Thursday, July 31, 2008

Forget the Bridge, Want a Rainbow?

A neighbor sent this information in to me a couple of days ago, but since I'm away and didn't have a photo, I figured I'd let the neighborhood mourn in private for a few more days so I could investigate upon my return. Well, Brownstoner has the scoop, and a really nice photo from the listing.

Basically, the Rainbow Cafe and the building in which it's housed is for sale. The owner passed on about two months ago, and the place has been closed since then. Check out the last post about the closure. If anyone has an extra three million hanging around, wanna go in on it with me?

Photos of Yesterday's Ol' Time American Tunes in the Park

A good time was had by all who attended. There was lots of audience participation, toe-tapping, and dancing. Thank you to Vanessa Velez of A Fresh Photograph for the shots!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Then and Now: PS 169

The year wasn't included in the photo's description, but it's a while ago. The facade and the decorative top makes the building look quite royal. The current state of the building isn't too different, but the top of the building has changed, as has the side entrance. Thankfully, the 7th Avenue entrance, complete with castle-like archway, remains.

Where to Donate Clothing in Sunset Park

This question occasionally crops up on local listserves and information boards. So, if you're not up for a stoop sale, if you don't want the front of your building/stoop to display your past wardrobe, and if you have a clothing in good condition that just doesn't fit or doesn't display your inner self anymore, what do you do?

ChiPs is a popular option, but it's far away. Those bins around Brooklyn always seem a little...I don't know...violated. The Salvation Army can work, but sometimes it seems like the donated bag(s) gets tossed into a molding, steaming corner of oblivion. Well, there is another option.

*** Update ***
The CFL apparently had a problem with a donation that brought bed bugs with it, so they stopped accepting clothing. Call them to see if the clothing ban is still in effect. They are definitely accepting food donations to the pantry!

Another place to consider is the Center for Family Life Thrift Store, here in Sunset Park at 5505 4th Avenue. The Thrift Store is part of the Center's community service program. I encourage you to consider placing your donation there--but definitely call ahead for the hours! The number is (718) 492 3585. Please note that even though it's a thrift store, families in need can and do receive items for free.

from the website:

Community Service Programs

The mission of the Community Service Program is to address the urgent needs of residents in Sunset Park who are experiencing an acute crisis. The Community Service Program acts as both a resource and a gateway to help enhance individual functioning, family stability and community building in Sunset Park. Access to all service components is open and eligibility determinations are minimal.

The Community Service Program is an informal, accessible point of entry into the Center for Family Life's comprehensive service system. As such, it provides a valuable first point of contact for many neighborhood residents who ultimately may choose to engage in other more “high intensity” services.

The Community Service Program provides a variety of integrated services and activities that are available to the community daily, year round and at no charge. Five primary services have been developed in direct response to the needs of the community:

  1. Thrift Shop: Provides families in need with used clothing, household items and furniture at no cost. Also sells merchandise at very low cost to the general population in Sunset Park.
  2. Food Pantry: Distributes emergency 3-day supplies of groceries to individuals and families in order to help them through a time of crisis. This program receives referrals from more than 20 neighborhood churches and human service organizations, as well as from community members themselves.
  3. Advocacy Clinic: Assists Sunset Park residents through the use of numerous supports, such as benefits counseling, translation services and referrals. Helps individuals and families access and use government services and resolve matters related to healthcare, housing, utilities, tax credits and immigration. The Clinic is also a registration location for the Fresh Air Fund.
  4. “Single Stop”: Hosting multiple services which can be accessed in one location for customer convenience, Single Stop provides a familiar and comfortable environment where clients can receive professional consultation and support to address financial, legal and personal issues that they face, all at no cost.
  5. EITC Tax Filing: Provides free tax filing assistance to families with dependent children with incomes less than $40,000 per year, or individuals with incomes less than $20,000 per year, as well as back filing for Earned Income Tax Credit for families who were eligible for the benefit and did not file previously.

Community Service Program
5505 Fourth Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11220
(718) 492-3585

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Brooklyn Based Lauds Sunset Park's Chinatown

Once again, our Chinatown is spotlighted. This time, Brooklyn Based has given the "Get your butt on over there" to the duck, live frogs, Hong Kong Market, Bahn Mi, and other earthly (truly earthy in some cases) delights of 8th Avenue. Check it out.

from the website:

"Calling the section of 8th Ave. off the N train “Chinatown” is like calling The Wire “a TV show” or foie gras “food.” It doesn’t do it justice." I don't get "The Wire" and I don't eat foie gras, but it's a very pleasant way to introduce the place.

And keep your mom away from the reviewer; the food made him (I'm defering to the male) want to slap both his mother AND yours. I think that's meant to be a good thing, but I'm not street enough to share the sentiment. ;) See?

Ol' Time American Tunes and Songs at Sunset Park

This Wednesday, the 30th of July, and beginning at 10:30 AM sharp, the fourth in a five-week series of events for kids continues with Ol' Time American Tunes and Songs with Jody Kruskal and Friends. The shows are near the game tables/playground area, and event-goers are advised to bring a blanket or chair to sit on and some water (or other appropriate refreshment) to drink.

