Brooklyn Heights Blog » DUMBO http://brooklynheightsblog.com Dispatches from America's first suburb Thu, 21 Sep 2017 21:56:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Coming at Brooklyn Historical Societyhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83898 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83898#comments Mon, 22 May 2017 02:16:05 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=83898

It’s a busy week at the Brooklyn Historical Society, with three evening events. All begin at 6:30, and admission for each is $10, or $5 for BHS members. Links to buy tickets are below.

For all the talk of a “paperless society” — this blog’s beloved founder had as a slogan “On the web because paper is expensive” — we still use lots of the stuff. Mark Kurlansky, who has written histories of Cod, Salt, and Oysters, will be at BHS on Tuesday evening, May 23, along with Atlas Obscura editor Ella Morton, to discuss his Paper: Paging Through History. More information and buy tickets here

On Wednesday evening, May 24, Daniel Sharfstein, professor of law and history at Vanderbilt University, will be joined by New York Times editorial writer and author Brent Staples, to discuss Sharfstein’s book Thunder in the Mountains: Chief Joseph, Oliver Otis Howard, and the Nez Perce War. The book deals with an historic irony: how Howard, an abolitionist and Union Army Civil War hero, persecuted “a brutal military campaign against the Nez Perce tribe and their leader, Chief Joseph, an outspoken opponent of forced relocation.” More information and buy tickets here.

Are we on the cusp of tyranny? On Thursday evening, May 25, Masha Gessen, author of The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Retook Russia and Timothy Snyder, Yale history professor and author of On Tyranny: Twenty Leesons from the Twentieth Century, discuss “A Republic, if You Can Keep It,” concerning “the global rise of nationalism and America’s political future.” More information and buy tickets here

When you get a chance, go down to Empire Stores in DUMBO and visit BHS’s new exhibition site. On display there now are many striking photographs of the Brooklyn waterfront. One that particularly caught my eye was of the Harbor View Lawn on Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 1, before a summer “Movies With a View” screening, taken from an open helicopter door directly above and showing the lawn almost covered with blankets arranged in a neat array and people sitting on them or walking around.

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D13 CEC Hosts Electeds and Journalists for Forum on School Desgregationhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83845 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83845#comments Mon, 15 May 2017 05:37:20 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=83845

Studies show that for all its diversity, NYC has one of the most segregated public school systems in the country.  Almost two academic years after the re-zoning of P.S. 8 and P.S. 307, the District 13 Community Education Council will hold an important forum on Tuesday evening (May 16th) as part of its scheduled calendar meeting.

Desegregation: Where We Are Now & Envisioning a Path to the Future will feature panelists Councilmembers Laurie Cumbo and Steve Levin,  New York Times reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones and WNYC reporter Yasmeen Khan. The event takes place 6:30 – 8:30 pm at P.S. 307, Daniel Hale Williams, 209 York Street in Brooklyh.

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Brooklyn Bridge Park Presents Artist Priscila De Carvahlo at 99 Plymouth Street Saturday Afternoonhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83304 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/83304#comments Fri, 17 Mar 2017 03:35:10 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=83304

This Saturday afternoon, March 18, from 1:00 to 2:00, the Brazilian born artist Priscila De Carvalho (photo; from Maria Brito) will give an artist talk in conjunction with her exhibition Before Now, at 99 Plymouth Street, in DUMBO. Admission is free, but spots are limited and available on a first-come, first served basis.

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Halloween Happenings: Brooklyn Heights and Boo-Yond!http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/81985 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/81985#comments Mon, 31 Oct 2016 03:30:46 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=81985

Boo, Eek!   Halloween is finally upon us!! Here’s a round up of the best of what our end of Brooklyn has to offer. Add additional events or photos of your Halloween celebrations in the comments.

Trick or Treat!

Hands down, parents in Brooklyn Heights know the two best places to be on Halloween are Garden Place and Grace Court Alley. (So do all the parent blogs, thanks for the shout out Mommy Poppins).  There, the kiddos can roam safely from one beautifully (or creepily) adorned stoop to the next. Peak trick or treating time is just before sundown but “the littles” are often out early, just after school dismissal.

Graves End Inn-Haunted Hotel

Now in its 19th year, the students of City Tech’s theater group, Theaterworks and the Entertainment Technology Department, are aiming to scare the pants off of you with their haunted house. Older kids and adults will be impressed by the theme-park level of design and production value. Enter if you dare!

Voorhees Theatre, 186 Jay Street (north of Tillary)
$5 for students (with ID) and group admission
$10 for general sales
Free to New York City College of Technology students with ID the day of the event

Dumboween

The Dumbo BID is offering a variety of activities starting with storefront trick or treating (4:00 – 7:00 pm) throughout the neighborhood (look for the pumpkin decal in shop windows). The annual costume parade, “March to the Arch” (4:30 pm) led by the Funkrust Brass Band with puppets from Great Small Works will wend its way from Brooklyn Roasting Company at 25 Jay Street to the Manhattan Bridge Arch. Immediately followed by the Archway Kids Party (5:00 – 7:00 pm) and a Pet Costume Soiree (7:00 – 10:00 pm) both in the Manhattan Bridge Archway.

Dumbo
4:00 pm – 10:00 pm
FREE

BAMboo!

The Brooklyn Academy of Music invites families to start their night of trick-or-treating at their free outdoor Halloween block party.  The event promises a bouncy house, costume contest and more.

Brooklyn Academy of Music
Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Avenue
4:00 pm – 7:00 pm
FREE

Halloween 313 Presents AbraCadaver!

This year’s one-night-only, one-of-a-kind, all-ages theater spectacle (put together by an all volunteer cast of kooky and creepy Clinton Hill characters) is an invitation to take “an old-fashioned stroll down the Coney Island Boardwalk [to] explore the DARK side of magic—that place where the forces of GOOD and EVIL fight for your soul…but only one will win!”  Shows repeat every 30 minutes. The block will be closed off to cars. Spectators come from all corners of NYC, go early for the best viewing spots.

313 Clinton Avenue (bet. DeKalb & Lafayette Aves)
5:30 pm  – 9:00 pm
FREE

Cobble Hill Halloween Parade

Dress to impress and strut your stuff.

Cobble Hill Park
4:00 pm
FREE

Photo Credit: Smoking Nun

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Brooklyn Children’s Museum to Open Annex at BBP This Saturdayhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/81747 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/81747#comments Mon, 10 Oct 2016 00:47:11 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=81747

The Brooklyn Children’s Museum will open an annex, called SPARK, this Saturday, Oct. 15th, at One John St. in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The main branch is located in Crown Heights and has been a popular destination for families with young children throughout Brooklyn and beyond. The museum’s website describes the annex as an art and play space designed for children ages six months to six years. SPARK will feature an outpost of the museum’s popular Brooklyn Block Lab exhibit, and daily art and design workshops, music classes, birthday parties, and more.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the space was donated to BBP by Alloy Development and Monadnock Development, the partners behind the luxury building where the museum annex is housed, through a 5-year-lease that is eligible for five 5-year extensions. Alloy and Monadnock also provided the start-up money and paid about $350,000 to convert the site for SPARK’s use and furnish the space, which Alloy designed.

SPARK will be free on Thursday afternoons, and during warmer months, the museum will offer free activities on the outdoor plaza. There will be Friday morning play date sessions for new parents and caregivers with children ages 0 to 24 months. Among other offerings are semester-long early childhood classes open for registration. The museum’s educators will also partner with P.S. 307 in Vinegar Hill to develop teaching programs.

