The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Start Starchin' Them White Collars

Thanks David Colon for his always spot on reporting in Brokelyn. The below is his.
146 Fenimore Street
Do you live here? Sorry. via Google Street View
Real estate speculation! Sometimes it takes the form of horrible arson. Oftentimes, it takes much more banal, but somehow more unappealing-sounding forms, like this article in Real Estate Weekly about Pittsburgh-based HLC Equity buying a building in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Why are they doing it, and what’s their plan? Funny you should ask!
Farber said he saw 146 Fenimore Street as the ideal first investment in Brooklyn because of its proximity to several subway lines and the neighborhood’s untapped, fast-growing potential…convincing Farber that Prospect Lefferts Gardens is on the cusp of a major influx of white-collar residents.
Most of the building’s units are rent-stabilized, and HLC plans to slowly renovate the entire building.
“We could probably sell it at a profit right now,” Farber said. “But we want to hold on to it.”
Well, sucks to be you, rent-stabilized residents who we’re sure won’t be harassed in any way by your out-of-town landlords betting on “more white-collar residents.” Just to be sure though, don’t forget that you’ve got rights when it comes to improvements, and your rent in general.

Made with Love?

I'm sitting here reading how Alicia Boyd wants you to write in her name for State Senate. And I'm eating some Mary's Gone Crackers, which are organic, gluten-free, wheat-free, non-gmo, whole-grain. vegan, kosher, no trans-fat and peanut/nut free. The tag line is "conscious eating." They taste...well, let's just say it ain't Doritos Cool Ranch...

Then, after all that zeitgeist jargon it says "Made With Love." I've eaten a number of products lately that claim to be "Made With Love." This got me thinking...who's regulating this whole love ingredient thing?

What kind of love? Spousal? Familial? Carnal? Digestive? And more to the point...what percentage of my daily USDA recommended requirements for love are packed into each serving?

I'm sure in Europe they have this sort of packaging issue worked out. We need to get Congress to hold hearings on the love labeling thing. I ate a whole package of these tasteless crackers and I'm STILL feeling lonely.

Interview with New District 17 Superintendent

Parents...start your engines.

Rachel Holliday Smith interviewed new District 17 Superintendent Clarence Ellis. If you're at all interested in improving the schools around here, please reach out to him and voice your concerns.

And a brawl has broken out over at Jackie Robinson PS375, wherein the new principal wants to shake things up and hold teachers accountable but the old guard is fighting back, trying to get the old mediocre principal reinstated. Word is that there's a bit of an African-American/Caribbean-American divide among the parent body over the issue. Seems that's been an issue for some time...stay tuned.

Ballgreen on Lenox? What the Heck is a Ballgreen?

At 186 Lenox they were going to build this back in 2008:

Now comes this pic from an eagle-eyed reader:

Coming Winter 2015. That's pretty dang ambitious, unless they really mean Winter 2016. Which begs the question...doesn't winter straddle two years anyway? Most of it's in the latter year...

Anyhoo, whad'y'all think? I'm over there a fair bit, near Rogers. Seems like a reasonable place and height...and what's with the creepy guys up on the roof?

Parkside Plaza Project: Reaching For a New Goal

If you're like me, you were planning on donating to the Parkside project right near the end of their campaign to be a "hero." Well, they aimed low and hit the mark pretty quickly. As a fundraiser I know how hard it is to hit the sweet spot! Anyhow, if you were planning to give, please consider a gift to their "real" goal. Explanation below, written last week:

It's October 21, and barely two weeks after going public with the campaign, we reached our initial fundraising goal!

Because of how deep and how wide the support for our fundraiser is running, we've decided to try to raise a bit more. We know there are neighbors who still want to give, and we know there are businesses who still want to contribute. So we've decided to keep the fundraiser open through Thanksgiving, and to try to raise a further $5000.

What will the extra money go to? Well, our original budget was very austere. We were going to try to maintain a plaza on about one-third the money that comparable plazas spend elsewhere in the city. For example, we planned to limit our selection of plants for the plaza to species we knew we could get for free … which we knew would mean smaller trees and fewer flowers. And we planned to end the summer of 2015 with nothing at all in the bank … even though we know our maintenance costs won't disappear come autumn.

