A new report ranks Bay Ridge as the best Brooklyn neighborhood in which to raise children, said The New York Daily News. Bay Ridge scored high, coming in fourth citywide, because of its high rate of home ownership, good schools, and parents with stable jobs. Park Slope, meanwhile, was ranked 15th citywide because of its mixed community of poor residents living side by side with wealthy ones, according to the paper. The group that authored the report, the Citizens’ Committee for Children, evaluated neighborhoods based on four factors: Economic, Health, Youth and Housing. Bay Ridge scored high on key youth factors such as the percentage of high school dropouts, employment, birth rate, and arrest rate among teens. Click here for more info about the report findings (the full report costs $50). Unfortunately, recent improvements in education may be mostly a factor of more wealthy people moving into Brooklyn, and applicable mostly to them, if we read the Committee’s comments correctly. “For example, while the city has seen improvements in education trends in recent years, such as increased reading and math scores, higher graduation rates, and fewer dropouts, the results are not as positive among racial/ethnic groups and across neighborhood school districts,” the group said. Do you agree with the report’s findings? Where would you rather live?
Report: Bay Ridge Best Nabe to Bring up Children [NY Daily News]
Well-off parents in brownstone Brooklyn are finding there is a wait list for anything to do with children, from schools to camps to extracurriculars such as free swimming lessons, according to the Times.
If waiting in line in the predawn of a January morning for science camp registration sounds crazy, you do not have a New York City child born after 2004. For those children and their parents, especially in the neighborhoods of brownstone Brooklyn, Lower Manhattan and the Upper West Side, not getting into activities, classes, sports teams — and even local schools — has become a way of life. If every generation must have its own designation, call theirs Generation Waiting List.
While the leafier enclaves of Brooklyn are the focus of the story, also mentioned is a single mom who lives in Flatbush who could not get her child into an after school program because she had to work during the enrollment period (she is a nanny). Pictured above, crowds at the table for Carmelo the Science Fellow at Atlantic Antic. Do you think the wait lists for enrichment programs and schooling affect those at the top more than others, particularly in the more gentrified areas of Brooklyn, or has this always been the case for everyone in New York City, and now that the affluent are choosing to stay and have children here, they — and the Times — are discovering it?
For City Parents, a Waiting List for Nearly Everything [NY Times]
Photo by Auster Agency
After a lot of protest from Windsor Terrace residents and local politicians concerning a Walgreens replacing the now-defunct Key Foods at 589 Prospect Avenue, Walgreens is expected to present their plans to the community. In a concession to the neighborhood, Walgreens representatives promised that the store would dedicate a significant amount of space to fresh produce and meat, possibly meaning that the Walgreens may share the building with a grocery outlet. Tomorrow at 6:30pm, at Shepherd’s Hall, Holy Name Church at 245 Prospect Park West, Walgreens reps will unveil the plans. According to a meeting notice, they will have a rendering of the building and details about the space. Management will also be there to answer any questions from residents.
Residents living near the Barclays Center are concerned about the plan to remove 20 street trees next week on Pacific Street between Carlton and 6th Avenues to facilitate construction at Atlantic Yards. This also includes removal of the street tree bed guards which were paid for by the developer of the condo building at 700 Pacific Street. Forest City Ratner has not told residents when and if the trees will be replaced, which has caused frustration with nearby neighbors. At a recent Quality of Life meeting hosted by the Empire State Development Corporation, the Parks Department — which issued the permits to cut down the trees — did not show up.
According to the tipster, “the removal of these street trees is added to the elimination of street trees along 6th Avenue due to construction, (still not restored), and the recent removal of newly planted trees around Barclays Center because of pedestrian safety issues.” Atlantic Yards Watch also tackled the issue today and bemoans the lack of green space or amenities provided so far by Forest City Ratner: “This reduction in permanent street trees, combined with the elimination of the private green arena roof and extended construction schedule means residents of the arena block will wait longer for fewer ‘green’ amenities than planned in 2006 when the project was approved.”
The Brownsville Partnership and the Municipal Art Society are hosting the first annual Brownsville HOPE Summit on Saturday, February 23rd. The summit kicks of a yearlong initiative that will engage residents in creating a safer, healthier and more prosperous neighborhood through local ideas and action. At the summit residents will have access to markers, flip charts, maps and photographs to identify underutilized neighborhood resources, troubled spots and opportunities for short-term improvements and long-term development. The idea is to come up with a blueprint that guides local initiatives for the rest of the year. You can check out all the details about the reception and the actual summit right here. The Brownsville Partnership, which is spearheading this event, is a network of residents, city and non-profit partners based in the neighborhood.