For more details about admission and hours, click here.

 

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DUMBO Gets A Lassen and Hennigshttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/81724 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/81724#comments Fri, 07 Oct 2016 14:01:26 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=81724

To those commenters recently remarking on the empty storefronts and impatiently waiting for new food options to open:

Here you go.

Brooklyn Paper reports that the Montague Street deli is expanding to DUMBO, with plans to open on Water Street between Jay and Pearl. The new spot will have tables for eating in and a liquor license.

 

 

Details at the source

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Neighborhood Oktoberfest-Ivitieshttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/81638 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/81638#comments Sat, 01 Oct 2016 00:54:24 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=81638

The leaves are turning, a brisk chill is in the air.  Fall is finally here and that means Oktoberfest!

Saturday, October 1st
This Saturday, October 1st The Zion German Lutheran Church is holding its annual Oktoberfest dinner at 125 Henry Street. Doors open at 3.30 pm, dinner from 4 to 8 pm.

Thursday, October 6th – Saturday, October 8th
The Dumbo Improvement District is kicking off their first ever Oktoberfest and “transforming the Archway into a traditional German beer hall.”  The event runs Thursday October 6th 6:00-10:00 pm, Friday October 7th 6:00-10:00 pm and again on Saturday October 8th from 3:00-10:00 pm (with crafts from Creatively Wild from 3:00 – 5:00 pm.

It promises traditional foods including brats and pretzels, “virtual apple picking,” craft beers and activities for adults and kids alike.  Entertainment by Melina and the Oompahs and DJ Holzmeister a.k.a The Kaiser.  For full details check out the Dumbo BID website.

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New Dock Street School Openshttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/81339 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/81339#comments Wed, 07 Sep 2016 16:31:10 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=81339

Your correspondent got notice Monday that at 1:00 p.m. yesterday there would be a ribbon cutting by Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña for the new Dock Street School, a public middle school (grades 6 through 8), drawing “a diverse student body from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Fort Greene, Downtown Brooklyn, DUMBO, Brooklyn Heights, Prospect Heights, Clinton Hill, Vinegar Hill and North Park Slope”, and including a Pre-K facility with space for 75 students. The school’s entrance is on Dock Street between Water and Front streets in DUMBO. Figuring it would work in nicely with my daily constitutional, I set out at 12:30, heading down the Promenade, then Squibb Hill, then Water Street to Dock.

I didn’t know what to expect, but imagined a short ceremony at the school’s entrance, so I showed up in my walking attire, t-shirt and cargo shorts (I need those extra pockets for my phone and camera). I arrived a few minutes before one, and no one was gathered outside, so I went in. There was a guard at a desk who cheerfully directed me upstairs. At the landing at the top of the staircase I was facing the school’s office, the rear wall of which displayed the sign in the photo above. I was greeted by a school administrator and told her I knew “STEM” meant “Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics” but didn’t know what “STEAM” meant. She said the “A” was for “Arts.” This is DUMBO; figures. Perhaps we have a mini Cooper Union here, though with no threat they’ll start charging tuition.

IMG_6332We were led from the landing outside the school office to the gymnasium, where we milled around waiting for various dignitaries to arrive. I regretted my tee and shorts, as everyone seemed well dressed, and the air conditioning was doing yeoman duty. Three students about to enter sixth grade at Dock Street were seated at the speakers’ table; they were interviewed by Mary Frost of the Eagle (photo above). Update: Here’s Mary’s story.

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Among the speakers was City Council Member Steve Levin (photo above), who praised the various people and entities involved in making Dock Street School a reality, including the School Board and Chancellor Fariña, District 13 and Superintendent Barbara Freeman, the School Construction Authority and President and CEO Lorraine Grillo, and building developer and owner Two Trees Management and CEO Jed Walentas. To the left in the photo above is Dock Street’s Principal, Dr. Melissa Vaughan.

Mr. Walentas also spoke. As you may recall, there was considerable controversy over Two Trees’ proposal to build a high rise residential structure at the Dock Street site. He candidly acknowledged the crucial piece of advice he’d received from former City Council Member Ken Fisher: “Put a school in it.” Mr. Walentas said Dock Street School is “a model that shows how the City can leverage real estate values to create public benefits like building new schools, creating space for cultural institutions or updating infrastructure.” He said he hoped other developers would consider making space for schools in their buildings.

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Dr. Vaughan called the three students to the podium. She said she hoped their experience at Dock Street would enable them to become “creators.” Each of them then said what they were anticipating as Dock Street students. One of the girls said she loves math, and looks forward to “making good grades.”

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“The Great Escape”, Commemorating Washington’s Evacuation of Brooklyn, at Brooklyn Bridge Park Saturdayhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/81240 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/81240#comments Fri, 26 Aug 2016 02:38:07 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=81240

This Saturday, August 27 marks the 240th anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn, also sometimes called the Battle of Long Island because where the fighting took place, in what is now Prospect Park, Park Slope, and Green-Wood Cemetery, wasn’t yet part of Brooklyn. It was the first battle in which regular Patriot troops under the command of General George Washington, as opposed to local militias, faced British troops.

It proved to be the largest battle of the Revolution, and went very badly for the Patriots. Several well fought rear-guard actions allowed most of Washington’s army to escape to Brooklyn Heights, where they camped. The British General Howe did not pursue and attack them, hoping that his brother, Admiral Howe, whose fleet as anchored off Staten Island, would sail into the East River and cut off Washington’s escape route. Weather proved to be on the Patriot side, as heavy rain kept Admiral Howe from moving his ships and General Howe from advancing his troops. Following a council of war, Washington decided to evacuate his troops to Manhattan. This was done on the night of August 29-30.

On this Saturday, August 27, from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, Brooklyn Bridge Park and The Old Stone House, site of an especially valiant rear guard stand by a Maryland regiment, are partners in sponsoring an event, “The Great Escape”, commemorating the successful evacuation of the Continental Army, which saved the Revolution from being crushed in its early days. Hosts for the event are Glover’s Marblehead Regiment, from Massachusetts, whose sailors manned the boats that carried the troops, and the Village Community Boathouse. The event is free; it may be cancelled in the event of extreme weather conditions. It will be held on the beach near the Main Street entrance to the park, in DUMBO.

For other events coming up at Brooklyn Bridge Park, see here.

Image: archive.constantcontact.com.

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Glass Artist Tags Brooklyn Heights (and Beyond) With Colorful Pigeonshttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/81074 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/81074#comments Tue, 23 Aug 2016 14:30:10 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=81074

About two weeks ago, I made the most delightful discovery at the intersection of Henry and Orange Streets: A glass mosaic pigeon affixed to the base of a street lamp. It instantly made me smile and reminisce about how, as a teen, I would frequently spot similar treasures in downtown Manhattan; the jubilant dancing babies of Keith Haring, golden crowns of Jean-Michel Basquiat and prophetic wheat paste “Truisms” of Jenny Holzer. I would later go on to study these artists, now all of them icons, in college.

Dumbo Pigeon

Corner of Water and Main, Dumbo. Photo courtesy of gb_pigeon_nyc.

