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Notice anything different about me? Until a few minutes ago, the by-line at the header of this blog read: Adventures in Neo-Victorian, Wil...

2009-06-18

CPC approves Flatbush Rezoning Proposal, Council hearing 7/27

Update, 2009-07-29: Flatbush Rezoning Proposal approved by City Council
Update, 2009.07.14: The City Council Hearing on the Proposal has been confirmed for July 27, starting at 10am.



Yesterday, June 17, 2009, the City Planning Commission unanimously approved the Flatbush Rezoning Proposal without revision. It now goes to the City Council, the final step in the ULURP process, for final review and disposition. The Council Public Review hearing is tentatively scheduled for July 27.

[bit.ly]

Related Content

Flickr photo set

Flatbush Rezoning Hearing at Borough Hall 5/7, 2009-05-05
Flatbush Rezoning Proposal CB14 Public Hearing April 2, 2009-03-16
DCP-CB14 briefing on Inclusionary Housing provisions, 2009-03-10
Flatbush Rezoning Proposal certified, enters public review process, 2009-03-02
Flatbush Rezoning Proposal scheduled for certification, 2009-02-28
New Flatbush Rezoning Proposal Gets It Right, 2008-10-07
Flatbush Rezoning Proposal will define the future of Victorian Flatbush, 2008-06-13
Flatbush Rezoning Proposal, 2008-05-23
Preserving Livable Streets: DCP's Yards Text Amendment, 2007-11-07
Victorian Flatbush at risk from inappropriate zoning, 2007-10-23
State of Flatbush/Midwood, 2007-10-05
Landscape and Politics in Brooklyn's City Council District 40, 2007-02-14
NASA Earth Observatory Maps NYC's Heat Island, Block by Block, 2006-08-01

Links

Flatbush Rezoning Proposal Certified; Public Hearing Scheduled for April 2nd, 2009-03-16
PUBLIC REVIEW BEGINS ON CITY PLANNING PROPOSAL TO PROVIDE ZONING PROTECTIONS FOR NEARLY 200 BLOCKS OF FLATBUSH BROOKLYN, Press Release, DCP, 2009-03-02

Important DCP Links

Residence District Zoning Explained
Table comparing R1 through R3 (PDF)
Table comparing R4 through R5 (PDF)
Inclusionary Housing Program, DCP
DCP Zoning Glossary
ULURP: Uniform Land Use Review Procedure

Other Links

South Midwood Residents Association
Brooklyn Community Board 14
Brooklyn Community District 14 Profile (PDF)


2009-06-09

Native Plant Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden

At the Chicago Botanic Garden, our first garden stop for Chicago Spring Fling 2009, I made a pilgrimage to the Native Plant Garden. I was surprised that most of the plants were familiar to me as Northeastern natives. However, I had never before encountered Geum triflorum, Prairie Smoke. I saw a lot more of over that weekend, but I saw it here first.

Geum triflorum, Prairie Smoke

Even close up, it reminds me of trails of smoke rising from a candle wick that's just been extinguished. I bumped into the staff photographer who took the group shot of us just outside the visitor's center. I asked her what she liked in this garden; she said this was one of her favorite flowers.

Geum triflorum, Prairie Smoke

Most of the Baptisia were not yet fully open here as they were at the Lurie Garden we visited later in the day. They looked like grass eels rising from the lake bed.

Baptisia

On closer inspection they looked slightly less reptilian.
Baptisia australis
Baptisia leucantha

I did find one handsome stand of Baptisia australis.
Baptisia australis
Baptisia australis

Another sinuous plant was this beautiful Carpinus caroliniana, Hornbeam. Another common name is Musclewood. It's easy to see why.
Carpinus caroliniana, Ironwood
Carpinus caroliniana, Ironwood

I find beauty in the green things, whose forms gain prominence.

Carex grayi, Bur Sedge
Carex grayi, Bur Sedge

Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Virginia Creeper
Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Virginia Creeper

A grass I neglected to identify.
Grass

Aristolochia macrophylla, Dutchman's Pipevine
Aristolochia macrophylla, Dutchman's Pipevine

The big star when I visited was Dodecathon meadia, Eastern Shooting Star, an eastern woodland wildflower with which I am familiar. I grew it in Garden #1 in the East Village decades ago. During my Chicago visit, it appeared and reappeared in drifts, and in its full color range, from pristine white to pink to deep rose.

