Governor's Island: What Might Have Been

Governor's Island, Detail, 1911 New York Dock Dock Company Lithograph
Governor's Island
When we bought our house about three years ago, one of the attractions was "old house romance." The previous owner believed the house had been in her family since it was built in 1900. I've written previously about finding a 1911 lithograph of the New York Dock Company in the basement. Earlier this week, Peter Miller, the new owner of Freebird books in Columbia Waterfront/Red Hook, contacted me by email asking for permission to use one of my photos of it:
Anyone living in the neighborhood, particularly Red Hook, will be familiar with the New York Dock Company's remnants--hulking gray warehouses that must make Dumbo-drooling Corcoran agents weak in the knees. Seldom however do we get a chance to see a bird's eye view of their domain, which once sprawled over two and a half miles of waterfront. The lithograph provides a rare peek at the commerce that transpired along the banks of Governors Island and Brooklyn.
- December 28, 2007, Peter Miller, Freebird Books
Miller goes on to write more about the history of Governor's Island, and how it was nearly lost to infrastructure development.
In 1898 (the year Brooklyn became a borough of New York City), an assemblyman proposed using the island as a center span anchor for a bridge between Red Hook and the Battery. Proof that real estate value has never been far from New York's beating heart, the assemblyman argued that the bridge "would cause a phenomenal development in South Brooklyn."

That cheap promise would be reprised forty years later when Robert Moses demanded the very same public works project--but on a far grander scale. Given wide-ranging powers by La Guardia in 1938, Moses tried to reallocate the money meant for a tunnel to build a monumental (in all senses of the word) bridge that would hopscotch across Governors Island.
Today we have this view from Valentino Pier of both Governor's Island and Downtown Manhattan.
Governor's Island, Downtown Manhattan, and ATF Pier
This view was saved, in part, by opposition from community leaders in both Manhattan and Brooklyn, and, in part, by none other than Eleanor Roosevelt:
Moses's threats and ultimatums cowed city and state officials into submission. All he needed was the federal government's rubber stamp. But, unforeseen, Eleanor Roosevelt publicly questioned the bridge's impact: "Isn't there room for some consideration of the preservation of the few beautiful spots that still remain to us on an overcrowded island?" The bridge's opponents had infiltrated the White House. FDR allowed the War Department to kill the project and favor a tunnel out of national security concerns (but more likely out of spite).

Related Posts

1911 New York Dock Company Lithograph


Freebird Books, 123 Columbia Street (GMAP), Brooklyn, New York 11231


January 2008: Holiday Tree Recycling

Update 2008.01.06: I've added a post with photos from today.
Update 2008.01.05: I have photos from my stint at Park Circle today.
Update 2008.01.01: Added a new post with a map of Brooklyn locations for on-site chipping and drop-off.

Christmas Tree

This winter holiday season, when you're done enjoying your ChrismaHanuKwanzaa tree (or, if you prefer, like me, a paganish Solstice tree) be sure that it gets recycled. In New York City, you have two ways to do that this year: MulchFest, and Curb-side Pickup. Whichever you choose, be sure to first remove all lights, ornaments, decorations, tree-stands and what-not before turning your tree into mulch.

WHAT: Curb-side Pickup
WHEN: January 3 through 16, 2008

The Department of Sanitation will collect for composting clean holiday trees left at the curb from Thursday, January 3 through Wednesday, January 16, 2008. Make sure all lights, ornaments and stands are removed before setting trees at the curb.

WHAT: MulchFest, Tree Drop-Off and Free Wood-Chip Pickup at selected Parks locations
WHEN: January 5th & 6th, 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

MulchFest provides New Yorkers an opportunity to bring their Christmas trees to designated sites where they are ground into wood chips. The chips can then be placed in tree pits and gardens. Parks & Recreation encourages New Yorkers to help the environment and their community by participating in this event. MulchFest takes place on January 5 & 6, 2008 from 10:00am to 2:00pm. Participants are encouraged to bring bags to take advantage of the free mulch provided. Participants will be able to take wood chips and/or mulch home from designated chipping sites. Mulch will not be available at sites marked as "Drop-off Only".