This plucky bird before me tapped into the rich history of NYC street art, one that now includes the work of Swoon and Shepard Fairey. And, here it was, at my literal doorstep and serendipitously across the street from the former and beloved Brooklyn Heights Cinema where I once enjoyed the Banksy documentary, “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” (Last year, the notorious British stencil artist visited NYC and tagged the Promenade.  Alas, it was promptly scrubbed by the Parks department.) “Giftshop” introduced me to the work of Space Invader (whose 8-bit tile mosaics I have had the pleasure to spot in Paris-and the approach to the Holland Tunnel of all places) and his eccentric cousin, shop keeper and amateur videographer turned street artist, Mr. Brainwash.

So WHO left this little gem at my feet? I leaned in for a closer look and spied an edition number (the Henry Street bird is 26 out of 200) and an Instagram handle, @gb_pigeon_nyc. I thought, “200? Now THAT’s dedication!” It spoke volumes to me about the tenacity of human creativity and the art-making process itself. A private Instagram message and one week later, I found myself sitting across from the artist at the Starbucks in Dumbo.

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Pigeon #1. Photo courtesy of gb_pigeon_nyc.

The artist, whom I’ll refer to as GB, agreed to be interviewed under the condition of anonymity.  First, because the birds are a personal side project.  Second because, you know, gluing glass pigeons to street lamps is technically vandalism.  GB is a native New Yorker, has a “day job” as a teacher but also creates commissioned stained glass works.   When asked how the pigeon project came about he explained, “I was preparing for the Artist and Fleas market in Williamsburg.” In speaking to other vendors, GB was advised to “definitely make New York stuff.”  However, making art for tourists ultimately fell flat.  “Everything I was making had nothing to do with the artistic process…it was making me almost annoyed…I became caught up in selling it.”

The birds are hand-cut from remnants left over from commissioned pieces. Each one takes about 20 minutes to assemble.  So far 65 out of the 200 have been fabricated and 54 have been mounted throughout parts of Brooklyn, Manhattan and even in Costa Rica. There’s no master plan for the pigeon placement. But, to me as a life-long New Yorker, almost every location chosen holds some significance.

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Washington Square Park. Photo courtesy of gb_pigeon_nyc.

Henry Street was selected for its proximity to Sociale. Francesco, the owner is a close friend and he picked the mosaic he liked best.  GB is also a long-time regular of Gleason’s gym, so Dumbo is near and dear as well.  (Alas, the Dumbo birds have since been removed but can be seen on Instagram). A special red, white and blue pigeon commemorating Independence Day is being held in reserve for just the right spot (“perhaps near the Empire State Building or the World Trade Center”) so it photographs well, and will likely be installed over Labor Day.  But the best part for GB is that many friends are clamoring to go on pigeon posting missions.  They join GB for dinner, walk the neighborhoods and select a location together.

The goal is to mount all of the birds by September 21st, the official end of summer.  GB will see what happens after 200 are done. Perhaps they will change the design. Perhaps not. In the meantime GB reflects on the project, “It’s turned into the best summer I can remember in a long time.”

Call me a luddite, but who needs Pokemon Go when you can embark on a quest for pigeons? Follow on Instagram and create your own scavenger hunt.

 

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Coming at Brooklyn Bridge Parkhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/80879 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/80879#comments Fri, 05 Aug 2016 15:48:20 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=80879

Tomorrow (Saturday, August 6) from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Pebble Beach near the Main Street (DUMBO) entrance to Brooklyn Bridge Park, Aeilushi Mistry will lead a performance of the Hindu lamp ceremony Aarti, in which lamps are set afloat to “bring peace and harmony to our shoreline.” More information here.

On Sunday, August 7 at the Pier 6 Lawns there will be a free Pier Kids event, featuring Private Picassos art and craft activities from 11:00 a.m. to noon, and music by Shira & Friends from noon until 1:00 p.m. More information here.

On Monday evening, August 8 at 7:00, at the Pier 1 Granite Prospect, Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, in partnership with Greenlight Bookstore, will present poetry readings by members of The Conversation. The event is free; more information here.

For information about other events and activities coming up at the Park, see here.

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Stop the Chop: Senator Squadron Urges End to All Tourist Helicopter Flights from Downtown Heliporthttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/80549 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/80549#comments Wed, 13 Jul 2016 11:00:02 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=80549

State Senator Daniel Squadron, along with Congressman Jerrold Nadler, submitted testimony at a July 11, 2016 hearing on whether to extend Downtown Manhattan Heliport’s (DMH) concessionaire agreement with Saker Aviation Service, which operates tourist helicopter flights from the heliport. At stake is whether the concessionaire agreement would be extended through April 2021, with additional short-term renewal options.

The noise and hazards from tourist helicopters have long provoked the ire of many residents in the City, and in this neighborhood in particular, and spawned the protest group Stop the Chop NYNJ. Tourist helicopter flights had been banned at other heliports across the City, which then shifted all tourist flights to DMH. In October 2011, a tourist helicopter crashed into the East River, prompting renewed calls for an end to all tourist flights, to no avail.

In a February 2016 agreement, the City reduced the maximum number of tourist helicopter flights, and ended Sunday flights and flights over land. Not good enough, according to Senator Squadron, who made no bones about his long-held position – that all non-essential tourist helicopter flights from DMH must be stopped. His testimony included the following statements:

As we said at the time of [the February] agreement, reductions are an important and positive step, but an outright ban on tourist flights from DMH is still warranted. Since the February agreement went into effect, we have continued to hear concerns from impacted community members.

Tourist flights are by definition non-essential, and have not been proven to have significant benefit for commerce or safety. However, we recognize the role of DMH for law enforcement, emergency response, and other purposes. Today, both the 30th and 34th Street heliports still operate as heliports without tourist helicopter operations. Without tourist flights, DMH could, and should continue to operate as well.

Ending tourist helicopter flights at DMH continues to have broad support. After the February deal was announced, a broad coalition of elected officials renewed their call for a ban. Even the City itself has previously supported ending tourist helicopter operations. In its Helicopter Master Plan of 1999, it was clear that the City opposed non-essential tourist helicopter operations at City-owned facilities.

In the same February agreement, the City required air quality monitoring, and research into additional noise and emission reductions from the helicopter flights. The first report on these studies is expected later this week.

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Rolling Stone Publisher May Move To DUMBOhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/80477 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/80477#comments Thu, 07 Jul 2016 05:24:17 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=80477

Bloomberg reports that ” a person with knowledge of the negotiations said” Wenner Media LLC, publisher of Rolling Stone, along with Men’s Journal and US Weekly, is considering moving its offices from 1290 Avenue of the Americas, in midtown Manhattan, to the Empire Stores (see rendering) near the Brooklyn Bridge Park waterfront in DUMBO. Bloomberg contacted representatives of Wenner, Wenner’s current landlord, and the developer of Empire Stores, but none would comment.

I’d rate the possibility of this happening a few notches above that of Beyoncé and Jay-Z coming to Pierhouse.

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At Brooklyn Bridge Park This Weekhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/80315 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/80315#comments Mon, 27 Jun 2016 04:00:34 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=80315

In summer there are many events and activities at Brooklyn Bridge Park daily; see a list of ones next week here. Parents should note that on Tuesday morning, June 28, from 10:30 to 11:30 at the small granite prospect facing Pier 3, a Brooklyn Public Library librarian will read children’s stories as part of the “Summer Reading Storytime” series that will continue at the same time on successive Tuesdays through August 9. The event is free. More information here.

