Friday, March 30, 2007

Restore Me!

I pass this house everyday on my way to work and wish we had enough dough to buy it and restore it. Honestly, I don't even know if it's for sale (never seen a sign) or who owns it but since I've been traveling down Ocean it's looked this way.

Knifepoint Robberies

There were two knifepoint robberies in the 'hood last evening. Both robberies occurred in the lobbies of buildings while the delivery person was ringing the apartment to which they were delivering. A Crossroads delivery person was robbed at knifepoint at 10 Ocean Pkwy and a AM Thai delivery person at 414 Albemarle Rd. Here are some details:

From Crossroads:
The robber grabbed him from behind, as he waited to be buzzed in for a delivery, put a knife to his throat and told him to give him his wallet. Then he ran back into the building. The police searched the building but could not find him. The suspect is described as 6 ft tall, Hispanic,between 20 to 30 years old and about 200 lbs. He was wearing a beige sweatshirt.
From 414 resident:
Turns out (and this story has many holes in it) that the food delivery guy (we ordered Thai food) claims to have been robbed @ "knifepoint" IN our building by someone who was either buzzed in directly following or followed him in with the delivery.

A similiar crime was reported March 12th by the Courier. If you have any information regarding these crimes contact the 66th at 718 851 5611 or 72nd at 718-965-6311

(And before anyone writes me about the neighborhood not being safe this is only the 2nd robbery I have heard of in three years.)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Replace The Trees!

Along our tree lined streets there seems to be many trees removed for various reasons without being replaced. I heard a rumour that in order to get a replacement tree the owner of the building near where the tree was growing must make a request to have it replaced. Well, I'm just gonna submit a tree request to replace the following:

1. 3 empty spots on north side of Church b/w Ocean Pkwy & E5th (#'s 511-531 Church Ave)
2. 1 empty spot near Church Ave. on east side of E4th (on side of computer store)
3. 1 empty spot near McDonald on Albemarle (near subway entrance).

Add more to the comments and I'll include them on my list.

A short walk from home.... Prospect Park

di Blasio & MTA meeting re: Church Ave. F

The Town Hall meeting organized by di Blasio's people w the MTA was informative although a bit long... ah, the glory of local government. The short and dirty, for those who do not know, is the Church Ave. F station is getting three (count 'em 3) elevators as part of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) funding. Because of the construction there are a lot of homes, traffic and people being affected. That construction is status quo and will continue to 12/07.

The issue on many of our minds was the F train service. Many of us voiced the need for an F express as there was years ago (and hello why does that V just end on 2nd Ave?). The MTA was tight lipped on some forthcoming changes that would affect the Smith & 9th as well as 4th Ave. station. This construction would then in some way affect all F service but it seems some sort of Culver station announcement is forthcoming. Will it be good news for those of us who ride the F at rush hour well, I don't know! What I do know is the MTA engineer on hand was ready to leak the details until the MTA guy in charge of public relations told him no (as quietly as possible in a room full of F train riders) and di Blasio followed with "We don't want to get anyone fired here tonight". Ok maybe that wasn't exactly what he said but it's pretty darn close. The MTA PR guy did note the story in amNY on the G running out to our end wasn't completely accurate.

If you feel like trying for your own details on F train service changes etc. here's the guy we met tonight.
Andrew Inglesby
Assistant Director, Governement and Community Relations
646 252 2658

What the F? Brooklyn Paper 2/24/07

Sub-Prime Pox

Gowanus Lounge posted an interesting note on foreclosure problems in Brooklyn.

Campaign for a Kiosk

How's the old saying go, strike while the iron is hot?

For more information email


To Whom It May Concern:
I have been made aware that funding for the machines that will provide faster and better service at Kensington Station must come from the Federal Post Office and not the Brooklyn Post Office. I am writing to request the immediate purchase, installation and support of an “Automated Postal Kiosk” and a “Postage Dispenser” at Kensington Station, 419 McDonald Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11218.

