Speed bumps now grace Monitor Street, between Nassau and Driggs avenues, in Greenpoint, New York State Assemblyman Joe Lentol announced yesterday. Lentol, above, received numerous complaints from the community about cars speeding along Monitor and he sent a letter to the Department of Transportation about it in March of last year. The DOT decided that speed bumps were warranted based on the amount of traffic, vehicular volume, and travel speed. They installed the speed bumps in May. It’s especially welcome news to the families of P.S. 110, which is in the immediate area.
Photo via the office of Assemblyman Joe Lentol
At a Rent Guidelines Board hearing Thursday, three Democratic mayoral candidates spoke in favor of freezing rents for regulated apartments. Usually, candidates for office do not attend rent hearings. Those in favor were Christine Quinn, Bill de Blasio, and John Liu, The New York Times reported. The recommendations come at a time of quickly rising market rents and sales prices throughout the City, particularly in Brooklyn. Last year, the board approved increases of 2 percent to 4 percent. This year they are considering higher increases: 3.25 percent to 6.25 percent for a one-year lease and 5 percent to 9.5 percent for a two-year lease. They are also considering an additional increase for those who currently pay less than $1,000 a month. The ruling will not affect market rate rents, only those in rent stabilized or rent controlled apartments. Do you think a freeze would help make housing in Brooklyn more affordable?
Photo by Marie-Laure Even
State Senator John L. Sampson has been indicted for allegedly embezzling more than $400,000 from escrow accounts containing money from the sales of foreclosed homes in Brooklyn, numerous outlets reported. He spent the money on a campaign for Brooklyn D.A. in 2005, according to prosecutors. He has also been accused of enlisting a real estate developer Edul Ahmad to help cover his tracks. Ahmad pled guilty to mortgage fraud in 2012, according to The New York Times. Senator Sampson’s district includes parts of Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Brownsville and Canarsie.
Senator in Corruption Case Spoke of Silencing Witnesses, Prosecutors Say [NY Times]
Senator Sampson Surrenders to FBI on Charges of Embezzlement [NY Daily News]
Senator Sampson Stole $440K from Foreclosure Victims, Feds Charge [DNAinfo]
Photo via nysenate.gov
In what may be a sign of Williamsburg’s growing importance, a group of pols yesterday asked the MTA to rethink its shutdown of the L train during key weekends for local businesses there this summer. In a letter, they requested the train run Memorial Day weekend and during the Northside Festival on June 15-17. Organizers of Bushwick Open Studios have in past years requested L train service for the first weekend in June, but we couldn’t find any info on the MTA site about whether it will be running then.
Photo by Animal New York
A group of unions, community groups and local politicians has sued New York City officials and City Point developers over wages at the construction site, The New York Daily News reported. The suit asks for a halt to construction and a study of the “impact of construction workers’ low wages on on the economy in nearby neighborhoods,” said the story. Mayor Bloomberg, Acadia Realty Trust, city housing agencies, and other real estate firms were among those being sued. The filing alleges workers are paid $15 per hour with no benefits. State Assemblyman Walter Mosley and City Councilwoman Letitia James were part of the lawsuit, said the story. The city owns the land and leases it to City Point. The story said City Point developers declined comment.
Coalition Sues City and Developers to Halt City Point Construction [NY Daily News]
Photo by New York Daily News
A study of the participatory budgeting process that took place in Brooklyn’s District 39 this year revealed that it attracts traditionally disengaged or disadvantaged citizens, reported DNAinfo. “Through about 7,300 city-wide surveys and 82 exit interviews, the Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center found that participatory budgeting, where community members can decide how to spend $1 million in taxpayer money on neighborhood improvements, attracts low-income, minority and women voters, as well as those disillusioned with the government,” the story said. More specifically, more than 60 percent of participants were women, a third were people of color and almost a quarter reported incomes below $35,000. More than half said they disapprove of how the City conducts business and a third said they rarely vote. The process also provides a way for the disenfranchized to participate in politics. About 600 of the participants are not allowed to vote, either because of age, citizenship or arrests. District 39 is repped by Council Member Brad Lander and includes Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Columbia Waterfront, Gowanus, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington, and Borough Park.
Participatory Budgeting Brings in Women and Minority Voters [DNAinfo]
Photo by South Slope News
An unusual, tree-house-inspired playground is going into an existing park in Brownsville, the Architzer blog reported. It’s called the Imagination Playground, and its central feature is big building blocks made of blue foam, designed to encourage children to play creatively on their own. A similar playground already exists in Manhattan at the South Street Seaport, and others have been springing up around the country; the playgrounds and the blocks were designed and donated by architectural firm Rockwell Group. The multi-level space at Brownsville’s Betsy Head Park will incorporate sand and water, and a long, winding play ramp will weave through the surrounding trees, said the blog.
Trouble is brewing at the Arias Park Slope at 150 4th Avenue after management fired two concierges there “in retaliation for trying to organize their workplace,” according to a release put out today by service workers union 32BJ SEIU. More than a hundred workers, supporters and elected officials plan to protest there tonight at 6:30 against luxury buildings that get tax exemptions but don’t live up to their obligation to provide affordable housing and prevailing wages and benefits, according to the group. They are also asking Arias management to rehire the two concierges. Council members Brad Lander and Stephen Levin and New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio plan to attend. “A 32BJ SEI investigation has found buildings in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan in clear violation of the rule in the 421-a program that employers provide the prevailing wage and paid benefits,” said the release. “A further survey of more buildings receiving the tax exemptions, which cost New York City more than $1 billion in annual tax revenues, showed the violations to be widespread and systemic.”
Tonight, Council Member Tish James will hold a community meeting on the many changes in store for Myrtle Avenue. The meeting will cover the redevelopment of the Associated Supermarket building, which will include apartments, the public plaza coming to Myrtle between Hall Street and Emerson Place, and the revitalized shopping area. Interested? Tish James will be out tonight at 7 pm at the Willoughby Walk Co-Op at 185 Hall Street. The meeting will be held in the basement community room.
The winners of last week’s vote for Participatory Budgeting for District 33 are in! Coming in first was a proposal for district-wide tree planting, an initiative that will receive $100,000. $200,000 will go toward M.S. 8’s technology fund. Another $450,000 will go toward an East River State Park dog run. A request for technology upgrades at P.S. 31 will receive $188,000. And finally, $120,000 will be granted for playground renovations at P.S. 34. You can check out short videos of all the project proposals right here. Above is the short video for the district-wide tree planting proposal. You can also read about all the winners for Council Member Brad Landers’ district. In total, 2,632 people voted.