Brooklyn Mulchfest Sites

Location Address Service
McCarren Park Driggs Avenue & Lorimer Street Chipping
Von King Park Lafayette Street & Tompkins Avenue Chipping
Ft Greene Park Washington Pk. & Willoughby Street Chipping
Cobble Hill Park Verandah Place & Clinton Street Chipping
Prospect Park Third Street at Prospect Park West Chipping
Owl’s Head Park Colonial Road & 68th Street Chipping
Marine Park Avenue U & 33rd Streets Chipping
McGolrick Park Monitor Street & Driggs Avenue Drop-off only
Maria Hernandez Park Knickerbocker Avenue & Suydam Street Drop-off only
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park Dumont Avenue & Bradford Street Drop-off only
Amazing Garden Carroll Street & Columbia Street Drop-off only
Coffey Park Dwight Stree & Verona Street Drop-off only
Sunset Park 44th Street & 6th Avenue Drop-off only
Bensonhurst Park Bay 30th Street & Cropsey Avenue Drop-off only
Paerdegat Park 40th Street & Foster Avenue Drop-off only
Green-Wood Cemetery 25th Street & 5th Avenue Drop-off only
Green-Wood Cemetery Mulchfest Info: Drop off trees 8am to 4:30pm daily from Jan 1 thru Jan 11. Bring trees for chipping 10am to 2pm on Sat Jan 12; NYC's recycling bin characters will be on hand from 11am to 1pm. Get mulch year-round! For more info, call Brooklyn Botanic Garden at 718-623-7290, or Green-Wood Cemetery at 718-768-7300.
Lincoln Terrace Park Buffalo Avenue between East New York Avenue and Eastern Parkway Drop-off only
Shore Road Park 79th Street & Shore Road Drop-off only


MulchFest 2008


New Blog on the Block: Real Flatbush

Discovered via Google Alerts, and added to my Brooklyn blogroll a few minutes ago: The Real Flatbush, a blog "for Non-pretentious people who live in Flatbush."

From yesterday's opening post:
It seems that there has been a number of blogs pertaining to my neck of the woods lately. There is a disturbing trend with all these blogs. ... They all seem to want to "change" Flatbush.
- Chief Joseph, Dan, The Real Flatbush
Dan identifies race-baiting in the Ditmas Park Blog in "a number of Micro-aggressive messages pertaining to Blacks living in the area." Dan has more to say about white folk moving to Flatbush:
So I saw this chinese restaurent on Cortelyou road and Rugby Road called New Neighbor. They had a new neighbor special and a brand new cheesy OPEN sign. New furniture. I've been to this take out place before our fair skin brethen started to move in. ... I've never seen cheap chinese food take out places going out of there way to look presentable. I guess all you need are a few lighter skin priviledge people to be treated like a human being. ... You gotta love this brand of racism.
- New Neighbor
That would be New Neighbor Kitchen at 1404 Cortelyou Road.
A New York times story about a women from New Orleans who had a great career. She is now living on hard times. I wonder if something like that could ever happen to our new neighbors of lighter persuation at Flatbush.
- Sad Story
As one of Dan's new, melanin-challenged neighbors I'm curious to see how this develops.
It does not require many words to speak the truth. - Chief Joseph


Solstice (the sun stands still)

Illumination of Earth by Sun at the southern solstice.

It's the longest night and shortest day of the year for my half of the world. This season's Solstice (Winter in the Northern hemisphere, Summer in the Southern), is at 6:08 UTC on December 22, 2007. That's 1:08 Eastern Time, my time zone. For folks on the West coast of North America, it will occur late Friday, December 21, at 22:08. That's right now.

Etymology: Latin solstitium (sol "sun" + stitium, from sistere "to stand still")


Another Warm Year

January - November 2007 statewide temperature rankings. Credit: NOAA

The year 2007 is on pace to become one of the 10 warmest years for the contiguous U.S. ... The year was marked by exceptional drought in the U.S. Southeast and the West, which helped fuel another extremely active wildfire season. The year also brought outbreaks of cold air, and killer heat waves and floods. Meanwhile, the global surface temperature for 2007 is expected to be fifth warmest.
- NOAA: 2007 a Top Ten Warm Year for U.S. and Globe
Preliminary data will be updated in early January to reflect the final three weeks of December and is not considered final until a full analysis is complete next spring.

Including 2007, seven of the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001 and the 10 warmest years have all occurred since 1997. The global average surface temperature has risen between 0.6°C and 0.7°C since the start of the twentieth century, and the rate of increase since 1976 has been approximately three times faster than the century-scale trend.

Sunday, December 16: Beverley Square West Holiday Caroling

Update, 12/16: I corrected the date: it's DECEMBER, obviously, not January!