On March 1st a community meeting was held with the Brooklyn Postmaster, Joseph Chiossone and his staff to address serious service issues and the needs of this greatly under served, growing community. Mr. Chiossone has outlined his plan to address these issues but could not include this equipment in his plan. I am writing to assist him in this endeavor. Thank you for your consideration.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Town Hall Meeting de Blasio & MTA

Council member de Blasio has organized with the MTA to discuss renovations and such happening at the F stop on Church.
Thursday, March 29, 2007,
PS230 Lower School Multimedia Room
425 McDonald Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11218

A Crane Grows in Kensington

Destroy by Development

On my afternoon walks with the dog I've stumbled upon new development after new development rising with for sale signs (and usually the listing agent is Corcoran). Some of these new developments are better then others and some just blow my mind with their complete inappropriateness (Simone and Park Circle). I guess I just wonder why any of this is even needed when there is beatiful building after beautiful building down Ocean Pkwy that any of these rich buyers could toss in 50K to make a sick apartment and maintain the integrity of the block. Putting aside the buyers for a minute I get the sense that many developers hear Brooklyn is booming and come to dig and make a buck.
I think most Kensington neighbors (and probably a lot of Brooklynites) are like me and are here not because it's the IT place to be but because of the community, the amenities, and the fact that city living with mass transit and small business is important to how I live my life. It's dissappointing to watch neighborhoods created by true activists get taken over by Wall St. boomers and kids w a downpayment from Mom and Dad. Recently in a NY Times article "Betting on Star Power" the developer was hoping to attract the Manhattan buyers to Brooklyn through luxury but does Brooklyn want that buyer? And in the meantime do the non-luxury buildings need to just be tossed up so aimlessly without any forethought on the surronding community and homes?
Note: All 4 pictures above are literally within a 6 block radius in Kensington. My favorite is the Melrose type condo's (listing agent, Corcoran) located on E7th and Beverly.

"Kensington" Video

A neighbor sent me this video on Kensington (air quotes on Kensington). Except for the fact that it spends half the video referring to Ditmas Park as South Kensington it's interesting to watch. The reality is down here on the south side of the park we're all sort of connected but if anyone knows the host, Artanker tell him to call me for a REAL tour of Kensington.

Got Brownstone?

Does your Brownstone wanna be a star? Maybe Tina Fey can have her baby in your living room.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Organize to Revitalize!

Some Kensington neighbors and I were lucky enough to meet with Mark Dicus of CAMBA today to discuss our side of the park’s issues and solutions. Besides working for CAMDA Mark is the president of an organization he helped found in his ‘hood, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, called Prospect Lefferts United for Service (PLUS). Mark was a wealth of information about how to get a grant for store front improvement, deal with graffiti through city agencies and organizations like Publicolor as well as promote greener environments with the help of New York Cares. We also discussed BIDs and alternatives for revitalization of business along Church Ave in our stretch (from Ocean Parkway to McDonald Ave.). Mark's suggestions were simple, like organizing a graffiti removal day that would get us access to business owners by providing them with free removal (we’d be the muscle and have the city provide the paint). He also reaffirmed what we already knew which is frequent and become apart of organizations in the area like Albemarle Neighborhood Association (ANA). The meeting was helpful, informative and a chance for a few of us to organize. We left with a plan to meet in the next two weeks to discuss our main goals and focus. Mark also extended his help through CAMBA when these goals are determined. All and all a good start!

We're Part of the In Crowd...

Brooklyn Record considered the Gothamist like site for the borough reports on well, all things Brooklyn. On the right side of the BRecord there is an archives section which lists literally every 'hood from the north to the south and most in between however, one neighborhood was conspicuously absent from the list until today. The 'hood (and yours truly) was added and I have to say it's about darn time. Cheers Brownstoner!

What's right for Church Ave?

Some fellow neighbors and I have a meeting with CAMBA to discuss Church Ave. and it's revitalization. On the table will be discussion of a BID and generally how to improve the area with better maintance and diversification of business. What will work here? How can we draw in more small independent businesses that will improve the area? Is a BID the answer for cleanliness but a detractor for small independent run business? How can we get the current owners of the properties on Church Ave to open their doors (and lower rents)? And how exactly can I get in touch w the Kensington Merchant Association?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Filming in Kensington

Filming starting tomorrow morning in a private house on E3rd St by Dakota Films for "Flight of the Concord". Talked to the set up guys this evening and this is an HBO TV show.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Church Ave Bonanza

Say what you want about the Ave. but it was rocking on Sunday. The semi-annual Church Ave. Bonanza put on by Kensington Merchant Assoc. was a hit. Since I had to work until 4pm I didn't arrive until 5-ish and was met with a huge crowd. The pony rides for $5 and other kiddie fare seemed to be a big hit as were the other random street fair vendors. For those of us who live near and frequent Church know we are in need of more differentiation in business there. As you can see from the pictures we got a lot of people around willing to spend. I vote for a coffee shop, a health food store and a kid and family friendly restaurant.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Friday, March 23, 2007

ANA Meeting Update!

Last night I attended my first Albemarle Neighborhood Assocation (ANA) meeting and was truly astounded and impressed at the Executive Board’s commitment and involvement to the neighborhood. The president, Larry Jayson, has been living in Kensington for over 30 years as have many of the other members. The information he and his team had to offer was great and the work they have done as the neighborhood has changed through these many years is commendable.

