Brooklyn Heights Blog » Cobble Hill Dispatches from America's first suburb Thu, 30 Jun 2022 20:13:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Art Walk on Atlantic Avenue Returns Offering Culture and Return to Normalcy Mon, 20 Jun 2022 16:48:49 +0000

As reported by News 12 Brooklyn, Arts Gowanus’ Artwalk on Atlantic Avenue  is back by popular demand. The FREE, self-guided tour kicked off this past weekend and features over 100 local artists at 70+ businesses in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights, and Cobble Hill. Simply take a stroll on the 1.5-mile Atlantic Avenue route from 4th Avenue down to the waterfront between the hours of 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm. Don’t forget to visit local businesses along the way. The exhibition continues through June 26th.

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“Arts Gowanus ArtWalk on Atlantic Ave” is presented by Arts Gowanus, Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District, and the Atlantic Avenue Local Development Corporation. Follow Arts Gowanus on Instagram at @ArtsGowanus #keepgowanuscreative


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PS8 And Jeweler Alexis Bittar Holiday Fundraising Sale This Saturday! Thu, 18 Nov 2021 16:38:53 +0000

Hey, looking to do some early holiday shopping but worried about those supply chains? Or, (and purely hypothetical here) just looking to get something nice for your wife’s birthday? World famous jewelry designer (and local yocal) Alexis Bittar is hosting a PS8 fundraising/shopping event this Saturday, November 20, from 3pm to 7pm, at his newly opened store at 162 Court Street, at the corner of Amity Street. All sales will go directly towards funding PS8 PTA‘s various school support efforts, such as after-school programs, teaching assistants, and supplies.

Bittar, who has been a big name in jewelry design since the 90s, recently bought back his brand, after selling it 6 years ago to the now-defunct Brooks Brothers so he could raise his two children. He recently opened several stores across New York City, with the latest being the Cobble Hill location.

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Atlantic Antic This Sunday Tue, 28 Sep 2021 22:13:19 +0000

The 46th annual Atlantic Antic, a street fair that stretches along Atlantic Avenue from Hicks Street to Fourth Avenue, will be held this Sunday, October 3 from noon until 6:00 PM, rain or shine. Local merchants will be represented, with special deals for the occasion, along with food, music, dancers, visual artists, clothing vendors, and fun sites for kids. There’s a schedule and official program here. It’s sponsored by the Atlantic Avenue Local Development Corporation.

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Let’s Name the Noisy Building Tue, 06 Apr 2021 01:51:45 +0000

Update:Curbed interviews an acoustician who suggests some possible solutions. Big hat tip to reader Remsen Street Dweller for alerting us to Mary Frost’s Eagle story about 347 Henry Street, or 5 River Park (photo by your correspondent), a nearly completed high rise residential building two blocks south of Atlantic Avenue in Cobble Hill, that is “driving neighbors crazy with its ‘screeching noises’ at all hours.” According to Brownstoner the sound has been heard “as far north as Joralemon Street in Brooklyn Heights, south to Warren Street, and east to Court Street, according to residents.”

The sound is particularly noticeable during periods of high wind, of which we’ve had plenty lately. This brought to your correspondent’s mind the case of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, in Washington State, that during its short life was also susceptible to wind. The tendency of its roadway to buckle up and down in a twisting motion in even moderately brisk winds led to the nickname “Galloping Gertie.” Only a few months after it had been opened to traffic, its roadway severed and collapsed. Fortunately there were few cars on the bridge when this happened, and all of their human occupants escaped. Sadly, the one casualty was Tubby, a Cocker Spaniel, who defied efforts to free him from a doomed car.

I’m thinking, there should be a name for 347 Henry along the lines of “Galloping Gertie.” Something like “Shreiking Susie.” Does it have to be a woman’s name? Of course not. How about “Screeching Scott”? Well, that might be taken as an unfair comment on a mayoral candidate.

Surely you, our readers, can give better suggestions.