Jody Kruskal is a performer, composer, educator, family dance caller, and instrument designer. He encourages children to learn dances through audience participation and music for the whole family. Check out more detail about Jody Kruskal here.

The free events are brought to us by the City Parks Foundation in cooperation with: Friends of Sunset Park and City of New York -Parks and Recreation.

Accountable Development Working Group Meets this Wednesday

The Accountable Development Working Group meets monthly to discuss and plot action around various development issues affecting Central and South Brooklyn.

This Wednesday's agenda includes presentations from Assembly Member Jeffries’ and Assembly Member Brennan’s offices on legislation to reform the Atlantic Yards project.

The meeting begins at 6 PM on Wednesday, July 30th. Join the Working Group at
621 DeGraw Street (near 4th Ave. ) It is sponsored by the 5th Avenue Committee. Call or email Dave Powell at 718 237-2017 ext 148 or for more information.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Kidsmobile in Sunset Park - Tuesday at 10 AM

On Tuesday (every Tuesday throughout the summer) the Brooklyn Library Kidsmobile will bring stories, arts and crafts, books, and library cards to Sunset Park. Check it out from 10 AM to 11 AM near the Checker Tables. (They might park elsewhere tomorrow).

Sexual Assault Article in the Daily News

Saturday morning surveillance tape caught this (alleged) offender in the act. The attack occured on 7th Avenue and 64th Street just before 7 AM. The officers were looking for drug activity, but they found more nefarious activities instead.

Sad, sad, sad. Hopefully the teenager will get both physical and emotional support. Too many times the targets of these crimes end up blaming themselves and/or being stigmatized.

Read the article here.

Liquor License Hearing for Rose Quartz Lounge

If you have something supportive or detrimental to say about the Rose Quartz Lounge on 39th Street and 3rd Avenue, now is your time to speak up. Community Board 7 will be holding a Public Hearing on Monday, July 28, 2008 @ 6:30 P.M. at the Board Office, 4201 4th Avenue (entrance on 43rd Street and 4th Avenue).

CB7 already had a hearing about a liquor license for the Rose Quartz Lounge back in February 2007. Also back in 2007, it only received three violation points during its DOH inspection.

For Tuesday: Light Industry Presents "out site with the others"

As always, shows at Light Industry begin at 8 PM and tickets are $6 at the door. Get on up to the third floor at 55 33rd Street.

This Tuesday's show features an international eclectic mix of artists. From the email:

The summer is all about the outdoors and outdoor activities. In the program out site with the others, artists who traveled there send out insights, views and instructions on how to face reality, when suddenly enveloped by the outside and forced to be guided by the others. The program explores how these artists navigate the distance and communicate in these surroundings.

Lo-Fi Green Sigh, Kristin Lucas, video, 2004

Zwischenzeit - Suedrand (Interim Time °© Southern Outskirts), Annette Goedde/Arnold von Wedemeyer, video, 2007

OYMA (Outstanding Young Men of America), Michael Smith, video, 1996

EXCHANGE PROGRAM:GALACTICA / LIFESPACE, Torsten Zenas Burns, video, 2002

Testfahrt 2, Harry Sachs and Franz Hoeffner, video, 2002
Venice by car.

King, Olaf Breuning, video, 2000

tests of courage, eteam, video stream, 2008

The Meadow, Bjørn Melhus, video, 2007

Final Tour, Jill Magid, video, 2004

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Clearance Sale at El Pequeno Artista this Week

Get while the getting's good!  There are some really great items available at El Pequena Artista on 20th Street and 5th Avenue.  They have Spanish Language books, handmade colored pencils, puppets, decorations, some really cool instruments, and various other toys/items appropriate for all ages of children (and adults!).  

from the director's email:

El Pequeno Artista needs the space taken by the retail area in the studio for camp-related activities and storage.  So we are selling EVERYTHING!  Come this week and take advantage of the major discounts (25%, 50%, and up to 75%) on our hand-made toys from Latin America, books in Spanish, instruments, etcetera.

Our schedule this week (July 28 - August 1) for this clearance is:
Monday 11-4
Tuesday 11-4
Wednesday 10-6
Thursday 11-4
Friday 10-1

Hope to see you there!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sunset Farmer's Market tomorrow - bring cash if you've got it

Don't forget about the Farmer's Market on 4th Avenue and 59th/60th tomorrow. It's open at 8 AM and goes on until 5 PM. I highly suggest checking out the white nectarines, basil, and the sweet corn. Mmmmmm.

Although it's known as a "Coupon Market" due to the large numbers of people who utilize EBT/WIC/Farmer's Market coupons, the vendors are very grateful for cash sales. Also, because of the high volume of benefits, which are for fruits and vegetables only, other items like eggs and dairy products don't come to this market. When I spoke to the EBT representative, she said that the more people who come with cash, the better chance there will be of getting vendors to bring things that can't be bought with the coupons.

Another alert for some who may not know: Anyone receiving WIC benefits has the added benefit of getting $24 worth of Farmer's Market coupons to use until the end of the season. It's $24 per household. It's wonderful that the benefits system is finally getting its act together with fresh fruits and vegetables. So much better than the cheaper canned/frozen alternatives. While $24 won't get you a lot, it can certainly supplement other purchases.

