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Red Hook StarªRevue

APRIL 2016




aims to make the waterfront community more resilient and better protected from future storms.” It is further stated that “The Red Hook IFPS will cost approximately $200 million in total"


n January 7, 2014, Vice President Joe Biden came to Albany to announce-together with Governor Andrew Cuomo - a $16.7 billion federally funded package of programs to strengthen New York's infrastructure against future storms. The money was part of the $50.5 billion in emergency money that congress granted to New York and New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy. According to an article in Politico, “the state would build a $200 million flood protection system in Red Hook, Brooklyn.” A whole host of other projects were announced, including subway seals, bridge repairs throughout the state, new tidal gates and drainage systems including at the area airports, and the creation of micro-grids to provide emergency power. In a press release issued by the Governor’s office, dated December 16, 2014, another mention of the $200 million number is made. The release is headlined: “Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio Announce Integrated Flood Protection System Study and Design For Red Hook.” It is subheaded “State and City Each Commit An Initial $50 Million to Launch the Initiative, Which Will Make the Brooklyn Waterfront Community More Resilient – Part of Comprehensive, Citywide Resiliency Plan.” The release announced the issuance of the initial RFP for creation of the Integrated Flood Protection System (IFPS) and went on to say that “the project, for which the City and State are each committing an initial $50 million, for a total of $100 million,

Red Hook Star-Revue

This press release was filled with supportive comments from Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, Borough President Eric Adams, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Assemblymember Felix Ortiz, Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, and Co-Chair of the Red Hook NY Rising Community Reconstruction Committee Gita Nandan. But the NYC Economic Development Corporation (EDC), which has been executing the RFP process, now says that “The study began in October of 2015 and is expected to be complete in approximately one year. "For subsequent project phases, the City and the State have committed $50 million in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds and $50 million in Hazard Mitigation Grant Program funds for a total of $100 million in funding to be used for environmental review, permitting, design, engineering and construction.”

Public informed in January

This was first revealed locally on January 21, 2016, at a public meeting at the Miccio Center. One of the slides presented characterized the total funding of the IFPS at $100 million. Further research of documents available online reveal that this cut was already decided more than a year earlier. An EDC Q&A, dated February 27, 2015 includes the following: “Q - In the pre-proposal session presentation, it was stated that the total cost of the project including the feasibility study, design and engineering and capital costs for construction, is $100 million. Is that sufficient – does this reflect actual project costs?

The slide shown at the January 2016 public meeting showing reduced funding.

A - The Feasibility Study is being healthy children and families.” performed to better understand the Councilman Carlos Menchaca is scope and costs for an IFPS in Red sure that whatever it ends up costing, Hook. The Preferred Project advanced through the HMGP application and “The Red Hook IFPS will subsequent FEMA and HUD approvals will need to be assessed, designed cost approximately and built within the anticipated available budget.”

$200 million in total, as

Sometime between December 2014 announced in January.” and February 2015 funding for Red Hook’s flood protection program, December 2014 which would hopefully mitigate future flooding, has been cut in half, with no official announcement from the governor’s office, which is manag- whether $100 million, $200 million or more, the right storm protection sysing the money. tem will be built. "The money must be Borough President Eric Adams, com- found," he said. menting on the budget changed said: “We look forward to hearing more from the City and the State in the days The next public meeting of Red Hook’s ahead about how they plan to make NY Rising Committee will be held at the IFP program whole through crit- the Miccio Center this Thursday, April ically-needed funds. The residents of 7 at 7:30 pm. Questions and comments Red Hook deserve nothing less than will be taken by representatives of the a truly resilient and sustainable com- local rising committee as well as repremunity where they can safely raise sentatives from the City and State.


April 2016, Page 1

Community Telephone Numbers: 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 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 Republicans...info@brownstonerepublicanclub.com NYCHA Satellite Police Precinct, 80 Dwight Street Main Phone................................................................ (718) 265-7300 Community Affairs.................................................... (718) 265-7313 Domestic Violence.................................................... (718) 265-7310 Youth Officer.............................................................. (718) 265-7314 Auxiliary/Law Enforcement Coordinator ............ (718) 265-7378 Detective Squad........................................................ (718) 265-7327


Happenings, etc. THURSDAY, APRIL 7

2nd Red Hook Integrated Flood Protection System Public Meeting at Miccio Community Center, 110 West 9th Street, 6:30 - 8:30 pm


The Red Hook Community Justice Center will host their 7th Annual Youth Internship and Opportunity Fair in partnership with Community Board 6, Good Shepherd Services and the Red Hook Initiative. Doors will be open to young people between the ages of 14-24 throughout Brooklyn, and other parts of NYC in the hopes of providing young people with the chance to apply for paid and unpaid summer programming opportunities at the Justice Center and other local businesses and community based organizations. Miccio Center, 110 West 9th Street 4:00-7:00 pm Red Hook West Tenant Association Monthly meeting headed by Lillie Marshal. Hear things you need to know, with refreshments afterwards. 428 Columbia Street, 1A 6:30 - 8:30


Memorial Concert and Fundraiser celebrating the life and legacy of Sunny Balzano. Featuring performances by Smokey's Round Up, Miss Ida Blue, Luna Sisters, Stillhouse Serenade, John Pinamonti, Stevie from St. Lou and the Gotham Easy. Food and drink by Hometown BBQ, the Good Fork, Red Hook Lobster Pound, Jalopy, Fort Defiance and Six Point Brewery. Pioneer Works, 159 Pioneer Street, 6:30 pm.


Livable Neighborhoods Program. Free and open to the public - an opportunity to discover the various ways that arts and culture can help address community and economic development issues. The program includes a walk around Red Hook to identify arts and cultural amenities/activities. A free lunch will be included on the walk. Discover your neighborhood and your neighbors at the same time! PS 15, 71 Sullivan Street, 10 am - 2 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

Join Ray Hall and the rest of the Oldtimers Day committee for a fundraising, old fashioned, Fish Fry, at PAVE Academy, 732 Henry Street Noon - 5 pm.

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

Once again, it's time for the Red Hook Crit, that crazy bicycle race where the cycles have no brakes. It's a world famous event that got started with just a few racers almost ten years ago. Now it's big time, and gives everyone in the neighborhood a chance to enjoy themselves at the Cruise Terminal, which is normally quite underutilized, except for passengers of the Queen Mary. The venue opens at 10 am, and there will be a women's and men's 5K Race, a woman's Crit and the men's Crit, which begins at 9:30 pm. The day is capped off with the award ceremonies at 10:45 pm. There will be qualifying races all day, from which the top 85 cyclers qualify for the main event.

Stretching Far and Wide Global Ministry, Inc.


Visitation Church

98 Richards Street , (718) 624-1572. Office open Mon-Thursday 9 am - 3 pm. Saturday Mass at 5:00 pm English; Sunday 10:00 am Spanish, 12:30 pm English. Community Prayer on ​Tuesday and Thursday at 8:00 pm. Baptisms are held every other month. Please call to arrange for Baptisms, First Communion, Confirmation and Weddings.

New Brown Memorial Baptist Church

382 Hamilton Avenue, Studio B 1-800-948-9042 Archbishop Dr. Barbara Jackman, Overseer Rev. Dr. Dwayne Barnes, Pastor Services are held every Sunday @ 10:00 am Communion every First Sunday stretchingfar.webs.com stretchingfar@aol.com

St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish

Celebrate May Day at the 38th annual Court Street Fair. Runs from Union Street to West 9th. Things to buy, things to eat and things for the kids to do. Sponsored by the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation. noon - 6 pm.

467 Court Street, (718) 625-2270 Rectory Hours: Monday-Thursday 9:00 am - 11:30 am, 1:00 pm-4:00 pm, Friday 9:00 am - 12:00 noon. Masses: Saturday 5:30 pm, Sunday 10:00 am, Monday - Thursday 9:30 am.

Saint Paul and Saint Agnes Parish

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)

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

125 Summit Street at Hicks Street, (718) 596-7750, info@sacredhearts-ststephen.com Office Hours: Monday-Thursday 9:00 am - 5:00 am, Friday 9:00 am - 3:00 pm, Saturday 9:00 am - 1:00 pm Saturday Vigil Mass at 5:30 pm, Sunday Masses at 8:00 am, 10:00 am, and 11:45 am (Italian/ English) Weekday Masses during winter months at 8:30 am and 12:00 noon Confessions: Saturday at 4:45 pm and by appointment. Baptisms every third Sunday at 1:00 pm.

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 http://stpaulscarrollst.weebly.com/


Kane Street Synagogue

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

The Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation, will host the second public meeting for the Red Hook Integrated Flood Protection System (IFPS) Feasibility Study.

Congregation B’nai Avraham/Chabad of Brooklyn Heights

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


April 2016



by Nathan Weiser

he highly regarded publiclyfunded Strong Place for Hope Day Care on 595 Clinton Street was in danger of losing its space as of March 25, but the deadline for purchase has been extended based on a refundable deposit by the city. According to the director of the day care, they don’t have to worry about losing the facility anymore. The Day Care is an Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) contracted school, which provides much-needed early childhood services and day care for parents in the Red Hook community, according to a letter to ACS Commissioner Gladys Carrion. Also according to the letter, it has a capacity of 100 children and was at 100% enrollment in the spring/summer session in 2015. The day care has 20 employees, about half of whom live in Red Hook. David Estrada, Chief of Staff for Councilmember Carlos Menchaca, explained that the city wanted to exercise the right to first right of refusal. “It takes time to have the city understand exactly how something of that scale would be funded,” Estrada said. Menchaca is a strong supporter of the day care, which has been around for 40 years. They have been in their current location on Clinton Street since July of 2012. The day care has been in daily communication with the Mayor’s administration and with ACS. “We advocate along with Councilmember [Steve] Levin and the Borough President. We are advocating very vigorously to make sure the school is protected,” Estrada added. “One of our employees [children] in Carlos’s office went to Pre-K there,” Estrada said. “This is a neighborhood institution. It is extremely important. That is why we are going to the max to try to protect the school. We are advocating for it on a daily basis because we have to keep after it and try to protect the school.” Estrada emphasized that this day care is so important since the neighborhood does not have many of them. “It is not a casual thing,” Estrada added. “It is not like there is one of these every corner. It is not like there are other places where you can find a school like this. It is of extreme importance. We are extremely hopeful but there is still work to do.” Olive Cosbert, who is the director of the day care that serves kids ages 2-5, said that the property is no longer for sale. “The city is going to take it over,” she said. She doesn’t know a specific timeline as to when it will be official, but she knows that an offer has been made. According to Cosbert, Alison Grand from ACS told Ms. Kanice that the city has made an offer.