The Park Slope Chamber of Commerce, local pos and community groups are looking to create a Business Improvement District along 7th Avenue in Park Slope. The proposed district includes all properties fronting 7th Avenue from St. John’s Place to 16th Street. The idea of the BID is to keep the streets clean, promote events on the avenue and add additional security through storefront cameras and volunteer patrols. There is already a BID on 5th Avenue that does similar work. Right now the proposal is in its very early stages. There’s a public informational meeting about the proposal on Thursday, February 28th at 9 am at Greenwood Baptist Church (461 6th Street). After the planning phase, those working on the BID will begin outreach. If there’s enough community support, the BID will be put into legislation.
Maybe you’ve heard of Uber, a darling of the tech community that is revolutionizing the car service industry. The well-funded start-up lets members book livery cabs on their smart phones, providing a visual on their car when they order it and a text message when the car is ready outside. All good, right? We were curious to try the service, so we downloaded the app to our iPhone on Saturday afternoon and whipped it out shortly after 11 pm on Saturday night when we were ready to leave a friend’s birthday dinner in Windsor Terrace to return home to Clinton Hill. We’d taken Myrtle car service on the way over and the price had been $13. So when we logged in to use Uber for the first time after dinner on Saturday and were greeted by a stern warning that the service had implemented “surge pricing” to the tune of 2.25 times regular rates because of the great imbalance between riders and drivers we decided we would suck it up and stomach what we figured would be a gouging to the tune of $35 to $40. If only! Within a couple of minutes of getting inside our front door, we received an email with the bad news: $77. Yes, $77. (To be fair, we had dropped another guest off at her home four blocks away, thereby adding a small amount of extra travel time and distance.) So even without the “surge pricing,” that means our ride home would have cost just over $34, roughly 2.5 times what a regular car service would have charged. And we thought technology was supposed to actually make traditional tasks less expensive! Oh, well. At least the reaming we received wasn’t nearly as bad as the what happened to the poor bloke who got charged $219 for a trip from the Upper East Side to Dumbo late last year. It turns out the company caught flack last October and ended up backpedaling when it doubled prices in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. So who would spend two and a half times the rate of a regular car service? Are most of the company’s regular users business accounts? We’re curious to hear what readers’ experiences have been, because once was one time too many for us.
The Brooklyn Eagle reported this morning that the SUNY board unanimously voted to close the Cobble Hill hospital. They also covered Thursday’s public hearing on the matter. SUNY will receive a pretty penny for the 200,000-square-foot complex; Council Member Brad Lander estimates as much as $500 million. Also, the property is already zoned for residential use, meaning this is likely to become housing.
Tonight the Atlantic Yards Quality of Life Committee is hosting a meeting to discuss quality of life issues for residents and businesses in proximity to Barclays Center. Although the meeting is open to the public, only “invited representatives” will be allowed to comment (the meeting’s sponsored by Empire State Development Corporation). One of the issues that will be discussed are the 20 street trees lost on Pacific Street between 6th and Carlton Avenues for construction of the LIRR railyard. No date has been provided for the trees to be replanted. The meeting’s at 6:30 pm at Brooklyn Borrough Hall. Check out all the details here.
Photo by atlanticyardswebcam
This afternoon local politicians joined nurses, caregivers and community members to rally in support of the Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill, part of the SUNY Downstate Medical Center. Though the hospital was just acquired by SUNY in 2011, it was recently threatened with closure. According to a press release out earlier today, “the elected officials are arguing that the potential closure of any campus is unacceptable, and that SUNY must develop a stabilization plan that provides a long-term solution to preserve critical diversity in medical education, quality healthcare and good jobs for Brooklyn and the entire state.” Here’s a letter on the matter from Brooklyn’s congressional representatives and another letter signed by Borough President Markowitz. The hospital faces significant financial hardship and, as the Brooklyn Eagle pointed out, the property alone could fetch over $100 million in a sale. There is no projected date for when the hospital could close, but the SUNY board may vote on the matter in the near future.