We know this new goal is ambitious, but we're confident we can make it. (And even if we fall short, rest assured that you'll see a plaza next spring.) In the meantime, how can you help? Mention it to your next-door neighbors, mention it to your dog-walking pals. Mention it to the guy who cuts your hair, or to the woman who runs your favorite store. Post it on Facebook and say, "Hey, check out the amazing thing that I'm helping build!" And thank you for all of your help!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chester Court Will Remain...Chester Court

No matter how you feel about 626 Flatbush, dang you gotta admit it's going up lickety split. And you also gotta admit that until you saw it there, you really couldn't imagine what it would feel like. It's just past half as tall as it's gonna get. Man oh manischewitz. Just yesterday someone wrote to tell me that while they knew it was gonna be big, they're only now realizing what a game-changer it is. Yep.

But while things in this town never stay the same for long, you can bet that one cul-de-sac half-block called Chester Court will have at least a fair chace at remaining just as it is for another 100 years. That's right...the hard work is paying off for the folks in those pretty Mock Tudors. The hearing has been set to have the block landmarked, notes Rebecca at Brownstoner.

Congrats y'all. Your neighbors admire your pluck and vigor, and most of all, your unity.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Lincoln Road: Booze to Bikes

First off...the Community Board meeting was forced to shut down early. Officials at Medgar Evers were not amused by the rowdy makeshift demonstration that erupted when the auditorium we were in became filled to capacity, and some eager attendees were shut out due to fire code. Democracy was being denied! Where were all these people the last few years that I've sat through poorly attended dull meetings? I guess we should be grateful for all the new fans! Next time, check out Stubhub guys.

The meeting was adjourned til Monday night, November 3, when we can move into the larger auditorium, and enjoy the same disrespectful dialogue. Tonight was just getting going! But, I did get a tidbit worth the price of admission, and I can't bear to keep it to myself.

Jim Mamary of Lincoln Park Tavern and Bluebird Cafe fame was there to ask for a renewal of his liquor license. He happened to let fly that he's closing LPT at the end of December, due to an enormous increase in rent demanded by Rong Ge. Bargaining tactic? Looked to me like he was just plain fed up and ready to put his time and effort into his other nook, which seems to be coming along, though without the bra' high five vibe at other newcomer Midwood Flats, where Brits and Germans are well represented on the taps. Then you got Erv's, with its tiny suave Beekman Place attitude and fine single malt Scotch, south-of-the-border Siembra Azul tequila...throw in Lincoln Park Tavern PBR's and Georgi vodka (til New Year's anyway) and end up at D'Avenue for Jamaican rum and you've got yourself a pub crawl. Then stumble into ParksideZ for zee digestif (pint of Daz?) and now it's a globe trotting recipe for serious next-day porcelain worship.

$16,000. Jim let fly that's what landlady Rong Ge wants every month for LPT. Hard to get there selling nachos. Wonder if Rong's got another sucker up her sleeve? And god help ToTT. I'd be bummed to lose those guys, so I hope she lays off 'em. As for LPT - would Mamary really re-up his license at $10K for just two more months of fiesta? Hmmm. I'm really digging those itals. Speaking of which... Scoops! Ital food that you MUST try before the 23-story tower, which is already MASSIVE at 14, falls on it.

Now...what might fill the hole where there once were burritos and bourbon? Bikes, of course. Word came that Citibike, the gateway drug to actual bike ownership and a Citibank ATM card, is expanding, and that Lincoln Road is on the map of next stops - just barely! From this map, it's hard to imagine the Q at Parkside gets on there. Which it should, by gum!! Go here and suggest it!

District 17 - Meet Your New Chancellor

I understand that Rachel from DNAInfo has conducted an interview with him. And I'll be sure to link to that as soon as it comes out. In the meantime, after a few years under the baton of Buffie Simmons, I give you - Clarence Ellis, your new Superintendent for the long suffering District 17 of the NYC Department of Education (yours and mine). Picture and bio fresh off the internets:

Bow Tie. Sign of Good Things to Come?

Clarence Ellis has served the students of the NYC Department of Education for the past 28 years. He has served in the following positions: Sixth Grade Teacher, Staff Developer, Dean, Assistant Principal, Principal, Local Instructional Superintendent, Senior Director of Youth Development, and Deputy Network Leader. Clarence is presently supporting 300 schools citywide in Cluster One as an Executive Director of Student Services on the Deputy Cluster Leader line.