Part of the reason, according to Estrada, that the city hasn’t made the purchase official yet is because of the amount of money required to do so. “You don’t put together funding like that on the quick,” Estrada explained. “The city rushed to protect the circumstances and give themselves time to finalize exactly how it will work.” The day care petitioned ACS and they responded to the petition. Ms. Kanice was informed by Alison Grand on the 25th of March that the city has decided to place an offer, according to Cosbert. “That is as much as we know about the transaction,” Cosbert said. “They acted in response to our petition, and because of that we were able to save the day care from being sold to an outsider.” According to Cosbert, the landlord decided to sell because ACS was not standing up to their part of the agreement to maintain the building. Also, whenever called on ACS never responded. Estrada added that ACS is the primary agency, but they would have to work in concert with the office of Management and Budget and all sorts of other agencies to put together the financing that would help the purchase of the building. Cosbert said the landlord was tired, frustrated and he felt it was time to let go of the property. “Now that they made the offer through the city, ACS would have to be the new owner,” she said. “Jacbel Realty currently owns the building. I can’t say that they own it now, because if they are in contract, it is pending ownership.” The director of the day care is very appreciative of Menchaca’s effort and everyone else who has spoken out in support. Cosbert added that she sent a gift in the form of a plant and an email thanking Menchaca’s office, but she has not spoken to him directly. “He was out for a while and we haven’t had a chance to speak with him,” Cosbert said. “We thanked everyone who was involved. We acknowledge everyone who helped in the process.”

“The day care is now not in danger of losing the space,” Cosbert said. “It is 6.4 million that [has been] offered, so in order for the city to take it over they will have to give them the same amount.”

Red Hook Star-Revue


April 2016, Page 3

RELIGIOUS NEWS BY LAURA ENG laura.eng59@aol.com.

Carroll Gardens' famous Good Friday


he annual Good Friday procession to mark the Way of the Cross of Jesus Christ wound its way through the streets of Carroll Gardens on the evening of Friday, March 25th. The procession dates back to the founding of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish back in the 1880s, but the procession as we know it began in 1948 when the statue of the Madonna Addolorata (Our Lady of Sorrows) was brought over from Mola di Bari, Italy. Starting in front of Sacred Hearts/St. Stephen’s Church (SHSS) on Summit and Hicks Streets at 7 pm, approximately 1,000 people marched along with the statues of the Madonna and her son, Jesus (Cristo Morto), encased in an illuminated glass casket, accompanied by a traditional Italian brass band playing dirges. This year, Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Chapetto joined the SHSS parish for both the 3 pm Passion of Christ service and the procession. Joining him were scores of devotees of the Congrega Maria SS Addolorata, many of them women known as “sorelli” (sisters), all wearing black, carrying candles, and singing Italian hymns, as well as tuxedo-clad men carrying the Madonna. The procession provides an opportunity for many former parishioners to return to the neighborhood and to visit relatives still living here. Despite the somberness of the occasion, there is a sense of festivity as many old friends bump into one another and exchange greetings of Happy Easter. Mr. and Mrs. Felix Cosenza, ages 90 and 93, respectively, traveled from New Jersey with their daughter and viewed the passing solemnity from the corner of Henry and Sackett Streets with another daughter who still lives in Carroll Gardens. Cristina and Lenny Kaplan, who were married at SHSS 18 years ago and also live in Jersey, return nearly every Good Friday and often walk at least part of the way with their two young sons. When asked why she walks in the procession, Mrs. Kaplan replied, “I do it to show my children the tradition I grew up with, and I get to do it with my sister and her family who still live here. My husband, who did not grow up here, has grown to appreciate it as much as I do.”


The Madonna heads down Henry Street. (photo by Erika Olivera)

As the procession drew to a close, the statues of the Madonna and Jesus took separate paths back to the front of SHSS Church before meeting again in an emotional reunion. The music stopped, the crowd fell to a hush, and the church bells rang in a funeral knell as the statues of Mary and Jesus came together three times, representing the trinity and the three times that Jesus fell, before being carried through the center doors into the church. The evening ended with a second Passion of Christ service, this one conducted in Italian, with the altar draped in the mourning color of purple. And so concluded another year of a beloved and time-honored tradition.

Visitation Irish night

After a celebratory night of Irish culture at Visitation Church on March 17, Father Claudio wrote a letter of thanks: St Mary's Hall in the Parish of the Visitation BVM was full of music, fun, laughter and excellent food on St Patrick’s night. It was a great joy for me as Parish Priest to witness our beautiful basement being used to bring delight into the hearts of the people of Red Hook and those who came from the surrounding areas. It would be true to say that this was a landmark event one to be celebrated annually in honor of that great patron of New York - St. Patrick. I would like to take this opportunity to publicly give thanks to all you who contributed to this event with your generosity in giving time, food, financial support and encouragement, musical talents and not forgetting all you who were there in person. Thank you, one and all. You will be blessed for having blessed the Visitation, and helping us in our on-going work of restoration. We look forward to next year with an(continued on next page)

Red Hook StarªRevue

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

Kimberly G. Price & George Fiala Halley Bondy, Nathan Weiser, Mary Ann Pietanza, Laura Eng, Marc Jackson and Mary Staub, contributors

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April 2016


(continued from previous page)

ticipation. Yours Sincerely, Rev. Fr. Claudio Antecini P.P

Happenings/ Upcoming Events

Congregation Mount Sinai (CMS) 250 Cadman Plaza West Spring Benefit Concert - Sunday, April 10 at 4 pm; CMS welcomes Eugene Marlow’s Heritage Ensemble performing a blend of jazz, Hebraic, Afro-Caribbean and Brazilian music. Tickets are $25; $10 for students at www.congregationmountsinai.nirsham.org Shabbat Lunch & Learn with Rabbi Wax - Mastery & Meaning of the Prayer Book on Saturday, April 16 at 12:30 pm. Where did the Seder come from? Tuesday, April 19 at 7 pm. with Rabbi Wax. Second Night Passover Seder, April 23 at 6:30 pm. Reservations must be made by Thursday, April 14 by contacting office or bobkahancms@gmail.com. Kane Street Synagogue 236 Kane Street Open Beit Midrash - Israel: One Land, Many Narratives on March 29, April 5 and 12. Dinner at 6:45 pm and Class from 7:30-9 pm. Joy Fallek at ronitjoy@ aol.com for information/registration. The Oratory Church of St. Boniface 109 Willoughby Street Fr. Dennis’ Book Club on April 24 - Old Ways by Robert MacFarlane at Aula Maxima. New members welcome. Chanticleer Concert, Over the Moon, April 5, 7:30 pm.

Red Hook Star-Revue

River of God Christian Center 110 Wolcott Street Women’s Retreat on November 4-6 will include a trip to the Sight and Sound Theater in Lancaster, PA. Save the date! St. Agnes Church Hoyt & Sackett Streets Sounds on Sackett - The concert series will continue on Saturday, April 16 at 7 pm with The Stonewall Chorale, the nation’s first gay and lesbian chorus. For more information and a list of upcoming concerts, call (718) 625-1717.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church 199 Carroll Street Third Friday Supper on April 18 at 6:308 pm, $15 for adults and $5 for children. St. Paul’s RC Church Court and Congress Streets Honoring a Titanic Hero, Father Thomas Byles (1870-1912), Thursday, April 14 at 6 pm, Msgr. Joseph Nugent will unveil a plaque honoring Father Byles who perished aboard the RMS Titanic 104 years ago. A short program and reception will follow. For details, contact an-


Visitation BVM Church 98 Richards Street 7th New Evangelization Congress, April 29-May 1. An extraordinary weekend of healing and preaching with Koinonia John the Baptist Founder, Father Ricardo Argañaraz and Father Claudio Atecini. Suggested donation ticket price of $45 for entire Congress and $25 for one day. To reserve your ticket, call Sr. Frauke at (917) 515-4225 or visit www. visitationbvm-brooklyn.org

BASIS parents talk about their new school by Mary Staub


umerous local children attend BASIS Independent School, the private school that moved into Red Hook on the corner of Columbia and Bay Streets last fall. Neighborhood parents whose children go to BASIS reached out to the Red Hook Star-Revue in response to an article we published last month about the school’s presence in the neighborhood. The article indicated that community members in general had little knowledge about the school or whether local children attended. Parents gave an inside view.

Columbia Street waterfront, said the academic rigor, supportive environment, and the diversity of the school convinced him and his wife to enroll their daughter at BASIS. She had previously gone to PS 29. Cordero and his wife were considering New Voices School of Academic & Creative Arts (MS 443), in Windsor Terrace, as a middle school option before they learned about BASIS.

commonly been told, BASIS.ed requires all students to take high math earlier than is commonly offered, and to begin taking Chemistry, Physics and Biology as separate courses in grade 6.”