Photo by Daniel Squadron
This morning the students at PS 124 in Park Slope cut the ribbon for their new school bathroom renovation. The PS 124 bathroom project won funding through a community vote in last year’s participatory budgeting program — this project is the first participatory budgeting project to be completed in New York City. City Council Member Brad Lander allocated the needed $150,000 for renovations. Before the reno, the bathrooms had stalls without doors and damaged tile flooring. Here are all seven projects selected through last year’s participatory budgeting. Since it was so successful, the second year of participatory budgeting started up this fall. Click through for more pictures of the renovated bathrooms.
Photos via Brad Lander’s Twitter (more…)
Just in case you missed the public presentation of the Fulton Street Vision Plan, it’s now available to view online. The three architecture firms working on this project, as well as the Fulton Area Business Alliance, are still seeking input on the design and use of public spaces, opportunities for vacant lots, retail options and any and all community concerns. The Fulton Street presentation will also be posted across nine windows of the Brooklyn Plaza Medical Center, right across from Fowler Square Plaza. The display will go up Thursday and remain there through February. You can submit all your feedback on the plan right here. As explained on the FAB website, “The idea is to think of the concepts shown here in the context of an overall vision for Fulton Street that comes from inherent qualities of the physical spaces and reflects the character of the neighborhood.”
Today the Shelby White and Leon Levy Information Commons opened at the main branch of the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza. It’s a 5,500-square-foot space full of technology available for public use. That means 25 workstations with desktop computers, seven private meeting rooms with electronic whiteboards, a recording studio, a wireless learning lab, and seating and outlets for 70 laptop users. This is the first “information commons” in any New York City public library, and the idea is to provide library users with technology-rich resources, accompanied by private areas for collaborative thinking. The library will also host workshops and classes in the learning lab; several are already planned for the next few weeks. BRIC Media will also offer classes in digital photography, podcasting and video. As Anthony Crowell, the chairman of the Brooklyn Public Library Board of Trustees, told the crowd this morning, “This is a hallmark project that will showcase the power of public libraries.” He called the design, which was handled by architect Toshiko Mori, “fun, challenging, and collaborative.” The library’s CEO Linda Johnson, Marty Markowitz, and donor Shelby White also spoke. White was responsible for the $3.25 million donation that made this space possible. She grew up in Brooklyn herself and attended this branch as a kid. “I hope this is a gathering place for those who want the latest technology and resources, and for those who just want to read a good book,” she said. We think the focus on media creation, in addition to research and information access, is interesting. Sign of the times. Click through for tons more pics of the space. (more…)
Has any one else noticed the unusual series of bus-shelter billboards in Bed Stuy about race and such topics as fast food, stop and frisk, and real estate? Colorlines Press has done a story about the series, although they were not able to uncover the identities of the creators of the series and its accompanying Tumblr blog. Whoever they are, the group, Racism Still Exists, or RISE, clearly has some resources because it’s not free to rent billboards, as Colorlines points out. “RISE is a project designed to illuminate some of the ways in which racism operates in this country,” explains the group on its Tumblr. While we would hasten to point out that fast food chains do in fact exist in white neighborhoods — absolutely! — we think their characterization of the effects of subprime lending is pretty spot-on, even if some of the details of the causes could be debated. You should see the junk mail we get.
Series of Bed Stuy Billboards Puts Racial Inequity on Display [Colorlines]
Racism Still Exists [Tumblr]
The Downtown Brooklyn Partnership has proposed a Business Improvement District, or BID, to encompass the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn Academy of Music Cultural District, and the commercial strips of Flatbush and Vanderbilt avenues. A press release said that a steering committee of local stakeholders has already been formed to spearhead the effort and determine needed BID services. As The New York Post noted, the future BID must go through public hearings and approvals by Community Boards Two, Six and Eight, not to mention the City Planning Commission and New York City Council. The process will last through all of 2013. Atlantic Yards Report expects that “Forest City likely would be the BID heavyweight,” and notes that the creation of the BID would extend the reach of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership as far as Fort Greene and Prospect Heights. This BID would join the already existing North Flatbush Avenue BID and the Fulton Street BID in the immediate area. The BID would bring in revenue from local commercial property owners for additional security and sanitation, among other improvements.