For me and the other first time attendees (mostly new residents) it was an eye opening yet positive meeting. We learned that the neighborhood created a BID over 10 years ago. Unfortunately, the effort was quickly abandoned as business owners high-tailed it to budding Windsor Terrace. Regardless, I think a similar effort if explored now with the involvement of many new residents and community leaders (like the members of the ANA) it could truly succeed. We were also told that 4 years ago the ANA applied for a$6K grant to clean graffiti in the neighborhood… I think it’s time to do this again!

In terms of attendance I think besides me there were seven other first time attendees and our enthusiasm was welcomed with open arms from the ANA. Although nothing was necessarily ‘accomplished’ I have great hopes from the conversation that many of us will be a continued presence in the group and the ANA’s is a force that will help with any efforts we begin. My only true hope going forward is that more neighbors (old and new) begin to attend these neighborhood meetings so we can meet as a community and learn from one another as well as contribute to the good of the area.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Historic Kensington

Advertisement for Kensington in Brooklyn Eagle October 7, 1891

Going Postal in Kensington

Obviously the guy is a little off but who hasn't had this moment in that place? Well, we've had our meeting, got a new manager, and the names of those in charge. Regardless, the funniest thing about the video, besides his rant, is that for once the workers seem to be moving the line... in my experience after 3 or 4 customers they break! Thanks for the video, Ben!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Historic Kensington

A trolly on Church heading toward McDonald. You can see the old Beverly Theater (where there is currently a 99 cent store and next door that top notch jewelry place).

Cinema Treasures has some extensive comments on the Beverly Theater that shut it's doors in '81. The auditorium for the theatre is now the auditorium for PS230 Annex.

Who likes their veggies? Join the CSA!

So I had never heard of this before but think it’s pretty terrific. Here’s the short explanation…

Members pre-purchase a “share” of a harvest from an organic local farmer who then brings the produce to our neighborhood each week. Each share gets you enough vegetables to feed a family of four (1/2 shares also available) and the prices should be comparable to a Food Co-op. The farm used in this neighborhood will be the Garden of Eve farm, which is located on Long Island in Riverhead There is a lot more to tell but if this has peaked your interest get in touch with Elliot ( or Gina (

Mural on Foodtown Wall

One reader (and member of KWTneighbor's yahoo group) sent in a great idea about a community themed mural for the Foodtown wall on the corner of McDonald & Tehama. I LOVE this idea. I guess she even has an artist from the neighborhood who is willing to do it! She has taken the initiative and needs some ideas/ contacts about getting city funding and approval. Anyone out there have experience with stuff like this? Anyone also willing to get involved and work on the idea with her? Regardless, I've added it to my wish list.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Dog Run @ Greenwood Playground

I've been promoting the site on walks with the dog in the neighborhood drumming up conversations with fellow dog owners to see what their opinions are on a small dog run in Greenwood Playground. Okay well the people have spoken and they want it (as does the doggie in the picture).

I originally thought there would be two areas to explore - 1. the small fenced in yard off Greenwood Playground on the north corner of E5th and Fort Hamilton and 2. the random fenced in park up the block from the playground on E5th near the small white church. The people I met today have heard that the larger (#2) area was fenced b/c a resident was unhappy with people not cleaning up after thier dogs (I also have a huge issue with this b/c it gives us all a bad name!).

Regardless, I know some dogs had been playing in yard #1 earlier in the year and some signs were put up disallowing the practice. I'm not sure what the problem was but I think some mesh on the bottom of the fence for the smaller dogs and a garbage can for the doggie doo is all we would really need. Oh and maybe a communial doggie water dish for the warmer months. Consider the dog run officially added to the wish list.

Kensington Windsor Terrace Neighbors Group

Got some response from neighbors on Kensington/ Windsor Terrace yahoo group. If you'd like to join the only requirement is that you live or own a business in Kensington or Windsor Terrace. The group discourages postings for activities/events outside the area, and commercial posts are limited to businesses in the area or owned by residents of the area.

To join send an email to

Historic Kensington

Prospect Expressway under construction looking south from
Ft. Hamilton parkway to Church Avenue, P.S. 130 on right

Albemarle Neighborhood Association (ANA)

I recently received the montly flyer from ANA that lists many of the topics on the wish list covered at thier last meeting including - sanitiation on Church Ave, Foodtown, F station at Church Ave., sale of facility on McDonald. The next meeting is THIS THURSDAY (22nd)! All concerned citizens should attend!!!!!!