An overview of BASIS Independent’s curriculum, posted on their website, also highlights this notion. It states, “Following our tenet that all children Cordero, whose family lives near the can achieve more than they have

said Cordero. Competition is with oneself, rather than with one’s peers. “The environment is friendly, and they stress the importance of everyone (continued on page 12)

“I know my daughter has been thriving and happy,” one local parent, Edgar Cordero, commented about his daughter, who is in 6th grade.

Similarly, David Lefkowitz, the parent of a local 9th grader, acknowledged the school’s rigor. “It’s academically extremely rigorous—rigorous homework; advanced classes in biology, “[BASIS] has a mission for your kid – science, English. It’s a lot of homeand it’s STEM based – so it’s very aca- work and a lot of work.” demic: chemistry, physics, world his- The school, which is built on a Eurotory, biology,” said Cordero. “They’re pean model of education, also offers doing almost high school level work.” support to help all students succeed,


April 2016, Page 5

Permanent Exclusion can lead to an innocent person's eviction at the Red Hook Houses by Nathan Weiser

either,” Marshall said. “That boy never sold drugs out of Bernice’s apartment.” In 2009, according to Curry, NYCHA officials came to her apartment while her son was present. “I didn’t hide it,” she said. “I let them know he was here. They talked to him and everything.” According to Marshall, the whole thing was caused by a fellow resident who may have held a grudge against Curry and told housing something that was untrue. “It is just something that shows up,” Marshall said. “Sometimes people can say something, and it will get you in a world of trouble.”


ernice Curry has lived in Red Hook for 38 years, but has had housing trying to evict her for the last few years.

NYCHA has a policy that allows them to evict tenants who house felons, even if that felon is a family member Eight or nine years ago, people came to housing saying that her son was selling drugs on her property, which led to NYCHA trying to force her out. She pointed out that her son was never arrested near public housing. When the arrest happened, it had nothing to do with drugs. Housing is still coming back to her about the same issue that she claims never happened. She is paying a low rent and that’s part of why she thinks that housing just wants the apartment. “I am only paying $100 and something,” Curry said. “Not only that. They said I can go back when my son was locked up. The cops came to try and arrest him, and he was already locked up.” Curry says that her son never sold drugs on the premises. She doesn’t want her apartment to be taken for something that didn’t happen. Lillie Marshall, president of the Red Hook West Tenant Association, has known Curry since their children were young. “I know for a fact that she never sold drugs, and her son wouldn’t sell

Curry received a letter from NYCHA requesting her presence at their offices. The letter stated that in 2013, a NYCHA representative came to her apartment looking for her son, Curry has no memory of this. Marshall said that Red Hook Community Justice Center will take care of the issue. “She went to the Justice Center, which is our court system here in Red Hook, and the judge is going to help her out with the situation.” According to Marshall, Calabrese has helped a lot of people handle their cases over the years. “All different kinds of cases have come up,” Marshall said. “Kids riding bikes inside the development, different cases, and he takes care of it.” Curry added that they had her son arrested in September 2013. Curry said that no one from Housing has been to her apartment recently. “I tried to tell them,” she said. “In 2013, nobody came to my house to see if anybody was here. They haven’t been to my house since about 2012 or 2011. That’s the last time anybody came to see if my son was here.” “In 2013, a Ms. Smith, who was then the housing assistant, claimed that she was sending me to 250 Broadway because my son was selling drugs,” Curry said. Ms. Smith had previously told her the same thing in 2008 or 2009.

“Somebody told Ms. Smith that I was selling drugs from my house, which is the biggest lie that anybody can tell,” Curry added. “Like I told her, I wouldn’t even allow my mother to sell drugs at my house.” Curry has lived at 442 Columbia Street for 21 years, but when she took in some foster children they moved her to another apartment. She has lived in her current residence for 17 years. In an article in City Limits last year about this policy, called permanent exclusion, a NYCHA representative was quoted saying that permanent ex-

clusion is never based solely on a complaint or violation. "In the past, some people may have been excluded for relatively minor crimes like assault," a spokesperson wrote in an email. "Now, exclusion impacts individuals who commit major offenses, such as drug-dealing, firearms possession, sex offenses and murder." Former CCOP head Regginald Bowman is also quoted, saying "A person should not be found guilty by agencies that are not courts of law. I mean, come on. Eviction because someone got arrested? Give me a break."

Phenomenal Women celebrated at Justice Center


by Kimberly Gail Price

he Red Hook Justice Center (RHJC) celebrated Women's History month by honoring more than 30 local women from Red Hook on March 29. Women in Touch, an organization dedicated to the educate, encourage and support the women and children of the Red Hook communities, presented the awards in the mock courtroom among friends and families of the honorees.

Women in Touch certificates were presented by Director, Alice Tapia and Wally Bazemore, community resident and activist. Tapia was also one of the honorees. Karen Broughton, Community Liaison for Assistant Speaker Felix Ortiz awarded the certificates. Nahisha McCoy and Karen Blondel read their original poems to the audience after receiving their awards. Kamilah Pujolas, Tapia's daughter sang an a cappella version of Amy Winehouse's "Valerie" to a room full of enthusiastic supporters. Keynote Speaker, Shaina Harrison, whose first job was with RHJC's Amer-

Janet Andrews proudly holds up her two certificates. (photo by Kimberly G. Price)

iCorps program, spoke about her vision of success for herself. "I don't understand why people think success means leaving your community. I think [success] means staying and fixing it," she said, before receiving her award from Tapia. "I am honored to be in a room full of people who are changing the community." The programming also included art displays and concluded with a fashion show led by Andrews. Janet Andrews, who works with Carlos Menchaca, was another honoree. The Councilman presented Andrews with a bouquet of flowers to specially thank her for working to keep Red Hook's Strong Hope Daycare open. In addition, Menchaca congratulated all of the women honored. "We have to thank our people," he said. "We have to give praise to the people in our community who stand up every time we need them." The women were honored with certificates from Assistant Speaker to the State Senate, Felix Ortiz "in recognition and appreciation of your support, dedication, and devoted efforts on behalf of the Red Hook community." Women in Touch also gave the ladies certificates "in recognition and appreciation of your worthy causes, commitment and outstanding dedication to the Red Hook community." Honorees: Lillie Marshall, RHWTA President; Francis Brown, RHETA President; Judith Daley; Darlene Gibbs; Beatrice Byrd; Janet Andrews ;Samora Coles; Andrea McKnight; Stephanie Lovette; Jackie Soto; Dawn Blondel; Melissa Torres; Bonita Rene; Alisa Pizzaro; Sheryl Chisholm; Viviana Gordon; Sabrina Carter; Jacqueline Renaud Rivera; Anaberta Torres; Luz Gonzalez; Irma Berrios; June Clark; Roslyn Chatman; Nahisha McCoy; Henrietta Perkins; Shaneka Stevens Charlene Sinclair; Minetta Brown; Shaquana Cooke ; Karen Broughton; Alice Tapia

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April 2016

Judge Judith S. Kaye's legacy in Red Hook by Kimberly Gail Price


n the early 1990s, Red Hook was on the edge of a dangerous precipice. Riddled with crime, drugs and gangs, several important influences were taking shape and coming together to alter the course of the neighborhood’s future. These quiet movements were suddenly awakened by the unfortunate murder of PS 15’s beloved principle, Patrick F. Daly. In his final moments and the strange minutes that followed, these whispering voices erupted into thunderous shouting. One of those voices was Chief Justice of the New York State Appellate Court, Judge Judith S. Kaye. Judge Kaye was the first woman appointed to the state’s highest court. But making history as a woman was not what defined her. She famously once said, “I take my gender with me everywhere I go," although this was only a small part of her legacy. The Red Hook Community Justice Center (RHCJC) is another. In the late 80s and early 90s, Red Hook was not the only neighborhood experiencing high crime levels. In Midtown - most notably the Theater District – tourists and residents avoided the area. Theaters were darkened. More than 600,000 people had fled the city. Times Square was not getting the foot traffic that was the lifeline of the area. Herb Sturz, who later became Deputy Mayor under Mayor Ed Koch, wanted to make Midtown a jewel again. Instead of sending petty criminals to jail for mere days at a time, he drafted an idea to do something different to improve public safety. He asked Gerry Schoenfeld, Broadway producer and Chairman for the Shubert Organization, for a theater in exchange for a court. The producer gave him Long Acre Theater on 54th Street. Sturz then had to get NYS’ highest court on board. Judge Kaye not only approved the idea, she showed up that evening in jeans and helped whitewash the walls of what would later become the city’s first Community Court. Judge Kaye was determined to have the new Midtown Community Court be a place where people were treated with dignity and respect, no matter the crimes they were charged with. Holding cells had no bars but were made of glass. When opponents scoffed at the idea, she refused to concede. The night before the ribbon-cutting ceremony, she took a hammer herself and tried to shatter the glass; it held. “She had a willingness to get her hands dirty” with the “gritty details,” Greg Berman, Director of the Center for Court Innovation (CCI), said. CCI heads the multiple community justice centers throughout the city. She was “not someone who just ordered edicts to from the bench,” he said, but instead took a hands-on “muscular approach” and “aggressively advocated for change.” The new and innovative court was reviewed favorably, as crime rates declined. People were linked to sorely