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ArtWalk on Atlantic Avenue Begins Weekend of October 17-18 Tue, 13 Oct 2020 02:48:08 +0000

Starting this coming weekend – Saturday, October 17 and Sunday, October 18 – and continuing through Sunday, November 1, Arts Gowanus, along with the Atlantic Avenue BID and Atlantic Avenue LDC, will present Arts Gowanus ArtWalk on Atlantic Avenue, a “1.5 mile, self-guided, socially distanced ArtWalk” extending along Atlantic Avenue from the waterfront to Fourth Avenue (thus including the whole extent of Atlantic along the Brooklyn Heights/Cobble Hill boundary, as well as several blocks to the east). The event “will feature Gowanus artists displaying paintings, drawings, prints, photography, installation and sculptures and will be displayed on storefronts, roll down gates, and dining fences of 65 Atlantic Avenue businesses.” There will be “pop-up performances.” There’s more information here.

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Bluegrass and Books on Line from Brooklyn Bridge Park Fri, 11 Sep 2020 02:17:16 +0000

This Sunday, September 13 from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m., the Brooklyn Americana Music Festival, in conjunction with Brooklyn Bridge Park, will present on line the “Women’s Stage” portion of its 2020 “Long Distance” festival, featuring a diverse group of women musicians with styles “spanning traditional and modern Country, Folk, Blues, Old Time, Bluegrass, and Jazz.” The opening act will be Nora Brown, a young Brooklynite who is a stellar banjo artist, having been taught by the late Shlomo Pestcoe. The photo, which I took at the 2018 Brooklyn Folk Festival, shows her at age twelve. The Festival is free; there’s more information here.

Another of Brooklyn Bridge Park’s traditional outdoor events, Books Beneath the Bridge, goes virtual this year and will begin this Monday, September 14 at 7:00 p.m. with an event presented by Cobble Hill’s Books are Magic that will feature a group of poets and prose writers reading poetry that will “navigate themes of protest poetry, migrant voices, gender-queer perspectives, the richness and resilience of black girl culture, modern-day parenting, and more.” There will be a question and answer session with the readers. If you wish to participate, please register here.

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Cobble Hill Association President Amy Breedlove Stepping Down Mon, 27 Jul 2020 03:06:35 +0000

As reported by the Brooklyn Paper, the Cobble Hill Association’s president Amy Breedlove will be stepping down after two terms’ service, as required under the term limit provision of the Association’s charter. Her replacement has not yet been elected.

Ms. Breedlove is remembered by Brooklyn Heights residents for joining with us in opposition to the closure of Long Island College Hospital. Although that opposition was not entirely successful, she was able to bring the developers, the operators of the remaining medical facility, and representatives of the affected communities together to improve the community benefits flowing from the development plan.

She was also active in the discussion about options for the rehabilitation of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, stressing the need to do something about the “trench” separating Cobble Hill from the Columbia Street District.In doing so, she raised questions about the whole renovation scheme, including the proposal to replace the Brooklyn Heights Promenade with a “temporary” six lane highway.

We at BHB express our thanks for Ms. Breedlove’s advocacy that has benefited Brooklyn Heights as well as Cobble Hill and other neighboring communities.

Photo: Cobble Hill Association

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Cobble Hill Health Center Has 55 Possible COVID-19 Deaths Sat, 18 Apr 2020 20:19:31 +0000

The Eagle carries an AP story reporting that the Cobble Hill Health Center, a nursing home located at 380 Henry Street, has topped the list of recent deaths in nursing homes in New York State during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 55 deaths reported to date. Cobble Hill LifeCare, which manages the Health Center, issued a press release dated yesterday that states, in part, as follows:

Although we’ve had an increase in deaths during the past few weeks, we have not been able to confirm that the deaths are specifically related to Covid-19. Any deaths we’ve reported have been based on the possibility of Covid-19 being a factor. Because Covid-19 testing in skilled nursing facilities has been extremely difficult to obtain, there is no uniform measure to determine conclusively whether Covid-19 was a contributing factor in a resident’s death.

