Red Hook Star-Revue, December 2015

Page 1


Red Hook StarªRevue




Nursing home proposal hits roadbump by George Fiala


he Oxford Nursing Home proposal for a zoning change in Red Hook received a setback at the December 3 meeting of Community Board 6’s (CB6) Landmark/Land Use committee. A motion against the plan was passed 11-5, with one abstention. The full CB6 board will meet at Borough Hall on December 9 for a final vote. It then travels to Borough President Eric Adams for his opinion, and then on to the City Council for a final hearing. Oxford Nursing Home is a family owned, for-profit nursing home that is currently located in Fort Greene in a 103 year-old building that was once an Elks Club. The NYS Department of Health (DOH) determined the facility to be unsuitable because of its age. Owner Barry Braunstein purchased land in Red Hook in 2003 with plans to build a brand new, state-of-the art nursing home. The promise of a new home allowed him to keep the Fort Greene location open. The December 3 meeting was held in the auditorium of PS 27 and drew over 100 people, including residents, CB6 members and invited guests who came to speak on behalf of Oxford.

Nora Martins, a lawyer with the firm Davidoff, Citron and Hutcher, LLC, represented Oxford. Owner Braunstein and members of his family and staff sat on the right side of the auditorium, listening.

tory of Oxford’s land purchase in Red Hook. They bought almost the whole block of land - bordered by Van Brunt, Sullivan, Conover and King Streets - in 2003. They have rented out the property on a short term basis to a welding company and as truck and bus storage in anticipation of their project. In 2006, NYC created a new zoning designation called Industrial Business Zones (IBZ) which strengthened manufacturing zone in 16 designated areas. A part of Red Hook including the Oxford property, was made an IBZ. This made it improbable that a zoning change allowing a nursing home facility would be approved. In 2009, Oxford was granted a Certificate of Need by the DOH, approving their plans to build a $65 million nursing home in Red Hook. In 2013, the city modified some of the IBZ zones. Oxford and Pioneer Works asked to be let out of the IBZ, and both applications were granted. This set the stage for the present application, which was the topic of the Land Use meeting. A ULURP is a procedure in which zoning changes are considered and either approved or re-

Martins began by recounting the his-

(continued on page 6)

Councilman Menchaca greets the audience and urges all to give a good listen

Oxford then was given the floor to make their presentation.

Developer tries to give Gowanus a free park, but city doesn’t want it


he Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was tasked with the job of cleaning up the toxic Gowanus Canal in 2009, following over 100 years of unbenign neglect on the part of City of New York. The canal was declared a Superfund site over the objections of the city, who felt that passive measures, such as building bioswales, could clean the canal and prevent new contamination. They lost that battle; and the EPA has created a plan to dredge and cap the canal and prevent future contamination by improving the local sewer system. Concrete retention tanks will lessen the amount of raw sewage that is currently flushed into the canal during heavy rains. The major contaminants of the canal are coal tars and human waste. EPA law mandates that these improvements be paid for by the parties responsible for the contamination, which in this case includes the city.

Red Hook Star-Revue

by George Fiala

The Gowanus Community Advisory Group (CAG) is the local watchdog of the project and is composed of sixty interested community groups and individuals. The CAG has been meeting monthly for over five years and is kept abreast of the Superfund project by the EPA cleanup team consisting of Project Manager Christos Tsiamis, attorney Brian Carr, and Community Involvement Coordinator Natalie Loney. December’s CAG meeting turned out to be a spirited affair as a local real estate developer made a presentation that one CAG member called “too good to be true.” There has been a lot of back and forth between the EPA and NYC about the location of one of the two retention tanks that will hold the sewer overflows. A retention tank is a large underground structure built to temporarily store the overflow. Heavy rains overwhelm the local sewers. When the rain ends, the pipes clear up, allowing the stored swaste to continue their normal trip to the Red Hook


Lorraine Street's 99 cent Dreams offers bargains for all, not to mention groceries! - page 9

Red Hook's community Thanksgiving dinners - page 14

Alloy chief Della Valle makes an offer “too good to be true.” (photo by Fiala)

Wastewater Treatment plant. The EPA wants a tank to be placed at the north end of the canal and have suggested placing it under the swimming pool in Thomas Greene Park. The Park sits on a parcel of land that formerly housed a Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP). MGP’s produced meth-

Another park disaster - page 3

(continued on page 12)

December 2015, Page 1

FREE Neighborhood Services Frank McCrea from the NYC Department of Aging is at the Miccio Center every Monday from 10 - 2 pm. He will help you solve any problem you may have dealing with any NYC agency, such as child welfare, support groups, benefits, etc. Free CPR Training Class at the Red Hook Public Library Help Save A Life, Learn CPR. Join us Tuesday July 14th at 6:30pm for a Free non certifying CPR Training hosted by the FDNY. Learn compression CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator. Includes hands on participation and giveaways! Sandy Recovery Worforce1. Services for NYCHA residents include career counseling, resume editing, interview advice, job recruitment events with Build It Back contractors, Vouchers for pre-apprenticeship, construction skills and other job training programs. 1906 Mermaid Ave, 2nd Fl; Brooklyn, 11224 Tel: (646) 927-6093 Hours: 9am to 5pm. Lots more information at recovery/home.shtml. Karen Blondel who lives in the Red Hook Houses is always available for additional guidance. Her number is 718 809-2070 Free use of computers at the Justice Center. Not everyone has access to a desktop computer, and yet many job and educational opportunities require one. So the Justice Center offers its computers to the community for free, every Wednesday from 10 am - 1 pm, room 101. The Justice Center is on Visitation Place between Richards and Van Brunt. For more information call Sabrina Carter 718 923-8261 Brooklyn Workforce Innovations - Certificate courses in TV/Film production, woodworking and cabinet making, cable installation as well as driving lessons are available. For information stop by 621 Degraw Street (near 4th Avenue) or call 718 2372017. OpportunityNYCHA - the REES program administers the “Section 3” program. This is a HUD mandate that requires employment and other economic opportunities coming from the Federal Government to be directed towards public housing residents. NYC has a similar program requiring that 15% of the labor amount of NYCHA contracts greater than $500,000 to go NYCHA residents. Eligibility requirements, according to Karen Blondell, are that you must either be 1 - on the lease, 2 - economically disadvantaged (receiving SNAP benefits), or 3 -live withing 10 blocks of a NYCHA development. To register call the REES

Hotline at (718) 289-8100. Examples of opportunities include web development, home health aide training, NYPD tutorial, NRTA Construction Training. REES conducts information sessions at the Brooklyn office every Tuesday and Thursday at 8:30am. Address: 787 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238. Red Hook Cares (Counseling and Restorative Services). Including advocacy, case management and referrals for victims of crime. Accompaniment to partner agencies and criminal justice appointments. Located at the Community Justice Center, 88 Visitation Place. To make a referrall call Laura Volz, 347 4049910 or email Stronger Together services are free and prioritize Red Hook and other local NYCHA development residents. Their services include Adult Education, Job Readiness, Community Services, which include benefits counseling, legal advice, financial coaching and tax preparations. The services are free because the Red Hook Initiative, Fifth Avenue Committee, SBIDC and Brooklyn Workforce Innovations have been paid by the NY City Council to provide these services. So take advantage of them! For information call 718 8586782 or go the the Red Hook Initiative at 767 Hicks Street (at W 9th). The Edward J. Malloy Initiative for Construction Skills provides training and employment in the unionized construction industry. CSKILLS has placed more than 1600 New Yorkers into union apprentice programs over the past 15 years. To be considered you must be 18 years or older, be a legal citizen, HS or GED, 9th grade reading and math scores and available to attend training 5 days a week 7 hours a day. Their website is www.constructionskills. org. It looks like the best way to navigate that website is to check under apprenticeship training and choose a union program, and also to go to useful links, where you can find a whole host of other opportunities, including Helmets to Hardhats - a workforce program for veterans. The Child Place for Children with Special Needs holds a Read and Play afternoon in the Red Hook library every Monday at 1 - 2:00 pm. Kids 5 and under. Parent or guardians must accompany children, who will be able to meet, make friends and play! Red Hook Library, 7 Wolcott Street If you have a listing that you feel appropriate for this page, email There is no charge, as this is a free service as well!

Happenings, etc. FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11

Columbia Waterfront District Tree Lighting - Take Your Picture with Santa Refreshments from local merchants Live Holiday Music by the AfroLatineers, Bring Your Kids for a surprise from Santa, Sponsored by the Carroll Gardens Association. Human Compass Garden, Sackett & Columbia Sts., 6:00 - 7:30 pm.


Breakfast with Santa - 11:00 am, $5 per child. Bring your camera and take a free picture with Santa. Visitation 98 Richards Street, 11 am The Red Hook Lions Club celebrates 23 years in Red Hook with their 5th Annual Holiday Party "Dinner with the Lions," Miccio Center, 110 W 9th Street, 2 - 5 pm. President Jay E. McKnight. KENTLER FLATFILES Holiday Sale & Fundraiser! Special viewing and sale of drawings & prints from the Kentler Flatfiles. 10% off artworks. Come support Kentler and our artists, leave with a fabulous new work of art! 353 Van Brunt Street, noon - 5 pm.