Red Hook Star-Revue

needed resources. After achieving real results in Midtown, Red Hook caught the Chief Justice’s attention. After Principal Daly's death, former District Attorney Joe Hynes started advocating for a second community court – in Red Hook. The first step was getting to know the neighborhood through door-to-door surveys, crime data, focus groups, and local residents’ opinions. “In 1994, when we started, the idea that there would be an IKEA or Fairway here” was unthinkable, Berman explained. The resources in the neighborhood included one drug prevention place, Hope & Anchor, and a methadone clinic. Judge Kaye needed the cooperation of both the city and the state. The city is responsible for building and maintaining the building. The state runs the court. She went to Mayor Rudolph Guliani and told him to make it happen. “She put the full weight of her office behind it,” Berman said. “She convinced him, and it happened. Red Hook could not have happened without her blessing, but also her support.” There was so much skepticism about a court being popped into Red Hook,” said Viviana Gordon, Deputy Director of the Justice Center. But Kaye was determined not only to open the center, but also that it would be effective for the community. The Red Hook Community Justice Center was created to be a “problem solving place,” by “smushing together a courthouse and community resources,” Berman explained. On June 1, 2001 at the RHCJC’s ribbon cutting ceremony, she said, “This integrated approach to justice – which metes out meaningful punishment for offenders, and at the same time, targets peripheral issues associated with crime – promises a safer, stringer neighborhood for all the residents in Red Hook.” Presiding Judge over RHCJC, Alex Calabrese said the court was “formed to address specific concerns in a specific area. All of the canvassing done before the court’s opening helped shape what services the court would offer. Calabrese once said, “Downtown, I only had two tools: jail and out of jail,” referring to his previous courtroom. “Here I have a whole clinic." RHCJC was the first court in the nation to offer a family, housing and criminal court all in the same place, as well as resources to keep first time offenders from coming back to his bench. In addition to the monumental role she played in transforming Red Hook, she was deeply passionate about kids in the system. She was concerned with domestic violence and changing the culture that surrounded it. “There was no part of justice she didn’t touch,” Berman said. Cases in the system that aren't huge in the system, but the vast majority of people are dealing with serious issues in life. Their problems lead to criminal behavior. Judge Kaye believed that if these people were led to resources that

Judith Kaye with State Senator Velmanette Montgomery in 2007.

could resolve their life-issues, they could become law-abiding citizens. She saw that there was a way for the courts to play a role in generating a positive response. In February, 1993, NYT reported that the state’s nominating committee had presented Governor Cuomo with a list of seven nominees for Chief Justice. “With all respect to the six men on the list, they are no match for Judge Judith Kaye, the slate’s only woman,” they wrote. She “is a conscientious judge with an active interest in court administration as well as wisdom in deciding cases.” On February 22, 1993, Mario Cuomo nominated Judge Kaye for the state’s highest judicial position. On March 17, 1993, she was unanimously confirmed as Chief Justice, and took her oath one week later. Upon her nomination, she told reporters, “I feel wonderful from the tip of my head to the tip of my toes!” and promised to devote herself to this new position “with every fiber of my being.” In his blog "Small Sanities" Berman writes, “The Center for Court Innovation would not exist but for her support and advocacy…In the process, Kaye left a mark not just on New York, but on the world.” Berman also acknowledged Judge Kaye’s faith in placing him in his current position. “In blessing my appointment as director, she was placing a bet on a young and untested leader at a vulnerable moment in the agency’s history. Having made this decision, she was unfaltering in her support of me over the years.” “She was a big hearted woman,” Berman said. She was higher in stature than he, but always took note of him as a person. She often asked about his family. She sent thank you notes. She “mastered social graces.” Just after September 11, 2001, the New York Times ran profiles on victims killed in the attacks on the World Trade Centers. Three court officers were killed in the attacks. Mitchell Wallace of the State Supreme Court ran to help once he heard of the attacks. He was a trained EMT, and had previously saved his fiancé’s – Noreen McDonald - life when she was having a stroke. She told him to get away from the falling towers. He refused, telling her, “There are bodies everywhere. I have to help.” Afterward, Judge Kaye went to Noreen and Michael’s apartment with a bag of


jellybeans, and told Noreen, “We are going to sit here and eat jelly beans until he comes home.” Berman described Judge Kaye as funny, but also “a bit of a trouble maker.” When she took over as Chief Judge of the NYS Appellate Court, she was the first judge to openly wear red shoes to the bench. She moved bottles of nail polish into her desk. One lawyer asked if he could address her as Thurgood Marshall had addressed Earl Warren. When she replied that nothing would please her more, he quipped back, “Okay, Chiefy Baby.” “There have been few people in my personal and political and professional career who have had a profound impact on my own development and growth. Judge Kaye is one of them,” State Senator, Velmanette Montgomery wrote about the Chief Judge’s reappointment in 2007. “I’ve watched you with so much grace, skill and diplomacy, be able to reform our court system, which is akin to an ant turning an elephant.” In 2008, Judge Kaye reached the mandatory retirement age and stepped down from her coveted position.Judge Kaye devoted her life to the judicial process. She was well-received and respected by so many. Walter Mordaunt, ambassador the NYS Appellate Court from 1973-1990, brought Judge Kaye a sprig of roses from his front yard every year on the anniversary of her appointment to the appellate court. Every year, her added one more flower to the bouquet, marking her number of years on the bench. In 1991, the year following his retirement, he left flowers and a note that read, “Now Judge! I hope you did not think I’d forget.” Chief Justice of the NYS Appellate Court from 1993-2008, Judge Judith Kaye died on January 6, 2016. Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg released a statement saying, “Judith Kaye was not only the longest serving Chief Judge in New York State history, and not only the first woman to hold the post; she was also one of the most respected judicial innovators of our time.” Bloomberg also spoke at her funeral service in Lincoln Center in early January. He recalled being sworn in by Judge Kaye the morning after she had run a late night marathon. Bloomberg had expressed disbelief, so under her judicial robe, she showed him her runner’s number pinned to her clothing.

April 2016, Page 7

Sunny Balzano passes away suddenly by Halley Bondy


riends, family members, and fans of Sunny Balzano gathered through the weekend to bid farewell to the unforgettable Red Hook bar owner and beloved iconoclast. After suffering a cerebral hemorrhage, Sunny passed away on Thursday, March 10 at the age of 81. His remarkable life touched everyone in the neighborhood and beyond. Sunny owned Sunny’s Bar, a Conover Street institution that looms legendary for its portside history and homey bluegrass vibe. But Sunny was also an artist, a world traveler, an Air Force veteran, and so much more. He was a great burst of warmth who you'd often see rocking a red onesie with unabashed confidence. He was - to all - a character. Sunny's passing garnered coverage everywhere from local Brooklyn papers to The New York Times to NPR. Hundreds of people mourned his loss at a weekend-long viewing at Scotto’s Funeral Home, followed by a mass at Visitation of the Blessed Mary Parish and a funeral procession through the streets of Red Hook. The viewing was adorned in commemorative wreaths, as well as photo collages of Sunny hearkening all the way back to his handsome uniformed Air Force days. Those who attended swapped stories, prayed, or sat in mournful silence. Long before he was everybody's favorite barkeep, Sunny - born Antonio Balzano - was one of five siblings who grew up in Red Hook. His father Rafael owned the bar downstairs, which had been in the family since 1890. There, he would serve lunch to the longshoremen who came in droves throughout the mid-20th century. Sunny, the eldest child, was always a

bit…different. "People used to think he was strange. He was a character and had a soft way of speaking to people," said Sunny's childhood friend John Ossino, who attended the viewing. "But he wasn't strange! That's just who he was! He was an artist." In fact, Sunny would pick up endless artistic pursuits throughout his lifetime with staggering ease. He was a prolific painter, jeweler, and musician. His youngest brother Louis remembered hearing Sunny play jazz guitar one day, completely out of the blue. “He was playing all these jazz chords really well. I asked him when he'd picked up the guitar - and he’d only picked it up a year ago,” he said. “Anything he put his mind to, he could do it.” Sunny’s sister Joann recalled her older brother changing his clothes at least four times a day, back in an era when dry cleaning didn't exist. "My mother had to press and press and steam iron, and she would say, 'Sunny, you changed your clothes again!'" Joann recalled. "He always looked like he was out of GQ Magazine." When he was old enough, Sunny left home to join the Air Force and travel the world. After returning from a 10year stint in India, Louis remembers walking in on Sunny meditating in long white robes. “When he opened his eyes, he asked me to stop calling him Sunny, and to start calling him ‘Dura Munda,’” Louis recalled, laughing. “I said ‘F--- you! You’re my brother, Sunny!’ He dropped it after that.” Sunny returned home to Red Hook permanently in 1980 after his father died of cancer. The bar began to decline, according to Joann. Their uncle

Lorraine Barnett, Bobby, Rose and Ralph Balzano, and Josephine Balzano Gray enjoy some time together at Sunny's, after Sunny's funeral. (photo by George Fiala)

John Balzano took over, but he passed away in 1994. It was then bequeathed to Sunny, who would change it forever. As Sunny watched the neighborhood change dramatically, the bar blossomed. The born-and-raised Red Hooker could have bristled at the new wave of artsy residents, but instead, he welcomed everyone who walked through the door. These days, Sunny's Bar is reliably jampacked on the weekends, yet it retains the old nautical charm coveted by the family. "Originally my uncle gave Sunny bar work just to give him something to do," Joann said. "But Sunny built it back up from nothing into something amazing. I'm so proud of what he did." In the memoir Sunny's Nights by Tim Sultan - which was published mere weeks before the bar owner’s death - one of Sunny’s best quotes is immortalized: "My bar? This isn't my bar any more

than it's anyone else's bar. It don't belong to me. It belongs to each of you, who have come here and have served to make it what it is that it is. It's our bar, aye?” Indeed, Sunny wasn't proprietary - not even over his own name, according to Louis. Apparently, Sunny’s nickname was actually originally spelled “Sonny.” One day, Louis noted that his name was misspelled as “Sunny” in an early Kentler Drawing Center program. He asked Kentler's Florence Neal about it. She said that he was such a sunny person, that maybe that would be a good way to spell it. And so it stayed. A Memorial Concert and Fundraiwer celebrating Sunny Balzano's life and legacy will be held April 14, 6:30 pm at Pioneer Works. Music by Smokey's Round-Up with extra special guests, the Luna Sisters and more, food by Hometown, the Good Fork, Lobster Pound. Donations of $25 and up will be accepted for entry.