Published lists of deaths in skilled nursing facilities are inaccurate and based on subjective criteria. It is our belief that there is a widespread underreporting of deaths due to Covid-19.

Nursing home operators interviewed for the AP story, which didn’t include those of the Cobble Hill facility although the story notes AP tried to contact them, said the large number of deaths reflected the fragility of the homes’ residents and the facilities’ difficulty in obtaining protective equipment.

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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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What’s in the Crystal Ball for Brooklyn? Wed, 01 Jan 2020 17:20:06 +0000

The Eagle’s Mary Frost interviewed prominent Brooklynites, asking for their views on Brooklyn’s future. Carlo Scissura, head of the Mayor’s panel studying the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, predicts that “the BQE will get some much-needed love and attention.” Love? He also thinks the Nets will make the playoffs. Karen Johnson, owner of DUMBO’s Olympia Wine Bar, thinks the BQE will continue to be an issue, along with subway overcrowding (that’s what happens when your only convenient subway is the F train). Both Lara Birnback, executive director of the Brooklyn Heights Association, and Regina Myer, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, believe the re-opening of the historic Gage & Tollner restaurant on Fulton Street will have a major effect. Ms. Birnback predicts it “will become the hottest reservation in town.” Cobble Hill Association president Amy Breedlove says “NYU will break ground and begin construction at 70 Atlantic Ave. on the former LICH campus.” Borough President Eric Adams thinks there will be “new and innovative” ways to deal with the problem of homelessness.

The boldest prediction comes from Brooklyn Brewery co-founder and chairperson Steve Hindy, who thinks “Brooklyn will annex Queens and the Bronx” and secede from New York City.

There’s lots more in Mary’s Eagle story; well worth a read.

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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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City Comptroller Proposes New BQE Plan Thu, 14 Mar 2019 03:47:57 +0000

The Brooklyn Eagle’s Mary Frost reports that City Comptroller Scott Stringer (photo, Thomas Good / NLN) has proposed an alternative to the City Department of Transportation’s plan to replace the Brooklyn Heights Promenade with a temporary six lane highway for a period not less than six years, or to repair the BQE lane by lane which would, according to the DOT, require closure of the Promenade for at least two years and would also lead to serious traffic backups and cause heavy diversion of traffic onto local streets, affecting not only Brooklyn Heights but also neighboring communities.

The Comptroller’s plan, according to the Eagle story, would be to convert the cantilevered portion of the BQE to a two lane truck only highway that would occupy the present lower deck of the cantilever. The upper deck, just below the Promenade, would become new parkland that would extend southward past Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens by building a deck over the trench in which the BQE runs past those neighborhoods. The Eagle story notes that both the Brooklyn Heights Association and the Cobble Hill Association have responded positively to the Comptroller’s plan, although the BHA has presented an alternative concept that remains on the table for consideration by the DOT.

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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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Heights Artist John Tebeau Illustrates and Chronicles the City’s Bar Scene Mon, 07 May 2018 02:30:26 +0000

Brooklyn Heights resident artist John Tebeau has, in common with your correspondent, a love for good drinking spots. Several years ago he started to do drawings of some of his favorite places. With some encouragement, he expanded this to a tour of Bars, Taverns, and Dives throughout the Five Boroughs, and accompanied each drawing with a description of each place, along with helpful hints on when to go, where to sit, what to order, and how to get along. John is as effective a writer as he is talented with pencil and brush.

It’s not surprising that John, being a Brooklyn resident, includes more Brooklyn bars (22) in his book than those from any other borough. Manhattan comes a distant second with 14. Staten Island is a surprising third with six; the Bronx and Queens are tied with four each.

There are only two spots in Brooklyn Heights that make his list: the Atlantic Chip Shop, at which my wife and I are regulars, and Montero’s, where I’ve been twice and should go back. He includes two very nearby spots: the Long Island Bar and Restaurant, on the Cobble Hill side of Atlantic at Clinton Street, and gives Honorable Mention to the rooftop bar at Fornino at Pier Six in Brooklyn Bridge Park.