MONDAY, DECEMBER 14 Community Board 6 Holiday Party. Annual holiday party fundraiser to benefit Friends of Brooklyn Community Board 6, Inc. All are welcome! Lobo on Court Street , 218 Court Street 6:30 - 9 pm


PS 15's Annual African Marketplace. Students sell their handmade products to raise money for a worthy cause. 77 Sullivan Street, 9-10 am


Breakfast with Santa, at the Rectory Hall, Sacred Hearts and St. Stephens, 125 Summit Street 11 am - 2:00 pm G.F. Handel's Messiah performed by the Schiller Institute Chorus at the Verdi tuning of A=432Hz. Sacred Hearts and St. Stephens Church, 125 Summit Street, 7:30 pm



Miccio Cornerstone presents A Journey for the Holiday Spirit, a Winter Play and Performing Arts Presentation. Miccio Center, 110 West 9th Street, doors open 5:30 pm


River Of God Christian Center

110 Wolcott Street, 646-226-6135, Secretary, Sister Roslyn Chatman. Sunday - Family Worship 11:00 - 1:00 pm Scripture, read in English and Spanish Wednesday - At The Gate 12:00 noon, Prayer 7:00 - 7:30 pm, Bible Studies 7:00 - 8:00 pm, Thursday Prayer 7:30 - 8:30pm, Friday Youth ABLAZED Ministries 6:00 - 7:30pm, Senior Pastor, Donald Gray

Visitation Church

98 Richards St, (718) 624-1572. Office open Mon-Thursday 9 am - 3 pm. Saturday mass 5 pm; Spanish mass at 7 pm. Sunday 10 am English, 12:30 pm Spanish. Community Prayer Tuesday and Thursday, 8 pm. Youth Group Meetings on Friday, 4:30 - 6 pm. Baptisms are held every other month. Please call to arranged for baptisms, communions and weddings.

New Brown Memorial Baptist Church

609 Clinton Street, 718 624 4780 Pastor A.R Jamal. Sunday School at 9:30 am. Sunday Worship at 11:00 am. Bible Study -Wednesday at 7:30pm. Communion every first Sunday

St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish

467 Court Street. (718) 625-2270 Rectory Hours: Monday-Thursday 9 am-11:30 am, 1 pm-4 pm, Friday 9 am- 12 noon. Masses: Saturday 5:30 pm, Sunday 10 am, Monday- Thursday 9:30 am. Religious Education grades 1,2, 3 -Register now for this September! Please visit our website for more information and to view our weekly bulletin

Saint Paul and Saint Agnes Parish

Community Telephone Numbers:

Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Saint Stephen Roman Catholic Church

Red Hook Councilman Carlos Menchaca.................. 718 439-9012 Red Hook Assemblyman Felix Ortiz...........................718-492-6334 Red Hook State Sen. Velmanette Montgomery.....718-643-6140 Gowanus Councilman Brad Lander............................ 718 499-1090 Park Slope Councilman Steve Levin........................... 718 875-5200 CB6 District Manager Craig Hammerman ............... 718 643-3027

Church Office 234 Congress Street (718) 624-3425 Hours: M - F 830am-12 St. Agnes Church Office 433 Sackett Street, 718-625-1717 Hours: M-F 1pm-430pm Email: stpaulstagnes@gmail. com St. Agnes: Saturday 5pm Vigil Mass Sunday 9 am (English), 11:30am (Spanish) St. Paul’s: Saturday 5pm Vigil Mass Sunday 8 am & 9:30am (English); 11am (Spanish) Monday & Tuesday 8:30am (St. Paul’s) Wednesday & Thursday 8:30am (St. Agnes) Saturday 8am (St. Paul’s) 125 Summit Street at Hicks Street Saturday Vigil Mass 5:30pm Sunday Masses: 10am & 11:45am (Italian/English) Weekdays Masses: Tuesday Through Saturday 8:30am Confessions: Saturdays 4:45pm and by appointment. Baptisms: Every Third Sunday At 1pm. Please call the rectory one month before to make arrangements.

St. Paul’s Carroll Street

199 Carroll Street Parish Office: 718-625-4126 Sunday Mass at 10 am Weekday Morning Prayer - Mon.-Thurs. at 7:30 am Weekday masses as announced Holy Days as announced \ Church open for prayer Tues. 6-8pm & Sat. 2-4pm


Kane Street Synagogue

236 Kane Street, 718 875-1550 Friday night services, 6:00 PM Shabbat services, 9:15 AM Sunday Services 9:00 AM

Congregation B’nai Avraham/Chabad of Brooklyn Heights

117 Remsen St., 718 596 4840 x18, Morning Services: Sunday: 8:45am Monday - Friday: 7:45am Holidays (during the week): 8:45am Saturday: 9:45am Evening Services: Sunday: Shabbat candle lighting time Monday - Thursday: 9:00pm Friday: Winter: 5 minutes before Shabbat candle lighting time Summer: 7:30pm Saturday: Shabbat candle lighting time

If your religious institution isn’t listed here, let us know by emailing Thanks! Page 2 Red Hook Star-Revue

76th Police Precinct, 191 Union Street Main phone ..................................................................718-834-3211 Community Affairs...................................................... 718 834-3207 Traffic Safety................................................................ 718 834-3226 Eileen Dugan Senior Center, 380 Court Street........ 718 596-1956 Miccio Community Center, 110 East 9th Street...... 718 243-1528 Red Hook East Dev. Office, 62 Mill St......................... 718 852-6771 Red Hook West Dev. Office, 55 Dwight St................. 718 522-3880 Brownstone NYCHA Satellite Police Precinct, 80 Dwight Street Main Phone................................................................ (718) 265-7300 Community Affairs.................................................... (718) 265-7313 Domestic Violence.................................................... (718) 265-7310

December 2015

Yet another Red Hook issue with the Parks Department by George Fiala

In an unbelievably sad and deadly accident, Jin An Liu, a familiar face in the neighborhood, was killed in Coffey Park by a tree. Parks had contracted RML construction to cut down Sandy damaged trees along the park walk that extends past Pioneer Street. Liu, who was delivering food from Ling Gee, the Van Brunt Street Chinese restaurant, biked past the tree at the exact moment that it fell, crushing him to death. Mark Ehrhardt, owner of Mover’s Not Shakers and a long-time Red Hook resident, initiated a Go-Fund-Me campaign, intended to raise $1,000 for Liu’s family. It was quickly oversubscribed, and $4,500 was raised in 19 days. A candle light vigil was held at the spot of the accident, which was attended by city councilman Carlos Menchaca and congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, and a number of neighborhood residents. The NY Daily News reported that the contractor did not follow safety rules dictating four people on the job - they


only had two at the time of the accident. The Gothamist reported that the Parks Department is conducting a “review” of the incident, and have suspended RML from the contract “for the duration of the incident.” Red Hook is blessed with a plethora of parks - many of them built during the great Depression. However, beginning during the 1975 NYC financial crisis, and continuing through the Reagan years to the present, parks, along with libraries have been underfunded. As a result, many jobs formerly handled by city employees are now contracted out. Red Hookers have had to deal with a Coffey Park renovation that took way too long; the possibility of a bathroom costing $2 million; what now looks like an eternity to clean up ballfields from toxins, and now an irresponsible contractor causing the death of a neighborhood denizen. RML Construction, hired by the same city that seeks employment for its residents, is based in Carlstadt, New Jersey.

Red Hook StarªRevue

481 Van Brunt Street, 8A, Brooklyn, NY 11231 FOR EDITORIAL, ADVERTISING OR EMPLOYMENT INQUIRIES, email:, or call 718 624-5568 The Star-Revue is published by

Kimberly G. Price & George Fiala Halley Bondy, Nathan Weiser, Mary Ann Pietanza, Marc Jackson and Connor Gaudet, contributors

Red Hook Star-Revue

December 2015, Page 3



November ran the gamut from solemn to joyful

here were a variety of events happening in our local religious community in the month of November ranging from the solemn to the joyful, but each of them moving and featuring a musical element.