New Sunset Firehouse has Bamboo Flooring

This may not be news to you, but I didn't know about these plans for the new Firehouse on 4th Avenue. Apparently, it's green, not red.

GreenBuildingsNYC has a description of some of the choices made in the construction of the firehouse. They include dual flush toilets, low-flow water fixtures, occupancy sensors (which I believe are the sort of thing that turns the lights off when no motion is detected), bamboo flooring (very hip), and also recycled/reclaimed materials will be used in structural elements. Its roof will also be EnergyStar rated. Click on the link above for more detail.

It's the first of its kind in NYC, and it will hopefully become an example for future plans around the City.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Sunset Park High School Update and Feature

Both IMBY (a year ago) and Brownstoner (today) have featured bits about the new Sunset Park High School that is due to open in September of 2009. The construction seems like it has gone quickly, but the year ago photos show that it has been a while already. Slow and steady wins the race in this case.

If you missed it, below is an excerpt from a June post about the CB7 meeting. Julie Stein-Brockway presented information about the new high school. I can tell you now that the new principal's name is Corinne Vinal. She comes from the DOE's Aspiring Principals Program, where I believe she served as a mentor. Before that she served as the principal of Manhattan's Center for Science and Mathematics.

The first report was from Julie Stein-Brockway, the co-director of the Center for Family Life. But tonight she was reporting on the new Sunset Park High School. SPHS has been granted the right to have just one principal with three small learning environments. This constitutes a huge savings in administration costs, and it will allow for a more cohesive community in the school. The new school will be associated with the Institute for Student Achievement. She reported that construction is on schedule, and that the school will open in the fall of 2009. The Sunset Park High School is NOT included in the "big book of schools" that all the current 7th graders took home this week, so spread the word: Sunset Park High School is an option! There will be three groups of 100 9th graders accepted. In addition, 75-100 10th graders will be admitted. A principal has been selected from a large pool, although Ms. Stein-Brockway could not give out HER name. We do know that she is a former principal who now works with the NYC Leadership Academy. Sunset Park has waited a long, long time to have its own school. Hopefully the enthusiasm and hard work of the development team will come to fruition intact.

Then and Now: 44th Street Between 4th and 5th Avenues

This block is now busy with cars working their way up to 5th Avenue or through to New Utrecht/Fort Hamilton Parkways. It's also busy with people coming home or going to work thanks to the nearby R train stop. In this 1952 photo, it looks bare but neat. I love the guy standing in front of his building with his hands on his hips. That is definitely something that hasn't changed.

It's difficult to make a comparison due to the "new" trees lining this block. The brick facades have been replaced with subdued siding, and gas guzzling SUVs are popular...and they block the view as well.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dancing Through Sunset Park Tomorrow and Next Thursday

As mentioned in a post last week, there's another free event for the summer. These dance classes are aimed at children ages 5-15, but it's entertaining for younger kids as well. Come to the park tomorrow for informal ballet and modern dance lessons from 10:30 AM - 11:30 AM. They'll also be in Sunset Park on the 31st, same times.

Pre-registration is requested (mainly for large groups): 347 702 7155

They are also at Owl's Head Park on July 29th (a Tuesday) at 10:30 AM.

Thanks to Vanessa for the official information!

Retumba! Gets Sunset Park Moving

The rain held off while Retumba! performed and interacted with children in Sunset Park today. Children demonstrated their dance skills, the audience sang along, and the band entertained everyone for an extended show.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What You See in Sunset Park: Boys Boxing

What to do when the pool gets closed down early? Start your own boxing ring, of course! These two boys were very enthusiastic, if a bit windmill-like with their arms, while pummeling each other.

The audience (sometimes heard to yell, "Hey, gimme the gloves! I wanna try!") was less enthusiastic, but planted firmly along the benches.

I particularly like the juxtaposition of the boys and the mom with baby in stroller. The baby is actually pointing to the boys with interest.

The gloves look pretty new; perhaps we'll be seeing more of this impromptu behavior.

At least they weren't waving machetes around like the boys in Sunset Park around 11 PM last night. I'll take padded gloves any day.

Where Was the Kidsmobile Today?

I'm quite sure that I was much more interested in seeing the Kidsmobile today at 10 AM than my toddler was, but I think I did detect a glimmer of disappointment in his eyes. Not to worry, we ended up at the Library for story-time anyway. However, I was curious as to why it would dismiss Sunset Park on the second Tuesday of its summer run. So, of course, I called the handy-dandy information number.

Staff Meeting. The bane of work schedules everywhere. That was the explanation. It wasn't the sprinkling of rain at around 10 AM. It wasn't that the turnout was mainly adults and not children last week. It was simply a need to have the staff of the Brooklyn Library and its Kidsmobile get together for some informational time.

The good news is that from now on the Kidsmobile will be showing up at about 10 AM EVERY Tuesday for the rest of the summer.

Afro-Caribbean Music and Dance in Sunset Park

On Wednesday, July 23rd, the third presentation of Sunset Park's music and entertainment for children continues with Journey through the Caribbean performed by Retumba! Beginning sharp at 10:30 AM, the shows are near the game tables/playground area, and event-goers are advised to bring a blanket or chair to sit on and some water (or other appropriate refreshment) to drink.