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Atlantic Antic This Sunday Tue, 19 Sep 2017 04:25:13 +0000

The theme of this year’s 43rd Atlantic Antic is “The Pulse of Brooklyn.” It will be held this Sunday, September 24 from noon to 6:00 p.m., rain or shine, on Atlantic Avenue between Hicks Street and 4th Avenue. There will be live and DJ’d music, food, vendors, activities for kids, and special deals from merchants along Atlantic. There’s a stage and program schedule here and street map here.

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Extended LICH Demolition Hours Irk Cobble Hill Residents Sat, 04 Feb 2017 04:07:48 +0000

The Eagle’s Mary Frost reports that developer Fortis Group has secured “after hours variances” from the City’s Department of Buildings that allow “late-evening and early weekend construction at 339 Hicks St[reet]”, part of the campus of the former Long Island College Hospital. Nearby residents have complained about construction noise during these hours, and, they say, sometimes starting as early as 5:00 a.m., which is outside the time allowed under the variances. Neighbors have also complained about safety violations on the site. The article notes that a number of elected officials have written to the DOB urging it to reject any future variance applications for the site and to enforce safety rules. It quotes State Senator Daniel Squadron, a Carroll Gardens resident, calling Fortis “a developer that thumbs its nose at the community to pursue out-of-context development.”

The site is close enough to Brooklyn Heights along Atlantic Avenue and along State Street near Hicks for construction noise to disturb residents there. Has anyone noticed?

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We’re Losing BookCourt, but Relief May be in Sight Wed, 07 Dec 2016 04:20:35 +0000

The news that BookCourt, a superb independent bookstore on Court Street between Pacific and Dean, will, as reported by Gothamist, close on December 31, hit me with a gut punch equivalent to that I suffered with the closing of Capulet’s on Montague in the mid 1980s. I’ve spent many a happy hour browsing in BookCourt, using the comfortable seating provided to page through, and selectively read, books that I often then bought. I also enjoyed many talks by authors under the skylight there.

An addendum to the Gothamist story, linked above, gives some hope that our area will not be denied the pleasures of an independent bookstore for long. Local author Emma Straub “and husband Michael Fusco-Straub have secured initial funding for a bookstore in the Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens/Boerum Hill area in hopes of replacing BookCourt”. While this venture is far from fruition now, you can follow their progress here.

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Two Injured, One Seriously, By Falling Bricks at Former LICH Thu, 06 Oct 2016 03:22:55 +0000

Update: The two injured were workers on the demolition site. They were taken to New York Methodist Hospital in Park Slope. Read more in Mary Frost’s Eagle story. Sadly, News 12 Brooklyn reports that today at about 1:00 p.m. two people were injured, one seriously, by falling bricks at 339 Hicks Street, the former Long Island College Hospital now under demolition by Fortis Property Group’s contractor. According to the News 12 story, both victims were taken to “Long Island College Hospital”, presumably meaning the emergency room on the former LICH site run by NYU Langone. One person was treated for minor injuries; the other is reported to be in “serious but stable condition.” The names of the victims have not yet been released. We will update this story when possible.

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Atlantic Antic This Sunday Fri, 23 Sep 2016 03:00:11 +0000

The 42nd annual Atlantic Antic will be this Sunday, September 25 from noon to 6:00 p.m., rain or shine, on Atlantic Avenue between Hicks Street and 4th Avenue. There will be live and DJ’d music, food, vendors, activities for kids, and special deals from merchants along Atlantic. More information here.

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Brooklyn Book Festival Next Sunday, September 18 Sat, 10 Sep 2016 21:10:19 +0000

The eleventh annual Brooklyn Book Festival will be on Sunday, September 18 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m at Borough Hall and Columbus Park (immediately north of Borough Hall). There will be readings by and discussions with writers, and books for sale. On Saturday, September 17 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. there will be a Children’s Day at Metrotech Commons, with many children’s authors participating.

