Flatbush Rezoning Proposal approved by City Council

Updated 2009-07-30: Added more links.

Today the City Council approved the Flatbush Rezoning Proposal. Brooklyn Community Board 14 posted this statement on their Web site: "We greatly appreciate the hard work of our elected officials, the neighborhood associations and their able leadership, and particularly the great staff at the Brooklyn office of the Department of City Planning for making this happen!" Knowing that the Council also sealed the fate of Coney Island, i.e.: Miami Beach, tempers my satisfaction with the outcome for Flatbush.

As some relief for today's beastly weather, please enjoy this scene of one of the hundreds of homes now protected with today's vote.
284 Stratford Road, Beverley Square West


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Flickr photo set

CPC approves Flatbush Rezoning Proposal, Council hearing 7/27, 2009-06-18
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


City Council Adopts Flatbush Rezoning, Brooklyn Community Board 14, 2009-07-30
Flatbush Rezoning, Ditmas Park Blog, 2009-07-30

Important DCP Links

Flatbush Rezoning Proposal, City Planning

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)


Wicked Plants with Amy Stewart at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

A large group assembled for Amy Stewart's tour of Wicked Plants along the Annual Border of Brooklyn Botanic Garden's Lily Pool Terrace. Wicked Plants Tour at Brooklyn Botanic Garden Saturday afternoon, Blog Widow and I went to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for an afternoon of Wicked Plants: a tour led by Amy Stewart, a book signing, and a cake baked for the occasion. Amy Stewart, rigged with portable amplification Amy Stewart Sarracenia, Pitcher Plants Wicked Plants Tour at Brooklyn Botanic Garden Ricinus communis, Castor Bean plant Ricinus communis, Castor Bean plant Book purchase display Wicked Plants Book Signing

The Cake

A Wicked Cake enters the Lily Pool Terrace Cake Entrance "Everything is edible, except the boards," said one of the cake wranglers. Well, that and the stems of the flowers. The flowers were incredibly lifelike. Edible Tulip It's hard to justify eating artistry like this. But it was a hot and humid day, so what can you do?! Edible Hydrangea Amy regards a Tulip before taking a bite of it. Amy Stewart with edible Tulip Blog Widow peals a petal off a Tulip. It tasted vaguely like wax lips. Technically edible. Blog Widow eats a Tulip The base was seven layers of chocolate and vanilla cake with mocha cream. Delicious, and worth the wait. Seven Layer Cake

Glam Shots

Not everything we saw that day was wicked. Double-Flowering Lotus Double Lotus Dragonfly Pachydiplax longipennis, Blue Dasher (Male), Lily Pool Terrace, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, July 2009 Hens and Chicks Hens and Chicks Okay, wicked, but kinda cool, huh? Spiny Solanum


[bit.ly] [bk.ly]

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Wicked Plants, Brooklyn Botanic Garden Wicked Plants, Amy Stewart Pretty Poison: Plants to Die For, CBS News Sunday Morning, 2009-08-02


Rabies reminder from NYC DOH

Not to fan the annual flames of rabies hysteria we usually get in the Brooklyn blogosphere, but the New York City Department of Health, in response to recent identification of rabid animals in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Queens, issued a press release today to remind New Yorkers to 1) avoid contact with wild animals, and 2) have your pets vaccinated for rabies. Note that NYC law requires rabies vaccinations of pets.
Six rabid animals — all raccoons — have been identified in New York City this year. Four were found in the Bronx, one in Manhattan (near Inwood Hill Park), and one in Queens (Long Island City). Raccoons are the most commonly reported rabid animals in New York City. Rabid raccoons are a relatively common occurrence in Staten Island and the Bronx, but rare in Queens and Manhattan. Bats with rabies have also been found in all five boroughs.

People and unvaccinated animals can get rabies, most often through a bite from an infected animal. Infection leads to a severe brain disease that causes death unless the person is treated promptly after being bitten. To reduce the risk of rabies, New Yorkers should avoid all wild animals, as well as any animal that seems sick, disoriented or unusually placid or aggressive. Report such animals by calling 311. Animals that have attacked or may attack should be reported to 911.
The six reported animals lags far behind the 19 reports for 2008. In recent history, Staten Island has the highest incidence of rabies among wild animals, followed closely by the Bronx. Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn lag far behind. See Rabies in NYC: Facts and Figures for more info.

To protect yourself against rabies

  • Do not touch or feed wild animals, or stray dogs or cats.
  • Keep garbage in tightly sealed containers.
  • Stay away from any animal that is behaving aggressively or a wild animal that appears ill or is acting unusually friendly. Call 311 or your local precinct to report the animal.
  • If you find a bat indoors that may have had contact with someone, do not release it before calling 311 to determine whether it should be tested. For information on how to safely capture a bat, visit http://www.health.state.ny.us/diseases/communicable/zoonoses/rabies/.

To protect your pet against rabies

  • Make sure your dog or cat is up-to-date on rabies vaccinations.
  • Do not leave your pets outdoors unattended.
  • Do not try to separate animals that are fighting.
  • If your pet has been in contact with an animal that might be rabid, contact your veterinarian, and report the incident to 311.
  • Feed pets indoors.

If you are bitten by an animal

  • Immediately wash the wound with lots of soap and water.
  • Seek medical care from your health care provider.
  • If you know where the animal is, call 311 to have it captured.
  • If the animal is a pet, get the owner's name, address and telephone number to give to the Health Department so they can ensure the animal is not rabid.
  • Call the Animal Bite Unit (212-676-2483) between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., or file a report online at www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/vet/vetegp.shtml.
  • For information about medical follow-up, call 311 or your medical provider.