If it's raining this afternoon, we won't go caroling. We'll meet at a local home instead.

I had to delete and re-create the original post. The Google Map was interfering with the Google post editor.

This Sunday, January 16, from 1:45 to 4pm, the Beverley Square West Association holds its annual neighborhood Holiday Caroling. Everyone is welcome. Singing in key is not necessary! Bring your musical instruments, tambourines, bells, whatever, anything that will add to the festivities.

All are welcome to join us. At 1:45pm, we meet up at the Tot Lot at the southeast corner of Cortelyou Road and Argyle Road. There we'll warm up and tune up (as best we can!). We then proceed to the firehouse, give them a holiday gift, and regale them with song.

After that, we will randomly wander and rove along the streets of Beverley Square West: Stratford, Westminster, Argyle, Rugby and Marlborough Roads between Cortelyou and Beverly Roads. We gather afterwards at a local home for hot chocolate, cookies and such.


Brooklyn Blogger Photo-Essay: Planting a Street Tree

Google Alerts is so cool. I just added an alert for "Brooklyn" and "Tree". And this popped up within about 20 minutes:
I had an amazing time planting the street tree. I never had the opportunity before, only knowing how to take care of windowsill gardens. It felt like I was part of something larger than myself. I really liked getting my hand dirty and working outside. I felt like I was bringing back the wolf by bringing back a tree.
- A tree grows in Brooklyn, art, life (no separation)
Angela's post is illustrated by a sequence of photos showing the progress from empty pit to planted tree.
A Quality Housing requirement for the NYC Buildings Department is for the home owner to plant a street tree either in front of their new home or somewhere nearby (same block or neighborhood). That was my task this week. Along with my father, we planted our first street tree together. A Japanese Zelkovatree [Zelkova serrata], apparently impervious to the devastating longhorn beetle, was chosen in conjunction with the Parks Department.
Parks has a list of approved street tree species on their Web site. This is not a complete list of species that could be planted - "Superior cultivars may be substituted with the permission of the Agency" - but species susceptible to Asian-Longhorned Beetle (ALB, Anoplophora glabripennis) are specifically prohibited. These include Maples (Acer), Elms (Ulmus), Ashes (Fraxinus), and Hackberries (Celtis).

Related Posts

Asian-Longhorned Beetle
Urban Forestry


Asian-Longhorned Beetle
Street Tree Species List
Trees & Greenstreets
NYC Department of Parks and Recreation


Sustainable Garden Design in Gowanus Development

Today on Brownstoner there's a post and extended commentary (as one expects at the 'Stoner) about the garden design for a multi-unit residential Project in Gowanus called Third & Bond (presumably located there):
Now that our building design is nearly complete, we’ve turned our attention to what surrounds the buildings: the outdoors. Third & Bond has 38 private outdoor spaces (enough for 85% of buyers to have their own) as well as 7 front yards and a courtyard. We want these spaces to look great, be easy to maintain, and meet our “green” goals. In short, we needed a green landscaping genius.
They choice local garden designer Timothy D. Osborne, who does business as The Organic Gardener. They promise to share "the actual designs in the coming weeks." In today's post they describe some design constraints dear to my heart: grass-less (meaning no lawn), native plants and local materials, and butterflies. Some of the points are a bit confused, but the intent is sound.
Grass is a LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] no-no. Lawn grasses like crab grass and Kentucky blue grass are not native to North America and require a tremendous amount of watering compared with native coastal grasses.
I just checked the LEED Version 2.2 Rating System and Credit Checklist for New Construction and didn't find any references to lawn or grass. Still, eliminating lawn is a brave choice for a developer; I'm surprised and pleased to hear they're going to try to make it work.

Since we bought our house some 30 months ago, I've been gradually reducing the garden space devoted to lawn. I have a small patch of lawn left in the front yard. We no longer use a lawn care service; they all use gas-powered mowers and leaf-blowers, which pound-for-pound are worse than SUVs for their carbon emissions, particulate pollutants, and noise pollution. I use a push-reel mower and rake. I rarely water, and it shows. I've seen some beautiful examples of lawn-less front-yard gardens in the area. I expect that within a few years what's left of our lawn will be replaced with more complex, interesting, and sustainable plantings.
The Organic Gardener’s plant suggestions were almost all native including lavender and dogwood.
Lavender is not native to North America, but it's a great choice for xeriscaping, low-water-use gardening.
Satisfying the local butterfly population is pretty much our #1 priority at Third & Bond. But seriously, another benefit to choosing local plants is that they are more attractive to birds and butterflies native to the area. We’re hoping our plant materials will be especially attractive to winged wildlife.
If they can follow through with these intentions, I have no doubt they will be.