Beginning this Monday, September 12 and continuing through the week there will be “Bookend” events held in various venues around the Borough, as well as in Manhattan and Queens. Among the events scheduled locally is a reading by the best selling children’s author R.L. Stine at the Granite Prospect on Pier 1, Brooklyn Bridge Park, on Tuesday evening, September 13, starting at 6:00. Also on Tuesday evening, starting at 7:00, sports writer Mike Lupica will be at BookCourt to read from his new young adult fiction book, Last Man Out. There’s a full schedule of Bookend Events here.

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The Long, Sad Story of the Selling of LICH Tue, 09 Aug 2016 17:03:30 +0000

Thanks to Mary Frost, of the Brooklyn Eagle, we now have a detailed chronology, with links to Eagle stories giving further information about each incident, of the steps leading to and following the sale of Long Island College Hospital.

Despite the money SUNY received from the sale of LICH, SUNY Downstate continued to have financial difficulties. The New York Post reports that State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has faulted “lavish travel, lodging and dining expenses” paid to consultant Pitts Management Associates, Inc., which was hired to help SUNY Downstate reorganize itself in order to cut costs. Pitts’ website includes an endorsement from SUNY Downstate’s President, Dr. John “Skip” Williams:

I believe SUNY Downstate might be closed today if it hadn’t been for the activities PMA initiated and provided for us. With your help we were able to work our way out of a substantial deficit position, establish financial controls, develop financial statements, and reorganize physician compensation and the supply chain function. Within one year of partnering with PMA, our hospital took in over $30 million in profit after years of closing the fiscal year in debt.

Dr. Williams became President of SUNY Downstate in August of 2012. The decision to close and sell LICH followed in February of 2013.

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U.S. Attorney Probing de Blasio Role in LICH Sale Tue, 26 Jul 2016 22:25:55 +0000

The Daily News and Post are reporting that Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney known for his crackdown on political corruption, has–according to “two sources” cited in the Daily News story–subpoenaed from State University of New York, previous owner of Long Island College Hospital, “all communications between the university system and City Hall regarding the sale of LICH dating to Jan. 2, 2014, when [Mayor Bill] de Blasio took office.”

It also seeks all communication regarding the hospital dating to 2013 between SUNY and de Blasio’s campaign and his fundraiser Ross Offinger, as well as various groups tied to the mayor such as the Campaign For One New York, UPKNYC, and United for Affordable NYC, the sources said.

The Post story cites a July 15 letter by Joseph Porter, Senior Vice Chancellor of SUNY, seen by the Post, indicating that Bharara’s office “has now cast a wide net for evidence of possible malfeasance in SUNY’s $240 million sale of LICH to Fortis.”

Thanks to BHB reader “Remsen Street Dweller” for alerting us to this.

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Pedestrian Killed Crossing at Atlantic/Clinton Intersection Tue, 21 Jun 2016 11:53:32 +0000 BoCoCa Patch reports that just before 10:00 p.m. Sunday an as yet unidentified 70 year old man was struck by a car and killed while crossing against the light at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Clinton Street. The driver remained at the scene. More details when available.

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Make Music New York to Present Free Outdoor Performances in and around Brooklyn Heights Tuesday, June 21 Tue, 21 Jun 2016 03:23:43 +0000

On Tuesday, June 21 Make Music New York will present hundreds of free outdoor (the events will be cancelled in case of rain) musical performances all around New York City. In our neighborhood, the music will start in Cadman Plaza Park with a concert by Dominion (“experimental”) from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m., followed by Brightfully (“pop”) from 1:15 to 2:15, then Janelle Costa (“electronic”) from 2:15 to 2:45, then The Afro Nick (“rock, indie rock, pop”) from 3:00 to 4:00. Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park will be the place for brass, hosting Kenny Wollensen’s MEAT (“jazz, experimental, brass”) from 4:00 to 4:45 p.m., then Triad Brass (“jazz, hip-hop, classical”) from 4:45 to 5:30, then the Funkrust Brass Band (“punk, funk, brass”) from 5:30 to 6:15, and The Marching Cobras (“brass”) from 6:15 to 7:00. From 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Hot Tea (“Latin, world, jazz”) will perform in front of the Heights Cafe, 84 Montague Street (corner of Hicks), and from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Jaime Garamella (“singer/songwriter, indie-folk, rock”) will sing in front of 132 Lounge, 132 Montague (between Henry and Clinton).