If running is a passion for you, on Tuesday evening be at Fornino, at the Pier 6 entrance, at 6:45 to register for New York Road Runners’ free Open Run. These runs will continue on successive Tuesday evenings until further notice. More information here.

On Wednesday evening, June 29 from 6:30 to 7:30, Julie Golia, of the Brooklyn Historical Society, will lead a tour, starting at the Main Street entrance to the park, that will explore the history of the DUMBO waterfront. This is part of the “Park Spotlight” series of tours. Admission is $10, or $5 for Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy members. More information and purchase tickets here.

Also on Wednesday the Pop-Up Pool will re-open. Enjoy it while it lasts; this is its final season.

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Coming Up at Brooklyn Bridge Parkhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/80271 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/80271#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2016 03:25:47 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=80271

There’s a wealth of free events at Brooklyn Bridge Park starting tomorrow (Thursday) evening and extending through the weekend. On Thursday evening, June 23, starting at 8:00, park partner BAMcinemaFest presents a screening of Sara Jordenö’s film Kiki on the Harbor View Lawn, Pier 1. Admission is free; there will be “curated food” for sale. More information here

The Harbor View Lawn is once again the venue on Friday evening, June 24, starting at 7:00, as park partner The Metropolitan Opera begins its Summer Recital Series, this performance featuring the dynamic young soprano Angel Blue (photo) along with several young Met stars. More information here.

On Saturday, June 25, starting at 11:00 a.m. at Fornino, on Pier 6, BBP Gardener Jessica Slade will lead a Pollinators Tour through the flower fields on Pier 6, during which you’ll see the work of various pollinating insects and learn about their habits and roles. More information here.

On Saturday afternoon, on Pier 2, the NY Red Bulls Street Team will show off their skills, lead soccer activities for kids and adults, and conduct a 5v5 tournament, the winners of which will get “a VIP experience at Red Bull Arena”. Registration starts at 1:00 at the site, and the tournament goes from 2:00 to 7:00. More information here.

Also on Saturday at 1:00 p.m., at 99 Plymouth Street in DUMBO, the park and the Brooklyn Arts Council will present “a curatorial talk with Larissa Simpson” concerning artwork on exhibit there for the NYC Oyster Project. More information here.

Sunday morning, June 26, at 11:00 is a most lively time in the park, as all of the following events begin then. You can take the young ‘uns to the Pier 6 lawns for the “Pier Kids” event “Wildlife Theater presents Butterfly Boogie”. Young or old, if playing good chess is your ambition, also on Pier 6 you can attend Checkmate 101 with Zeebedee Collins. Up for some water sport? Go to Pier 2 for Kayak Polo. Be there by 11:00 sharp to reserve your space. Want to learn about the origins of the park and the history of the waterfront that preceded it? Be at the Pier 1 entrance at 11:00 for a docent guided tour.

All of these activities are subject to cancellation in the event of severe weather.

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Here They Are: The Best Eats in Brooklyn Heights 2016http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/80255 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/80255#comments Wed, 22 Jun 2016 11:04:24 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=80255

Your nominations have been tabulated, and after due consideration by the BHB Food Editorial Board, here are the Best Eats in Brooklyn Heights 2016:

Best Restaurant:  Jack the Horse Tavern

Close Runners-Up:  Henry’s End and Noodle Pudding (So good, it doesn’t need a website or a sign outside.)

Honorable Mentions:  Colonie and Chez Moi

Best Newcomer:  Pinto

Close Runner-Up:  Kogane Ramen

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Best Italian:  Noodle Pudding

Close Runner-Up:  Sociale

Honorable Mentions:  Queen and River Deli

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Best Mexican:  Gallito’s Kitchen

Close Runner-Up:  Gran Eléctrica

Best Diner:  Teresa’s

Close Runners-Up:  Clark’s Restaurant and Park Plaza Restaurant

Best Breakfast:  To Go – Cranberry’s  |  To Sit – Tazza

Best Lunch:  Tie between Hanco’s and Mile End Delicatessen

Best Burger:  Tie between Five Guys and two8two Bar & Burger

Best Pizza:  To Go – Fascati’s (Controversial pick! Readers either love it or hate it, but it got the most votes hands down.)  |  To Sit – Dellarocco’s

Close Runner-Up:  Table 87

Best Dessert:  Almondine

Best BBQ:  Hill Country (Not much competition in the area, true, but as reader “St. Georgette” notes, it’s the “best place to eat AND hear great live music, and with good drinks too.”)

Best Japanese:  Iron Chef

Close Runners-Up:  Ani Sushi and Hibino (As reader “Resident” notes, the only Japanese restaurant in the area “run by real Japanese people.”)

Best Thai:  After best newcomer Pinto – Tie between Lantern Thai Kitchen and Joya

Best Chinese:  NONE. As reader “Studio Brooklyn” says, “Go to Flushing Queens and bring a friend who speaks Mandarin.” Or take Karl Jungersfeld’s advice and eat “Chinese food in Chinatown either on 8th Ave in Bklyn or Downtown Manhattan.” Although, if you’re in no mood to trek to Sunset Park or another borough, “St. Georgette” recommends Yaso Tangbao in downtown Brooklyn, and the BHB Food Editorial Board wholeheartedly agrees.

Last But Not Least:  As reader “Jorale-man” wisely comments, “a general vote for the Middle Eastern restaurants that survive amid the gentrification on Atlantic.” Reader “AbeLincoln” also nominates “all the Middle Eastern places on both Hicks and Henry.” Indeed, we applaud them all, all equally good, including Tutt Café, Yemen Café, Sultan, Tripoli, Mocha Hookah, Fatoosh, Darna Falafel, and Heights Falafel. Plus, according to “Grace Court Jester” – “that Halal Cart on the corner of Joraleman and Court has great lamb.”

Thanks to all for participating. Let’s go out and eat!

 

 

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Make Music New York to Present Free Outdoor Performances in and around Brooklyn Heights Tuesday, June 21http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/80229 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/80229#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2016 03:23:43 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=80229

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. Francishttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/80210 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/80210#comments Sat, 18 Jun 2016 20:46:34 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=80210

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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Brooklyn Bridge Park Hosts DUMBO Family Festival Saturdayhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/79288 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/79288#comments Sun, 17 Apr 2016 14:05:11 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=79288

This coming Saturday, April 23, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Brooklyn Bridge Park will present its DUMBO Family Festival at the John Street and Main Street areas of the Park. It’s a free event, at which you may

[s]cale the DUMBO Boulders [photo], explore the wonders of nature at our Environmental Education Center, get down with mom and dad at our dance party, decorate a replica of the Brooklyn Bridge with flowers, and enjoy classic games on the new lawns under the Manhattan Bridge.

There will be free face painting for the first 100 kids to arrive. More information and schedule of events here.

Photo: bouldering wall in Brooklyn Bridge Park; C. Scales for BHB.

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Two Developers Said to Agree to Buy Witness Headquartershttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/79242 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/79242#comments Thu, 14 Apr 2016 01:39:14 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=79242

The Real Deal reports that an investment group led by two prominent Manhattan property owners and developers, Jared Kushner and Aby Rosen, are said to have agreed to purchase the Watchtower headquarters complex at 25-30 Columbia Heights, along with a site on Jay Street in DUMBO that has substantial development rights, for $700 million. No word is given on the prospective purchasers’ plans for the headquarters complex. The same group previously purchased another large complex of buildings on Sands Street from the Witnesses, which they converted into “Dumbo Heights”, office space housing Etsy and other on-line and tech oriented companies.