Adult dance classes return to Cora by Mary Staub


ora Dance brought a sampling of adult dance classes to locals at the group’s new studio at Red Hook Ministries on Van Dyke Street last month. On Saturday, March 5th, adults ranging from age 12 to at least 60, from first-time dancers to professional performers, dabbled in a palette of movement styles that included yoga, hip hop, ballet, reggae/ dance hall, and more.

Dance class participants, and young adult dancers from other Brooklyn neighborhoods. Some of the Cora Youth Company (CYC) dancers and members of a visiting dance troupe from Harrisonburg, Virginia, the Shenandoah Contemporary Dance Theatre, also joined. They all had different reasons for coming, bringing different skills to the classes, but teachers welcomed them all.

ballet, so Cora is organizing a class series in May and June. Classes will be drop-in, pay-what-you-can, geared towards beginner-level students, but open to more advanced levels, too.

Classes were well-attended, with 28 students cramming into a Reggae/ Dance Hall Class at 11:30 am, the day’s most popular class. The instructors - professional dancers and teachers - often with their own companies, attracted both novices and professionals by challenging participants in a playful way.

Participants shared their comments after class. “Loved it!” “Awesome.” “Really glad I came.” “Amazing class, choreographers and experience overall.” “Great group of people.” “The director [Shannon Hummel] has an awesome spirit and her staff and kids reflect her hard work,” said another.

Cora’s adult program extends the mission of their youth program, which is to give all children access to the arts. “We really believe in breaking down any barriers that prevent kids from having access to the performing arts,” said Kramer.

Karen Ross led the Reggae class, keeping the mood light as she engaged a wide range of participants— neighborhood moms, long-time Cora

Page 8 Red Hook Star-Revue

The classes served to reintroduce Cora’s adult dance classes to the community. Cora, whose main mission is their youth classes, took a break from adult classes 18 months

“The classes are for any adults wanting to get out and move,” said Kelsey Kramer, Cora’s Communications Manager. “They are a way for people to touch upon something they might have done when they were younger.” Director Shannon Hummel speaking at a 2012 Cora fundraising event. (Fiala photo)

ago when they lost their former studio. They were busy moving into and renovating this second-floor space of Red Hook Ministries throughout the summer of 2015. The new adult classes are being developed based on workshop comments. Feedback indicated that community interest was greatest for reggae and


Similarly, the adult classes give locals access to dance without having to take a bus and subway, an obstacle that can be difficult to overcome “just” for the sake of dance, as several workshop participants said.

April 2016

Eric Adams rules on nursing home by George Fiala

Seen around town


he continuing saga of the attempt to build a nursing home in Red Hook continued last month, as the Borough President Eric Adams’ office published their opinion, and the City Planning Commission (CPC) held their public hearing. The next and presumably last step comes up next, as the City Council takes up Oxford Nursing Home’s application for a zoning change that is needed for them to start building. The ULURP (zoning change) process - which began last year with the Department of City Planning approving the ULURP and Community Board 6 (CB6) voting in favor of the Oxford plan - traveled to Borough Hall last December, and to the CPC the last week in March. CB6’s Land Use committee heard Oxford’s case twice. The second time, in Deember 2015, they voted against Oxford. But at a meeting of the full board, which usually follows committee recommendations, they flipped and supported Oxford.


Star-Revue! in the advertise Don’t be a fool -

Just before Christmas, a hearing at Brooklyn’s Borough Hall attracted both supporters and opponents of the plan. Oxford’s Red Hook supporters come mainly from the Red Hook East and West Tenant Association presidents, Frances Brown and Lillie Marshall. Their position is staked on promises that the nursing home will come with jobs for the neighborhood and a place for Red Hook’s elderly. Opponents, who come mostly from residents living in the vicinity of the proposed home (across from the VFW), argue that the building is out of character for the neighborhood, would bring unwanted traffic and would be a hazard to the elderly as the land is in a flood zone. Adams followed up with a smaller, private meeting at the Red Hook Library. At this meeting he was able to ask specific questions to many of the same people who had spoken at the public meetings. He listened carefully and respectfully to both sides, seeking additional input before preparing his report. His decision was issued March 8, and recommended disapproval with conditions – meaning that he doesn’t think it is a good idea, but in case the City Council decides to go ahead with the zoning change and allow Oxford to build, he would like certain condi-

Borough President Eric Adams at last December's public meeting.

Bush Clinton (T) Park now has a permanent Street Soccer court thanks to City Council funding. Carlos Menchaca celebrated the final day of Participatory Budgeting with an all day soccer festival featuring kids from Red Hook and Sunset Park, along with some professional soccer players. Menchaca is seen cutting the ribbon of the new rink, along with Karen Broughton, who works with Assistant Speaker Felix Ortiz, who was back in Albany putting the final touches on the State budget.

tions met. These conditions call for a furthering lowering of the building height, from between 50-75 feet, rather than the original 97 feet that the original plans called for; moving the proposed parking garage from Sullivan Street to King Street; coordination with DOT to direct traffic flow to the King Street side; and commitments to resilience and sustainability, and a guarantee of local and minority hiring. There is no mention in the report of the availability of rooms for local elderly, a cause much championed by Frances and Hal Brown. This is most likely because according to state law, there can be no such guarantees, as pointed out by local elder-care lawyer, Robin Goeman. The next step in the bureaucratic process is the CPC. Their public hearing, held in Manhattan, repeated the process already seen at CB6 and Borough Hall. About thirty people showed up to give testimony. According to John McGettrick, who is opposed to the out-of-scale character of the building, about half came to speak in favor, and half opposed. But after listening to the testimony, some of the people who had come to speak in favor of Oxford recanted, saying that what they heard in the public testimony was at odds with what Oxford had been telling them.

Speaking of the Assembly, recently retired representative Joan Millman is now a St. Francis College Scholar in Residence. She hosted Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez on Monday, April 4, where two history classes, along with some guests listened to Congresswoman Nydia Velasquez. Velazquez spoke of the importance of having women in government, and explained how she first entered public service, after having been a professor at Hunter College. As we were admiring improvements to the Henry Street C-Town supermarket, who did we run into but former CB6'er Leroy Branch. Leroy is now with the Department of Transportation, and says to call him at 646-892-1364 with any DOT issues. And while we were deep in conversation with Leroy, who else shows up but tenant leader Lillie Marshall, who told us a thing or two about trolleys and nursing homes.

If the plan receives CPC approval, it then will go to the City Council for hearings and a full council vote. Councilmember Menchaca is on record as being opposed to building a nursing home facility in a flood zone. It is a council tradition to support the local representative in ULURP votes. The Mayor can veto the Council’s decision, and that veto can be overridden by a two thirds vote of the Council.

Keesha Gill is leaving her position at the Miccio Center, and a surprise party was held for her last Friday. Judge Calabrese showed up with presents!

David Allesandro Gonzalez's huge hobby is decorating the fence by his house on Dikeman Street. His latest creation is a colorful collage featuring all the presidential candidates.

Red Hook Star-Revue


April 2016, Page 9

LETTERS: How should CB members be put in place? Selected or Elected?




The flux of CB 6


here have been significant changes at the top of the Brooklyn Community Board 6 (CB6) hierarchy. Our Carroll Gardens’ friend and neighbor Gary Reilly, former Chairperson of CB6, has started a new domestic adventure with his wife and children in a home of their own with a backyard near Mount Kisco, New York. My guess is that even Gary would acknowledge that the 10549 zip code lacks the appeal of 11231. But now that Mount Kisco has Gary and his camera-ready family, they are clearly coming up in the world. We are fortunate that there are many community conscious and talented people left behind in Community Board 6 to pick up the mantle of leadership. Our First Vice Chairman, Sayar Lonial, automatically ascended to the chairmanship. He then recommended a new appointee to fill his seat on the Executive Committee. In contrast to the United States Senate, the Executive Committee of CB6 unanimously accepted his nominee. Michael Racioppo now fills that position. Both Lonial and Racioppo have a substantial background in community affairs. They both seem to have the wisdom and strength to advance the interests of our community, as it integrates itself with the broader needs of the City.

There are always plenty of issues for the community to confront. I don’t know about the other board members - but even with my strong convictions - I take comfort in the fact that what we say is strictly advisory. Those who have been elected by the people are the ones who get to decide; that’s how it should be. There are many issues on the horizon including: multiple rezoning questions; serious environmental and neighborhood impacts from the Superfund clean-up at the Gowanus Canal; transportation tensions between motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians, and mass transit users when it comes to sharing roadways; allocating budgetary funds; and resiliency concerns as a coastal and estuary area facing sea level rise. There will continue to be the occasional uproar over a liquor license and backyard extensions for buildings in one of our historic districts. On the local political front, we have had a resignation by our female Democrat-

ic District Leader Paige Bellenbaum. When she first expressed an interest in this unpaid position, I pointed out to her how few women with young children took on such a role. I thought that having a young parent’s perspective would be a positive for the party. I was wrong in this particular instance but I still think it would be beneficial to the party. From what I am told, the stress and expense on the family caused her to relinquish the role. On the recommendations of Assemblywoman JoAnne Simon and Male District Leader Josh Skaller, Ann Swern, a former first assistant DA in Joe Hynes office, will be slotted into Paige’s position. While she is an accomplished person her appointment has the feel of a throwback to oldfashioned backroom politics with the choice coming after scant conversation and consultation. Such is the illusion of reform in politics, even in this “good government” part of Brooklyn that I have come to know all too well. I prefer the relative directness of the acknowledged “regulars” and the use of power for progressive ends of the Working Families Party to this syncopated quick step that catches the eye, but is so superficial it simply drifts harmlessly away. After we each take a moment to quietly contemplate the ever flexible and degraded meaning of the word reform, let us turn to the tidal wave of corruption flooding the capitol grounds where the Hudson meets the Mohawk. This hub of insider activity that provides enough material for a multi-season crime drama perhaps “Law and Order – Albany”, has again spurred the legislature into mustering the outrage necessary to propose the most modest of reforms. They take a dive when it comes to the enactment of term limits, public financing, and higher pay coupled with a ban on outside income. Those reforms together with longer terms that would give space to weather difficult governance decisions could lead to positive change. Such reforms would bring new voices, and perspectives while tamping down opportunities for corruption. Alas, they are not on the table, so let’s see if even the inadequate proposals being discussed make it into law.