There will be other performances in Cobble Hill, DUMBO, Red Hook, Downtown Brooklyn and other nearby locations. Check the map.

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Meeting on Proposed Brooklyn-Queens Connector Monday Evening at St. Francis Sat, 18 Jun 2016 20:46:34 +0000

The Brooklyn Heights Association has notified us of a public meeting, to be held at St. Francis College, the Callahan Center, 182 Remsen Street, this Monday evening, June 20, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., to discuss the proposed Brooklyn-Queens Connector (“BQX”), a streetcar, or if you prefer, trolley,

or, for our British friends, tram, line that would connect Sunset Park in Brooklyn with Astoria in Queens, serving Red Hook, Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO, Vinegar Hill, the Navy Yard, Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Long Island City along the way. The notice from the BHA says the line “would pass through Brooklyn Heights.” A map provided by the Mayor’s office in February appears to show it going east of the Heights, perhaps along Cadman Plaza, while a “sneak peek” at the route from Crain’s, also from February, shows it going below the BQE, probably along Furman Street. Perhaps there will be better information about the route at Monday’s meeting, or perhaps it remains to be decided. Sign up to attend here.

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BHA and CHA Want Answers on LICH Site Plans Tue, 05 Apr 2016 01:21:59 +0000

As reported by The Eagle, the Brooklyn Heights Association and the Cobble Hill Association have jointly sent a letter to NYU Langone seeking information concerning matters of interest to the communities. NYU is presently operating an emergency room at the Long island College Hospital site and is to develop, pursuant to an agreement with Fortis Property Group, which now owns the LICH site, a larger medical facility at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Hicks Street. The letter asks for information about the plans for the new medical facility, particularly with respect to planning for traffic and parking, and concerning plans for the demolition of existing structures, which has caused the temporary closure of two dedicated public spaces, including a playground used by both Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill residents.

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The BHB Ten for 2015! Mon, 11 Jan 2016 04:59:26 +0000

Here, in no particular order, are the people you, the readers, and we nominated for the Brooklyn Heights Ten for the past year, 2015.

Tracy (“Mrs. Fink”) Zamot and daughter Gracie: The sudden and unexpected loss of BHB’s founder, publisher, contributor, and guiding light John “Homer Fink” Loscalzo last April left all of us on the BHB staff in shock and grief, but the keenest loss was to his wife, Tracy, and their then four year old daughter, Gracie (photo by Jason Shaltz). With Tracy’s blessing, we have been able to carry on with the blog, though we miss “Homer’s” always pertinent and often witty contributions, as well as his keen sense of how the on-line world works, and his finger on the pulse of popular culture. As reader Mary commented:

If Homer was the mayor of BK Heights, Mrs. Fink is our first lady. The grace and honesty with which she shared her grief with us, while the neighborhood grieved with her, is deserving of more than this annual fun list. But why not?

We agree, while liking to think this is perhaps more than an “annual fun list”; we also salute Gracie for having endured a terrible loss at a tender age in a manner befitting her name.

Roy Sloane: Yes, he lives in Cobble Hill, but Sloane’s unflagging community advocacy–opposing, though unsuccessfully, the closing of LICH, which served Heights as well as Hill and other nearby residents; fighting against over-development in and around Cobble Hill that would put heavy stress on public facilities and infrastructure on both sides of Atlantic Avenue–drew praise from many readers.

Richard A. Somerby: An architect, interior designer, and contractor, as well as a painter and sculptor, the multi-talented Mr. Somerby, whose office is at 48 Henry Street, has been responsible for several very successful renovations and restorations of houses in Brooklyn Heights. His work at 55 Middagh Street is shown in the video above by our Karl Junkersfeld.