His responsibilities include: Youth Development, Safety, Suspensions, Attendance Management, Facilities/School Construction, Summer School Coordination, and 311 Escalation Liaison. During the last several years, Clarence has helped develop programs that have provided essential services to students in need (SIMBA – Safe In My Brother’s Arms & ASET – All Sisters Evolving Together), bolstered student achievement, reduced violence, and encouraged staff support creatively. Clarence has a B.S in Finance/Economics from Long Island University, an M.S. in Special Education from Brooklyn College, and a P.D. in Education Leadership from Brooklyn College.

Community Board Agenda For Tonight: A Zone Defense

When tonight's Community Board Agenda (scheduled for 7pm at Medgar Evers, all invited) was set and released last week, it turned a few heads. Last month's meeting had but one agenda item - discussing the Zoning Study that had been requested by CB9 last March in a resolution that passed and then narrowly remained in place after a rescind vote (that's two votes for those keeping track). If you want to read more about the whole back and forth and back and forth and back, you need only scan the last couple months posts right here on the Q and you'll see that it's taken up considerable 0's and 1's of Blogger's cloud storage. It's big stuff, this rezoning of a neighborhood. It only happens, oh, like never. So, I've made it a priority to make it my business to be near the center of the conversation (much to some people's dismay I'm sure).
Last month's Community Board 9 meeting

The big question on many-a-mind: why no zoning conversation on THIS month's agenda? Well, for one, zoning is not the only thing the CB is charged with doing. We're part of a budgeting process that allows us some say-so on how the City's money is spent. Oh, yes, it's largely advisory. But do you think, say, that revamped Parkside Playground just sprang from Mathieu Eugene's loins? (ewww) Of course not. It was long a priority of the Community District to revamp its decrepit parks and play spaces. We'll be voting on Capital and Expense requests to the City tonight. And recommending the approval of some liquor licenses.

Reason two, who wants to invite another fracas? MTOPP, the group adamantly opposed to residential development on two blocks of Empire Boulevard screamed and yelled and generally shut down last month's meeting. Word has reached the Q that last night MTOPP held another strategy meeting to "get what we want" at tonight's meeting. What do they want exactly? Hard to say. It keeps changing. But Alicia hates hates hates Pearl Miles, District Manager. And has nothing nice to say about yours truly or anyone on the Executive Committee. She's alienated all the elected officials and bureaucrats, save one douchebag District Leader named Geoffrey Davis, who by the way once stalked another currently elected District Leader from a neighboring neighborhood, then his girlfriend, Renee Collymore. (You can't make this shit up. These are the people we get when we're sleeping through Election Day.)

At the end of this post I attach tonight's agenda. And while MTOPP claims to be prepared to "speak out" tonight, they're actually not allowed and will (supposedly) be escorted out if they disrupt the meeting. Because the issue is not on the agenda, there is no requirement to let them speak to a "general" complaint. This rule is intended to keep CB meetings from being gripe sessions. You're supposed to bring your concerns to the District Leader, who in turn works with the Committee Chairs to put your issue on the appropriate committee's agenda. Then after hearing what you have to say, the committee (say, Public Safety, my current assignment) makes a recommendation. If the recommendation is to discuss or vote at the next meeting, then your issue gets on the full CB meeting agenda. Same as it works in Congress and half a million other democratic institutions.

Most of us who work hard, in a volunteer capacity, to do the business of the district are getting pretty tired of being called corrupt and having our precious time wasted by jerks who think they can hijack a process to get what they want. I think it's fair to say that we're all willing to listen to MTOPP's concerns when presented in a respectful manner. Many of those concerns are shared by those of us who care deeply about how real estate development proceeds in the area. But giving in to the loudest voice is not serving the community. It's giving in to bullies. And the Q don't play that game. He's happy to push right back.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

REMINDER - TODAY: Open House For Lefferts Food Coop!

I am SO impressed that Karen Oh and company got this thing off the ground. And now, on October 26 from 10-4, you can come take a sneak peak at the progress they've made on the Lefferts Community Food Coop at 324 Empire Boulevard.

How can I say it any other way? This is an astounding accomplishment. A bunch of volunteers create an alternative cooperative source for healthy food. Knowing the Park Slope Food Coop and its history, I can assure you this is a major achievement.

Hats off y'all! See you on Sunday the 26th...