Dodecathon meadia and Aquilegia canadensis

Dodecathon meadia, Shooting Star

Dodecathon meadia, Shooting Star

Dodecathon meadia, Shooting Star



[bit.ly]

Related Content

Edible Gardens, Chicago Botanic Garden
Model Railroad Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden

Rick Bayless Garden
Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

Chicago Spring Fling 2009

Links

Chicago Botanic Garden

2009-06-07

Save the Baltic Street Community Garden and P.S. 133

The Baltic Street Community Garden and the century-old gothic P.S. 133 school building in Park Slope are threatened by School Construction Authority (SCA) plans to raze both for a new school building.
Baltic Street Community Garden

More details on the issues and what's at stake are below the fold.
What you can do:
  1. Call or write to Councilman David Yassky's office, and urge him to support the preservation of the existing garden and school, and to press for an alternative, appropriate plan.
    Phone: 718-875-5200.
    Email: yassky@council.nyc.ny.us
    Address: 114 Court Street, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11201
  2. Sign the online petition [http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/4thAveLandmark/]
  3. Come to the Community Board 6 meeting TONIGHT, 6/8 at 6:30pm where this issue will be discussed. Representatives from both the SCA and Yassky's office will be there. Location:

    Old First Reformed Church [GMAP]
    729 Carroll Street
    (Corner of 7th Avenue)
    Brooklyn, New York
To learn more, please contact us at baltic.garden@gmail.com
The School Construction Authority (SCA) recently announced its plans to demolish historic PS 133 in Park Slope (375 Butler Street at 4th Avenue) to make way for a new, much larger school structure. This remarkable gothic school, a recognized historic resource designed by renowned educational architect CBJ Snyder, is a beloved community anchor.

It has been determined eligible for the State and National Register of Historic Places, and a number of other Snyder schools throughout the city are already designated local landmarks, including Morris High School in The Bronx and the former Stuyvesant High School on East 15th Street in Manhattan.

Local residents are devastated by the notion of losing PS 133 and have developed alternative plans that would allow for the building to be preserved with an annex constructed to accommodate the additional seats. The SCA has expressed no interest in considering these alternatives and has neglected to include local stakeholders in any of the discussions surrounding the proposal.
- Park Slope Snyder School to be Demo’d by NYC School Construction Authority, Historic Districts Council, 2009-06-05
An online petition to save the century old PS 133 building and adjacent 30 year old community garden has been created. Please consider signing it if you have any concerns about the NY School Construction Authority's
proposal to tear down the current school building, and build a massive 960 seat school on the site of the garden and school playground. Construction is slated to begin in just a couple of months.

The proposal has been created in haste, without any input from the planned community immediately surrounding it, and without concern for the safety of the neighborhood. There is no plan in place for handling
the toxic waste that will be disturbed and dug up on the contaminated site. Traffic concerns due to the 660 seat increase have not been adequately addressed. Neighborhood residents feel that the lightning pace of this project should be slowed, and alternative plans be considered
The School Construction Authority wants to tear down the century old PS 133 bldg (which is wait listed for the landmark status) and the Baltic St Community garden to build a nearly 1000 seat new school on that property. There are so many reasons why this proposal is flawed including:
  • the surrounding community was not consulted at all, and they are against the project as it is drawn up at present.
  • school is too massive for the tiny streets and houses of Baltic & Butler, which along with the garden is a planned community built nearly 30 years ago.
  • traffic problems not adequately addressed. Dropping off and picking up 960 students per day is unsafe in that location. 50 school buses will be circling that small half block area.
  • environmental impact study states that the site is contaminated with hazardous substances. To date, they have no plan in place on how to safely deal with the contaminated soil.
  • school is sited in District 13, but they will get no increase in seats. Instead, District 15 (who is paying and pushing for this project) will get an additional 560 seats. The new bldg would house 3 separate schools--districts 13, 15, and 75, but in a very segregated way. There would be no mixing of the students. Many parents object to this segregation.
  • many people feel that as soon as it is finished, rezoning will occur, granting entire school to District 15, which leaves 13 with no new benefit, just a loss of a school.
  • garden has been in that site for 20 years, and has fully mature trees, shrubs, hedges, etc will be destroyed as it will be too hot in August to transplant even if new homes could be found for them. It is a unique space with thousands of sq feet for growing food in addition to the ornamentals.
  • this is the only open, green space on 4th Ave for a the entire 6 mile stretch from Flatbush to the Verrazano.