The Kane Street Synagogue began their Open Beit Midrash, with a program entitled “The Torah of Music,” led by musician and teacher Joey Weisenberg. Using themes from his book “Building Singing Communities,” Weisenberg led the class in singing and exploring nigunim, which is religious music consisting of repetitive sounds or chants. The class also touched upon unifying qualities where singing can be found in all aspects of nature. On November 6, The Ghostlight Chorus performed an open dress rehearsal concert of sacred choral works from the Renaissance at Sacred Hearts/St. Stephen Church. The 25-member chorus sang selections while standing in a circular formation around the front half of the church, making full use of the church’s acoustics while producing ethereal, goosebump-inducing harmonies. The chorus, under the direction of SHSS Choir Director/Cantor Evelyn Troester DeGraf, has performed internationally, including one night here in Brooklyn as backup for the Rolling Stones at the Barclays Center. Lastly, following the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday the 13th, the Office of Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams organized a candlelight vigil that Sunday evening. A sizable crowd gathered in solidarity in Carroll Park near the World War I monument. It was flanked by flags from France and the U.S., as well as Kenya and Lebanon, also sites of recent terrorist attacks. The group then walked to St. Agnes Church on Sackett and Hoyt Streets, where Msgr. Joseph Nugent welcomed all to an interfaith prayer service. The event brought together many locals, including a great number of French expatriates who now call Carroll Gardens and Cobble Hill home, as well as elected officials and Christian, Muslim, and Jewish clergy. The final prayer and blessing was offered by Mohammed Razvi, Executive Director of the Council of Peoples Organization in Kensington. St. Agnes’ organist Joan O’Brien played the very appropriate hymn “Let There Be Peace on Earth” as the service concluded. And as the crowds exited the church, a man stood on the corner blowing a large shofar while the church bells solemnly knelled in a moving—but united—tribute.

Upcoming Events Kane Street Synagogue 236 Kane Street

Open Beit Midrash on Tuesday evenings until April 12, 2016. This month’s course will take place on December 1, 8, and 13 and is entitled Midrash - The Art of Re-Imagination. Dinner at 6:45 and Class from 7:30 - 9:00 pm. Cost is $40 per each three-week course; subscriptions are available. Visit http:// or contact Joy Fallek at for information and registration. The Oratory Church of St. Boniface 109 Willoughby Street Announcing Beyond Sunday@ the Oratory - For 20 or 30 somethings looking for a group of fellow Catholic young adults to share spiritual, service, and social activities. E-mail Emily Mathis at beyondsundayoratory@ to be added to the weekly newsletter list and to find out about upcoming events. Advent Vespers 2015 - Theme: “My prayer is that your love may more and more abound, both in understanding and wealth of experience, so that with a clear conscience and blameless conduct you may learn to value the things that really matter…” Philippians 1, 9-11. December 6 - Stephen Perkins, Engineer, BurroHappold; December 13 - Sister Margaret Ormond, OP, President, Dominican Academy, Manhattan; December 20 - Mary Hiebert, Research Foundation of CUNY. SJC Annual Coat Drive for NY Cares - Bring new or gently used coats to the back of the church for New Yorkers who might not be able to afford a warm coat this year. Weekends of December 5-6 through December 19-20. Sacred Hearts/St. Stephen Church Summit & Hicks Streets Christmas Star Lighting on Saturday, December 12 at 6:30 pm. The Year of Mercy begins on December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, with Father Ugo Nacciarone, SJ preaching about the concept of mercy at all Masses. Breakfast with Santa on December 19 at 111:00 am in SHSS Rectory, 108 Carroll, Lower Level. Free for children under 2 years, $5 for children 12 years and under, $15 for anyone 12 years or older. E-mail for tickets. Handel’s Messiah Concert performed by the Schiller Institute NYC Community Chorus on December 19 at 7:30 pm. Admission is free. Church Christmas Decorating Party on December 20 at 3:00 pm. All are welcome! Christmas Mass Schedule: Family Mass at 4:30 on December 24, Mid(continued on next page)

Page 4 Red Hook Star-Revue

December 2015


visit us at www.stmarystarbrooklyn. com and on FaceBook. Evening of Discussion and Faith Sharing on Tuesday, December 15 from 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm in the Parish Center Hall.

(continued from previous page)

night Mass at 12:00 am, Christmas Day Mass at 11:00 am on December 25.

Family Christmas Sing-Along and Children’s Nativity on Sunday December 20 at 2:00 pm.

New Year’s Eve Party - December 31 from 8:00 pm - 2:00 am. $70 for adults and $35 for children, featuring DJ John Mazzella, includes dinner by Patrizia’s, soda, beer, wine, dessert and candy table, and balloon drop. Limited seating, for reservations, email St. Agnes Church Hoyt & DeGraw Streets French Mass each Sunday at 11:00 am

165th Annual Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve; Christmas Day Mass at 10:00 am. St. Paul Episcopal Church 199 Carroll Street Annual Sing-It-Yourself Messiah - On Sunday, December 20 at 7:00 pm, one of the neighborhood’s cherished seasonal holiday events! A Baroque orchestra and professional soloists under the direction of Vince Peterson join with YOU for the grand choruses of G.F. Handel’s beloved oratorio Messiah. Following the “sing” all are invited to the festively decorated Parish Hall to share homemade cookies, warm cider, and exchange seasonal greetings with old and new friends. Tickets are $20 and are on sale at St. Paul’s, and may also be purchased on line at

Sounds on Sackett - A concert series of jazz, pop, and classical performances continues on Sunday, December 20 at 4:00 pm with mezzo soprano Juliana Fazzone and tenor Christian Branch, singing English, Spanish, and French Christmas songs and leading a singalong. Free admissions with a postperformance reception. For more information and a full list of upcoming concerts, call 718-625-1717. St. Mary Star of the Sea Church 467 Court Street Advent Celebrations - For information on Advent and the upcoming Children’s Christmas Party, please

Chameleonic presents “Wakeful and Wintry” – a Holiday Concert with the music of Bach, Mathias, Sondheim,

Interfaith SAervice at St. Agnes

Corigliano, Billings and more on Monday, December 14 at 7:30 p.m. For ticket information, visit www. html Grace Chorale of Brooklyn presents The Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248, by J.S. Bach on Friday, December 18 at 7:00 p.m. For ticket information, visit

Visitation BVM Church 98 Richards Street

Breakfast with Santa - On December 12 at 11:00 am, $5 per child. Bring your camera and take a free picture with Santa. Reserve your spot by calling 718-624-1572. Christmas Masses: 8:00 pm on December 24, 10:00 am and 12:30 pm on Christmas Day.

Miccio cornerstone Presents………

A JoUrney For the holidAy sPirit deceMber 22 2015 nd

doors oPen @5:30PM Miccio cornerstone 110 west 9 st. brooklyn new york 11231 th

A winter PlAy And PerForMing Arts PresentAtion

A Program of Good Shepherd Services Funded by the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development

Help Wanted at the Red Hook Star-Revue Looking for editorial interns, fledgling reporters and experienced freelancers.

email George at Red Hook Star-Revue

December 2015, Page 5

Nursing home issue comes before CB 6 committee

(continued from page 1)

jected. The process begins at the NYC Dept of City Planning (DCP), where the application is first filed. Community Board consideration is next, and then back to DCP for public hearings.

called the project a “behemoth.” She went on to say that “a four story building would be acceptable.”

If approved by DCP, the application goes to the NY City Council. In most cases the Council will defer to the judgment of the local council member. If approved, the mayor is allowed a veto, which can still be overridden by a 2/3rd vote of the city council.

“Red Hook is often described as an ‘open sky’ landscape. View corridors are critical to the experience. Such height across the swath of an entire block would have a serious impact on the skyline of Red Hook. This is a very serious issue.

Even though the Oxford location was taken out of the IBZ, a zoning change from manufacturing to commercial/ residential is still required. Based upon community input after the initial presentation last summer, Oxford lowered the height by one story and modified the design to make it more reminiscent of neighboring buildings. Addressing height issues, Martin said that the building would be seven stories with an additional story set back. The

The Amendola sisters own property in front of the proposed nursing home.

highest point would reach 89 feet. She explained that because of the possibility of floods, the first floor is designed to begin 15 feet above the ground, and unlike other nursing homes, there would be no basement. Provision would be made for 53 offstreet parking spaces for staff and visitors, as well as an off street loading zone for deliveries. Generators with enough fuel to provide electricity for 72 hours would be on-site. In the event of a need for emergency evacuation, transfer agreements with other nursing homes are already in place. The floor was then opened up to the public for statements both for and against Oxford’s proposal. Speakers in favor of the facility tended to be residents of the Red Hook Houses, who looked forward to the possibility of local jobs and the availability of eldercare. Supporters also included a representative of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and Local 1199, whose union represents current workers at the Fort Greene facility. Speakers against tended to be homeowners who objected what they consider an out-ofscale and inappropriate change to historic Red Hook. Pioneer Work’s Katherine Desponte read a statement written by Dustin Yellin, who was out of town. She began by citing the unsuitability of placing a medical facility in a flood zone. She also noted the impact of such a facility placed in the middle of a developing cultural area, of which Pioneer Works is a major player. She wondered how

Page 6 Red Hook Star-Revue

She read a statement written by the NY Rising group:

Oxford’s current Fort Greene location

emergency vehicles would interact with tourists who have made Pioneer Works a destination location. She ended with a poignant statement of the importance of sunlight to the artistic ethos of a building devoted to the arts, a 37 foot building that would end up in the shadow of a new, much taller neighbor. Rick Russo, Senior Vice President and COO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce spoke of the jobs that the nursing home would bring to Red Hook. He called it an anchor for burgeoning commercial activity in Red Hook. He lauded the proposed landscaping and planting of trees that are part of the proposal. He acknowledged that height was a concern, but noted that the architect lopped off a floor in response. Lisa Serrano, a homeowner adjacent to the property spoke of the danger to residents of increased traffic - a concern shared by many. She condemned the loss of views that the tall building would create. She questioned the safety of diesel gas storage and wondered how ambulances would navigate the already overcrowded and narrow cobblestoned streets of Red Hook. She called morning rush hour “vicious.” Steven Kondaks, resident and member of the NY Rising Committee, announced that FEMA is against the proposal. He said that the community is not against nursing homes, but urged them to find a better place, telling them that they could sell their current property for a lot of money. “We have no hard feelings,” he said. Lillie Marshall, president of the Red Hook West Tenant’s Association, told of the many changes she has seen in Red Hook through her many years in the neighborhood, “adapt to change,” she pleaded. “Help us out with this. We need this service,” she said, urging approval of the Oxford proposal. Local businessman Jim Tampakas, also a member of the NY Rising Committee, which helped prepare a flood resiliency program, said that the emergency plan already in place for Red Hook would have to undergo major alterations with the addition of 200 elderly people. He challenged Oxford’s contention that the lot remains underutilized, saying that as owners since 2003, they are responsible for its lack of use. A representative from Local 1199 took the floor to praise Oxford as an employer. He said they provide good jobs, good care, and believe in social justice. He called them an honest employer. A homeowner from Richards Street

“If such consideration is given, a door will be opened for much greater density and height exceptions, transforming Red Hook’s essential historic character, an asset that should be strenuously protected. “Red Hook is currently experiencing the return of a thriving light-manufacturing district in addition to a robust art and artisanal community that draws tourism and like-minded enterprises.

Van Brunt resident Robin Goeman speaks against the nursing home.

sites are available.

Mary Kyle, owner of a neighborhood liquor store, spoke in a booming voice against the proposal saying that she is not against a nursing home in the area. “She ended with a poignant Her objection was to the size and destatement of the importance sign, saying it is like having something alien being “dropped on a lot.” of sunlight to the artistic ethos Marshall Sohne, a longtime Carroll Gardens resident and real estate deof a building devoted to the veloper, objected to the zoning plan, calling it close to spot zoning. “It has arts, a 37 foot building that no light or air or plan for transportation. It will change the character of the would end up in the shadow of neighborhood. This is a private rezona new, much taller neighbor.” ing. If there will be a rezoning, let it be part of some sensible neighborhood plannning,” he said, as applause erupton the revitalization of M-zones in our ed around him area and how to assist in supporting Robin Goeman, a Van Brunt Street these. Those who choose to locate here resident and elder law attorney, pointwant to be part of the resurgence of ed out the problems faced by nursing this historic place. Altering the historic homes in the Rockaways and Coney open sky nature of Red Hook would Island relocating residents during Sandetract from its appeal to other light- dy. She questioned the longevity of a manufacturing business and go against new nursing home, saying that the prothe essential nature and appeal of this posed rezoning would open the door to community. Through careful planning luxury condos if the facility were to fail. and with resiliency front and center, this community is on a positive and After more back and forth, Oxford owner Barry Braunstein got up from his seat to make a statement. “This is what I do!” he explained passionately, responding to questions as to the permanence of the facility. “I plan to do this until I need a nursing home myself!” “City Planning is conducting studies

Nora Martin goes over the Oxford plan. (photos by Fiala)

sustainable trajectory. Any proposal that undermines the recovery and basic cultural value of this community must be opposed.” Roslyn Lee, representing seniors in the Red Hook Houses, remembered that the community made room for IKEA, Fairway and the Water Taxi. “How about something for the seniors?” she asked. Lou Sones, former CB6 member and co-founder of Groups Against Garbage (GAGS), bemoaned a divided Red Hook on this issue, and said that other

The meeting, which began around 6 pm, was by now almost two hours old. Chair Peter Fleming turned to the members of the committee, sitting in the first two rows, and let them ask questions directly to Martin and the other Oxford representatives in preparation for their vote. After a while it seemed evident that they would vote against the ULURP. However, Mark Shames, committee member and Star-Revue columnist, spoke in favor, despite having had some bad personal experiences with the Fort Greene nursing home. “Despite the fact that they suck, we need more and more senior facilities in New York. I understand all the concerns, but losing 200 beds in Brooklyn would be terrible. This needs to get done.”

December 2015

Monthly precinct meeting discusses shootings and cats by Keith Klein


aptain Elliot Colon led the 76th Precinct Community Council at the December monthly meeting.

Colon reported that year-to-date crime is down 3%, while 28-day data showed a 14% decrease. The Captain reported “We are down in every category except burglary.” Someone inquired if recent shots fired on Thursday, November 26th at 17 Lorraine St. were related to other recent shootings. The Captain responded they were isolated incidents and likely regarding an individual that “maybe trying to establish territory”, but was unable to comment further due to an on-going investigation. A gentleman living on Warren St. spoke animatedly about shots fired near the Gowanus houses. He appealed for help saying “We don’t know what to do!” and offered his opinion “These are not isolated cases but Red Hook vs. Gowanus.” While the Captain assured him “We’re going to do our part”, the man did not seem satisfied and went on to state “It’s never been as bad as it is in the 15 years I’ve been living here.”

The Cat King of Columbia St.

The floor was opened to community comments. A man who lives in the Columbia Waterfront brought up the

Red Hook Star-Revue

topic of a man whose situation is deteriorating. Also known as “The Cat King of Columbia St”, Eshete Woldeyilma occupies a portion of the fence by the Greenway bike path opposite Pok Pok restaurant. He described an attack by Woldeyilma with a broom stick. He called police and while Officer Watson showed up, no charges were pressed. Community Affairs officers said “arresting him may not fix the problem,” and that they are “working on a long term solution with other agencies”. However, the Captain pointed out if there is an act of violence or an attack, 911 should be called and charges pressed. Colon further commented, “people encourage him by giving furniture and supplying couches.” According to a recent story in the Los Angeles Times, Woldeyilma, a refugee from Ethiopia used to live across the street and after being evicted returned to make sure the cats had food and water each day, even though he has an apartment in Manhattan.

Community Issues

Robert Berrios from Visitation Church complained of slashed tires in the vicinity of the church and multiple trucks from the lumber yard idling and parking in front of the church on Sunday.

On a positive note, Mr. Berrios announced that Visitation Church will be doing a toysfor-tots program with Santa Claus on December 12th. Donations in the form of toys can be brought to the church in advance. Call (718) 624-1572 to coordinate drop-offs. Members of the community are invited to attend. Another concerned Amanda Berman from the Red Hook Community Justice citizen noted there is a Center talking about the Americorp program. camper van parked on Julian Morales from Councilman Beard & Van Dyke which she believed Menchaca’s office spoke of creating to have inhabitants. the right balance between Red Hook Officials & Gowanus Houses, mentioning that Amanda Berman, Project Director at a community basketball league could Red Justice Center spoke about the help. Henrietta Perkins remarked return of AmeriCorps to the neighbor- “there should be police presence” at hood. AmeriCorps is a national service such a gathering.” program meeting critical needs in the Finally Community Affairs Detective community. Members who commit Paul Grudzinski spoke about security in to full or part-time positions are com- wake of the recent terrorist attacks. He pensated up to $12,530 with additional mentioned that the next community afgrant awards for education of $5,730. fairs meeting may have a different forOne must be 18 years of age, have a mat including a presentation of the Port high school diploma and be a US citi- Authority’s 3-Tier Alertness program zen or permanent resident. Health covCommunity Council meetings are held erage is included. For more informa- the first Tuesday of each month at 7:30 pm at the 76th Precinct. tion contact Berman at 718-923-8261.

December 2015, Page 7

Detoxification of Red Hook ballfields won’t be finished until 2020, says Parks Department


n November 16, Kevin Jeffery, who has been the Parks Department Commissioner for Brooklyn since 2010, led a meeting at the Red Hook Rec Center where he updated the community on the Red Hook Ball Fields. He presented information to parents, school representatives, coaches and residents of Red Hook about plans for the fields currently closed as well as the fields that need to be tested for lead. It was recently deemed necessary that baseball fields 1-4, which are in the back of the Red Hook Ball Fields complex near IKEA, as well as soccer fields 3-5, will be tested for lead contamination. According to Jeffrey, those are the only fields out of the 15 in Red Hook that have not been tested, and they will know what kind of remediation is necessary by next February. Councilman Carlos Menchaca remarked at the beginning of the meeting on how these fields have been an issue for a long time and that he is pleased that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Parks Department are working together in this process. “These are long standing issues that in so many ways are historical for the neighborhood and this is because we are living in an industrial business zone,” Menchaca said. “What I want to say is that I continue to be impressed with the Parks Department and the EPA working together to address these issues. What I am even more impressed with is that you continue to come to get these details as they come out, as community organizations, as community stakeholders.” The EPA, which is currently doing the testing for the closed softball fields 5-8 that is related to the historic Columbia smelter, will not be overseeing the process for baseball fields 1-4. Those baseball fields are in an area of the complex that is not smelter related. Margaret Gregor, who is the on-scene EPA Coordinator, said that they recommended more testing be done on those fields based on previous samples that they took. “We actually collected three samples from those fields, two last October and one in the March, and it was very clear that it was not related to the Columbia smelter,” Gregor said. “That is why we recommended that the city sample them, and they stepped up to the plate right away and agreed to do the sampling.” The Parks Department has contracted with a firm that will do the testing on Fields 1-4. According to Jeffrey, other contaminants, besides the historic smelter, were found in those fields when EPA investigated. Cadmium had been found in Field 1. According to Gregor, the area where the Red Hook Ball Fields are located was a tidal marsh in the late 1800s,