Although I write about local issues, and go so far as to dive into zoning and land use, I avoid the hard-core, snipe and snark, body-slam arena of Brooklyn real-estate blogging. There's not much opportunity to return the link-love I get now and then from Brownstoner. It's nice to be able to return the favor while staying on-point for this blog.

Related Posts

Front garden
Native plants
Mowing the Lawn, June 6, 2006


Third & Bond: Week 17, Brownstoner
The Organic Gardener, Timothy D. Osborne (Note: His Web site is poorly designed. All the information exists only as graphics. Even the menus are available only as image maps, with no labels. There's no text anywhere on the site.)
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), U. S. Green Building Council

Resource: DCP's Census Fact Finder

Map of Brooklyn Census Tract 520 returned by the DCP Census Tract Finder when searching on the Q Train Cortelyou Road Station.
Brooklyn Census Tract 520

At last night's Workshop #2 of Imagine Flatbush 2030, they had something new: a brief slide show of orientation information, similar in content to that presented at the first workshop, plus some census data about the study area. You can see some photos of these by Frank Jump, who attended last night's workshop and happened to be in my breakout group, on his blog, Fading Ad Blog.

I just discovered that the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) provides online access to census data in their Census Fact Finder. The finder is tabbed to provide searches by:
  • Street address
  • Community District
  • Point of Interest (not enough "points" to be widely useful)
  • Subway station
Except for Community District, once you've identified a point, you can view census data by a single Census Tract, by neighboring Census tracts within a .1 to .5 miles range you specify, or by Community District.

At the top of the resulting report is a map showing the point or area you selected and the matching census tracts. A pink dot identifies the focus, the selected tracts are highlighted in blue, and all visible tracts are numbered. Associated with the map are the usual zoom and navigation tools. It also provides tools to select or exclude additional census tracts.

For example, the map at the top of this post is returned when selecting the Q Train Cortelyou Road Station as the focus of the map. The finder returned Census Tract 520, which news reports in 2005 highlighted as the most diverse Census Tract in the entire United States:
In 1970, Census Tract 520 in Ditmas Park [sic] was 92.1% white. Less than a quarter of the population was foreign-born, and most of them were Italian and Jewish. Today, the neighborhood is a miniature United Nations, with nearly two-thirds of the population coming from other countries.

Although Elmhurst and Jackson Heights have a larger percentage of foreign-born residents, the city's demographer, Joseph Salvo, said it's the convergence of racial and ethnic diversity that distinguishes Ditmas Park.
- In a Diverse City, Ditmas Park Takes the Cake, New York Sun, May 26, 2005
Note, however, that Census Tract 520 is not in the historic district of Ditmas Park. It comprises the eastern half of Ditmas Park West, my neighborhood neighbor to the south, plus the blocks between Newkirk and Foster Avenues.

Below the map in the report is a table showing all the census data, aggregated for the selected census tracts. The table is tabbed for the major categories of data available:
  • Demographic
  • Socio-economic
  • Age
  • Income in 1999
  • Labor
  • Education
  • Housing Characteristics
  • Housing Costs
For example, to examine the claim that this tract is the most diverse, let's look at the demographic data:

Demographic Profile Tract(s) Brooklyn New York City
Total Population 4,399 2,465,326 8,008,278
Single Race, Nonhispanic: (by percentage)

White 19.3% 34.7% 35.0%
Black / African American 29.2% 34.4% 24.5%
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.3% 0.2% 0.2%
Asian 22.4% 7.5% 9.7%
Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander 0% 0% 0.0%
Some other Race 1.3% 0.7% 0.7%
Two or More Races, Nonhispanic 7.8% 2.8% 2.8%
Hispanic Origin (of any race) 19.8% 19.8% 27.0%

The "most diverse" claim arises from the observation that the demographic category comprising the largest single group, Black / African American, only comprises 29.2% of the population. Across the city as a whole, there is diversity. Queens has the largest percentage of foreign-born residents of all five boroughs. But when you get down to the level of a few blocks, what you usually see is a predominant group.