Related Content

Save the Baltic Street Community Garden in Park Slope, 2009-01-21
Baltic Street Community Garden, Park Slope, Green With Envy Tour, I.6
My Flickr photo set of this garden

Links

Save 4th Ave Park Slope Landmark and Community Garden (online petition)
Park Slope Snyder School to be Demo’d by NYC School Construction Authority, Historic Districts Council, 2009-06-05

Edible Gardens, Chicago Botanic Garden

The first garden visited by Chicago Spring Fling 2009 was the Chicago Botanic Garden. Spread out over nine islands, the Garden is huge: 385 acres. One could spend an entire day there and not see all of it.

The Fruit and Vegetable Garden occupies one of the islands of the Chicago Botanic Garden. There are several areas within this garden, showcasing orchards, vine fruits, vegetables, and other edibles. Here's the entrance display that greets you after you cross the bridge to the island.

Edible Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden

All of the display gardens were laid out beautifully. The formal designs and beautifully constructed hardscape would serve many kinds of gardens well. For food production, the structures assure interest and orderliness during the less tidy seasons.

Edible Border

Edible Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden

Backyard Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden

Edible Gardens, Chicago Botanic Garden

Edible Gardens, Chicago Botanic Garden

Glam Shots

Violets, Parsley, and Cabbage
Violets, Parsley, and Cabbage

Swiss Chard 'Bright Lights'
Beta vulgaris 'Bright Lights', Swiss Chard

Potato Flowers
Russet Potato

I did not disturb the Bollworm Traps in the orchard, but I did peek inside. No bollworm moth action when I visited.
Bollworm Trap

Some Viola. I want to make some candied violets someday. I don't know what the best species or variety would be.
Viola

Flowers of some Brassica.
Brassica



[bit.ly]

Related Content

Flickr photo set

Model Railroad Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden

Rick Bayless Garden
Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

Chicago Spring Fling 2009

Links

Chicago Botanic Garden

2009-06-05

Bee Watchers Needed in NYC (and a rant)

The Great Pollinator Project, a joint effort of the Greenbelt Native Plant Center and the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, is recruiting volunteers for 2009 to record and report observations of native bee species in New York City. They are conducting orientations over the next week from 6-8pm at the following locations:

Brooklyn: Monday, June 8th at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1000 Washington Avenue
Staten Island: Tuesday, June 9th at Greenbelt Nature Center, 700 Rockland Avenue
Bronx: Tuesday, June 9th at Van Cortlandt House Museum, Van Cortlandt Park
Queens: Wednesday, June 10th at Alley Pond Environmental Center (APEC) 228-06 Northern Blvd.
Manhattan: Tuesday, June 16th at Central Park, North Meadow Recreation Center (Off of 97th St. Transverse Road)

You can RSVP online, by emailing beewatchers@gmail.com, or by calling 718-370-9044.

I'll take this opportunity to rant a bit. Honeybees, which we manage both for their products - honey and beeswax - and their service as pollinators, are a single, non-native, species of bee. Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has been widely reported for several years and is well-embedded in the public consciousness. Meanwhile, the circumstances of the thousands of bee species native to North America go unreported.

Much has been made of agriculture's dependence on honeybees for pollination. Dire outcomes from the loss of honeybees - widespread crop failures, famine, even human extinction - have been proffered. Perhaps these things would come to pass. However, the underlying cause would not be the loss of honeybees but our dependence on them through unsustainable agricultural practices.

Honeybees are livestock. They are animals which we manage for our uses. We provide them with housing, maintenance, even move them from field to field as we let cows into different pastures for grazing.

Native pollinators will do the job, but only if we leave them a place to live. We clear land for orchards and fields, removing the hedgerows and other "messy" places that had been their home. The monocultures of agriculture are magnified in the deserts of diversity they create. Of course we need to ship domesticated pollinators around (burning fossil fuels in the process); we've eliminated the native pollinators by destroying their habitats. In the process, we've also driven out native predators of plant pests, thereby initating the addictive cycle of pesticides, fertilizers, more and more inputs needed just to tread water on land until our systems collapse around us.