In February we noted that several Manhattan based office developers had expressed interest in the headquarters buildings; the ones mentioned at the time did not include Kushner or Rosen. Aby Rosen is the owner of some of Manhattan’s most prestigious office buildings, including the Park Avenue neighbors Lever House and the Seagram Building. He is an avid collector of contemporary art, much of which adorns his buildings. Kushner owns office buildings, including 666 Fifth Avenue, as well as many residential properties. He is married to Ivanka Trump and, according to his Wiki, he has served his father-in-law’s campaign as an “emissary to the Jewish community.”

BHB reader Andrew Porter left this comment on the Real Deal story:

As a north Heights resident, I welcome this purchase. The buyers have already shown, through their redevelopment of the properties they’ve purchased and are turning into Dumbo Heights, that exciting days are ahead for these buildings.

The question is, of course, what will happen to 119 and 124 Columbia Heights and all the other JW properties still on the market or still to come, for example the mammoth Towers Hotel, which fronts on Clark, Willow and Pineapple Streets.

Photo: Joe Mabel, Wikimedia Commons.

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Love Thy Neighbor: Upcoming Vote to Fund Community Projectshttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/79031 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/79031#comments Thu, 24 Mar 2016 18:32:35 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=79031

It’s Participatory Budgeting time again and City Council Member Steve Levin wants to know how you would spend up to 1.5 million dollars of the city’s money.  “These funds can go towards capital projects in our parks, our schools—or wherever else the residents of our district decide,” Council Member Levin explains via his Tumblr blog.

Levin resides over District 33 which encompasses Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Williamsburg, DUMBO, Greenpoint, Bed-Stuy and Vinegar Hill.  D33 has it’s own Participatory Budgeting Facebook page where you can “collaborate with other volunteers and voters and stay up to date on the latest news.”

All constituents of D33 aged 14 and over may cast their ballot for up to five projects.  Voting takes place the week of March 26th and centers will be set up across District 33.  Conveniently, Brooklyn Heights residents may vote right here in the hood at P.S.8, 37 Hicks Street on March 30th or 31st from 8am – 11am.

M.S. 8 received $200,000 for technology upgrades at the middle school in 2013.  Here are just some of the many proposed projects for 2016:

  • Finish the Upgrades w/PS261 Computer Carts
    314 Pacific St., Boerum Hill
    PS261 is a K-5 school with 800 students. The wiring was upgraded but to utilize the improvements the students need new computers; four new carts will give them what they need!
    $140,000
  • NYCHA Grounds Renovations Focused on Seating
    Wyckoff Gardens & Gowanus Houses, Gowanus
    Gowanus & Wyckoff residents will help determine grounds improvements, to be installed at two NYCHA developments, resulting in more pleasant areas for enjoying time outdoors and talking with friends.
    $550,000
  • Additional Turnstiles at York St Subway (F Train)
    York St Subway Station, DUMBO
    Install additional turnstiles for York St Station in 2017 which will reduce congestion and long lines for the 9,000 weekday riders now limited to only two turnstiles.
    $250,000

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Is the School Rezoning A Success? Early Signs Say Yeshttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/79004 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/79004#comments Wed, 16 Mar 2016 19:57:29 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=79004

Families were sent their Kindergarten admissions offers letters on Tuesday.  As reported by Politico, the re-zoning of P.S. 8 an P.S 307 shows early signs of success.  Unlike last year, there is no wait list for P.S. 8 and 148 students were offered a seat at the school.  Historically there is about 20% attrition among those offered seats.  If that is the case this year, there are likely to be five Kindergarten sections.  P.S. 8 Principal Seth Phillips referred to the tension caused by last year’s waitlist but added the school would likely regain it’s music room and possibly the drama room as a result of the re-zoning.  “I think this is going to work out well for everyone in the long run.”

At P.S. 307 56 in-zone students were offered seats opposed to last year’s number of just 18.  (Part of the DOE’s reasoning for the re-zoning was to create a sustainable number of in-zone students for P.S. 307).  “There are now new opportunities all around. With more students you get more funding,” Principal Stephanie Carroll said. “We’ve got tons of partnerships, and any student coming into kindergarten here will have that added advantage.”

DNAifno reports that Kindergarten waitlists have shrunk 9% over last year. The article has the complete list of all the NYC schools with waitlists this year.  DOE officials reported that 49,000 students, or 71 percent, received an offer from their first choice school, down 1 percentage point from the year before.

To accept their Kindergarten offers families must contact the school directly to make an appointment to pre-register by April 8. Pre-registering their child(ren) does not prevent them from receiving an offer at a school where they are wait-listed.

The P.S. 8 website advises:

“If you received an offer letter for PS 8, you may visit the lower school main office to pre-register Monday through Friday from 9am-12pm by April 8th, 2016. Ask for Ms. Cloud or Ms. Carrier.

The DOE requires the child’s presence at registration. Bring documentation of the student’s age and proof of residence. Click here for a list of required documentation.”

Click HERE for additional registration information for P.S. 307.

EDIT: This post has been updated with registration information for both P.S.8 and P.S. 307.

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Good-bye, Witnesses; Hello, Luxury Condoshttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/78730 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/78730#comments Wed, 03 Feb 2016 21:32:09 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=78730

“There is only one possible use, and that’s luxury condominiums.”

So proclaimed David Lombino, the director of special projects for Two Trees, in a New York Times story published last weekend and accompanied by stunning photographs of the landscape currently inhabited by the Jehovah’s Witness complex that straddles Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO.

His conclusion is hardly a surprise, given the location of the JW properties and the Brooklyn real estate, and the article doesn’t spend much time analyzing the effects of the thousands of residents that will likely occupy the buildings and land currently on the market.

“Everyone in the world will be taking a look at them,” said Tucker Reed, the president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, a local development corporation. “The barrier to entry for a lot of those folks will be how high land values have gone. I’m sure they will fetch a very high sales price.” Mr. Reed estimated the value of the three properties being marketed as “somewhere between $850 million to $1 billion.”

Among the properties available is a three-acre parking lot on Jay Street the development of which will not require a public review process and that could on its own, according to the article, eventually house 1,000 residents.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses began divesting their local properties more than a decade ago, beginning with the building that became One Brooklyn Bridge.

And while the article doesn’t examine future effects of the development, it does cast an approving eye on the Witnesses’ presence in the bad old days of the neighborhood, when DUMBO was a scary place inhabited by packs of roaming feral dogs.

And it estimates that once the properties return to the city’s tax rolls, they could bring in up to nearly $7 million annually.

Read the full story

 

 

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Learn Secrets of the Creative Mind at Powerhouse Arena in DUMBO Thursday Eveninghttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/78596 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/78596#comments Wed, 20 Jan 2016 03:13:50 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=78596

This Thursday evening, January 21, from 7:00 to 9:00, co-authors Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire will be at Powerhouse Arena, 37 Main street, at Water Street, in DUMBO, for a launch and discussion of their new book, Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind. Kaufman is also author of Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, serves as scientific director of the Imagination Institute, and is an advisor to The Future Project.

The event is free. There are more details and you can RSVP here.