At last night's workshop, at each breakout group, the facilitators asked each of us to briefly identify our main concern, our main wish or goal for Flatbush in the years to come. By the time it got around to me, I'd had time to practice in my mind what I wanted to say, and wrote it down in my notebook:

Diversity Without Disparity

And I explained that I mean this "in every way I can think of." This captures the asset of diversity we enjoy today, one which I think most of those who've participated in the workshops so far value as well. It also presents the challenge: how can we mitigate existing disparities, and keep the gap from widening. How can we avoid becoming the victims of our own success as a vibrant, interesting, developing community?

Related Posts

Imagine Flatbush 2030


Imagine Flatbush 2030 (Sponsored by the Municipal Art Society of NY) - Workshop #2, Brooklyn College, Frank Jump, Fading Ad Blog
Over 100 People Imagining Flatbush 2030, Brooklyn Junction
In a Diverse City, Ditmas Park Takes the Cake, Daniela Gerson, The New York Sun, May 26, 2005


Tomorrow: Imagine Flatbush 2030 Workshop #2

Just a reminder that tomorrow evening's Imagine Flatbush 2030 Workshop #2 will begin at 6:30pm on the Brooklyn College campus.


Directions to the Brooklyn College Student Center

Flatbush Facts: Brooklyn's Noisiest 'Hood

It makes a body proud. Flatbush is Brooklyn's noisiest neighborhood, measured by the number of noise complaints to 311.
[In Flatbush] 2,058 noise complaints were made to the city's 311 hotline from July 1 to Nov. 20. Williamsburg fell just three complaints behind, followed by Bushwick and Brownsville.
- Flatbush tops loudest in Brooklyn, NY Daily news, December 11, 2007
This year, DEP complaints in Brooklyn surged by approximately 23%, from 3,914 to 5,101 calls, officials said. Citywide, there were more than 135,589 complaints in the nearly five-month period - about a 25% hike over the same period in 2006.

Brooklyn's top noise culprit is construction-related din, which is handled by the DEP and clocked in at 2,300 complaints.

Other pesky rackets plaguing the borough include ... barking dogs, which annoyed Brooklynites enough for them to dial 311 1,263 times from July until last week. Ice cream truck jingles drew 261 complaints and loud music spurred 119 calls. Car noises, including honking horns and alarms, also made the top-10 list of complaints for the borough.


Air & Noise, DEP


Satellite Image of Northeast's First Snow of the Season

Satellie view of the first snow in the Northeastern United States
A string of storms brought the season’s first snow to the eastern United States from the mid-Atlantic states to New England during the first week of December 2007. By December 6, most of the clouds had cleared, providing the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite this view of the snow-covered landscape. The snow highlights the contours of the land. Waves and curves follow the gentle folds of the Appalachian Mountains through Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. The more rugged mountains of New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York wrinkle the surface of the land.
- First Snow in the US Northeast, NASA Earth Observatory
The snow also makes rivers and lakes more visible than they might otherwise be. The dark blue-green Finger Lakes of upstate New York pop out against the surrounding white land. The long narrow lakes formed when glaciers scoured, deepened, and eventually dammed stream valleys. The lakes point north and northwest to the shores of Lake Ontario, portions of which are visible beneath a bank of clouds in this image. The northern shore of Lake Erie similarly peaks through the clouds to the west. In the far north, particularly in Maine and Canada, lakes have already started to freeze. The ice is a smooth, bright white surface in contrast to the slightly darker land.

To the south, snow-covered Maryland surrounds the northern Chesapeake Bay, starkly outlining the ragged shoreline where rivers and streams enter the bay. The largest river flowing into the Chesapeake is the Susquehanna, which cuts southeast across the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania.
Here's a closer view of the NYC area.
Satellie view of the first snow in the NYC area

Related Posts

First Snow of the Season


First Snow in the US Northeast, NASA Earth Observatory

Upcoming Local Events

Some quick notes of things happening within a couple blocks of me over the next few weeks. Details for all these events are available from the Google calendar in the sidebar.

This Weekend

Saturday December 8 and Sunday, December 9, 1-6pm, Prospect Park South resident Karen Friedland hosts an Art Show and Sale.

Sunday, December 9, 10am-3pm, P.S. 139 has their annual Holiday Craft Fair.

Next Week

Wednesday, December 12, starting at 6:30pm, Imagine Flatbush 2030 Workshop #2 at Brooklyn College.