Page 8 Red Hook Star-Revue

by Nathan Weiser

which has contributed to lead being found below and at the surface of this complex. Lead levels in Red Hook have determined the fields that are closed and the fields that are open. Jeffrey announced that the firm will take samples on Fields 1-4 of up to 24 inches. The increments will be 0-12 inches, 12-18 inches and 18-24 inches. “Below a 400 level is a safe amount for the fields to be used,” Jeffrey said. In regards to Fields 5-8, there is now a plan in place for how they will be fixed and how they will look when the remediation is complete. “Rather than remove and disturb the contaminated soil, we put in 12 inch of fill and then at the community’s request a synthetic turf,” Jeffrey added. “These geomembranes are bright orange and if by chance they hit one of those, they need to stop construction. The approach prevents the need to disturb the soil and expose the community to it.”

“Jeffrey insisted that the Department of Health determined that the fields are safe because the lead is under the surface at the open fields.” For Fields 5-8, Jeffrey announced that there will be a small contain wall at the entrance to the field with a brand new system so that accessibility can be maintained. Additionally, on Fields 5-9 (Field 9 will remain open), there will be a barrier of clean soil to cover areas impacted by the smelter. The Parks Department proposed a synthetic turf cover to achieve a barrier of 12” over the five ball fields. This turf cover will result in the permanent isolation of contamination. Jeffrey was asked if flooding would negatively affect the synthetic turf that will be installed and Jeffrey said that the turf would only be a positive. “No. In fact, synthetic turf fields have a drainage that regular soil fields do not have. It is actually just the opposite.”

Breooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey comes to the Red Center to deliver the news about the toxic Red Hook ballfields (photo by Weister)

be completed in 2019, and the third stage (Fields 1-4 and 3-5) is supposed to be ready for usage in 2020. Eliot Ingerman, who is a parent of a student at Packer in Brooklyn Heights, posed questions to Jeffrey about the current safety of the fields. He thinks that the fields should be closed to increase safety and questioned if enough thought has been put into having young children use fields with lead contamination. Ingerman added that since many kids who are still developing use the fields that usage should be restricted to a turf field or a layer above the dirt so that when sliding there is no access to the lead. Jeffrey insisted that the Department of Health determined that

the fields are safe because the lead is under the surface at the open fields. Hugo Lopez is a soccer player who uses the fields regularly, who is worried about the lead levels in Red Hook, but still continues to play on the soccer fields. “I am just concerned,” Lopez said. “How much lead is on the field? We still don’t know exactly. They said on that field there is not much, but like I said before, if it is on one field it has to be on all the fields.” He uses the field twice a week with his soccer club. “We practice there,” Lopez added about his usage of the Red Hook Ball Fields. “We have league games. It is one day of practice and one day of league play.”



Gregor added that they try to make sure there is no confusion regarding what EPA is doing and what is being handled by the Parks Department.

We will speak from our hearts about our time with Bette and enjoy music and videos as we celebrate her life.

“We are keeping updated about how it goes because we are all in this together,” Gregor said. “Everybody sees Red Hook Park and it is not always easy to parse out which ones are EPA and the city, and which ones are just the city. There will be three phases for the remediation of the fields. The first stage will be Ball Fields 5-8, which will be finished in either fall of 2018 or winter of 2019. The second stage will be Field 9 and Field 2, which are scheduled to

Join us to commemorate a champion of the community and a true daughter of Brooklyn.

For more information:

At 5pm we will proceed New Orleans style to the Angry Wades and raise a toast in her honor.

December 2015


f you haven’t been to Red Hook’s bargain store in a while, now is the time to do so. We like to go there for the holidays, because they have the best and cheapest decorations around. We stopped in right after Thanksgiving for some Christmas stuff, and were amazed at how the store has expanded since Sandy. Fine Faire, the supermarket that was next door, never reopened, so 99 cent Dreams has picked up the slack by adding a very good and bargain oriented selection of food. But don’t worry, you can still get all the other stuff that they have always had candies, brooms, medicine, yo-yos, cleaning supplies, things for your car and even a hot water bottle! This is truly a store for the working man - you can fill up a basket for under $20. It’s right in the middle of Red Hook, on Lorraine and Columbia, and it’s got a parking lot that always has space. In these days of losing good, inexpensive shopping (like Pathmark and Met Foods), it’s great to know that there’s still places that cater to the 99 percenters.

Red Hook Star-Revue

December 2015, Page 9

city that we are careening towards absent a coherent housing policy. While the new affordable housing program is no panacea, and new construction might even temporarily accelerate the pace of displacement of tenants lacking rent protections, it is the best that we can do. Let’s live up to our expressed values and not waste the opportunity to make a better city for our neighbors and so for ourselves, as well.


Corner I



Self Interest and Avarice

am anxious to see whether we move forward with the creation of affordable housing in each of the proposed large-scale developments abutting our low-rise brownstone neighborhoods. The residents of Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill have registered their disapproval as expected. The test of the depth of progressive commitment to create vibrant diverse neighborhoods, instead of havens for the privileged, is at hand. Our final grades have yet to be calculated, but we are off to a rough start, not only locally but also throughout the City. The Department City Planning has proposed two amendments that will provide a framework for mandating affordable units in any rezoning and also the accommodation of additional senior housing throughout the City. Too many of our community boards have rejected the proposed zoning text changes. A rejection by the City Council would undermine our ability to create new affordable housing.

Resistence to development

Our local board, Brooklyn Community Board 6, stands out as one of the few to support these proposals. However, there remains resistance in the community at large to all new development. To me our choices, as we approach these deadlines, aren’t just a political exercise. How we move forward will color my view of proposals to increase the density at NYCHA projects. Given the shortage of funds for capital improvements at our public housing sites, the prior mayoral administration proposed the sale or lease of open space at NYCHA projects for private development. With refinements, the current administration has adopted this approach. Wyckoff Gardens, in our area, is one of the sites that will get added units (50% to be permanently affordable) in order to raise funds for greatly needed improvements. I know that NYCHA residents have even less desire for large-scale development and the loss of open space than do their neighbors in Cobble Hill. I also know that they have less political clout. They already live with the strains inherent in living with greater density. I know that they don’t want assets sold off to upgrade housing anymore than those who oppose the Brooklyn Heights library sale to pay for library upgrades. They too feel that money for libraries should come from general revenues and from New York State and federal program grants. I will not dis-

Page 10 Red Hook Star-Revue

miss their concerns, since their complaints have greater substance then those of my brownstone neighbors. I would welcome a successful effort by those who oppose change in brownstone Brooklyn and those who demagogue in East New York to come up with the massive infusion of federal and State funds necessary to follow the different path that we locals would prefer. Perhaps we could divert all the investment of time and money being devoted to fighting developments into finding those resources that would allow future changes to be made without the necessity of public/private partnerships.

Pathway to disaster

Yes, I listen to the dissenting voices. I hear one group saying that we should have a moratorium on building any large-scale projects. A second group says that the subsidies that we can afford don’t result in low enough rents. I know that in the current economic and political environment that the first course of action is disastrous and the second demand is just impossible to meet. Yet our “leaders” fall in line at our insistence. To be sure Public/Private partnerships are only a second best option to adequate general revenue funding, but they are the only immediately available and viable options for providing such things as new school locations, library upgrades, capital improvements in NYCHA and more affordability in housing. The still trendy “organic” approach to development is now resulting in the conversion of three and four family houses into single-family homes, reducing the numbers of available units in our neighborhoods, as well as causing extraordinary rent increases here and in nearby neighborhoods. These changes exacerbate the crisis in housing availability and result in massively overcrowded unsafe and illegal housing units in less coveted neighborhoods further from the city center.