Help Wanted

Looking for editorial interns, fledgling reporters and experienced freelancers. email George at gbrook@pipeline.com Page 10 Red Hook Star-Revue

The impact (and some might say usurpation) on communities by REBNY/ business "relationships" with its appointed and un- elected Community Board continues to be onerous. Too often the priorities reflected are in contravention of neighborhood and residential preferences. Community Boards often fail to uphold their wider mission and have become de facto rubber stamps for a city which is in thrall to developers... to the NYEDC and to the myth that we have democratic institutions which represent all of the people. I would go so far as to suggest that the questionable Business Improvement District aka BIDs-the quasi-government non-profits proliferating- have been enabled with Community Boards’ blessings and lack of comprehension by the community itself. Here’s the issue: City Council Members and Borough Presidents appoint (with no term limits!) so-called Community Board representatives. The arbitrary nature and the deference by City Council Members & Borough Presidents to Mayoral initiatives rather than authentic participatory referenda is an urgent topic for consideration.- Sandy Reiburn, Fort Greene

Gownus mystery

cleaned up, but the residents? Why don’t the residents speak up and ask the City to act in their best interests and clean the site. - Yuri Estrada

NYCHA improvements

This is great news for Red Hook Houses- I’d like to raise a concern and point out an opportunity. I’m part of the AIA NY’s “Design for Aging” Committee, and we’ve been looking at making NYCHA housing more age-friendly. I’d love a chance to meet with your designers and review with special consideration of what makes housing work for our seniors. With the monies available now, this is a rare opportunity that I’d hate to miss. - gail ressler, gail ressler Interior Design

Inside Oxford

The lucrative business of owning nursing homes did not begin in 2000. And it is certainly no less profitable in 2016. With the Braunstein lawsuit of 2016 against the County of Rockland for a failed bid for the Summit Park facility, and Barry Braunstein’s “passion” of getting his hands on a $65,000,000.00 deal in Red Hook, New York, called Oxford Nursing Home, numbers clearly speak. Setting the care of the patients aside, the needs of their families, the financial implications to the sick and infirmed, over the years of evolution of the nursing home business, manipulation of the public healthcare system and Medicare and Medicaid, two of the largest funding entities, has increased.

I can understand why the industry owners in this area don't want it

This was sent to us by somebody who calls themselves lostmessiah.com.

SHORTS: Help wanted

enting role models for their peers. In addition, you'll be supporting outreach and educational supplies for 75 new mothers and their children.

Art Show

Brunch includes: Fruitini, tomato and goat cheese tarts, cinnamon bite, mimosas, scrambled eggs with smoke salmon, blue berry pancakes and more.

New Brown Baptist Church is looking for an organist to work with the choir. Call Barbara Robinson, 917 478-5781 IWorkshop Gallery Artists Foundation is pleased to welcome to Brooklyn Workshop Gallery. WAKING SLOW SLOW ART DAY 2016 featuring Lorrie Fredette, Ellen Grossman, James Austin Murray, Jaanika Peerna, Tamar Zinn. Special Guest Curation Jeanne Heifetz. April 9 (Slow Art Day) 11-7. ARTISTS RECEPTION 5 - 7, April 10 11-7, April 16-17, 11-7, THE COAL SHOP: Brooklyn Workshop Gallery ph 718.797.9428, 393 Hoyt Street, martine.bisagni@gmail.com

Library Update

The next meeting of the Friends Group on Thursday, April 14 at 6:30 pm. The Documentary & Discussion meeting on April 30 at 2 pm. The movie shown is still to be picked, but last month's movie packed in over 20 people. Free admission includes popcorn.

Alex House Project fundraiser Red Hook's The Alex House Project (TAHP) is holding their first fundraiser - an open house brunch honoring young mother and entrepreneur M'Shari Tasia, owner of Uniquely Wired. The day will include special performances by young mothers and children of the Alex House Project, community guests, great food, and more. A $50 contribution will go towards supporting 15 young mothers who are training as leaders and par-


For more information contact: Samora Coles: alexhouseinc@gmail.com

Return of the Crit!

Rockstar Games announces the return of the Red Hook Crit at the Cruise Terminal on April 30. Now in its 9th year, the Red Hook Crit is the world’s premier track bike Criterium series with four spectacular events in Brooklyn, London, Barcelona and Milan. "This year is shaping up to be the most dramatic championship yet as the field of international athletes continues to grow,” said David Trimble, Series Director. The Red Hook Criterium series is unique in that it requires athletes to race multiple laps around a technical circuit on brakeless, fixed gear track bikes. 2015 Men’s Series Champion Ivan Ravaioli (Team Cinelli Chrome, Italy) and Women’s Series Champion Ainara Elbusto (Conor WRC, Spain) will both return in 2016 to defend their titles. The Red Hook Criterium Race Series has grown year on year since its inception in 2008, bringing global media attention, big crowds and increased interest from series sponsors. It is one of the most compelling, competitive, spectator friendly sporting events in the world.

April 2016

Editorial: What Red Hook would really be getting by Kimberly Gail Price


hile campaigning for the mayoral race in 2013, Mayor de Blasio made frequent stops in and around Red Hook. He made lots of campaign promises to these neighborhoods, including better transportation for Red Hookers. The promise that put him on the map – the promise that took him from last place to first among candidates – was the promise to save Long Island College Hospital (LICH). From August through December in 2013, he gave a very good impression that he would. Just after his term began in January 2014, he signed his Pre-K deal with Governor Cuomo in nearly the same breath he abandoned the hospital. Now – two years later – when he is promising to fix Red Hook’s transportation woes, I have to question where his intentions are – and who they REALLY help. I grew up near a city whose streetcars are arguably one of the most wellknown in the country, second only to San Francisco. New Orleans trolley system is the oldest in the country, dating back to 1835. The city operates four different lines, and has plans for several others, including one slated to open this year. Streetcars are an integrated part of New Orleans’ history and spirit. They played a role in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s. When their workers went on strike for better wages in the 1920s, sandwich shops would feed the hungry strikers with leftover

scraps for the “poor boys;” the term “po-boys” was coined after them. Tennessee William’s most treasured work, A Streetcar Named Desire, was set in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The streetcar - named the Desire Line - ran through the Quarter down Bourbon Street to Desire Street from 1920-1948. The trolleys are historic. Some of the cars that still run today date as far back as the 1890s. The more modern cars have been built in the likeness of the 1920s versions. After Hurricane Katrina, the City of New Orleans spent up to $1 million per car for repairs. As a kid, I remember a ride on the trolley was one of my favorite parts of visiting New Orleans. Handing a quarter to the driver. Sitting by the open windows admiring the beautiful houses and century old oak trees. Not on my way to a destination, but the pure enjoyment of the journey. It’s an experience; I still look forward to riding the trolleys when I visit. But as much as I love Nola – and the streetcars – they are not built and maintained for commuters. New Orleans’ light rail is a tourist attraction. Much like Ellis Island, which was once a historic point of immigration in New York, is now a tourist’s landmark. The existing trolley lines in Nola all run through or into the French Quarter, the city’s most well-known area. The city of New Orleans is approximately 169 square miles. The French Quarter is just bigger than half of a

New Orleans' historic streetcar running along St. Charles Avenue.

square mile. The population of New Orleans is slightly less than 350,000 people. The streetcars carry 21,600 people every day- a mere 7% of the population, excluding tourists. There are 22.3 miles of trolley tracks in the city, all running to or through the French Quarter. In the impoverished city of New Orleans, “let’s be clear” – as de Blasio loves to say – about whom the trolley lines serve. They feed the historic and tourist areas of New Orleans, the economic lifeline of an otherwise poverty-stricken city. This trolley is not an effective solution to the traffic woes of Red Hook; it’s a tourist attraction. It will certainly bring people to, and through, Red Hook. It will boost the local economy,

Op-Ed: Hopeful Compromise,


t had been nearly a certainty that when I’d hear about a political “compromise,” it would water down the progressive nature of a proposal - be it welfare reform, expansion of healthcare availability, raising progressive income tax rates, or economic stimulus and on and on. Now I’ve heard that much-disparaged word “compromise” being used regarding the deal the City Council negotiated with Mayor de Blasio to enact the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing & Zoning for Quality for Affordability (MIH). Guess what? It’s actually a more progressive (and to my mind, better) deal than it otherwise would’ve been. Hallelujah. To summarize, MIH is a plan that changes zoning laws in order to require developers to set aside a portion of units in new buildings for middle and lower class tenants. When a new project comes before the City Council for approval, the council then chooses the level of affordability - what income levels would be eligible for the units. Rents would be set accordingly. There was an option for the council to have 25% of the new building units

Red Hook Star-Revue

for those making 90% of AMI. The Council listened to their constituents and the Mayor to the Council. That is called governing.

The compromise that I enthused about at the beginning of this article recognizes the need for greater degrees of affordability at the low end. The new plan retains many of the same elements, except it creates new menu option that would require the builder to set aside 20% of the new units for tenants making an average of 40% of the AMI, or $31,000 for a family of three.

public good."