Next Weekend, Sunday December 16

1:45-4pm, Beverley Square West Holiday Caroling. Meet at the Tot Lot at Cortelyou and Argyle Roads at 1:45pm.

3-5pm, Cortelyou Road Tree Lighting, at the Tot Lot.

3:30-5:30pm, The Regina Opera, at the Victorian Place Cultural Center / Temple Beth Emeth.


12/13: Hearing on Parks' use of artificial turf

Field 11, part of nearly 40 acres of artificial surface at the Parade Grounds, on Caton Avenue south of Prospect Park in Brooklyn
Field 11, Parade Grounds, Caton Avenue

Next Thursday there will be an oversight hearing on the use of artificial turf in NYC's parks:
The New York City Council Parks and Recreation Committee will hold an oversight hearing on the use of artificial turf in the City’s parks. New Yorkers for Parks published, “A New Turf War: Synthetic Turf in New York City,” which provides background on this issue and offers recommendations for determining when and where to use artificial turf in city parks and athletic fields. New Yorkers for Parks will use this opportunity to voice some of the recommendations of our policy report on the topic.
- The Dangers of Fake Green Grass
The hearing will be held from 10am-12pm, at 250 Broadway, 14th Floor Hearing Room.
New York City’s Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR) has become increasingly reliant on synthetic turf as a replacement for asphalt and natural grass athletic fields across the city. Through the installation of the “new generation” of synthetic turf, DPR seeks to increase community access to fields as well as to solve the maintenance challenges of grass and the aesthetic and safety problems associated with asphalt. This surface offers all-weather playability and lower maintenance costs than grass; however, synthetic turf has some negative environmental impacts and requires a significant capital investment. The important environmental benefits of natural turf, such as its ability to absorb and filter rainwater and pollutants, and to decrease the impact of the urban heat island effect, must be considered in the debate.
- Executive Summary, A New Turf War, Spring 2006
Sign: Lawns Closed, Union Square Park, Manhattan
Sign: Lawns Closed, Union Square Park, Manhattan


The Dangers of Fake Green Grass, Katia Kelly, Pardon Me For Asking
Parks Dept. denies health study of synthetic turf, April 4, 2007, Patrick Arden, Metro New York
A New Turf War: Synthetic Turf in New York City Parks, Spring 2006, New Yorkers for Parks


Notes from Imagine Flatbush 2030 Workshop #1

Your host, reporting the observations of his breakout group to the larger assembly at IF2030 Workshop #1. Credit: Municipal Art Society.

Yesterday's Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC has brought wider awareness of and interest in Imagine Flatbush 2030. For those who are curious about the process, or might even be interested in attending Workshop #2, here are the notes which the Municipal Art Society facilitators compiled from the first workshop back in November.
Imagine Flatbush 2030 kicked off on Monday, November 19 at Temple Beth Emeth, with a preliminary stakeholders meeting. (A list of approximately 150 stakeholders was cultivated with help from FDC, neighborhood groups, and elected officials. Stakeholders who attended were asked to serve as project ambassadors and assist with outreach for the next meeting.) [At least three of us who live within the study area and write about it on our blogs - Sustainable Flatbush, Brooklyn Junction, and I - attended the first workshop.] Approximately 50 of those invited attended—representing Brooklyn College, tenant associations, city government, homeowners associations, the local YMCA, merchants groups, community development groups, and civic and faith-based groups.
After an introduction by the Planning Center to MAS, Jane Jacobs, and the goals of the project, Elizabeth Yeampierre, Executive Director of UPROSE led a discussion of the meaning of neighborhood sustainability, the Mayor’s PlaNYC, and why neighborhoods needed to create their own agendas to work in tandem with the Mayor’s plan.

Attendees were asked to work in groups to brainstorm neighborhood assets and challenges, as a way of beginning a dialogue. Six groups produced observations that they first recorded on paper, then shared with the entire group at the end of the workshop. [A full transcript of all the notes from all groups will be available from MAS. I've asked for a copy as soon as its available. In my group, we covered both sides of two large sheets of paper!]