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CEC13 Issues Post Re-Zoning Statement, Kindergarten Admission Updatehttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/78495 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/78495#comments Wed, 13 Jan 2016 06:11:15 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=78495

As a follow up to the January 5th 6 to 3 “yes” vote to re-zone P.S. 8 and P.S. 307, the CEC13 has issued a statement thanking “parents, community members, local organizations and elected representatives” along with school administrations and staff for their dedication and engagement over the many months of meetings, dialogue and debate.

The CEC acknowledged, “that parents and community members have a range of viewpoints on the rezoning plan, with some supportive of and others disappointed by the outcome of the vote. CEC13 remains committed to its support of all the affected communities, with particular attention to the P.S. 307 community as it navigates its transition to a larger zone while continuing as a magnet school.”

The statement also recognized the flawed district planning process and announced Superintendent Barbara Freeman’s formation of a working group.  The group’s “focus is to support the diverse communities in the newly-formed P.S. 307 zone in working together, and to take concrete steps to assist P.S. 307 in its efforts to maintain and expand its school programs.”

NEXT STEPS FOR FAMILIES

The re-zoning shifts all of DUMBO and returns three buildings of Farragut Houses to the P.S. 307 zone.   The CEC shared the following information for families effected by the changes:

  • The Office of Student Enrollment should already have sent an email to all families whose address was impacted by the rezone, and who had submitted kindergarten applications before the change.
  • The system has been updated so families applying now are seeing their new zoned school show up on [the DOE’s] SchoolSearch and in the [Kindergarten] online application.
  • Families should contact ESEnrollment@schools.nyc.gov with further questions.
  • The rezoning plan accounts for the “grandfathering in” of younger siblings of students currently enrolled at P.S. 8. Please see Point #7 in the final proposal for details”

It must be added that DOE has extended the Kindergarten Admissions deadline. Families now have until January 20th to submit their applications. A Lower School open house will be held at P.S. 8 on Wednesday, January 13th from 9:00 – 10:30 am.  An additional tour is scheduled for March 2nd, 9:00 – 10:30 am.  Per the school’s website, tours scheduled at P.S. 307 concluded on January 1th.  Based on this corespondent past experience, it is worthwhile to call the schools if you have missed- open houses.

A WORD FROM DOE CHANCELLOR, CARMEN FARINA

The following message was sent to the CEC13 via email on January 6th:

CEC Members,

 It is not often that ordinary citizens have an opportunity to take a courageous stand and change the course of many children’s lives. I know that last night’s decision involved a lot of soul searching and careful deliberation on all of your parts. I congratulate you on looking toward the future and for understanding that together we can forge a better school system for all of our students. You have set a high bar for other CECs to meet, and I encourage you to think of next steps in creating a district-wide plan to fit the needs of your growing community.

 Warmly,

Carmen

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District 13 CEC Votes 6 to 3 in Favor of P.S.8/P.S. 307 Re-Zoninghttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/78307 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/78307#comments Wed, 06 Jan 2016 07:25:31 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=78307

After months of meetings, public discourse and national news coverage, the District 13 CEC has voted in favor of the re-zoning in a 6 to 3 split.   The Fort Greene-Clinton Hill Patch live blogged the proceedings.

The CEC first held a Working Session where they attended to other district business including the Superintendent’s Report.  The “special” Calendar Meeting then began at 8:30 (after a brief period of painfully bureaucratic debate over how and when to begin public comment) and opened with statements from elected officials or their representatives.  Councilmember Steve Levin expressed his support for the plan in a NY Daily News article and with brief remarks.  State Senator Daniel Squadron supported the rezoning.  “The proposal on the table will not solve many of the problems we are most concerned about…But, it will offer more predictability this year for the entire community for current prospective parents at P.S. 8 and P.S. 307.  And for that reason, I really do hope that the re-zoning is passed tonight.”

Several members of the Farragut community spoke out in opposition to the re-zoning echoing the previously-voiced concerns that access to hard-won programs at P.S. 307 would be taken away should the proposal pass.  P.S. 307 PTA Co-President, Faraji Hannah-Jones expressed extreme disappointment in the DOE for not meeting the terms a neighborhood coalition’s action plan for P.S. 307, including an additional five years of funding for the Magnet grant stating, “We feel disrespected.”  Executive Director of the DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance, Doreen Gallo spoke on behalf of several DUMBO parents in attendance and read a statement in opposition to the plan citing, in part the DOE’s failure to properly engage the DUMBO community for small group feedback meetings promised when the vote was delayed in October.

For the next hour, the nine members of the CEC took individual turns addressing the audience which grew more antsy with each passing minute.  CEC President, David Goldsmith who has supported the rezoning from the beginning encouraged, “We’re ready to do this.  The time is now.  We owe this to our children.  Let’s move forward.”  By far, one of the most poignant moments of the evening came from Ed Brown-who voted ‘yes’-when he reflected, “The other elephant in the room, it’s not just race.  It’s fear…Because fear has no color.  It operates on both sides.”  He continued by drawing a comparison of parents from the effected communities to deer in headlights.    “What has happened on both sides…adults…have frozen their minds.  They have their mind made up already.  They’ve decided what they want…In freezing, the kids are suffering.”

The vote finally came at 10:30 pm and took exactly sixty seconds.

SO, NOW WHAT?

  • The new zone lines shift the Dumbo and Vinegar Hill neighborhoods to the P.S. 307 zone and returns three buildings at Farragut Houses back to P.S. 307 zone.
  • Siblings are grandfathered in.  Meaning, if you live in Dumbo or Vinegar Hill and you currently have a child attending P.S. 8, their sibling will receive admissions priority at P.S. 8 over new students within the zone who do not have siblings.  In short, your children will be able to attend school together.
  • The new zoning is effective for the 2016-2017 school year.
  • Kindergarten admissions remains open until January 15th.  Parents may rank up to twelve schools on their application.  Children have the highest priority at their zoned school.  The Kindergarten Directory lists the admissions priorities for each school.

Throughout the evening electeds and CEC members encouraged the respective communities to remain engaged with the DOE, CEC and their school leadership so that the larger issues raised by the debate could be addressed collectively.  Just prior to the vote, Rob Underwood laid out via his Tumblr blog what he feels are the most pressing challenges facing District 13.  What are your thoughts on how the two school communities can move forward from here? What issues are most important to you for your child’s education?  Comment away!

P.S. 8 Principal, Seth Phillips an P.S. 307 Principal Stephanie Carroll

P.S. 8 Principal, Seth Phillips an P.S. 307 Principal Stephanie Carroll

 

 

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Want to Make Music? Join the “Bell by Bell” March in DUMBO Monday Eveninghttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/78222 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/78222#comments Sun, 20 Dec 2015 03:16:54 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=78222

The Brooklyn Paper reports that, as part of the annual Make Music Winter event, there will be a parade on Monday evening, December 21 from the DUMBO Archway, Water Street and Anchorage Place to Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Participants will be given color coded bells, and during the march “conductors” will raise colored flags, cuing those with matching colored bells to ring them. The result will be music written for the occasion by various composers, including the leader of the march, Tom Peyton.

To participate, show up at the Archway at or before 6:00 Monday evening. The first seventy to arrive will be given bells. The rest may follow along. There’s more information here.