ANA meetings
Thurs. March 22nd 2007
Thurs. April 19th 2007
Thurs. May 17th 2007
Thurs. June 14th 2007
Held at:
Flatbush & Shaare Torah Jewish Center
327 East 5th St.
Starting at: 7.30

Monday, March 19, 2007

Church on Ft. Hamilton

Kensington Wish List

Meeting today with di Blasio representative to discuss the following...

General beautification of the area (and status of work)
1. Garbage removal and extra trash cans placed on McDonald and Church as well as Caton b/w McDonald and Ocean

2. Trees planted on Church, McDonald, Caton, Ft. Hamilton

3. Graffiti removal - currently graffiti litters many private homes and mailboxes along the side streets and major road ways and has not been cleaned by the city on public mailboxes etc.

4. Historical street lamps added instead of ‘70s version plus some new street lights (Tehama St. need lights).

5. Sidewalk replacement and cleaning on Church Ave especially near McDonald Ave.

6. Status of current work on McDonald. Status of the on-going street repair and timeliness of its completion

7. Status of current work on Church Ave. F entrance on Albemarle and McDonald. Status of the repair and timeliness of its completion (no work seems to be started).

8. Enforcement of no truck policy on Caton Ave. (need law enforcement ticketing during rush hours)

9. Foodtown. Cited for multiple health violations. Will they stay open? What do our officials know about it?

10. Speed bump on Ft. Hamilton and East 5th (b/w school and park off ramp)

Business Improvement/ Economic Development
11. Funding from the City/State for business development (in area) to encourage a greater variety of small businesses. (Any empowerment zone programs available through the city/state?)

12. Status of Bricklane (bar?) on Church Ave b/w Ocean Pkwy and East 5th. Work seemed to be completed in the Fall yet still unopened…

13. Status on the big building up for sale on McDonald Avenue between Albemarle and Church Ave. It was formerly a nursing home that had many available rooms when Katrina hit. The owner brought in Katrina victims but when they left, the building had too many vacancies and couldn't afford to go on. We should know if there are any restrictions on building use and whether our elected reps are keeping an eye on this.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Snowy Kensington

Nearby New Developments $$$$

After doing a little real estate investigating today I was amazed to find two new developments in the area both hosting open houses this weekend with prices I'm finding a litte (ok, more then a little) high for the 'hood.

Park Circle (on Coney Island) 2 bedroom 2 bath $885K with the terraces (2 small) but not including maintance or taxes it's about $490 a square foot.

The Simone (on McDonald) 2 bedroom 2 bath $1.19M with a terrace (a huge one) but not including maintance or taxes it's about $428 a square foot.

I must be out of the loop b/c although I find the prices a bit out of range I took a look on the Corcoran listings for The Simone and many are already in contract including a studio for $275K.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

New Kensington Neighborhood Assoc.??

In my google travels I found the following:

New Kensington Neighborhood Association
780 East 5th St.

I plan on logging in a call tomorrow to investigate thier assistance in a Kensington Economic Development Corp. for the 'hood but just wondering if anyone has had any dealings with them or know of any e-mail contact.

Kensington Action Force (KAF)

Did a little searching today and found the KAF. Emailed a bit with Mr. Sidney Zelman who runs the Force. Seems they essentially deal with safety and crime issues in the neighborhood. From the recent meeting minutes which was held March 6th "Kensington Action Force acts as an effective education and communication vehicle between Kensington residents and our public officials".

To join or get involved in KAF use the email below to contact Mr. Zelman.
Kensington Action Force
4520 18th Ave.

KAF meetings held at IS 62, 700 Cortelyou Road (entrance on E7th St.)
Meetings begin at 7.25pm
Public Meetings: May 15th 2007, September 18th 2007, November 6th 2007

Local Police Station Information

From Kensington Action Force (KAF):
Phone 911 for emergencies and 311 for police non-emergency issues.

70th Precinct
Precinct 70 is located at 154 Lawrence

66th Precinct
66th Precinct is located at 59th Street and 16th Avenue

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

de Blasio Town Hall Meeting 3/29 @ PS230

I gotta give some praise to Bill de Blasio and his people. I emailed his office today and got a response today! I'm scheduled to meet with a representative next week. In the meantime he sent me some information to pass on to all of you.

Bill de Blasio Town Hall Meeting (with MTA to discuss F station renovations)
Thursday, March 29, 2007, 6:30PM-7:30PM
PS230 Lower School Multimedia Room
425 McDonald Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11218
For additional information please call, 718-854-9791

At this meeting MTA staff will:
-Give a project update.
-Discuss future disruptions in service and street closings.
-Answer questions and address project concerns.