BID Eyed to Spur Economy Near Barclays Center, BAM Cultural District [NY Post]
Boosting Barclays? Downtown Brooklyn Partnership Proposes BID [AYR]
Map via Atlantic Yards Report
Students in Columbia’s fall Architecture and Urban Design studio picked 12 areas in Brooklyn to explore how the borough can become a “learning city,” adaptable to change, Curbed reported. Spots included Bay Ridge, Atlantic Avenue, East New York and Gowanus. The course asked “Does a city/region learn to better manage its resources? Can a city learn how and where to grow? What are the ways in which a city or region can acquire learning skills, as opposed to reaching a static condition of being ‘smart’ or ‘sustainable’?” A site analysis of Atlantic Avenue from Barclays Center to Broadway Junction found it was on the decline and under-used, with low real estate values and high rates of poverty and childhood obesity and other problems. Recommendations included adaptive reuse and mixed income programming in East New York, with investment there equal in size to the investment made at its city-core counterpart at the other end of Atlantic Avenue: Barclays Center and Atlantic Yards. Click here to see the 12 proposals.
Image from presentation “Spatial Mixology”
A recent condo development at 59, 61 and 63 Conselyea Street in Williamsburg has been ticketed for leaving trash enclosures on the sidewalk outside of garbage pickup hours, reported DNAinfo. As it happens, the buildings were designed by Robert Scarano, the architect infamous for wringing as much space as possible out of a building site and who is no longer permitted to file building plans and permits with the city since he was accused of fudging data on documents for three other buildings in Williamsburg. Residents say the buildings were designed without a trash area, leaving them no choice but to store trash on the sidewalk. But the problem is hardly limited to this or other Scarano-designed buildings, said the area’s Community Board 1. The problem is “widespread around the neighborhood,” and the City should require developers to provide an area for trash, according to the board. ”If you’re going to do a big construction project it should be asked, ‘Where do you put trash?’” said Ryan Kuonen, a CB1 board member. ”Technically, it’s stupid that the Department of Buildings doesn’t notice there’s nowhere for these people to put trash.”
Condo Tenants Ticketed After Architect Left No Room for Trash [DNAinfo]
Burg Condo Residents Ticketed Over Illegal Trash Depositories [TRD]
Photo by Meredith Hoffman for DNAinfo
A hospital that serves Crown Heights and Bed Stuy, Interfaith Medical Center at 1545 Atlantic Avenue, plans to declare bankruptcy this week, said The New York Times. The hospital may be forced to close or merge with another, according to the story. In letters to state officials, the chairman of Interfaith’s board of trustees, Nathan M. Barotz, said cuts in Medicaid rates in 2010 wiped out 40 percent of Interfaith’s inpatient revenue and led to its current financial crisis. The hospital employs 1,516 people full time, many of whom live in central Brooklyn, said the story.
Interfaith Medical Center Plans to Declare Bankruptcy [NY Times]
Photo by Christopher Bride for PropertyShark
Last night the Fulton Area Business Alliance, along with the architects at Mapos and AB Architekten, unveiled the Fulton Street Vision Plan. Basically it’s a wide-ranging, large scale proposal for Fort Greene and Clinton Hill based on previous community input meetings. As Phillip Kellog of FAB explained, “We want to focus on the overall vision to inspire ideas of what’s possible on Fulton.” The architects had gathered that residents desired to keep a “clear identity” on separate areas of Fulton Street — the area around BAM should remain denser, more “urban,” while areas around Clinton Hill should still feel residential. There was also concern over the streetscape as well as tying together the Fulton Street “triangles.” On a small scale, proposals included planters, benches, bioswales, public artwork and bike racks. Large-scale proposals included building up empty lots with developments or community gardens, additional street paving, and reworking the parks to make them more accessible. The architects proposed adding an open space with sitting areas and kiosks to the BAM Triangle Park, as well as taking down the barriers on the sidewalk around Cuyler Gore Park and opening it up to the nearby subway entrance. They also proposed a dog run around Adelphi Street, increased greenery at the Putnam Triangle, and a possible community garden near the Greene Hill Food Co-Op. There were tons of ideas to consider, and FAB will be accepting more community input to see what sticks. The proposals will be made available online, and you can see see them in person and speak with the architects this Saturday at Fowler Square from 11 am to 3 pm and Sunday at the Putnam Triangle from noon to 4 pm. Click through for a few more images from the evening.
Closing Bell: Fulton Street Vision Plan [Brownstoner] (more…)
The 18th Annual Toys for Tots drive is in full swing. Donate an unwrapped new or gently used book or toy for children between the ages of 2 and 12 at locations throughout Park Slope from now until Jan. 6. All the toys are passed on to local organizations that work with needy families. Click here for a list of donation locations. The Park Slope Civic Council, founded in 1896, organizes the drive.