The other component of the com-

"In an ideal world, there wouldn’t be a need to entice private developers to build affordable housing for the

promise is, by many definitions, less progressive. It deals with Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) which would have done away with requirements for parking lots for senior housing in “Transit Zones,” in which only a small percentage of senior residents drive or have reliable access to public transportation. Transit zones are certainly a matter of debate as even amongst the few supportive community boards, such as CB6, the only major caveats were


The streetcars will bring more foot traffic, but it also requires sharing our already limited access to transportation. Red Hook has already been touted as a “destination” place; more people will be arriving at our secluded destination. Real estate values may rise, forcing the people who built this neighborhood to less expensive neighborhoods. I am not against the trolleys; I think it’s a really cool think to incorporate into this city of many wonders. It will be an experience. But I think we should be clear of what the trolleys really are – and what they really mean for Red Hook.

by Michael Racioppo

permanently set aside for people making 60% of the area’s median income (AMI), a benchmark set by the federal government. These would be available to a family of three with an income of $47,000 a year. A second option required 30% of the units to be set aside for people making 80% of AMI ($62,000 for a family of three). A 3rd option - which caused much concern from council members - that would have allocated 30% of units for people making 120% of AMI available to families of three with $93,000 annually.

Furthermore, the compromise lowers the 3rd options AMI from 120% to 115% and adds further requirements of pricing one out of six units for families making 70% of AMI along with one in every six units be set aside

bring tourists to Brooklyn, and speed up gentrification. But it is not a solution – or even part of the solution – to the needs of the community.

questions regarding the labeling of Red Hook as a transit zone. To make all this work in the city’s interests, the Mayor’s plan would have allowed builders of senior housing to have additional stories in high density areas, and in the process, add approximately 2,000 new affordable units for seniors. In an ideal world, there wouldn’t be a need to entice private developers to build affordable housing for the public good. However, federal housing dollars have been shrinking for decades, governor is uncooperative, taxation powers are limited, and the city’s vacancy rate is disappearing. Mayor de Blasio and the City Council, with leaders like Brad Lander, are doing everything possible to ensure that the housing supply does not fall too far behind demand. That's because they operate in the real world; that's the best we can hope for. Michael Racioppo is the First Vice Chairman of Community Board 6, and the Executive Director of the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation. He has been writing op-eds for the Red Hook Star-Revue since 2012. He can be reached at @mike_racc at Twitter.

April 2016, Page 11

The social event of the season benefits the good work of PS 15 Friends of PS 15 welcomed over 200 guests to their annual gala on Thursday, March 31 at Pioneer Works. The gala raised funds mainly for their afterschool program, as well as for the library and computer lab. Pioneer Works’ vast space was filled with goodies from Fairway, Steve’s Key Lime Pies, Hope & Anchor, Rocky Sullivan’s, The Good Fork Defonte’s and Trader Joes. Brooklyn Crab shucked fresh Oysters and served tuna tartar on sliced cucumber, while Hometown served BBQ pulled pork sandwiches. Fort Defiance and Dry Dock provided wine and spirits for the event. Bartenders from the Fort generously poured glass after glass for thirsty guests. They also served cans of Six Point beer donated by the brewery. US Congresswoman, Nydia Velazquez spoke to the crowd about the importance of educating and empowering, and thanked guests for helping create brighter futures for children of PS 15. Councilman Carlos Menchaca praised all in attendance for their contributions. Raffle prizes were aplenty, including tickets to Yankees and Brooklyn Nets games; gift certificates from O B Hair Salon, and Red Hook Pilates; wine tours from Red Hook Winery; hand-crafted purses and jewelry from Rezrekshn; and many more. The event hosted more than twice as many attendees as last year. Friends Chair, Tina Heslin said, “I had tears in my eyes when I walked in and saw how many people showed up.” The Friends of PS 15 is a nonprofit group that raises money for programs, supplies and services that are not funded by the City. One hundred percent of the gala proceeds will be used towards these initiatives. which include books for the library and after school activities. - Kimberly Gail Price

(continued from page 5)

helping each other out,” he explained. Peer tutoring is part of this approach, wherein the children doing well help the children that struggle. “It’s structured for children to succeed,” said Cordero. The school’s blog indicates that students’ average AP scores are 3.64. Parents meet with staff once a month to share ideas or concerns about the school, a child’s performance, or related matters. Teachers are also more available than at public schools, said Cordero. “I can’t criticize public schools, but teachers are overwhelmed in the public school system,” he said. “They don’t have the time to give individual attention. [At BASIS], it’s very close-knit. They foster a community environment.” Neighborhood BASIS parents expressed interest in having this community involvement reach beyond school walls. Lefkowitz, who used to live in Gowanus and has been active along the Gowanus Canal and other New York City waterways for years,

In similar vein, Cordero floated the idea of using the nearby community garden as a forum where people could come and speak about community concerns or of fostering involvement with children in the area. “I will be addressing the school administration, concerning community involvement for this under-served area,” he commented. “I think fostering community involvement is important; you don’t want to be an institution that doesn’t do anything for the community.” Cordero added that he thought the school - being new and growing - might need more time before they could envisage such an involvement. Indeed, BASIS is still expanding its academic offerings, with their first 10th grade class beginning this coming fall, for instance. Also, they recently announced that they are opening another school in Manhattan in 2017. BASIS is different from many other private schools in that it is a for-profit,

moneymaking institution.

other classmate from Red Hook, too.

Beyond rigorous academics and a supportive environment, the racial and geographic diversity at BASIS were a draw for parents, too. “I’ve never seen a school that’s as diverse— Asian, Hispanic, black, white,” said Cordero, whose own roots are Hispanic. He estimates that about 50% of students come from Brooklyn, and many from Red Hook’s surrounding neighborhoods of Cobble Hill, Dumbo, and Park Slope. The rest come from across New York City. According to Lefkowitz, his 9th grade son has at least one


“It is a lot of money,” said Cordero. “It is a sacrifice to put your kid in that kind of school. Initially I was against it, saying we should save the money for college. But our daughter is doing well. It’s a great environment to invest in early.”

O0O0H... COFFee!








Page 12 Red Hook Star-Revue

As is true at most private schools, economic diversity may be less pronounced. The school’s tuition for this fall is $25,400 for classes K-12; other private schools in Brooklyn charge upwards of $40,000.




would like to see involvement in the city’s harbor and marine area. “There are 112 points in the city where sewage is released,” he said. “I’m trying to see if BASIS can do some kind of marine biology program.”

Photo captions - clockwise from top left: PS 15 Principal Peggy Wyns Madison with Nydia Velazquez and Carlos Menchaca; our favorite counterperson at Nate's Pharmacy; Alexandros Washburn with his wife, economist Samar Maziad; and Marshal Sohne of Columbia Street Partners. Sohne and his family are generous contributors to the school; Richards Street resident John Battas; and local real estate developer H. Lopes.



April 2016


Red Hook Crimes Laid To Wretched Housing in Area Rooms without windows and poor ventilation cited by Board

Brooklyn Eagle, March 22, 1927


ubstitution of the All-Day Club for the All-Night Club was seen as a remedy for any crime menace in Red Hook by Mrs. Ida Wambold, superintendent of the Flatbush Boys Club, who today advocated the establishment of a community center for the whole family in the waterfront district. Party games, well conducted dances and wholesome fun for the mothers and fathers, boys and girls, would do wonders, she declared, in commenting on the report of the State Crime Commission which called Red Hook a breeding place for criminals. Darwin R. James, chairman of the State Board of Housing, and Louis H. Pink, a member of the board, laid the origin of crime in the district to poor housing, and both said they homed it might be possible some time to erect model tenements there.

Report Indignantly Denied.

Outraged residents and natives of the district, meantime, continued to pour out statements indignantly denying that many criminals were bred there and asserting that their district is as good, if not better, than any other. “I think the idea of the club for boys alone in Red Hook is not as good as the idea of a club for the whole family, in which the parents would come and help supervise the work with the boys,” said Mrs. Wambold. “In this way the boys would be induced to stay away from the pool halls. “Wholesome contact with girls, I also believe, would be beneficial for them. We have found it is well to hold some sort of a party every week in connection with boys club work.”

Wants Parents to Attend.

“While dances sometimes bring with them the danger of the pocket flask, it is possible to prevent this danger, especially when the parents of the young people attend. We have had no trouble of this sort in our club. “If homes in the city are too small for recreation, the whole family ought to have a chance for self-expression in big group activity. But I don’t favor turning boys loose in a place where their families never go. “This is a day of stage activity. Entertainments, in which the girls put on Charleston exhibitions and the boys wrestling matches, give an opportunity for self-expression that is really beneficial. All can display their talent and work in such exhibitions.” Mr. James, in speaking of the board’s plans for Red Hook, said that experts on

Red Hook Star-Revue

the situation generally agreed that there were three sections of Brooklyn where the conditions were “really serious.”

Names Three Sections.

These were the Navy Yard district, Williamsburg and Red Hook. In all of these districts the poorly lighted, poorly ventilated houses sometimes lead to the breeding of criminals,” he said. “These sections are filled with old law tenements,’” he declared. They were built with some rooms containing no light. These tenements have been legalized by putting windows that open into other rooms, into those rooms that had no windows.” Mr. Pink said that although the immediate plans of the Board of Housing call for only the one model tenement in Brooklyn, to be located in the Navy Yard district, he has hopes that Red Hook and other old neglected sections of Brooklyn will also have such structures erected. “Of course, what we will do for Red Hook and other sections will depend entirely on what the citizens of Brooklyn who invest their money in the projects desire,” he added. “The project will be financed by limited dividend stock, paying 6 percent. The rent for unfurnished rooms will not go above $11 per room per month.

“Land Value to Help.”

