have a significant effect on BQE traffic.

Simon expressed disappointment over the failures of the city and the state to take earlier action on the deterioration of the cantilevered portion of the BQE. She said several successive City DOT commissioners had “kicked the can down the road.” She also reiterated her criticism of the state, expressed at the rally last Saturday, for turning its back on the issue, but added, as the Eagle story reports:

I’m talking to everybody; I’m working with the DOT to explore every alternative; I’m working with the federal elected officials; I’m working with the state elected officials; I’m hounding the state Department of Transportation. I’ve a meeting with the commissioner next week … He’s coming to see me. Which is highly unusual for the transportation commissioner to come visit a legislator. The statement is pretty clear. We’re going to do everything we can.

There was some discussion of matters unrelated to the BQE. Simon said that Democratic control of the Senate, along with the assembly and the Executive, meant that progress had been made on several fronts: voting rights, campaign finance reform, LGBTQ rights, and gun safety. She was asked if taxes accruing from marijuana legalization, if passed, might be used to improve public transit. She said there were several proposals for the use of those funds, including repairing the lives of those who had been imprisoned because of marijuana convictions.

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Hundreds Pack Promenade For Rally Against BQE Plan Sun, 13 Jan 2019 21:37:43 +0000

Brooklyn Heights Association Executive Director Peter Bray said the cold weather made him hope that 300 people would show up for yesterday’s rally on and for the Promenade, but by our estimate there was well more than that number. (Update: the New York Post estimates the turnout as “[a]bout 200″; we believe this is way on the low side. The Eagle gives an estimate of “several hundred”; scroll down in the linked story to the photo taken from above, which shows only part of the crowd.) People kept arriving well after the announced starting time of 11:00 A.M.

Mr. Bray began by announcing the BHA’s opposition to the City Department of Transportation’s preferred alternative of building a temporary six lane highway that would replace the Brooklyn Heights Promenade for a period of at least six years while reconstruction of the cantilevered portion of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway below proceeds. Mayor De Blasio has expressed his support for this plan, but according to City Council Member Stephen Levin later partially walked back that statement by saying he considers an alternative plan proposed by the BHA, to run the temporary highway over the berms on the east edge of Brooklyn Bridge Park, to be “worth exploring.”
IMG_2221The first elected official to speak was City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who in December sent a letter to the Mayor and to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, faulting them for not consulting with affected communities and not considering alternative plans. He said the DOT plan fails to consider evolving trends in transportation, instead perpetuating a 1950s Robert Moses solution. He compared it to “buying the drapes before you buy the house.”
IMG_2219Among the elected officials present were State Senator Brian Kavanagh (in photo above, with sunglasses) and Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon (in blue cap, next to Kavanagh). In her remarks, Ms. Simon took the state to task for having taken money appropriated for a study of the BQE rehabilitation and re-allocated it to the Tappan Zee (now Governor Mario M. Cuomo) Bridge. She was loudly heckled when she would not unequivocally state her opposition to the DOT proposal. Ms. Simon has invited all to have “Java with Jo Anne” and discuss any community concerns with her this Thursday morning, January 17, from 8:30 to 10:30, at One Girl Cookies, 33 Main Street (between Plymouth and Water) in DUMBO.
IMG_2228 Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams (photo above, in baseball cap) received ethusiastic applause and cheers when he decalred, “I am an environmentalist” and stated his opposition to the DOT proposal. Representatives from the offices of Mr. Levin, and of Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez were present and spoke.

One elected official whose district does not include any part of Brooklyn Heights or nearby neighborhoods spoke in opposition to the DOT proposal. This was State Assembly Member Latrice Walker, whose district includes parts of Brownsville, where Ms. Walker grew up and still lives, and Stuyvesant Heights. She recalled childhood memories of visiting the Promenade, and said that, as an asthma victim, she opposed any plan likely to worsen air pollution.

Several representatives of local community groups also spoke. Hillary Jager, speaking for A Better Way NYC, said the group not only opposes the DOT plan, but also any plan that would add congestion to local streets. Toba Potosky, Board President of Cadman Towers, Inc., expressed strong opposition to the DOT proposal on environmental grounds.

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BHA Presents Alternative BQE Plan to DOT Sat, 24 Nov 2018 04:22:32 +0000

As reported by the Eagle’s Mary Frost, representatives of the Brooklyn Heights Association met with Polly Trottenberg, Commissioner of the City’s Department of Transportation, and DOT engineers, to urge DOT to consider alternatives to a plan that would close the Brooklyn Heights Promenade for a minimum of six years and replace it with a six lane elevated highway. The BHA presented an “alternative plan conceived by Marc Wouters Studios, a Heights-based architect-urban planning firm. The Wouters design would move traffic to a temporary two-level structure west of the existing triple cantilever, as opposed to DOT’s six-lane highway on the Promenade.”

The Eagle story quotes BHA Executive Director Peter Bray as saying Commissioner Trottenberg

was receptive to having her engineers analyze Marc’s concept and for a later meeting with them to enable us to go into the technical aspects of the alternative proposal — what we call the Parallel Highway vs. DOT’s Promenade Highway. We anticipate that that meeting will occur once DOT has done a preliminary analysis.

According to the Eagle story, local elected officials, including State Senator Brian Kavanagh, Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, City Council Member Stephen Levin, and Borough President Eric Adams have shown interest in this matter.

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CDC Warns, Do Not Eat Romaine Lettuce Wed, 21 Nov 2018 15:07:36 +0000

Don’t forget to eat your vegetables this Thanksgiving just NOT Romaine lettuce. The NY Times reports the CDC and has issued a “stern and sweeping advisory” linking the greens to an outbreak of a particularly virulent strain of E. coli bacteria. To date, thirty two people across eleven states have been sickened, several hospitalized. Out of an abundance of caution, “people should not buy or eat romaine lettuce; restaurants should stop serving it; anyone who has it on hand should throw it out and clean the refrigerator immediately,” the Times warns.

Illness can begin anywhere from one to ten days after exposure to the bacteria. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea (sometimes bloody) and fever. If sickened you are encouraged to alert your physician, take note of foods you ate prior to becoming ill and report your illness to the health department.

While we are on the subject, here are the USDA safety guidelines for handling and cooking your bird.

We wish everyone a happy, healthy Thanksgiving.  Maybe have that second piece of pumpkin pie?

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Cadman Park Cleanup Sunday Tue, 13 Nov 2018 03:11:36 +0000

UPDATE: This event has been postponed as the park is too wet due to the snow.  It will be rescheduled for December.  Stay tuned!

The Cadman Park Conservancy invites all who wish to help to come to the circle garden between Tillary Street and the Astroturf field this Sunday, November 18 between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM to help clean the Park of fallen leaves and litter. The Conservancy will provide rakes, gloves, and bags, and even has a tractor with a large lawn vacuum. Kids are welcome to join in, and you’re advised to “expect to have fun.” No experience is necessary. Any questions? Contact Toba Potosky –

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