The group is described as "
a multi-ethnic all-female music and dance ensemble founded in March 1981 in celebration of Women's History month. Their work is borne from their unique interpretations of the traditional rhythms and ancient melodies of Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean islands." To see what this Wednesday's show is all about, check out this description of Retumba!

The free events are brought to us by the City Parks Foundation in cooperation with: Friends of Sunset Park and City of New York-Parks and Recreation.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Light Industry presents "Spectacle Spectacular"

Now, when my bourgeoise (can you rent and be bourgeoise?), middle-American (although I've never lived in the actual middle of America) self saw the title of the upcoming "Spectacle Spectacular" at Light Industry, some of you can probably guess what I immediately thought. Can't you? Yes! Moulin Rouge! It's practically perfect in every way. Who can resist Ewan McGregor, Madonna lyrics, and an elephant bedroom? You want big laughs, fun songs, and a good cry? Watch it. Seriously.

Sadly, Light Industry is NOT showcasing Nicole Kidman in her greatest role. They are, however, going to appeal to all of us who love the idea of peeping into private and public spaces with detail. Nothing sordid, just an honest curiosity. The bonus is that the show opens with a Sunset Park sunset. The filming took place in the Light Industry loft space and from the roof of the building. There will be lots to see, I'm sure.

As always, the Tuesday evening show begins at 8 PM and costs $6 at the door. Light Industry is located at 55 33rd Street, on the third floor. Check out Light Industry's website for more detail.

Update About Power Outages in Sunset, Slope, Boro Park, and Bay Ridge

Here's the NYT article that talks about the trials and relatively minor outages over the weekend:

4 Brooklyn Neighborhoods Lose Power

Brooklyn Library Kidsmobile is in Sunset Park Tomorrow

On Tuesday (every Tuesday throughout the summer) the Brooklyn Library Kidsmobile will bring stories, arts and crafts, books, and library cards to Sunset Park. Check it out from 10 AM to 11 AM near the Checker Tables. (They might park elsewhere tomorrow).

UPROSE Hosts Community Education Forum about Updates to Power Plant in Sunset Park

UPROSE Community Education Forum

Wednesday, July 23rd at 6:00pm

UPROSE will host a Community Education Forum on Wednesday, June 23rd at 6:00 pm at
UPROSE - 166A 22nd Street between 3rd & 4th Avenues.

Background: In October 2007, US Power Generating Company (USPowerGen) announced they would update the 560-megawatt Gowanus Generating Station located in Sunset Park.

UPROSE and community residents have expressed some concerns regarding the environmental impact on a community already suffering from many adverse environmental influences.

On June 5, UPROSE facilitated a meeting to discuss the possibility of a drafting a MOU (”Memorandum of Understanding”) or incorporating the community’s concerns in the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation permit process for USPowerGen.

USPowerGen has prepared a presentation to address the many questions that were cited at the meeting. USPowerGen has agreed to have all their explanations in laymen’s terms so everyone will be able to understand.

You can RSVP by calling 718.492.9307.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Con Ed Made "Low Voltage" Calls This Morning

I usually hang up on recorded messages that arrive at 8:30 AM. This morning, however, I "pressed 1" for English and listened to the message. In case you didn't, here's what they said. Our area is experiencing "Low Voltage," and this may cause flickering in lights, computers, microwaves, and so on. They asked (of course) that all appliances that aren't being used be turned off. It's in everyone's best interest to do that, I suppose. We don't want an outage, right?

They also mentioned that refrigerators can remain on, but to be careful to close the doors completely and quickly. Let's hope we don't get any blackout time.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Then and Now: St. Jacobi Evangelical Lutheran Church

Several months ago, I discovered (thanks to my better half) the Brooklyn Library's very cool collection of photographs from around Brooklyn. So, once in a while, and when I get decent photos from around the neighborhood, I'll try to do a version of a "Then and Now" comparison for Sunset Park. The first one, only because my photo of PS 169 didn't come out, is of 4th Avenue and 54th Street, looking at St. Jacobi Evangelical Lutheran Church. It hasn't actually changed that much, except for the gate and the new red multi-lingual sign. Enjoy.

This is stamped 1914. Notice it's also when Sunset Park was still considered Bay Ridge.

This is July 2008. Not much different. Even the size of the tree is more or less the same.

Brooklyn Pools Reviewed: Sunset is "Rough" and "Salty"

The Daily News has a run-down of Brooklyn (and Staten Island) pools in its July 18th edition. The best pool for smaller kids is the Bushwick Houses pool, and the cleanest one (and it's actually really great for kiddies too) is the Douglass and Degraw pool. How was the Sunset Pool rated?

No big surprise:

The best qualities were the view atop our hill and that "it's a great place to take a dip after a barbecue or volleyball game." No mention of the Olympic size of the pool or the water temperature or the ramp that allows for easy access into the pool with children. No mention of the sand volleyball court in the pool area that seems to be free a good amount of time.

* FYI: Barbecues are not allowed in Sunset Park, although they are sometimes overlooked by the enforcers. Also, it's tough to get volleyball time at the courts due to an extremely regular bunch of players.