Lander’s stand against Fortis

Glad to hear that Councilman Lander will stand by the citizens on this one. The as-of-right development provides enough zoning space for the developer to make a good go of it in this market. And if Fortis goes with the 421A plan they will get tax breaks to provide affordable housing also. The city should look into finding their own site for a school if they need more school space for the as-of-right housing and the other new housing in the area by BBP. - Lois

Pathmark closing

It is so sad what the greed as done to the now there is only C Town on Hicks St in the projects and C Town in Gowanus. We have Key Food on Henry St and a Key Food on Atlantic Ave. Fairway with high prices and Whole Foods also high prices.wonder when they will take C Town from Hicks Street? Then they say that the neighborhoods have no place to get fresh produce, how can they when they are taking everything from us!!!! It’s disgusting. Louise Conti-Franqui, Columbia Street

Remembering Bette Stolz

Thank you all for your condolences and comforting words during this difficult time. Your love has been received and has helped us as we try and pick up the pieces and heal our broken hearts. Bette suffered a heart attack on Monday following ambulatory surgery and never recovered. Being the person that she was, death could not even stop Bette from her work. The first thing she did upon leaving us was give the gift of sight to another as an organ donor.

regard, Bette chose to be cremated at a private ceremony with her immediate family. However, keeping with the Bette tradition, she also wants a memorial ceremony to be held in and around her beloved Smith Street where people who know Bette will have an opportunity to speak, and, which will be followed by drinking and a procession down Smith Street that she wants to be more like a parade than a funeral so that we may celebrate her life. We are in the process of finalizing dates and locations and will send that information along shortly. If you chose to memorialize her as well let us know and we will spread the word, join you in raising our glasses and keep her alive in our hearts forever. In lieu of cards and flowers donations can be made to The Culinary Arts Program at the School for International Studies through SBLDC so that her work may continue. South Brooklyn LDC is a 501c3 Tax Exempt Corporation. Your donations are fully Tax Deductible. 100% of every donation made to support the Culinary Arts Program will go to buying food and equipment for this program. In addition we would like to support the cost of bus trips to nearby colleges that have culinary programs. Send your contribution payable to South Brooklyn LDC – 268 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231 and just indicate that it is for the Culinary Program. - The family - Michael, Erica, Patrick, Van and Shirley.

Solving the nursing home dilemma

How about the site along Columbia Street where the under utilized docks are located near Atlantic Ave. The Brooklyn parks can come further down connecting Red Hook to the park across Atlantic Ave. The home can then place their facility there. Maybe the company can make a trade. The Pioneer property, for the property there. It’s better for vehicles, you have the BQE, and Atlantic Ave for emergency evacuation. Thus preserving the culture of Red Hook. - Darrell K. Boyd

We have received an outpouring of calls and emails asking about plans and services to memorialize this amazing woman, mother, grandmother and community leader. In this

Gentrification is marching in lock step with urbanization. Development will continue because it is necessary. We all need and deserve to have a home. When we can afford to live close enough to our employment to avoid inordinate commutes, we have time to participate in our children’s education, become involved in our communities and create the safe stable neighborhoods that we desire. Surely, this is preferable to the

December 2015

That Crazy World of Politics

by George Fiala A number of issues concerning land community, would ensure the continuse are coming to a head. They con- uance of a hospital. cern zoning, parks, affordable hous- What we got instead was a mayor deing and NYCHA. termined to replace the hospital with These issues, which include a nursing large-scale residential development home in Red Hook, sewer improve- that would include affordable housments in Gowanus and luxury housing ing. Fortis, the developer, has, with in Cobble Hill all hinge on the actions the help of a former de Blasio staffer, of the local City Councilmembers. as well as a public relations company Watching these issues play out offer intimately associated with the mayor, an excellent opportunity to watch Car- been trying to force over a million los Menchaca, Brad Lander and Steve square feet of new apartments into Levin in action on issues that will per- what up until now has been a low rise community that thought that being in manently affect our communities. a historic district would preserve the The end of Long Island College Hosintegrity of the housing density. pital was an extended drama that this paper covered extensively. In the In order for Fortis to get everything they midst of a mayoral campaign in which want, the City Council must approve a he seemingly had no traction, Pub- zoning variance. In a city where real lic Advocate Bill de Blasio showed up estate interests hold sway, we pretty one day at Hicks and Atlantic with his much expected that his would happen. campaign staff seemingly determined I saw Councilman Lander at meetings to save the hospital. He didn’t save the of the Cobble Hill Association (CHA) tell concerned residents that they are hospital, but did become mayor. in a tough spot. Lander always talks a I realize now that one story we didn’t good talk, trying to wring what he can cover at the time was the future of the out of situations without actually stirLICH property once real estate dering the pot too much. velopers would take control. In retrospect, this was because I believed that Needless to say, I was shocked at the the community lawsuits, negotiated November meeting of CHA when by a lawyer de Blasio provided to the Lander, instead of trying to seek a

compromise, announced that he stood with the community and would oppose any zoning change. This puts him directly against the mayor and the powerful real estate industry. At least as it appears now, this makes him a hero.

Nursing home in Red Hook

On a smaller scale, we are experiencing a similar situation in Red Hook. A nursing home operator surprised most of us last summer with a plan to build a nine story nursing home occupying almost a whole block between Van Brunt and Conover Streets. Many in the neighborhood feel that this is not the way they want Red Hook to develop, although there is nothing wrong with nursing homes per se. In fact they are needed, much like hospitals and inexpensive supermarkets are needed. Councilman Menchaca holds the power in this issue, as a zoning change is needed here as well for the project to proceed. He told this paper last summer that he would oppose the nursing home because he is against housing the elderly in a flood plain. He reiterated that position recently at the community board meeting on the subject. He has also since said that he would be willing them find a better location. Here I have a suggestion. One of the most underutilized parks in this area is Harold Ickes park, at the corner

of Hamilton Avenue and Van Brunt Street. I would suggest that a swap of land, creating a new park in the heart of Red Hook, as well as a nearby nursing home that would be closer to transportation and without anyone nearby objecting to a 9 story building would be a win for everyone.

Superfund politics

A few years ago, this neighborhood was all abuzz at the prospect of dredged Gowanus canal dirt creating landfill, benefitting a private owner. With that issue resolved, we knew that the next bone of contention would be over the EPA plan to force the city to reduce the amount of raw sewage it pumped into the canal. Specifically, the controversy would be about locating a retention tank under the swimming pool in Thomas Greene park. As predicted, this has become the next major issue, with the EPA thinking that since the pool has to be dug up anyway, to eliminate toxic coal tars found underneath, it makes good sense to build the tank in the hole, and then cover it up with a new, and even better pool. The city seems to prefer to use eminent domain to take over someones property across the street and locate the tank there, in effect building two holes. DEP and the Parks Department is on a campaign to put political pressure on the EPA to do it the city’s way. Will politics trump common sense? We will probably know by next month.

Remembering Bette Stoltz, a champion of South Brooklyn


n Thursday, November 19, we lost a great champion for South Brooklyn, for Smith Street, for small businesses, for manufacturing, for Brooklyn jobseekers, and for low-income kids. Bette led the South Brooklyn Local Development Corporation for many years, and was a much-loved community leader, CB6 member, organizer, gadfly, husband, mom, grandmother and friend. I first started working with Bette 20 years ago, when I was the director of the Fifth Avenue Committee. Though I was young and new to the scene, she welcomed me to the cause of community development, and helped show me the ropes. Bette was a champion for manufacturing and industrial space, long before it was cool. She knew that we needed to preserve space for industrial businesses in Red Hook and Gowanus, and she fought hard against efforts to undermine it. She single-handedly prevented the residential conversion of 160 Imlay Street to condos – which I believe helped launch the fight to preserve manufacturing in South Brooklyn and around the city. “We need to consider what New York is going to need in another 30 years,” she said. “I mean, this is your port you’re talking about. This is not a replaceable commodity” (you can see below that she kept this fight up over decades).

Red Hook Star-Revue

by Brad Lander

Bette was a champion for our small businesses. Probably her best-known work is the revitalization of Smith Street, which she called “The Little Street That Could.” For several decades, she helped small businesses

“Probably her best-known work is the revitalization of Smith Street, which she called “The Little Street That Could.” on Smith and Court Streets to stay strong in the face of disinvestment, chain stores, street reconstructions, and gentrification. She brought in the “bishop’s crook” street lights, and organized Sunday Funday, Bastille Day, and most recently the very tasty Smith Street Soup Festival. Over the past two years, she has been helping to organize the effort to create a Business Improvement District on Smith & Court Streets. Bette was a champion for people looking for work. Working together with Aaron Shiffman, Pat Swann and me, Bette helped establish a partnership to connect public housing and other low-income residents with job opportunities. That partnership led to the creation of Red Hook on the Road (helping people get good-paying jobs

as commercial drivers), Brooklyn Networks (in network cable installation), and First Source Staffing (a notfor-profit staffing agency that focuses on placing people with barriers to employment). Over the past decade – under the leadership of Aaron Shiffman at Brooklyn Workforce Innovations – those programs have helped over 5,000 low-income community residents find good jobs. And Bette was a champion for lowincome kids. From my point-of-view, this was her real passion: helping kids from NYCHA’s Red Hook, Gowanus, any Wyckoff Houses get a fair shot. For 25 years, she leveraged her connections in the business community to help kids get internships, and to support those kids to help them succeed. She was constantly seeking new slots, knowing that every single one would give another kid a chance. To me, it seemed like her proudest accomplishment was the creation of the Culinary Arts Program at the High School for International Studies (on Baltic Street). That program has helped hundreds of kids get excited about school, discover talents they didn’t know they had, build realworld skills and find valuable internships and jobs. And it has helped build International Studies into a strong, growing, and recognized school.