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CEC Sets Date for Re-Zone Vote, Debates Pros & Cons of Proposalhttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/77880 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/77880#comments Fri, 11 Dec 2015 22:13:17 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=77880

The District 13 CEC held a Working Session meeting this past Tuesday night.  Several items were on the agenda but the merits of the P.S. 8 and P.S. 307 re-zoning proposal was by far the longest and most multi-faceted debate of the evening. First, members approved a special session for the re-zoning vote.  The vote will take place on January 5th, 2016 at P.S. 56, 170 Gates Avenue (meetings generally convene at 6:30 pm).

The re-zoning vote is ten days prior to the close of Kindergarten Admissions and will enable parents to revise their applications should they be re-zoned (or their preferences change based on school tours, etc). Online Kindergarten admissions opened on December 7th and concludes on January 15th.  Superintendent Barbara Freeman offered that her office is looking to schedule meetings with the Presidents of both the P.S. 307 and P.S. 8 PTA’s “to support the work that needs to be done regardless of which way the vote goes.”  She also stated the Office of Admissions would work closely with any families affected by a re-zone to assist with the completion of their applications.

The conversation that followed was open-ended and marked the first time some members spoke publicly on the matter. Members did not find consensus, though that was not the objective.  P.S./M.S. 8 representative Amy Shire opened with an attempt to crystallize the issues in member’s minds, “What are the consequences if we vote ‘no?’ What are the consequences if we vote ‘yes?’…I think that there are going to be some things that we’re not ever going to be sure of before we vote. Like, how many families will end up going to 307 in fact if it’s re-zoned? Or, how much of a wait-list there will be at 8 if it’s not re-zoned…we’re just kind of going to have to accept that we’re not going to know exactly.”

Throughout the night, CEC members lamented the DOE’s continually changing narrative with each revision to the proposal.  Ben Greene challenged CEC President David Goldsmith, “What do YOU think this re-zone will satisfy?”  Citing P.S. 8’s 143% capacity and last year’s wait-list along with P.S. 307’s small zone, Goldsmith responded in part, “We have one [zone] that’s too small and one that’s too big. I think we have to solve that problem.”

DIVERSITY:

The larger issues of race, socio-economics and equality were, as ever front and center.  Middle School proponent Rob Underwood remarked on the addition of the FRL admissions set asides to the final proposal.  “I think we absolutely need to protect diversity in this district…But, it seems weird that we’re taking a school that is 90% students of color and 60, 65% FRL and THAT’s the one we want to put FRL set-asides. Why are we not talking about FRL [set-asides] for P.S. 8, 321 or 29?” He called the effort a “Goldielocks Solution” one that euphemistically that sends the message “we want more affluent white parents [at P.S. 307] but not too many.” Adding, “we seem to have implicitly made the decision that…P.S. 8 is ‘too far gone’ [to create diversity at that school.]”

Citing the recent Jehovah’s Witness’ announcement to sell three additional properties, CEC member and P.S. 307 PTA Co-President Ben Greene posited the FRL admissions set-asides are necessary because the onslaught of proposed development in Brooklyn Heights and Dumbo would cause any freshly drawn zone lines to quickly be overrun, forcing a new debate within two to three years. “The 50% set aside was to try to make sure that [P.S. 307] stays [diverse] as long as possible while we are infusing this big zone into that school.”

CEC President David Goldsmith remarked, “I think planning for diversity in one school while not looking at other schools is a HUGE mistake…the whole idea of disenfranchisement, that 307 is serving a population that is currently typically and historically under-served in our district, absolutely it is. But the solution to that isn’t just protecting a small group of people that can go there….We have to build great schools for every child in this district across the district.”

The FRL admission set-asides came about in response to the “307 Action Plan,” a list of five requests made by a coalition of stakeholders including the P.S. 307 PTA, The Church of the Open Door and the Farragut Houses communities.  FRL set-asides were included in the final re-zoning proposal on the heels of a DOE announced of an admissions pilot program aimed at creating more diversity at seven public elementary schools including District 13’s P.S. 146, The Brooklyn New School and Arts & Letters in Fort Greene.  Those proposals had been under consideration since 2014.

Representing P.S. 9, middle school proponent Maggie Spillane posited, “One point to make too is that there ARE diverse schools zones within district 13…and I don’t know why the conversation hasn’t gone outside the 307/8 community to look at what’s going on in those [schools] and actually take some counsel from cautionary tales…I haven’t seen any efforts from the DOE or the PS8 community – which is strongly advocating for this plan – to understand what’s going on in those zones and to address the potential problems that you know may arise in that kind of situation but also to learn what is working in those zones.”

FLIPPING OUT:

One sore point was the perceived shunning of P.S. 307 by wait-listed parents last year.  Ed Brown, who represents P.S. 287 asked, “Please somebody explain to me how is this re-zoning issue going to benefit the district…Who is it benefiting? Because it’s not going to alleviate the overcrowding [at P.S. 8]. It’s going to alleviate the wait-list but…parents who are on the wait-list were offered a seat at 307…which they declined.”  Adding, “307 is a Magnet school. You can walk in with the lines being the way they are.”

Underwood stated earlier in the evening, “I can’t get my head around the flipping risk as being the pre-eminent risk..I’m just SUPER concerned that the data and the track record so far is that we have for whatever reason, 307 has not attracted parents who are wait-listed to P.S. 8 to come to 307 and now we’re going to re-draw the line and all of a sudden we think this wave of parents is going to come. Maybe it won’t.”

Maggie Spillane attempted to objectively square the “pro” re-zoning arguments yet remained skeptical of most if not all of the potential reasons to vote ‘yes.’  She criticized what she called the “walkability argument,” stating that most families in her end of D13 choose schools that are not within walking distance of their homes.  Notably, she went on to say, “I don’t know why the families who are zoned out [of P.S. 8] would be any more likely to go to 307 than families who were wait-listed this year or the families who will be wait-listed next year. IF there are things that we need to be doing to increase the attractiveness of 307 and schools like 307 to the families who the district is losing to charters [or private school], we should be focused on doing those things and not necessarily moving zone-lines just to consolidate entitlements to certain people to go to certain schools.”

During the public comment, Michelle, a self-identified District 13 parent of a child entering Kindergarten in 2016 (who is not a resident of Dumbo), offered her observation of the wait-listed parents’ decision-making, “When you have kids that are wait-listed and you ask [parents] to think about a school where they would be the “only” anything-and I think you would think about this for your kid-its very different taking a group of children and being thoughtful in how you do that…[Re-zoning] is an immediate solution that is not a complete solution but I hope it can be part of the bigger picture conversation on all of the issues that I’ve heard many of you thoughtfully discuss from a lot of different perspectives.”

PERFECT IS THE ENEMY OF THE GOOD:

Throughout the evening, David Goldsmith cautioned the members against expecting re-zoning proposal to solve all the complex problems within District 13, “If our expectation is that this re-zone will solve the lack of long-term planning in the district in terms of housing and residential and all the things that are going on, it will never do that. I think if we’re looking for us to talk about how we rebuild our middle schools with the re-zone of 307 and 8, it will not do that. I think if we’re looking to meeting the challenge of inequality and unequal access to academic excellence throughout the district, this re-zone will not do that…I keep hearing our members asking this re-zone to do that.”

Rob Underwood expressed frustration, “We have basically spent the last more or less 6 months on this and nothing but this…How much have we talked about the schools in Bedford Stuyvesant?…I just want us to focus on the fact that we are spending a ton of time, six months of many meetings, often multiple meetings per week, focused on the P.S. 8’s wait-list for what is – and I know that people don’t like when I say it – a pretty affluent privileged community in Brooklyn Heights.”