There is lost of Room to Improve, according to The Daily News. The first is that you have to wear a suit to the pool (and bring a padlock!) because there is no actual space for changing. Okay, that's a pain, but not too bad. Also, I suppose if you're not too self-conscious, you can just change on your gender's specified side. For the babes (age, not looks), it certainly is fine. More relevant to people who go for relaxation or who bring kids is the amount of "roughhousing teenagers whose behavior and language can be as salty as the ocean." I love that the writer used "salty." On the upside, I suppose that could make pool-goers feel like they've had a day at the beach. On the downside, sensitive ears and - I think, more importantly - safety concerns need to be addressed at the pool more effectively.

A bonus mention of the Sunset Pool comes courtesy of one of the Red Hook staff members. Apparently, one (life guard?) called over the loudspeaker "If you don't like the rules, then you can go to Sunset Park!" Nothing like supporting your colleagues. I wonder how the staff at Sunset enjoys being called out (literally) by a fellow pool employee?

Check out the entire pool review here.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Favorite (non) Work Site Now Has an Official Excuse

My favorite walk-by site has been less than entertaining of late. After the buildings were demolished and the fences went up, not much seemed to be happening. Well, except for some new graffiti. Literally, nothing has been done to the site by the owners since the middle of May. Recently, somebody wanted in because the fencing has been carefully pulled apart in one place to allow easy access to the space. That's what brought on the Stop Work order pictured. It seems the "complete weatherproof" piece of it applies to the exposed wall of the adjacent building. Maybe this will induce some work to get done. Vacant lots are rarely a good thing. Especially during the summer. There are too many curious kids with time on their hands and looking for places to hang out.

Brit in Brooklyn Photographs Salt in Sunset Park

Brit in Brooklyn has fantastic photos of various events and places around Brooklyn. Gorgeous stuff. Basically, if you happened to miss an event - check his website. It will help ease the pain.

Yesterday's entry included a shot of a salt storage building in Sunset Park. Just thought I'd pass it along.

Heat Wave Tips

Our second heat wave is upon us. Here are some suggestions from the last one. One difference is that the OEM has a few cooling centers open in our area. Check where your closest one is by visiting their website, or by calling 311. Their page also have some additional tips for staying cool and beating the heat and warning signs of heat stroke and other heat related ailments.

Remember that libraries, grocery stores, and big stores (Target, CostCo) will be cool and relatively interesting as places to wander around. Also, a visit to the Brooklyn Museum (or any museum) is cool and large. They also have that fun fountain that kids love to watch (but can't go in to).

If you have neighbors or family who are elderly, have trouble getting out of the house, or don't have air conditioning, give them a call or stop by. Asking for help is a tough thing for a lot of people, even to the point of physical danger.

Don't forget the Sunset Pool, the sprinklers in various parks, and

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ballet and Modern Dance for the Tots at Sunset Park

The Young Dancers in Repertory troupe showed up with a captive audience at about 10 AM today to give a lesson in stretching, arabesque, and modern dance moves. It certainly held the little ones' attention for 30 minutes. The audience got to stretch along and some joined in with impromptu performances of their own.

This is a "mooch along" event. It's not officially meant for the general public, but it's in the park, so who can resist? I didn't see them here last week, but they said they were in the Park. Check back next Thursday to see if they have returned.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

2nd Update, less speculation, About Monday

Apparently, police are now interviewing people who have first-hand information about Monday night's shooting. According to a Sunset Park resident who lives on the park, her neighbor, a witness to the incident, said detectives were coming by tonight to gather information. She also shared that a 13 year old girl was the shooting victim, and that the person who fired the shots was also very young.

If the ages are correct, it's an even more pathetic and sad incident.

Big Nazo Invades Sunset Park

The second of five Wednesdays of Children's entertainment featured Big Nazo's musicians performing, entertaining, and in some cases scaring the kids who attended. After the performance, some kids braved the costumes and danced and played with the performers.

The Shark Cake Strikes Back

Everyone may call "Morrys" the Shark, but "Lalito" is the Shark King. In this shot you actually get to see the little guy in the shark's mouth. No naked ladies, however. Compare it to the other cake, also from Angel's Bakery, and decide which one is more fun. I like them both.

Update (sort of, including speculation) on the Shots Fired Monday Night

I've had several emails asking me if anything new has been found out about the "alleged" shots fired on Monday night. The short answer is: Nothing official. As of yesterday (there was no answer this morning), the 72nd Precinct asserts that there was no shooting - and no shots fired - on Monday evening in or around 6th Avenue and 44th Street (near the entrance of Sunset Park). According to a 72nd Precinct Community Council Member, there was a domestic disturbance in the area, but nothing that included shots or weapons.

There have been two main versions of what people saw/heard/believe happened. And while human beings are notoriously poor at being eye witnesses, it seems that SOME incident did, in fact, occur. Here's a run-down of what has come my way by way of comments, emails, and neighbors:

1. I was swimming laps in the pool when two shots rang out; cops and EMS came and one of the lifeguards reported that the someone had been shot but by he (or she) had run off.

2. We heard the shots and ran to the window to see what happened. It seems that someone got shot but ran away...there were lots of people screaming and running in all directions; the police got there pretty fast though.