Over on Pardon Me for Asking, Katia Kelly has a lovely reflection on Bette (with some nice pictures) that includes an email she recently sent to Katia, expressing her love of the neighborhood, and some nostalgic regret about some of the changes that gentrification are bringing our neighborhood. Bette never hesitated to say what was on her mind, and to fight against change that undermined our neighborhood values. She never gave up, and was constantly looking for practical ways to make the community better, whatever challenge we were facing. And she kept working for these goals right up until the end. I’m pasting below the comments she sent over the summer in response to “Bridging Gowanus.” As you’ll see, they show a love for this community, a smart eye for the details that matter (even if they are things like concrete plants and bus companies, unloved but necessary), a healthy skepticism mixed with an optimistic view that we can make things better. I’ll miss Bette, and my heart goes out to her husband Michel, her daughter Erica, her son Pat, her grandkids and her friends. We’ll do well to remember her – and think about what she would have said and done – in the days, months, and years to come.

December 2015, Page 11

A white knight offers a solution to Gowanus waste (continued from page 1)

ane gas used once used for lighting and still used for heating and cooking. At one time, this gas was produced from coal and petroleum products. The toxic byproduct is coal tar. The EPA found coal tar under the swimming pool and has ordered the pool dug to remove the poisons. The EPA believes the best place for the tank is under the pool, which will be dug up no matter what happens. The city agrees that this is a viable possibility. But their preferred solution is to seize buildings across the street that are adjacent to the canal, demolish them and locate the tank there. The rationale is that this is less expensive and will take less time. The EPA is studying the city's numbers as it views eminent domain as a last resort. The city also insists that an accompanying above-ground building - called a head house - be built as well. The head house will minimize the foul stench that could occur during tank cleaning. If the tank is built in the park, the head house will have to be in the park as well, which will reduce the size of the park. The EPA says that the head house need not be as large as the city claims, and that creative design could incorporate open space as part of the building, perhaps on the roof.

place extreme political pressure on the EPA, who, as a federal agency, has the final word. A previous CAG meeting featured the DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd, Mitchell Silver, NYC Parks Commissioner,and as a roomful of lesser functionaries.

An old photo of Saverio Della Valle, who founded Valley Candles, and ancestor of Alloy's Jared Della Valle.

space in Thomas Greene Park that a head house would use, eliminate the need for eminent domain, and allow him to build needed Gowanus office space. Della Valle explained that his company ethos demands vision, thoughtful design and lasting value. He brought the property owners to the meeting. They are anxious to avoid seizure of their property so they can lease to Alloy, which would allow them to retire and ensure an income for their families over the next few generations. Della Valle told the Star-Revue that prior to the meeting he had had multiple meetings with the EPA’s Tsiamis.

DEP took CAG members to sewage overflow facilities that they operate. - one with and one without a head house. They have made private presentations to local politicians and the Fifth Avenue Committee. And many in the CAG are suspicious of the presentations, which claim that using eminent domain rather than using the park is less costly and will take much less time. DEP brought out a bit more artillery, claiming that piping would be much more efficient if the tanks placed closer to the canal. They said that the building of connecting pipes from the park to the pumping station would create a tremendous disruption. They presented a slide show of what they called a "schematic," making the point that a head house needed to be at least a 30,000 square foot structure. Faced with a donation of 57,000 square feet of parkland to more than counter a possible loss of only 30,000 square feet, they proclaimed that were they to place the tanks and headhouse on the contested property, they would gain upwards of 75,000 square feet of parkland. Katia Kelly, CAG member and publisher of the community blog Pardon Me for Asking, summarized the feeling of much of the room following the presentations. “These guys came with real creative solutions, and you shot them down,” she said, addressing Landau.

DEP's Eric Landau the Parks' Kevin Jeffrey listening to the Alloy presentation.

Alloy, a successful Dumbo-based real estate developer, offers a third way. The Alloy presentation was made by company president Jared Della Valle. Della Valle has a local history, as he is a descendent of Saverio Della Valle, who came to Brooklyn from Naples in 1905. He founded up a successful Columbia Street business, Valley Candles, which manufactured religious candles for NY's religious institutions for over fifty years. The Alloy proposal is elegant in its simplicity. If the threatened property is not seized by the city using eminent domain, he will lease it from the owners for 99 years. He plans to build 2 four-story office buildings, one on either end of the land. In order to build the four story buildings, he cannot build in the middle, according to Floor Area Ratio (FAR) zoning regulations. He will donate the middle space to the city for use as a park. This would more than make up for any loss of park

Page 12 Red Hook Star-Revue

He had also met with DEP and Parks, but had not heard back from them. He was excited to find out that both DEP and Parks requested to make presentations following his, and he listened with interest as Brooklyn Parks Commission Kevin Jeffrey began to address the CAG.

Dan Wiley, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez’s Community Coordinator, called Alloy a "white knight," and urged the city agencies to keep an open mind. Natalie Loney, EPA’s Community Involvement Coordinator, reminded everyone that they are committed to finding a creative solution to provide full remediation with a minimum of delay. What they are not in support of

Dan Wiley seems to favor a creative solution. are hindrances, she said.

Steve Levin, the council member representing Park Slope and parts of Gowanus, arrived with little fanfare and listened to much of the presentation from the back of the room. He asked to speak, and echoing Brad Lander's comments to the Cobble Hill Association about a zoning situation there, told the CAG that neither option is good. He said that eminent domain is bad, but losing parkland is just as bad. He did not seem to acknowledge the third option presented, instead focusing on the general topic of the importance of parks. At a previous CAG meeting, Tsiamis explained that there are two sides to the EPA - the scientific side and the political side. He intimated that the final decision as to the placement of the retainer tanks will rest with the political side. The next CAG meeting is scheduled for January 19. For more information about the Gowanus CAG, contact Natalie Loney at (212) 637-3639 or loney.

Jeffrey began by saying that the EPA and the city are not far apart. The rest of the city’s presentation, including comments by DEC Associate Commissioner Eric Landau, and a civil engineer and eminent domain attorney brought in by DEP, showed that indeed EPA and the city remain worlds apart. They barely acknowledged Alloy; instead, they focused on why Thomas Greene Park is not suitable for storage tanks, despite the fact that a $50 million DEP study identified the park as one of two suitable locations. The city’s presentation was a continuation of a months long campaign to

Councilman Steve Levin was non-committal. (photos by George Fiala)

December 2015

Made in Brooklyn Holiday Gifting

Lyon Bandeau $41.00

Khaki Wax Cloth Cape $550.00

Nadia Tarr Design Studio Holiday Pop Up Shop December 8 - December 11, 11 am-6 pm Fashion designer, Nadia Tarr will open her space for 3 days this season for gifters who want to shop in person. Trendy, vintage and classic wardrobe choices for that special fashionista on your list. Also available online at Facebook friends receive an additional 60% off with coupon code. 405 Van Brunt Street

Gowanus Canal Flask Pick Your Poison $30 Brooklyn Rehab's glass flask shows Gowanus spirit, while being useful as well. This handmade gift includes a burlap carrying case to easily wrap or conceal. Available at

Chocolate Options Bars: From $7.95 Tours: $10 Classes: $50 Raaka Chocolate not only offers exotic stocking stuffers, but also opportunities for a sweet escapade into the world of chocolaty creation. The company offers 45 minute tours of their Red Hook factory, as well as 2 hour classes. 64 Seabring St. Red Hook Star-Revue

Brooklyn Tea Towel $20.00 A perfect kitchen addition for the Brooklyn enthusiast. These Brooklyn Tea Towels are hand painted by Kate Wilkes of the Brooklyn Bell Tower, and are available at By Brooklyn in Carroll Gardens. By Brooklyn, 261 Smith Street

Sew Fab: Sewing and Style for Young Fashionistas Lesley Ware's chic book describes in detail all of the basics of matching accessories, patterns and face shapes. In addition the book features simple and fun projects for the kids in all of us. For an added bonus, Lesley's second book, Style File will be released in February 2016. Available at select bookstores and online at warehouse-gallery. For more information about the book, visit

Red Hook Holiday Cards Handcrafted holiday cards by Fields & Cloth are beautifully made and capture the holiday spirit of Red Hook Brooklyn. For pricing and orders, email

Wooden Rider Box $75 A woodworker in Red Hook has come up with the perfect solution for you favorite cyclist's storage problem: a wooden Rider Box. The fixture holds one bicycle as well as accessories and other everyday items. 4Korners, 175 Van Dyke Street

Gift Wrapping and Ornaments Ornaments: $5 Artisanal wrapping and hand blown glass ornaments from Workshop Gallery Artists Foundation completes your holiday gifts. The gallery uses handmade paper, silk flowers and fabric ribbon to decorate your most precious packages. They also offer a variety of art work including ceramics, woven rag rugs, jewelry and art. 393 Hoyt Street (718) 797-9428

December 2015, Page 13

Red Hook groups open their doors to all for Thanksgiving

Good Shepherd Services Miccio Cornerstone welcome their Red Hook neighbors on November 24 in the gym at PS 27. At the microphone is Trequan Bekka, Assistant Program Director. (photos by George Fiala)

With the help of Park Slope's Trinity Church, Samora Coles and her Alex House Project presented a top notch Thanksgiving meal for her supporters at the Red Hook Initiative. Among the guests were Carlos Menchaca and Bea Byrd.