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Rabies in NYC: Facts and Figures, 2008-07-08
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Press Release

Textile recycling expands August 1 in NYC

The Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC) has been working since 2007 to divert textiles from the waste stream by offering drop-off points at select Greenmarkets. Textiles such as clothing and linens comprise nearly 6% of residential waste in the city, adding to landfills and disposal costs.

How does textile recycling work?

Clean clothing, shoes, bedding, linens, hats, handbags, belts and other textiles, whether in usable or non-usable condition, can be dropped off at several locations around NYC. Donations are sorted into different grades such as cotton blend and synthetic scrap and then redistributed to markets where there is a demand for these materials, such as wearable clothing or stuffing for mattresses.

Brooklyn drop-off locations

Starting August 1, CENYC will now accept donations at the Greenpoint and Fort Greene Greenmarkets, in addition to the existing drop-off at the Grand Army Plaza location.

Fort Greene Greenmarket, Saturday, 8am-3pm
Washington Park at DeKalb

McCarren Park Greenmarket, Saturday, 8am-2pm (Starting August 1)
Bedford & Lorimer, Greenpoint

Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket, Brooklyn, 8am-4pm (open now)
(NW Entrance to Prospect Park)



Clothing and textile recycling collections, CENYC


Apollo: a personal/biographical perspective

40 years ago, we watched the landing on television like much of the rest of the world. Days before, my father had packed our little family into the car and drove to the causeway overlooking the Kennedy Space Center to watch, and feel, Apollo 11 send men to land on the moon for the first time. My father worked for Grumman, which had the contract to develop the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM), later dubbed simply the Lunar Module (LM), for the Apollo space program. He worked on the LEM's telemetry systems. Part of my father is on the moon.

My Dad at work, circa 1960s
Dad at work

My family moved twice while I was growing up. Until I moved to New York City, I didn't live anywhere longer than six years. In the winter of 1964-1965, we moved from Long Island, east of new York City, to Merritt Island, Florida. As you can see from this map, our home was just a little over 10 miles from the Apollo 11 launchpad. I used to watch rockets launch from my bedroom window. On most launches, our windows shook.

View Apollo in a larger map

The Apollo program had an enormous economic and human toll, an important part of the story which I've yet to read anywhere else. Shortly after we moved to Florida, my father began working 60-80 hours a week, a pace which didn't let up until nearly the end of the development program. Once it became routine to send men to the moon, the development program ended abruptly. Hundreds of thousands lost their jobs simultaneously in a region whose development was triggered by this one program. My dad was able to find another job within Grumman, but it required moving back to Long Island. With no buyers, we were only able to sell our home at a greatly reduced price, losing all our equity, and having nothing with which to buy a new home.

We moved back to Long Island in the fall of 1970, just in time for me to start the school year, though just one week late.


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Monobia quadridens, Mason Wasp

Monobia quadridens, Mason Wasp, male (I think), on Aster novae-angliae 'Chilly Winds' in my backyard native plant garden this afternoon.
Monobia quadridens, Mason Wasp

Today was my first full day home since last Monday, and I was sick for nearly a week leading up to that. So I took advantage of the beautiful weather in NYC and got out into the garden. The weeds had gotten away from me, and I spent most of my time dealing with them, at least a little bit.

I then turned my attention to the center of activity in the backyard: the massive specimen of New England Aster that just started to bloom in my absence. It's a selection of the species I ordered from Seneca Hill Perennials, which specializes in New York native plants, a couple years back. It didn't do much at first. In the full sun it's enjoyed since I had to take down the last of the weedy maples last year, it has grown to shrublike proportions - 5' wide and high - mocking the meager 1-2' spacing I provided between it and the plants around it. Today's pollinator activity concentrated on just the handful of open flowers. It has hundreds of buds. When it's in full bloom, the activity will be audible.

I was watching for bees, and there were a lot of different species visiting. This wasp was the most striking visitor. It's Monobia quadridens, the Mason Wasp. From the antennae, I think it's a male. Thanks to tangledbranches for the ID!

Judging from the photos on its BugGuide page alone, this is a common species with a wide distribution. It's native to eastern North America. From a gardener's perspective, this is a beneficial insect. It provisions its young with caterpillars in nests burrowed into the ground or bored into wood; it's also known as a Carpenter Wasp. I've never noticed it before. I hope to see more of it as the Aster comes into full bloom.

Monobia quadridens, Mason Wasp Monobia quadridens, Mason Wasp Monobia quadridens, Mason Wasp

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BBG Visitor Center design wins City award

Design cross-section of BBG's planned Visitor Center (courtesy Weiss/Manfredi)

The Public Design Commission of the City of New York (formerly the Art Commission) awarded Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Weiss/Manfredi design firm, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, and the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation its 2008 Award for Excellence in Design, conferred on July 1 at a ceremony at the New Museum. The award recognizes the superb integration of form, function, and sustainable practice in the design of the Garden’s new Visitor Center.
- Press Release
See BBG's Visitor Center page for more renderings.
The Visitor Center aspires to earn LEED Gold certification and will feature sustainable design elements including a living roof, recycled building materials, passive solar components, geothermal heating, and bioswales (recessed catchment zones filled with water-loving plants) that will improve storm-water management and relieve the burden on the municipal sewer system. The 22,000-square-foot complex will also house an expanded garden shop, a much-needed orientation room for tours and classes, an information desk, a dramatic oval-shaped event space, a refreshment bar, and other visitor amenities.

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Brooklyn Botanic Garden Wins Award for Green Visitor Center Design

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center, Weiss/Manfredi
Visitor Center, BBG