3. Neighbors say that the car drove on 44th Street and shot into the park from the street just past 6th Avenue.

4. It's a fact, unfortunately. I live...right at that corner and a woman in our building was walking by when it happened and saw the whole thing. It was right outside the playground...apparently there was an argument and then he pulled out a gun and shot into the air...everyone was afraid to tell the police anything b/c the rumor was that it was gang related.

Obviously, the police and an ambulance responded to something within minutes of two shots being fired. Could both described versions (one with shots from a car into the park, one with someone shooting into the air near the playground) have occurred? Well, two shots seems to be the consistent number, and it's possible, considering the proximity of the 6th Avenue entrance to the playground, that one person near the playground argued with another person in a car and shots were fired as a warning. However, several people have mentioned someone running away with a wound of some kind. Since hospitals are required to report all gun shots, it's likely that no one showed up to a hospital.

While it's understandable that someone would be nervous about reporting information if gangs were involved, it seems that shots were fired within feet of the playground...and the playground was busy and full at the time. Even shots that go into the air need to adhere to gravity at some point. If we shrug and say "Well, no one got hurt" or "It was only shots fired" this time, it shows these thugs that they are safe from repercussions and from a watchful community. NYC in 2008 has already had far too many incidents where children were hurt or killed by stray bullets. Do a google search for 2008 NYC Children Stay Bullet and see what comes up.

Again, according the precinct, no 911 or precinct calls were made regarding the incident (although I wonder how they arrived so quickly). If anyone saw anything regarding this incident, call the precinct to report it: 718 965 6311. And if there is no answer (like this morning), call the Community Affairs office at 718 965 6326; they have an answering machine. Otherwise, as a last resort since this is not an immediate incident, you can call 911.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What You See in Sunset Park: Drumming and Ribbon Waving

Every morning you can see members of the Chinese community singing, waltzing, practicing sword-dancing, and exercising in Sunset Park. However, some days are more colorful than others. This morning was particularly interesting, as shown by the photos sent by Vanessa of The ribbons are brighter than usual, and the drums don't come out everyday. Quite a visual treat.

The Brooklyn Library's Kidsmobile Has Arrived

photos courtesy of Vanessa Velez,

Every Tuesday, from 10 AM - 11 AM, the Brooklyn Library Kidsmobile will be presenting arts and crafts, stories, and making books available in Sunset Park. Today, the Kidsmobile was set-up by the chess tables. You can check out books if you have a library card, and if you don't, you can apply for one at the Kidsmobile. For more information, and for the full Kidsmobile summer schedule, click here.

Wednesdays of Free Fun Continue with Wacky, Life-Sized Puppets

On Wednesday, July 16th, the second installment of Sunset Park's music and entertainment for children continues with Big Nazo's Intergalactic Side Show. Beginning sharp at 10:30 AM, the shows are near the game tables/playground area, and event-goers are advised to bring a blanket or chair to sit on and some water (or other appropriate refreshment) to drink.

The show is described as "
an international performance group of visual artists, puppet performers, and masked musicians who unite to create bizarre and hilarious larger-than-life sized characters, environments, and spectacles." To see what this Wednesday's show is all about, check out the Big Nazo website.

The free events are brought to us by the City Parks Foundation in cooperation with: Friends of Sunset Park and City of New York-Parks and Recreation.

Sunset Park Shootings?

Last night, just around 8 PM, we heard two pops that sounded like they were just up the street. I always say it's just fireworks; my husband always says it's gunfire. A few minutes later a police car or two sped by followed by an ambulance. I had a meeting to attend, so I walked by the park at about 8:20 PM to see the swings full of kids, the ice cream vendors doing good business, and lots of people standing around chatting. There was also a police car stationed at the park entrance on 6th Avenue and 44th Street. Still, I suppose because of the happily swinging kids, I figured it had been some park silliness or the drunks throwing bricks at the ice cream vendors again, and went on my way.

Upon returning home, I had an email from a neighbor that said a drive by had occurred at the 6th Ave and 44th entrance. A drive by shooting into the park. So far, I haven't found any evidence of it (other than the previously mentioned police car and pops), but I also found out there had been "shots fired" at 66th and 4th (technically Bay Ridge?) just about 8 PM. Related? Speculation is that the drive by, at least, is a gang related issue.

More than anything, I'm angry that some machismo scheisskopf has the chutzpah (yes, I'm mixing languages) to shoot into a park filled with children and families. Get over yourself. It shows cowardice and a total lack of self-respect. Shooting into a busy park from a moving car? Someone has seen too many slow-motion movie scenes. Obviously, and thankfully, no one was hurt.

Hopefully, this will turn out to be just rumor and not fact. Somehow, my head tells me it's not.

Gourmet Eatery to Open: Dee-lish

Dee-lish (inspired by Rachel Ray?) is the newest addition to the 4th Avenue stretch of Sunset Park. It's right on the 45th corner with the train station entrance/exit to keep it company. The hope (of the owners, at least) is that it will open this Wednesday. I'm always amazed at the speed with which these places can prepare. Considering what the inside looked like today, I'm not so sure Wednesday will be the day. One of the people inside said that it's going to be a deli, and when I asked if it would be selling groceries as well, I was met with a perplexed look. I guess that's still up in the air.