Amy Shire fired back, “It is really easy to throw darts. We could do that for each community. I just would hope that we would stop doing that and start just looking at what are the benefits of doing this…I am also reminded of that phrase “don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.  I don’t even know if this re-zone is good enough but I’m getting a sense that it could be workable if people want it to be workable.”

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

1) Whether you are ‘nay’ or ‘yay’ on the re-zoning, send comments to the CEC via their online form.

2) Make your voice heard at the next CEC meeting.
Tuesday, December 15th, 6:30 – 8:30 pm
M.S. 113, 300 Adelphi St., in Fort Greene
(Check the CEC website prior to the meeting to confirm this location).

3) For families applying for Kindergarten, Downtown Brooklyn School Solutions offers an excellent primer on District 13, choice, charter and private schools.

4) Also for families applying to Kindergarten, attend school open houses. P.S. 8 is hosting it’s next open house January 13th from 9-10:30 am. P.Ss 307 is holding them on Thursday December 17th from 9:30-10:30 am, Thursday January 7th from 9:30-10:00 am and Monday, January 11th from 6-7:00 pm.

OTHER BUSINESS:

As part of his President’s Report, David Goldsmith read the CEC’s letter sent to Success Academy’s President Eva Moskowitz in reaction to Fort Greene school’s “Got to Go List” spotlighted in the New York Times.  The panel heard from three mothers who testified their children were targeted for nominal transgressions such as wearing the wrong shoes, having to use the rest room or sitting the “wrong way.”  The mothers explained they were subjected to unrelenting phone calls, forced meetings with school administrators and threats of suspension.  One parent lost her job because of what she described as “constant harassment” from Success Academy.  Ms. Moskowitz was invited to the proceedings but sent an email statement just hours before the meeting instead. The missive was read out loud but not immediately available at press time.  It is expected to be posted to the CEC website shortly.

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Library Project Gets Council Land Use Committee Nod; Levin Secures Sweetenershttp://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/77919 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/77919#comments Thu, 10 Dec 2015 22:11:56 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=77919

Today the City Council’s Land Use Committee approved the plan to demolish the existing Brooklyn Heights Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library and replace it with a new library in a high rise residential and commercial building to be built on the site, with a temporary library to be available in the Our Lady of Lebanon Cathedral building during construction. This effectively clears the way for the project, as the full City Council is unlikely to vote it down given the support of Council Member Stephen Levin, in whose district the library is located, and that Mayor de Blasio also favors it.

Announcing his support for the deal, Levin listed a number of concessions that he said “significantly improve” the project. The size of the new Brooklyn Heights Branch will will be expanded by 24%, from 21,500 square feet to 26,620 square feet. In addition, a new 5,000 square foot library will be built to serve the DUMBO, Vinegar Hill, and Farragut Houses communities. The Brooklyn Heights Branch will include a 3,000 square foot Technology and Business Services Center, to be developed by BPL in partnership with local business and entrepreneurship groups. BPL will commit to seven day a week service at the Brooklyn Heights Branch, and will maintain “robust programming” at the new library, entering into “a public process to gather community feedback on programming needs.” There will also be a recapture provision that will allow BPL to share in any profit above a benchmark rate of return.

Other new provisions include setting aside 9,000 square feet of the new building, outside of the library space, “for dedicated STEM education labs administered by the NYC Department of Education and serving students in Brooklyn’s Community School District 13″; reduction of the Area Minimum Income limits for the affordable housing units to be constructed by the developer in Community District 2; and an agreement on labor standards that is acceptable to the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and SEIU 32BJ.

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DOE Unveils Final Re-Zoning Plan: Zone Lines Unchanged, Admission Set-Asides Proposed for P.S. 307http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/77647 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/archives/77647#comments Wed, 25 Nov 2015 16:55:56 +0000 http://brooklynheightsblog.com/?p=77647

The DOE’s Office of District Planning presented their final re-zoning proposal to the District 13 CEC at a meeting on Monday night.  The ODP’s powerpoint deck outlined the general themes and recurring questions that were raised during a series of community meetings which began in late September.

While the zone lines remain unchanged, new to the plan is a 50 percent admissions set-aside at P.S. 307 for children who qualify for free or reduced lunch.  Per the presentation, “The DOE is committed to implementing an admissions priority where students who qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch would have priority for 50% of the available seats at P.S. 307. Zoned students will continue to receive priority over non-zoned students who qualify for FRL.  This priority would be implemented in 2017-18 school year at the earliest to ensure compliance with terms of magnet grant.”

The Magnet Grant is a Federal program and admissions guidelines enable students from throughout the District to attend P.S. 307.  Per the DOE’s presentation, “The DOE anticipates requesting a 4th year extension for the Magnet Grant, which means federal magnet funding will continue for almost two more years, ending on 9/30/2017.”

Of major concern to the P.S. 307 community is whether the school would eventually “flip” to serve mostly affluent families from Dumbo should the re-zoning pass, thus losing their Title 1 funding in the process.  P.S. 307 PTA Co-President Faraji Hannah-Jones expressed disappointment, “When we said 50 percent, we didn’t say 50 percent with conditions.  We said 50 percent, period…We want the opportunity to sustain our equity for that neighborhood.”  Adding, “We don’t want P.S. 307 to become P.S. 8.”

Hannah-Jones also referenced a joint action plan that had been previously presented to the DOE during community engagement meetings.  “We also have over 400 letters signed from the Farragut houses, from the Church of the Open Door, from people from the school [all] supporting our plan.  I urge you to listen.”   Hannah-Jones  added later in the evening the action plan includes a request for the DOE to fund the P.S. 307’s STEM lab for for an additional five years.

This announcement of the admissions priority for P.S. 307 comes just days after the DOE announced it would approve an admissions pilot program aimed at creating more diversity at seven public elementary schools including District 13’s P.S. 146, The Brooklyn New School and Arts & Letters in Fort Greene.  The proposals had been under consideration since 2014.

Other elements of the re-zoning proposal explained that P.S. 287 was not included because of the DOE’s desire to reserve capacity at that school to accommodate projected residential development in Downtown Brooklyn.  The proposal also includes the grandfathering of siblings.  Meaning, siblings of children who currently attend P.S. 8 would be able to attend the school even if their residence has been re-zoned to P.S. 307.  The DOE expects the full impact of the re-zoning to take about six years if sibling grandfathering is approved by the CEC.

Ansley Samson, spoke briefly on behalf of the P.S. 8 PTA, “As you know we support this re-zoning on the table because it is the only thing that begins to start the process of managing our severe and fast-growing overcrowding…As a PTA, we look forward engaging in this process and engaging with our sister schools in this district.”  The DOE has scheduled a small-group meeting with members of the P.S. 8 and Dumbo community for December 2nd.  This meeting is part of the extended period of community engagement that resulted from the delay in the re-zoning voting schedule.

The 45-day clock has officially started ticking and the CEC has until January 5th to vote.  The CEC will likely decide the date of the vote during their next meeting.  The next CEC meeting will take place from 6:30 – 8:30 pm on December 8th at P.S. 56 Lewis H Latimer, 170 Gates Avenue.   Members of the community are encouraged to continue to submit their comments to the CEC/DOE via the CEC’s webform. Additional information may also be found on the Brooklyn page of the Office of District Planning’s webiste.

 

 

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