If that should come to pass, just don't blame the bees.
One-third of our food depends on the services of a pollinator—bee or other insect, bird, or mammal. Bees are the most important pollinators in the Northeastern U.S., and there are more than 200 species of bees that live right here in New York City. We need to protect these local pollinators that help keep our parks and green spaces healthy and beautiful, and our farmers’ markets stocked with fresh produce.

In 2007, the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation and the Greenbelt Native Plant Center began the Great Pollinator Project (GPP) in collaboration with the Great Sunflower Project in San Francisco, CA. The goals of the GPP are:
1) identify which areas of New York City have good pollinator service (as determined by how quickly bees show up to pollinate flowers at various locations throughout the city);
2) increase understanding of bee distribution;
3) raise public awareness of native bees; and
4) improve park management and home gardening practices to benefit native bees.

If you are interested in our local pollinators, we need your help!

- The Great Pollinator Project
There are many ways to be a Bee Watcher:
  • Observe bee visitation at selected plants that will be distributed at our spring orientations. Conduct your observations in your own garden and submit your data online.
  • Become a Mobile Bee Watcher. Conduct your observations on flowers in your neighborhood or at selected bee gardens planted at various locations throughout New York City and submit your data online.
- Bee Watchers

Related Content

Bees, a Mockingbird, and Marriage Equality, 2009-05-22
Cellophane Bees Return, 2009-05-09
Colletes thoracicus (Colletidae), Cellophane Bees, 2008-05-26

Links

Great Pollinator Project
Greenbelt Native Plant Center
Center for Biodiversity and Conservation

2009-06-04

Magicicada Brood II emerges

I was excited to hear that periodical cicadas are emerging on Staten Island. Knowing my interest in such things, Blog Widow alerted me that he had just read about it on one of his favorite blogs, Joe My God, reporting on an article in the Staten Island Advance:
Batches of cicadas, those giant, singing insects that emerge in a massive swarm every 17 years, have begun to poke their heads out of the earth ... Similar early risers have been detected all along the Eastern Seaboard ... Some of the obnoxiously loud insects have been seen, and heard, in Wolfe's Pond Park in Huguenot and in Great Kills backyards in recent weeks.
- Cicadas are out, loud and early, Phil Helsel, Staten Island Advance, 2009-06-04
I wrote last year about Magicicada, the genus of periodical cicadas, last year, in anticipation of the emergence of Brood XIV in Brooklyn. Alas, they never showed up; they seem to have been extirpated in Brooklyn, historically part of their range.
In any given area, adult periodical cicadas emerge only once every 13 or 17 years, they are consistent in their life cycles, and populations (or "broods") in different regions are not synchronized. Currently there are 7 recognized species, 12 distinct 17-year broods, and 3 distinct 13-year broods, along with 2 known extinct broods, found east of the Great Plains and south of the Great Lakes, to the Florida Panhandle.
- Magicicada Mapping Project
The next brood in the NYC area was Brood II, a 17-year brood, expected in 2013. But it has emerged four years early, in 2009.
Some periodical cicadas belonging to Brood II are emerging in several states along the east coast. ... The extent of this year’s acceleration is not known, but could occur anywhere in the Brood II distribution ...
- Cicadas, College of Mount St. Joseph
Off-year emergence, whether it precedes or follows the expected year, is called "straggling":
The exact causes, or even the prevalence, of straggling is not well understood. Straggler records have long confounded attempts to make accurate maps of Magicicada broods, which is one of the reasons the Magicicada mapping project exists. Among 17-year cicadas, straggling seems particularly common 1 or 4 years before or after an expected emergence (e.g., cicadas emerging in 13, 16, 18, and 21 years), although stragglers with other life cycle lengths have also been found. Straggling has been detected in all seven Magicicada species.
- Stragglers, Magicicada Mapping Project
The historical range of Brood II does not, unfortunately, include Brooklyn.


Similar early risers have been detected all along the Eastern Seaboard, and an Ohio researcher who has studied the bugs for 35 years is sure warmer winters are to blame.


"This is the fifth brood where part of it is coming out early," said Gene Kritsky, an entomologist and professor at the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati. "When you have a phenomenon that is that widespread, the most likely candidate is some kind of climate-driven response." ...


Parts of broods coming out four years too early is a phenomenon first documented in 1969 in Chicago, but prior documents suggest it may have occurred earlier. The last time Brood II came out in full force was in 1996, and most of that brood still will burrow out of their underground homes on time in 2013.