It's a decent location. The 45th Street stop has become more and more busy in recent years. They'll probably do a decent AM business, if nothing else.

Last Two Weeks to See "Bridge as Icon" at Tabla Rasa

Tabla Rasa is a lovely gallery in Sunset Park, located at 228 48th Street, that has been showing a artwork focused on celebrating the 125th Anniversary of the Brooklyn Bridge. Since the end of May, Tabla Rasa has been showing Bridge as Icon, a collection of varied pieces that show the Bridge in many different ways.

The installation ends on July 26th, so get over there and check out the art! The gallery is free and open to the public Thursdays through Saturdays from Noon - 5 PM. Call (718).833.9100 for additional summer hours, or to double check dates and times.

For a list of artists and for more detail, check out an earlier post about this installation.

Thank you to Vanessa Velez of for the photos of the light installation and gallery.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Amalgamated Opted Out of Fencing

Apparently, the fencing was nixed after yesterday's major Ooops. It's been totally removed and cleaned up. It looks a lot more pleasant now anyway. There is still a lot of work to be done; the doors still even have the old Pollo Campero stickers on them. This will only be the second location for Amalgamated in Brooklyn. The other Brooklyn location is on Fulton Street. The Sunset Park location (5th Avenue and 45th Street) is slated to open in mid-August, September at the latest.

Watch Where You Walk in Sunset Park

Yesterday's Daily News had an article about a Sunset Park resident, Monica Gonzalez, who was arrested for prostitution on her way to the Lutheran Medical Center. This occurred at about 2:30 AM back in November, but it's in the news now due to Gonzalez' complaint and suit regarding the case. The charges against her were dropped after she hired an attorney.

Commenters on the Daily News site wonder what Gonzalez was doing out at 2:30 AM by herself; they question her "true" motivation for being on 3rd Avenue. Well, for those who know the area, it's a four block walk to LMC (2nd and 55th) from Gonzalez' home on 53rd Street. She was "picked up" on 3rd Avenue between 53rd and 54th. Sounds like on the way to 55th Street to me. Not only that, but she was wearing a long winter coat. How many hookers do you see covering up? Also, Officer Spencer (the arresting officer) claimed that Gonzalez had been arrested before. Wrong. His partner even said, at the time of the arrest, that they should let her go and that he'd never seen her on the street before.

The bottom line is that a woman who lives in the neighborhood was out late and mistaken for a prostitute. The charges held despite her house address being local and a family home, an officer calling an ambulance from the precinct house (20 blocks from LMC, not four), and the arresting officer having a past with another suit for false arrest (involving another Latina, by the way).

Most cops (don't argue!) are good cops. However, there are some who will take advantage of vulnerable situations - just like any other group of people. Thankfully, this woman was able to hire a lawyer and have the charges against her dropped. Thankfully, it doesn't sound like she suffered any repercussions in her work-life (the actual one). Believe me, if a teacher had been in her place, that teacher would have been pulled out of the classroom and suffered truckloads of whispers and ridicule at work.

Racoon Drops In On Sunset Dinner Party

Pardon Me For Asking has a cute photo of a raccoon that crashed a dinner party on 33rd Street. It's also a friendly reminder to bag up trash properly and keep it in cans until you must put it out. This cute little guy could grow up to be a neighborhood trash bully!

Parents Concerned About Safety at Sunset Pool

Sunset Park has one of the most beautiful, huge, delicious-looking pools ever. Hyperbole? Perhaps, but I don't think so.

That said, it's popular with lots of children, tweens, teens, and adults. That's a beautiful thing, of course, but it brings problems as well.

On a recent thread on Park Slope Parents, one parent asked about differences between the Red Hook Pool and the Sunset Pool. She mentioned that while it has a wonderful kiddie pool, the Red Hook Pool has many rules that seem "militant." (As another poster mentioned, all City pools have the same rules.) A follow-up poster wished for more militant enforcement of the rules at the Sunset Pool:

I went to the sunset park pool less than 2 weeks on a tuesday around 5pm and there was an organized incident where about 30 teenage boys started diving and jumping into the pool all at the same time, over and over. The life guards couldn't control them and two minutes later, police came out and shut down the pool--everyone had to leave. Thank goodness i happened to be in the middle of the pool with my two children when it started. When we came out, two of our towels were stolen. Now i have a bad taste in my mouth over sunset.*

*Used with author's permission.

Apparently, the sort of incident described has happened a few times (not just at the Sunset Pool) because the teens know that if one or two do running jumps into the pool (against the rules) they'll be thrown out. If a large group does it together, no one person gets in trouble. Of course, then the whole pool gets shut down and everyone's fun is ended. However, some teens (like some adults!) couldn't care less about other people's fun or safety. In another recent incident, a few teens were thrown out of the pool and proceeded to throw glass bottles into the pool area from outside the fence; no regard for other pool goers safety or fun was clearly demonstrated.

The best advice I can offer about the pools in general is to go early. The 11 AM - 3 PM session has far fewer problems than the late afternoon session. Also, I've heard from another parents that sticking close to the ramp area is "uncool" for the older kids, making it perfect for the littler ones.