“Undoubtedly something should be done for Red Hook. The low alue of land in the section would be an aid to the building up of model tenements there. “Red Hook is really a little community by itself. There is little new life, and there are but few new houses there. The dwellings are a great many of them old, dilapidated frame structures, with poor light and ventilation. “I have not the least doubt that ill health and crime result from poor housing, such as exist there, although I am not at all sure that Red Hook is any worse off in this respect than many other sections. “The docks in the neighborhood and the whole waterfront atmosphere are of course causes of temptation. Docks always attract boys, and their influence is not always good, but we can’t get along without docks.” Hugh J. Hoehn, president of the Erie Basin Property Owners and Red Payers Civic League, announced today that his organization will hold a mass meeting at P.S. 30, Thursday, “to learn the truth and to denounce the framers of this report.”

All “Home Loving” People.

“Red Hook is the home of family, loving, home-loving, God-fearing people.” Mr. Hoehn added.

At the same time he agrees with the Crime Commission that the district has “no transportation” and insufficient parks. James L. Meeks, president of the Fort Hamilton Savings Bank, charges that the Crime Commission made a mistake in their definition of the area included in Red Hook. Some of the places they named are nearer the Heights, he asserted. He added that he was born in the section and that “although the homes may not be the most pretentious in the boro, to each dweller therein his humble abode is ‘home,’ maintained by him with all the pride and dignity to be found on Park Slope or the Heights. Two other protest meetings have been announced. One was called by Congressman Thomas H. Cullen for tomorrow night at 314 Clinton st. Another meeting is being held in the Sacred Heart Shool at 493 Hicks st this afternoon.

Church Plans Cleanup.

With a view of eliminating conditions in Red Hook held responsible by the State Crime Commission’s report for the unusual degree of juvenile delinquency in that section – five times greater than any other section of the boro – the parish heads of the R.C. Church of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary will meet this afternoon to frame a program to meet the needs of the children of the section. The meeting, to be held in the parish school at Degraw and Hicks sts., was called by George F. Dennison, head of the church’s recreational bureau, and invitations have been sent to ministers and civic and welfare workers of the section. “Our church and its bureaus have been studying the situation much along the lines of the Crime Commission’s report for several weeks,” said Mr. Dennison today. “We were aware, generally, of the conditions complained of, and a number of measures for organization and welfare work among the children of the district have been under consideration. At this afternoon’s meeting we plan to take definite steps to improve the interests of the children of the section.” From the congested, badly housed and pool hall infested streets of Red Hook and its environs to an up-State “Main Street” is the step taken by the subcommission on causes of crime. This second report on the general subject it is investigating was made public today. The Red Hook survey, of course took up the cause of juvenile offenses in the part of Brooklyn where they are most prevalent and made recommendations for improving the conditions held to be contributory to youthful waywardness.


The second report, however, takes the crime students to the two most rural counties in the western tier of the Stat, discusses the various influences there that may be said to influence anti-social conduct, and recommends generally the development of organized community social life. The 76 pages in the rural report, however, arrive at nothing in the way of major crime or felonies. The most important of its observations are the 15 percent of the farms in these communities have been abandoned since 1921, and the noting of the drift away from the country, that is, the young men and women brought up on the farms leaving them for the larger towns and cities. The Commission document, in fact, reads much like the literature dealing with small towns that has appeared since “Main Street.” There is no organized crime in either county, the report affirms, and goes on to deal with the most popular misdemeanors noted. These seem to be drunkenness, moonshining, high school students sporting hip pocket flasks at dances, and petty thefts from the farms. The motorcar is blamed for a noticeable fall off of sex morals in the last few years. The report does, however, deal a blow to the oft-repeated claim of the rural citizen that city people cause most of the trouble on the countryside. More than 90 percent of the misdemeanors, including drunkenness, bootlegging and petty thefts, in the two counties are reported as committed by inhabitants of the counties. The larger cities contribution to the rural crime consisted mainly of traffic violations.

Movies Get Clean Bill.

The report hands the movies of the small towns a clean bill of health, but does not speak so well of the dance halls. The small town pool halls are represented as a negligible factor. The Commission’s investigators report that many of the residents of the rural counties are lethargic about prohibition enforcement, and haven’t had much to worry about since the repeal of the Mullen-Gage law. The report notes that sex and “confessional” magazines have made a recent appearance in the country stores and sell fairly well. It also notes that church attendance is falling off in these communities.

April 2016, Page 13

Rebound is more than just basketball by Nathan Weiser


rycen Benn is a 21-yearold Red Hook resident who is participating in the Rebound program for his second consecutive season and is very thankful for the program. Rebound takes in anyone between the ages of 17-24 who wants to improve their overall life and job prospects, using basketball as a tool for incorporating program themes. Benn likes that the program keeps participants active but also works with his brain. Before joining this program, Benn was working with the after-school program at the Miccio Center. Rebound, also at the Miccio, has life skills and career advisement in the morning and then from noon -1:30 pm there is basketball instruction. When Benn first started working with kids the summer after high school, he was an intern for Learn to Work (LTW). He graduated to become a program aid. Benn is now a group leader. He got involved with the LTW program through his high school. He started at PS 676 during his senior year, and then was transferred to Miccio when he graduated. He has found that the kids he works with look up to him. He likes the energy and atmosphere of working with the youth. Benn found out about Rebound from Trequan Bekka, who is the assistant director of the Miccio Center and the life skills coordinator for Rebound. “Honestly, he made it seem like it was training, and I kind of like doing training to better myself, so I joined,” Benn said. “It actually is a good program.” Bekka said that the Rebound program tries to reach out to as many people in the 17-24 age range that do not have commitments in the morning. "Benn

is a great employee of mine,” Bekka said. “I figured that he could benefit from the program.” Rebound offers many types of workshops, but the one that Benn said he has gotten the most satisfaction out of is the career workshop. It teaches interview skills, which is something Benn had not previous been taught. “I felt that it was useful because the last interview I had was about three years ago,” Benn said. "It refreshed my memory on a lot of stuff, and a lot of stuff that I didn’t know, I know now.” Bekka describes Benn as being someone who is strong-minded and positive. “We have some participants that come in and you can see that they are rough around the edges, but Brycen was smoothed already when he came in,” Bekka said. There are a few of the workshops and aspects of the program that Bekka feels that Benn has really benefited from. “I do life skills workshops, which is where I teach the young adults about goal switching and prioritizing and goal setting.” Bekka feels these have been beneficial to Benn. Another aspect that has been helpful for Benn is that he has learned to prioritize his time better than before, but the program has now improved his ability to do so, Bekka said. Benn recently was talking to him about utilizing his time better, which shows that he knows that it is something he needs to work on. Work etiquette is a phrase that stands out to Benn as something that he has improved on as a result of Rebound. The program has taught him to be career minded and think beyond his current position to what he would want to do in the future.

Mark McCaskill, Program director, is helping Benn re-enroll at LaGuardia College, which he left two years ago without graduating. The Rebound program, which currently has 15 young adults enrolled, has had a major impact on many Red Hook residents. According to Bekka, it is good for kids who are trouble making the right life choices and finding work. “We have a lot of young adults from the population that we deal with, they are going to work or they are going to school, and they use language that they use around their friends,” Bekka added. “They don’t understand that if you are in a different environment, that language can work against you. [We dig] into those types of topics. They are things that they probably think about, but there is no school course on that. We are able to break it down, and it becomes real to them.” Another aspect that has attracted Benn to Rebound is, of course, basketball. He started playing basketball at South Brooklyn Community High School on Conover Street near the Miccio Center. “When I was there, I was the captain, so I think I was doing a good job,” Benn said. He takes pride in the fact that the team has gotten a lot better in the few years since he graduated. “The group that I graduated with, we kind of started the team, and now the team is actually doing really well,” Benn said. “They are going to the PSAL championship. Benn would like to continue playing basketball at the next level. He thinks that the networking that he has been taught during Rebound can help him get on the squad at LaGuardia. “[Rebound] kind of went into net-

Brycen Benn

working,” Benn added. “Now I can understand what they mean because I found out that my old high school coach actually knows the coach for the college. So, I can probably get in for the team just because they know each other. That is kind of cool.” Each day, from Tuesday through Thursday, Rebound has basketball instruction after the workshops. Benn credits Ms. Latia, who has played a big role in Benn’s experience, for keeping him in the program because of how she is actively engaged with participants like himself. “She will call your phone 700 times to make sure you come,” Benn said. “That type of dedication, you don’t really get, especially coming from [Red Hook]. You don’t get too many people that are going to be on your back.” That dedication kept him in the program, and he has brought friends to Rebound because of Ms. Latia. The life skills coordinator thinks that Rebound has created a comfortable space that the young adults did not previously have. “I feel like there are a lot of kids that needed a positive space to be, especially in that age range,” Bekka said. “When you have myself, Mark, Ms. Latia, we are keeping a positive atmosphere. It is also a mentoring piece where kids can get our cell phone numbers and they can talk to us about whatever it is they need to talk about.” The program has taught Benn that he likes working with kids and has helped him realize that he wants that to be his career. He is thinking about working his way up to being a director at the Miccio Center. He has started at the bottom level of the work program at Miccio, and after he finishes school, he wants to work his way to the top. According to Bekka, a few guys from Rebound that work with his after school program right now will be hired by other organizations.“This one guy is about to be placed at the Added Value Farm,” Bekka said. “We have gotten people jobs at other Good Shepherd sites. Group leader positions that are not internships, they are a full job. There have been some NYCHA positions that people have gone for.”

Page 14 Red Hook Star-Revue


April 2016

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April 2016, Page 15

Page 16 Red Hook Star-Revue


April 2016

Profile for George Fiala

Red Hook Star-Revue, April 2016  

Red Hook's Flood Protection shortfall, Judge Judith Kaye remembered, Strong Place daycare reprieve & more!

Red Hook Star-Revue, April 2016  

Red Hook's Flood Protection shortfall, Judge Judith Kaye remembered, Strong Place daycare reprieve & more!