Kritsky, who has studied cicadas for 35 years and expects his most recent findings to be published this month in Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Science, said the fluid disruption caused by warm winters affects cicadas only during their first five years of life, and it always results in emerging four years too early.
- Cicadas are out, loud and early
[bit.ly]

Related Content

(Magi)Cicada Watch, 2008-05-21

Links

Cicadas are out, loud and early, Phil Helsel, Staten Island Advance, 2009-06-04
Cicadas Appear Four Years Early, Joe MY God, 2009-06-04

Brood II, Magicicada Mapping Project

Brood XIV, Massachusetts Cicadas

magicicada.org
Cicada Central, University of Connecticut
Cicada Web Site, College of Mount St. Joseph, Cincinnati, OH
Chicago Cicadas
Magicicada, Wikipedia
Mathematicians explore cicada's mysterious link with primes, Michael Stroh, Baltimore Sun, May 10, 2004

Shedd Aquarium, Chicago

I got to Chicago early last week, ahead of the Chicago Spring Fling 2009 (CSF) weekend meetup of garden bloggers from across the country, so I could do a little touristy stuff. I didn't get out as much as I had planned; mostly, I corrected my sleep deprivation. But I did get to go to the Shedd Aquarium.

When I was a boy, I lived in Florida for six years. That period of my childhood secured many of the interests that sustain me today, including photography, cosmology and space exploration, general natural history, and oceanography. I've lived my entire life no more than 20 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, and most of it less than 5 miles. If you had asked me, when I was 10 or 11 years old, what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have responded: "A neurosurgeon, or a marine biologist." (Yes, I have always been a geek, and proud of it.)

So, when I travel, I try to make a pilgrimage to whatever oceanographic attractions area nearby. Chicago's Shedd Aquarium has been on my list to see. So it was easy to make that my first (and, it turned out, only) side-trip during CSF.

Shedd Aquarium

I didn't know that much of what I saw was brand new. I also didn't anticipate that, by mid-morning, I would be jostling for viewing space with thousands of school-children of all ages. I would have stayed longer, but I needed to eat. The line for the cafeteria went down the exhibit hall, so I had to leave earlier than I wanted to forage elsewhere.


Belugas

Beluga Trail

Beluga Trail

Beluga Tank

Beluga Tank

Belugas

Belugas

Sea Otters

A Ball of Sea Otter

Sea Otter

Otter Watch

[bit.ly]

Related Content

Flickr photo set

Links

Shedd Aquarium

2009-06-01

Model Railroad Garden, Chicago Botanic Garden

Last Friday morning, the Chicago Spring Fling meetup of garden bloggers traveled to the Chicago Botanic Garden, one of the sponsors of the event. They provided a shuttle between the train station and the garden, free entry, and passes for the tram and this area: the Model Railroad Garden.

I had imagined a small kiddie ride of a train traveling through a garden. I thought it unseemly that a botanic garden should have an amusement ride in it. I also doubted that such a machine would have trouble handling my mass. So I wasn't planning to visit this garden, despite the free pass.

However, as I left the landscape gardens behind, the entrance to this garden was right there. Since I had a free pass, I thought, "What the heck." Similar to the New York Botanical Gardens annual display, this garden features, yes, model trains running continuously among model houses, buildings, dioramas and other scenes made of plant material. The difference is that this is outdoors, on and in the ground, with permanent plantings.

As a garden, it didn't move me. But that's not what this is about. It's model trains. Leave your cynicism behind.


The 7,500-square-foot Model Railroad Garden features 17 garden-scale (G-scale) trains on 1,600 feet of track. The garden-scale trains are 1/29th the size of life-sized trains. Train and garden enthusiasts, young and old, return year after year for the delightful sights and sounds of the miniature trains traversing high and low through tunnels, across bridges, and around buildings — all intricately handcrafted with natural materials, including twigs, bark, leaves, acorns, and pebbles. More than 5,000 tiny trees, shrubs, groundcovers, and flowering plants of close to 300 varieties re-create the topographical landscape of America. Vignettes of tiny people and animals give the exhibit a storybook feel, while sound effects and a working geyser capture visitors’ imaginations.
- Railroad Garden
[bit.ly]

Related Content

Flickr photo set

Chicago Spring Fling 2009

Links

Railroad Garden