In regards to towels being stolen, it stinks, and theft happens all the time. It's why the rules keep us from bringing much of anything into the pool area (or the locker area, for that matter!). Even the highest cost gyms have plenty of folks who help themselves to other people's stuff. May all towel thieves one day learn what it's like to have soaking wet kids and no towel with which to dry them.

An aside: Why oh why didn't they put in a kiddie pool instead of a sand volleyball court at the Sunset Pool? There are several areas around the park to play volleyball, but a kiddie pool would serve both the little ones and the older kids who want more space in the pool. This season, I have yet to see anyone utilize the sand volleyball court for something other than digging in the sand.

Sunset Park Kids Take Over 61st Street

The Police Athletic League is providing a "Summer Play Street" in Sunset Park. 61st Street between 4th and 5th Avenue will be closed to all traffic every Monday through Friday from 9 AM - 5 PM making it perfect for summer play. Games and activities, including basketball and Double Dutch (I never could get more than three steps), arts and crafts, and music and dance will be available for children who show up.

According to the PAL NYC website:

PAL’s summer Playstreet Program is the foundation of PAL’s summer programs. PAL closes off streets and other public areas throughout New York City to give children safe, supervised places to play. Playsites offer sports, arts, crafts, games, reading, music and dance. Mobile reading teachers bring a variety of books to the children to encourage summer reading. Summer playsites serve youngsters in neighborhoods in all five boroughs.

Legal Clinics for Immigration Assistance

Every third Wednesday of the month, from 3:30 PM - 6:30 PM the Center for Family Life on 4th Avenue and 55th Street hosts FREE Immigration Legal Clinics. They are sponsored and run by the Legal Aid Society and Robin Hood Legal Services Initiative. An appointment is necessary,
but easy to obtain. Call 718-758-3500 for more information or to make an appointment.

What: Legal Clinic to assist with immigration applications, answer questions about immigration status.
When: Every Third Wednesday of Every Month from 3:30 PM - 6:30 PM
Where: Center for Family Life, 5505 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bicyclist Killed in a Collision on 54th and 7th

Sadly, we've had another fatality on the streets of Sunset Park. The most recent update to this story, which happened Thursday night at about 10 PM, is from the NY Post's Police Blotter. It sounds like a bicyclist didn't stop at a stop sign, and he was hit by a livery cab. The cyclist, Pedro Fernandez-Pacheco, was pronounced dead at Lutheran Medical Center. The driver of the car was issued a summons for an improper license, but he stayed at the scene and wasn't ticketed for the accident.

There is a bike lane on 7th Avenue, but apparently the cyclist was riding on 54th, which has a stop sign. 7th Avenue doesn't have any signs or lights at that intersection.

Stop signs, when heeded, do work! Seems like a good time to remind any interested readers to sign the petition to have stop signs installed at the 6th Avenue intersections around Sunset Park. Anyone who has tried to cross 41st or 44th at 6th Avenue to enter or leave the park understands why we need them! Read first, then sign here.

Fencing Outside New Amalgamated Tumbles

Around 1 PM on Sunday, the plywood and metal fencing surrounding the construction of the new Amalgamated Bank on 5th Avenue and 45th Street fell to the sidewalk. No one was willing to say if any pedestrians or workers had been hurt; everyone was very grumpy and sullen. For good reason, I'd say.

At about 1:45 PM there was an ambulance leaving the scene, but it wasn't in a hurry. This is a seriously heavy fence, so I hope no one was nearby when it tumbled. At about 4 PM (when the photo was taken), the workers were still putting the fencing up again. Hopefully it will be secured more carefully this time.

I saw News12 Brooklyn nearby, but I can't seem to access their webpage. If anyone knows more, please share!

*minor update: News12 Brooklyn (only on cable!) reported that minor injuries were sustained, but they didn't say if pedestrians, workers, or vandals sustained them. I'm just glad no one was crushed.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Son Candela in Sunset Park

The photoblog gunsetpark has a photo and video posted of Son Candela. The photo was taken on the western downward slope of Sunset Park, and the video (filmed on the Brooklyn Promenade) is from youtube.

You can find out more about the group, and order their music, at their website. They have more photos from Sunset Park (with the group in them, of course) in their photo gallery as well.


Sunset Park's Green Market Produce and Flowers

This year's opening day of Sunset Park's Green Market (every Saturday at 4th Avenue and 59th Street) was busy, bustling, and full of good looking fruits, veggies, flowers, and fragrant basil and cilantro. These selections were truly gorgeous. At $4 a pint, the cherries were tempting, but still a little over my budget. It was $6 for a quart.

These potted plants were waiting to be displayed outside of the sun's reach.

Even before 9 AM, the people came to buy. Almost all of the vendors displayed signs that EBT and Farmer's Market checks would be accepted. Lots of people took advantage of that option.

At 50 cents an ear, it wasn't a huge deal, but the table was surrounded by eager husk-strippers looking for the perfect kernel. Perhaps later in the season we'll get a better selection; I found several ears with deflated kernels on the top third.

These flowers were really beautiful. They, and the potted plants at another table, were the only offerings of purely decorative elements.

Mmmmmm. These, and the calabasa next to them, looked so good. The stand wasn't happy about having a photo taken, until I promised no people were included in the shot.