The Public School Advocates: There were several readers who supported including all of the members of the District 13 Community Education Council, who have dealt over the past year with the issue of re-zoning P.S. 8 and P.S. 307, along with many other challenges arising from the rapid population growth in Downtown Brooklyn and nearby areas. Special mention was given to the CEC’s chair, David Goldsmith, a former P.S. 8 PTA president; CEC member and Heights resident Amy Shire; and former P.S. 8 PTA co-president Ansley Samson.

Pepe Romero (HQ)Pepe Montero (photo above, by Heather Quinlan): He’s kept the last of the Heights’ longshoremen’s and sailors’ bars, opened in 1939 and moved once to make way for Robert Moses’ BQE, going since his father’s death some years ago. He may sell to a developer if one comes along willing to pay enough to him and his neighbors along the north side of Atlantic Avenue from Hicks Street down to the BQE on-ramp, but since these buildings are in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District, any developer’s options would be limited. Our guess is that Montero’s has more than a few good years left.

Bjork: She’s bought her ex Matthew Barney’s share of their penthouse at 160 Henry Street, so, unless she’s planning to flip it, it looks like she’s here for a while. She’s also a regular shopper at the Brooklyn Women’s Exchange. And, as reader StudioBrooklyn writes:

The lovely and talented Björk has, in addition to releasing yet another mindblowingly beautiful album “Vulnicura”, helped launch an app for iOS which may contribute to wider participation in new 3D interactivity with recorded media (in other words, VR). And she’s just awesome anyway.

The Brooklyn Bridge Animal Welfare Coalition: the BBAWC has been recommended by our Teresa Genaro because they “do a lot for the homeless/needy pets in the neighborhood.” Having seen their–I hope–successful adoption efforts (I do know that Lauren, manager of the late J. McLaughlin store on Hicks, adopted the kitten she’s shown holding in this post) I can only agree.

Furman BookRobert Furman wrote the book on Brooklyn Heights history. What more can we say? Just what we’ve said here.

Dan Miller: StudioBrooklyn also suggests:

Another neighbor, Dan Miller, has been the lead guitarist for Brooklyn’s “ambassadors of rock” They Might Be Giants since 1998. This year marked a new milestone for the band’s prolific output, releasing something like one new song per week for the entirety of 2015, on top of a busy touring schedule.

Reader BHMommy calls Dan “a nice guy”, and to Mary he’s “a treasure.” Who are we to argue?

IMG_3837Ellie Bishop, and R.I.P. Patti Romp: New Jersey native and Vermont resident Patti Romp began selling Christmas trees in front of Key Food on Montague Street some years ago. See Karl Junkersfeld’s video here of Patti in front of Key Food, made in 2011. In 2014 Patti was too ill to make the trip from Vermont, so her daughter Ellie Bishop (photo) came instead. In October of 2015, we got the sad news of Patti’s death. Ellie was back right after Thanksgiving, with four children and a formidable looking but gentle mastiff named Spartacus. BHMommy sums it up:

I’m a big fan of Ellie, the Christmas tree lady in front of Key Food. She is so lovely and fills the neighborhood with Christmas spirit – even though she is only a Brooklyn Heights resident for 1/12 of the year.

This completes our BHB Ten for 2015. There were several nominees: “Captain Cleanup”; Mary Frost; Sami Rhum of Pet’s Emporium; and Ron Chernow, who weren’t included this year because they have been previous honorees, but that’s not to ignore their continuing contributions to the neighborhood. As we did last year with Judy Stanton, though, we would like to recognize a former honoree, Plymouth Church Historian Lois Rosebrooks, on the occasion of her retirement. The history of Plymouth Church plays a vital role in the history of Brooklyn Heights and of our nation. It is our earnest hope that the church will find a way to keep alive Ms. Rosebrooks’ ministry, and we wish her much happiness in her retirement.