Shared observations about Flatbush’s assets included:
  • diversity (cultural; economic; ethnic; racial; religious);
  • proximity to Prospect Park;
  • good public transportation;
  • good schools;
  • proximity to Brooklyn College;
  • distinctive, historic neighborhood character;
  • strong and active community-based organizations;
  • aesthetically pleasing;
  • long tenure of many residents;
  • and locally-owned businesses.
Shared observations about challenges included:
  • lack of neighborhood parks;
  • school overcrowding;
  • lack of space for artists;
  • lack of active ways to engage youth;
  • lack of space for public assembly, such as community, senior, and youth centers; gentrification;
  • lack of affordable housing;
  • traffic;
  • achieving energy efficiency in buildings;
  • gang activity (both real and perceived);
  • lack of parking;
  • and inadequate sanitation in some areas.
Some interesting macro-level impressions: the neighborhood is large and varies in character and composition from place to place and consequently assets and challenges vary from place to place.

Next step: Workshop 2 at Brooklyn College Conference Center, Wednesday, December 12. [Note: This will start at 6:30pm, not 7pm as reported in these notes as sent out to Workshop #1 participants.] Agenda: public forum to identify sustainability goals.

Related Posts

Posts tagged "Imagine Flatbush 2030"


Municipal Art Society
Flatbush Development Corporation
Sustainable Flatbush
Brooklyn Junction


12/12: Imagine Flatbush 2030 Workshop #2

Imagine Flatbush 2030 Winning Logo, Credit: Imani Aegedoy, 11-9-2007
Imagine Flatbush 2030 Logo
Next week, on Wednesday, December 12, the second community workshop of Imagine Flatbush 2030 will be held at Brooklyn College:
Come and participate in a special dialogue about the future of Flatbush. The Flatbush Development Corporation (FDC) and the Municipal Art Society (MAS) are inviting you to take part in Imagine Flatbush 2030—a community visioning and dialogue process—designed to get you together with other Flatbush community members to collectively create a more sustainable neighborhood. If you care about the environment, community health, protecting diversity, ensuring affordable housing and a whole host of other community issues, this is the meeting for you!
When: Wednesday, December 12th @ 6:30 pm
Where: Brooklyn College Student Center, 6th Floor
East 27th St. & Campus Road
(ramp entrance near Amersfort Place, see map below)

The star highlights the location of IF2030 Workshop #2. The closest subway stop is the 2/5 Brooklyn College-Flatbush Avenue / Nostrand Avenue station. North is to the lower-right in this map.
Imagine Flatbush 2030: Location of Workshop#2

For more information and to RSVP, please contact Sideya Sherman, at the MAS Planning Center, at 212/935-3960 or via email at ssherman@mas.org.

Please be advised that there will be a supervised homework room provided for school aged children. If you need to bring a child, please contact us in advance.

Refreshments will be served

Related Posts

IF2030 on the Brian Lehrer Show, earlier today
The Albemarle Road Pedestrian Bridge, November 25
Imagine Flatbush 2030, November 20


Imagine Flatbush 2030, Municipal Art Society

TODAY: Imagine Flatbush 2030 on the Brian Lehrer Show

UPDATE: The podcast is available from WNYC's Web site, or through the widget below.

I just learned of this a few minutes ago. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show:
Susan Siegel, outgoing executive director of the Flatbush Development Corporation (FDC)and Zenobia McNally, local resident and business owner and Eve Baron, director of The Municipal Art Society Planning Center and the project manager for Imagine Flatbush 2030, discuss their efforts to create a community-directed development plan for Brooklyn's Flatbush neighborhood.
The Brian Lehrer Show airs weekdays at 10AM on 93.9 FM and AM 820 and Tuesdays through Saturdays at 1AM on AM 820. The call-in number is 212-433-9692 (or 212 433 WNYC).

Related Posts

The Albemarle Road Pedestrian Bridge, November 25
Imagine Flatbush 2030, November 20


Making Jane Jacobs Proud in Flatbush, The Brian Lehrer Show
Imagine Flatbush 2030, Municipal Art Society


Sustainable Flatbush General Meeting

Just a reminder that TOMORROW, Monday, December 3, is the next general meeting for Sustainable Flatbush.

The Gardening Committee will report on plans for a public community-wide educational event in late February.

November Arborea, FotT #18

Festival of the Trees #18, November Arborea, is up on Larry Ayers' Riverside Rambles. This issue has a link to my post about Brooklyn's Trees, the Flickr photo pool I started this year.

The 19th Festival of the Trees will be hosted by Lorianne of Hoarded Ordinaries. She’ll be taking submissions until midnight on December 30th. You can e-mail her at zenmama (at) gmail.com. You can also use the handy submission form.