Felix Ortiz held a community Thanksgiving dinner at the Miccio Center on November 21, the Saturday before Thanksgiving.

PICK UP A “FINEST STAR” T-SHIRT TODAY. Get one for $15 or make use of the great deal we offer & get 3 T-shirts for $30 Finest Star Hats are $35 order by email: or by text 347 378-9032 Page 14 Red Hook Star-Revue

Some call it “the other March madness.” It’s nail-biting season now through April as college acceptance/ rejection and financial aid award letters land in applicants’ e-mail and snail mailboxes. As of November 23rd, 27 (55%) of Summit Academy scholars in the Class of 2016 have been accepted to at least one college or university! While we are still in application season, it is exciting to know that our inaugural class of graduates are well on their way to a four-year college option for next year. College acceptances include the following institutions: Delaware State University, Virginia State University, Clark Atlanta University, Wiley College, Lincoln University, Virginia Union State University, Coppin State University, Bowie State University, Huston-Timmotson University, Benedict College, Tuskegee University, Johnson C. Smith University, Winston Salem State University, Allen University, and Morgan State University. Of our 27 acceptances, 11 scholars have received partial or full scholarships to various schools. Now that Summit scholars have started seeing the “fruits of their labor”, it is time to firm up financial aide. According to The Princeton Review’s 2015 “College Hopes & Worries Survey” — the Company’s 12th annual poll of college applicants and parents — concerns about college costs are soaring. Ninety percent of respondents this year said financial aid will be Very necessary to pay for college. Within that cohort 66% said Extremely necessary. Summit Academy Charter School scholars have already begun applying to multiple scholarships and grants to ensure that they have viable

ways to finance their education. “Bridging the gap… Reaching new heights” is a motto that Summit Academy Charter School stays true to wholeheartedly. Whether it is in the classroom or on the court scholars excel to new heights with the steadfast goal of going on to and excelling in college. “This first set of college acceptances is monumental in the life of our school. It marks the realization of a dream,” says Natasha Campbell, Summit Academy Charter School Founder and Executive Director. “The best is yet to come; we expect all of our 12th grade scholars to receive acceptance letters for the colleges and universities of their choice. Now that we have seem the impact of our college preparatory school design and curriculum, we will be looking to our constituents to bring additional resources to our school. There are tremendous costs associated with a successful college preparatory program.” adds Campbell. Summit Academy is a college preparatory school primarily serving communities in South Brooklyn. The mission is to ensure that every Summit Academy scholar is well equipped with the knowledge and foundation to be successful in college and beyond, regardless of prior academic achievement levels or socioeconomic status. More than just a generic mission, college preparation is at the crux of SACS’s purpose. To achieve this, Summit implements three pillars of success – mastery of core subjects, character building and community leadership. For more information about Summit Academy Charter School, call 718875-1403 or visit

December 2015

Van Westerhout donates Thanksgiving turkeys to Visitation Church by Mary Ann Pietanza by Mary Ann Pietanza


iving back to the community was the unofficial theme at a luncheon given by the Van Westerhout Molese Social Club on Court Street on Saturday, November 21, 2015.

marine terminal east of the Hudson River with direct rail access to the national rail system, giving it the potential to reinvigorate southern Brooklyn’s transportation networks and reducing cross-harbor trucking.

Fr. Claudio Antecini, pastor of Visitation R.C. Church on Richards Street in Red Hook was the proud recipient of 30 turkeys donated to his parish by members of the Club who took this first-time opportunity as a society looking to re-purpose its role, to share Thanksgiving blessings with their neighbors in need.

“Our waterfront, one of our biggest assets, requires a development plan designed with meaningful community engagement,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca. “Preserving South Brooklyn Marine Terminal for quality maritime use is one of several requirements in the agreement I reached with the Economic Development Corporation last year. Releasing the request for proposals to find a long-term tenant at SBMT is an important milestone. The final version of the RFP came with close consultation with a task force of Sunset Park business owners and community organizations that facilitated input and direct community outreach at public meetings. This represents an improved working relationship between EDC and our community. A quality long-term operator for SBMT can now be held accountable for environmental responsibility, long-term economic success, and Sunset Park community benefits.”

Vito Parente, president, and about 40 members attended the informal luncheon where top quality steaks with mushrooms were grilled up effortlessly for the lively crowd. Fr. Claudio, who gave grace, and youth minister Fr. Eamon Murray, also in attendance with Fr. Claudio, accepted the donation with extreme gratitude. “God is good,” Fr. Eamon later said of the Van Westerhout’s kind generosity, as it brought to mind Hurricane Sandy’s devastating effects on the church not too long ago and the neighboring peoples’ willingness to help restore much of the destruction.

A group shot of club and church members.

The priests and parish staff planned to pray and give thanks at their own Thanksgiving gathering with a special visit from the humanitarian group

from Italy, “Leo Amici”di Carlo Tedeschi, whose musical performances center around works dedicated to peace, love and brotherliness.

More work for the waterfront

this important piece of the Sunset Park industrial ecosystem online by the end of 2016. The RFP will activate SBMT, a marine industrial facility with berthing space for cargo ships and barges, further supporting an industry that provides thousands of well-paying jobs. SBMT is the only

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for maritime businesses to operate at the 72-acre South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT), which will bring

Star-Revue Classifieds

JABUS BUILDING CORP. Serving Red Hook for over 25 years


Specializing in Construction and Historic Preservation

Jim & Debbie Buscarello

• New construction • Renovations, additions and extensions • Masonry specialist • Concrete floors/radiant heated • Concrete/bluestone sidewalk repair • Flue linings, chimneys and fireplaces • Demolition and waste removal • Violation removals • Landmark Preservation contractor

196 Columbia Street, between Sackett & Degraw

98 Van Dyke Street, Red Hook (718) 852-5364

Mon. - Thurs. 11 am - 10:30 pm; Fri & Sat. 11 am - 11:30 pm; Sun. 1 pm - 9 pm

Fax: (718) 935-1263 HIC License #0883902


Quality Pro Certified Minority Business Certified Contact us for a pest consultation

888-752-0584 Red Hook Star-Revue

Licensed Electrical Contractors Commercial • Residential • Industrial Free Estimates

No job too big or too small

Violations Removed All Types of Wiring Emergency Service

Toilets, Boilers, Heating, Faucets, Hot Water Heaters, Pool Heaters.

B & D HEATING 507 Court Street 718 625-1396

EMERGENCY SERVICE 137 King Street Brooklyn, NY 11231 Fax: (718) 935-0887

Vito Liotine (718) 625-1995 (718) 625-0867 Trade Waste License #1135

To place an ad in this section call 718 624-5568 or email Rates start at $30 per issue.

December 2015, Page 15

You May Have Heard About


The proposed Oxford Nursing Home project at 139-141 Conover Street, Red Hook will redevelop an underutilized site with a state of the art, floodresilient comprehensive health care facility, featuring 200 nursing beds and a medical center that is intended to serve the Red Hook community as well as nursing home residents. If approved, this project will stimulate economic development, supporting area businesses and providing hundreds of construction jobs and permanent employment opportunities, along with providing much-needed health care services.

PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT • Replacement of the existing obsolete Oxford Nursing Home facility located in Fort Greene • Oxford Nursing Home has been family owned and operated nearly 60 years, and is a 5-star rated facility by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Replacement of the existing obsolete Oxford Nursing Home facility located in Fort Greene • Proposed new 7 - and 8-story, 157,500 square foot community facility building, containing: 200-bed, 131,150 square foot skilled nursing facility for long term care and short term rehabilitation 26,350 square foot ambulatory diagnostic and treatment facility (health care center) • 53 on-site parking spaces, enclosed and unenclosed (10 more than required) • On-site loading berth and vehicle drop-off to avoid on-street loading and standing


REVITALIZE UNDERUTILIZED SITE: Add a new state of the art community facility building, with landscaping and street trees, to a historically underutilized site FLOOD RESILIENCY: Will be built above the Base Flood Elevation, will maintain an emergency diesel generator and fully comply with all Code requirements established post-Sandy. SUPPORT AREA BUSINESSES: Introduce a new customer base for local businesses NURSING HOME BEDS: While replacing an existing facility, an annual 30% resident turnover rate ensures approximately 60 available beds per year HEALTH CARE FACILITY: Will provide a range of services to the public, as well as residents, based on assessment of local health care needs EMPLOYMENT: Approx. 600 construction jobs (400 direct, 200 indirect); approx. 225 preserved and/or new permanent jobs (1199 SEIU Healthcare Workers); commitment to local hiring Page 16 Red Hook Star-Revue

December 2015