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Stringer, at Town Hall, Voices Concerns About Library Deal, Park Financing; Supports “Community Based Planning” Sat, 05 Dec 2015 18:23:57 +0000

City Comptroller Scott Stringer, at his Brooklyn Town Hall Thursday evening, fielded questions from many people who lined up on both sides of the auditorium to get their turn at the microphones, as well as other questions brought in by Periscope. Concerns raised by Brooklyn Heights residents included the deal to sell the Brooklyn Heights Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library to a developer who would include a smaller branch library in a high rise condo building, the construction of two high rise residential buildings near Pier Six in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and the effect of residential development on school overcrowding and other stresses on public services and infrastructure.

On the library issue, Michael D.D. White, Heights resident and a principal of Citizens Defending Libraries, asked “What are you willing to do to help us?” Stringer had earlier said his audit of BPL had not found any major discrepancies, unlike the Queens Public Library audit. Nevertheless, he said, he has serious concerns about the Brooklyn Heights Branch deal, particularly about whether BPL is getting full value. In response to White’s request for a letter from the Comptroller concerning BPL’s lack of transparency about the transaction and alleged conflicts of interest on the part of some BPL board members, Stringer said White should meet with Brian Cook, Director of Economic Development in the Comptroller’s office.

Marty Hale, of People for Green Space Foundation/Save Pier 6 asked about status of an audit of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation concerning its need for revenue from the two proposed residential buildings near Pier Six. Stringer said he had received more information from BBPC, but thought that the possibility of a bond issue to finance the improvements needed to the piers and other park requirements, in lieu of more real estate development, should be explored. In response to another PFGSF representative, who said the Comptroller had been “stonewalled” by BBPC, Stringer said “I don’t get stonewalled.” Cobble Hill community activist Judi Francis suggested that the city should allot one percent of its revenue to parks. Stringer noted that proper maintenance of parks saves the city more than it costs by preventing claims for injury and escalation of repair costs.

Stringer addressed the issue of the stress on schools and other public services and infrastructure caused by burgeoning development by advocating “community based planning” that would develop plans from the grass roots up instead of from the top down. This was also his response to complaints from residents of East New York and other neighborhoods which the city has proposed to re-zone to allow greater density but also to attract more affluent residents. On the issue of selling public assets such as libraries and schools to private interests, he said he would like to assemble a group of concerned citizens to explore alternatives. He noted that the city’s budget is now in the best shape it’s been in for many years, which he characterized as a “peace dividend.” He cautioned that another recession or Sandy-like disaster would end this, but said the city should prudently take advantage of its present fiscal strength to deal with pressing problems like homelessness and inadequate or deteriorating infrastructure.

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New Plan for LICH Site: A Dormitory? Wed, 21 Oct 2015 00:06:59 +0000

According to Capital New York, our erstwhile neighborhood hospital may be slated to become…a big dormitory.

Following local outcries against Fortis Property Group’s plans to build high-rise luxury condos on the same, the developer has put forth another plan, which can, according to the story, be constructed without neighborhood feedback.

Fortis Property Group, the developer that bought the beleaguered Long Island College Hospital, shocked neighborhood residents last week when it floated the idea of a 260,000 square foot student dorm on the site.

The proposal, which can be built as-of-right without local input, comes amid a heated debate about the future of the site and could pressure community leaders to negotiate a rezoning that would include more development, but farther away from the center of the neighborhood.

Read the full story at Capital New York and check out renderings at the Fortis site (h/t to Curbed, which also covers the story today).


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Atlantic Antic This Sunday Tue, 22 Sep 2015 01:36:16 +0000

The 41st annual Atlantic Antic will take place on Atlantic Avenue from Hicks Street to Fourth Avenue this Sunday, September 27, from noon to 6:00 p.m., rain or shine. As always, the event will feature live music and dance performances–the main stage will be near Clinton Street, roughly in front of Key Food, but there will be smaller stages spaced along the route–food, including stands by participating restaurants on Atlantic; vendors of all manner of clothing and other goods, some locally crafted, along with discounts at participating merchants; and activities for kids, with a special Kids’ Zone between Boerum Place and Smith Street. The theme of this year’s Antic is “The Youth Are Our Future.” There’s more information here.

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