First Snow, and Snowbirds, of the Season

Updated 12/6: Added Brian of Brooklyn, who has the most photos I've seen so far.
Updated throughout the day Monday, December 3, to add links to other blogs with photos of the first snow.

Slate-Colored Junco, Junco hyemalis hyemalis, in my Flatbush backyard
Slate-Colored Junco, Junco hyemalis hyemalis

We had our first snow of the season overnight. It was in the 20s all day, gradually warming, and it will be in the 30s tomorrow, so it will all be gone soon. I didn't get any pictures of it myself, but others did:

A Brooklyn Life
Bay Ridge Rover
Brian of Brooklyn
Ditmas Park Blog
Gowanus Lounge
Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn
Pardon Me For Asking
Self-Absorbed Boomer
Sustainable Flatbush

I didn't get out of the house today. Too busy cleaning, getting ready for guests tomorrow evening. But I was keeping an eye on the bird feeders yesterday and today. The winter migrants are firmly established now: Juncoes, Chickadees, and a little crested one whose name escapes me at the moment. I was looking for nuthatches, my favorites, but I didn't see any this weekend.

American Goldfinch, Cardulis tristis, in winter plumage. I think this is a female. Thanks to Flickr pals megankhines and PhotoJeff for the id!
American Goldfinch, Cardulis tristis, in winter plumage

Factoid: Street Trees and Property Values

The street tree in front of our house
Sycamore Maple? Street Tree, Stratford Road

Two weeks ago, I wrote that stormwater runoff reduction was the "second biggest" contributor to the annual benefits New York City receives from its street trees. So what's the largest contributor? The annual increase in property values that accrues as trees grow:
Well-maintained trees increase the “curb appeal” of properties. Research comparing sales prices of residential properties with different numbers and sizes of trees suggests that people are willing to pay 3–7% more for properties with ample trees versus few or no trees. One of the most comprehensive studies on the influence of trees on residential property values was based on actual sales prices and found that each large front-yard tree was associated with about a 1% increase in sales price (Anderson and Cordell 1988). Depending on average home sale prices, the value of this benefit can contribute significantly to property tax revenues.
- NYC Municipal Forest Resource Analysis, Appendix D: Methodology, Property Value and Other Benefits [emphasis added]
The annual increase in property values attributable to NYC's street trees alone is estimated at $52,500,000 per year. The standing value of those trees is far greater, 50-100 times the annual figure, in the billions of dollars. And this study only examined street trees. These figures do not take into account the standing and ever-increasing value of trees, plants, and other landscaping on the properties themselves.

Take that, Barbara Corcoran.
Many benefits attributed to urban trees are difficult to translate into economic terms. Wildlife habitat, beautification, improved human health, privacy, shade that increases human comfort, sense of place, and well-being are difficult to price. However, the value of some of these benefits may be captured in the property values of the land on which trees stand. To estimate the value of these “other” intangible benefits, research that compares differences in sales prices of houses was used to estimate the contribution associated with trees. The difference in sales price reflects the willingness of buyers to pay for the benefits and costs associated with trees.
- NYC Municipal Forest Resource Analysis, Chapter 4: Benefits of New York's Municipal Trees
The calculation of annual aesthetic and other benefits is tied to a tree’s annual increase in leaf area. When a tree is actively growing, leaf area increases rapidly. At maturity, there may be no net increase in leaf area from year to year, thus there is little or no incremental annual aesthetic benefit for that year, although the cumulative benefit over the course of the entire life of the tree may be large. Since this report represents a 1-year snapshot of the street tree population, benefits reflect the increase in leaf area for each tree over the course of one year. As a result, a very young population of 100 callery pears
will have a greater annual aesthetic benefit than an equal number of mature planetrees. However, the cumulative aesthetic value of the planetrees would be much greater than that of the pear.
Barbara Corcoran Hates the Earth, November 18
Factoids: NYC's Street Trees and Stormwater Reduction, November 15
Basic Research: The State of the Forest in New York City, November 12
Preserving Livable Streets: DCP's Yards Text Amendment, November 7
How Much Is a Street Tree Really Worth?, April 9
Million Trees NYC


Where is Flatbush, Anyway?

Update 2007.11.04: For others' reactions to the Times piece, see the Links at the end of this post, or check out the list on Brooklyn Junction. Also added a link to a 1998 letter to the editor about their invention of "Greater Ditmas Park."

Map of Flatbush in 1873
Map of Flatbush, 1873