At this meeting Bill de Blasio will:
-Give us community updates.
-Discuss plan to work with the United States Postal Service to better
provide service at Kensington Station.
-Ask for signatures to petition for a new USPS station or finance postal unit for 11218.

Power in Numbers

I spent a lot of time over the last 3 years thinking about ways to improve Kensington. I'm pretty sure a coffee shop would start a flow of business improvements (Picket Fences led to VoxPop which led to Farm on the Aderdeen etc.). The problem is I don't know anyone who wants to start a business on Church Ave. (or anywhere for that matter). Anyway! The more I thought about it I decided what's really missing is the cute factor 'cause we have stuff (you can't tell me Golden Farm hasn't made a real turn around) but overall the Ave. still has a little grit to it. I for one would love to see the area cleaned up and just jotted down a few ideas,
1. less trash around (more cans especially on Caton and Church corners)
2. trees planted along Church and McDonald
3. the bus stop at Church and McDonald to get new seats and signs
4. an EXPRESS F-train
5. a quicker turn around on graffiti clean up
6. a clear bike lane from Ocean Pkway to the park
7. local business improve and beautify storefronts
8. a dog run at the Greenwood Playground (fenced in clearing next Ft. Hamilton is unused)
9. family movie nights in the ballpark at Greenwood Playground ballfield
10. enforcement of the truck policy on Caton

My first step was to email Bill DeBlasio and Jim Brennan our local council and assembly people. I'm urging you to do the same. Tell them we need more trees and better train service! Tell them to set up a meeting with me and I'll give them a lot of ideas. Here are the emails.... AND

Graffiti Clean-up Request

Since our neighborhood's recent run-in with the infamous "backfat" there has been a huge increase in graffiti. I thought it would be helpful to get a complete list of major tag locations and phone it in to 311. I know of the following:
side of private house on E5th and Caton
fence of private house on E4th and Caton
garage door of private house on E4th (closer to Albemarle)

Please post any locations you know of and I'll make a comprehensive list. From there we should all bombard 311 with clean up requests. Unfortunatly, NYC.Gov may need a physical request but I'm sure if they get enough calls there will be some action.
How do I have my building cleaned if I am not involved with a civic group?
If you are not involved with a civic group and have property that has been vandalized by graffiti, you can request that City remove the graffiti. To have the City remove the graffiti you must send in a properly filled out waiver form with a letter from the building owner requesting the City to remove the graffiti.
From Kensington Action Force (KAF)
There is a FREE graffiti program sponsored by the Mayor’s office, the Sanitation Department and the office of Boro President Markowitz, currently available. Call the Boro President’s Hotline 718-802-3777 and request that a “permission to remove graffiti” form be sent to you. Complete and return the signed form to the Boro President’s Office. Community residents, who feel disgusted, when passing graffiti filled locations are encouraged to obtain forms and have both residents and store owners sign and mail/fax the permission forms to the Boro Presidents office(number and address on the form). Kensington businesses and residents have had their graffiti removed under this excellent program. NYC Mayor’s office truck will wash graffiti from business and homes, in the 66th and 70th precinct that have submitted signed authorization forms

Community Boards... How to use them?

I found Kensington's local community boards on the question is... how to use them? I think some garbage cans on Caton and McDonald as well as other larger improvements (new lampposts and benches at the bus stop) would give the area a first step in the right direction but can they help with things like that? I'll write to them and start exploring it but in the meantime if you have any information on how these things work please write to me directly or in the comments section.

Brooklyn Community Board 12
5910 13th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11219
Phone: 718.851.0800 Fax: 718.851.4140

Chair: Mr. Alan J. Dubrow District Manager: Mr. Wolf Sender
Board Meeting: Fourth Tuesday Cabinet Meeting: Third Tuesday (every other month)

Brooklyn Community Board 14
810 East 16th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11230-3010
Phone: 718.859.6357 Fax: 718.421.6077

Chair: Mr. Alvin M. Berk District Manager: Ms. Terry Rodie
Board Meeting: Second Monday Cabinet Meeting: First Wednesday (every other month)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Kensington Post Office Meeting (3/1/07)

I heard from a couple neighbors that the post office meeting held March 1st went really well with local residents packing the gym at Immaculate Heart of Mary gymnasium. Here is a link to an article posted in on Flatbush Life.

Contacts given out at the meeting are as follows:
Joseph Chiossone, Brooklyn Postmaster

Archie Warner, Customer Service Manager

Andrea Burrows, Customer Relations Coordinator
*all at 1050 Forbell St.Brooklyn, NY 11256

Finally the New Kensington Station Manager:
Ray Schweikle (Kensington Station Manager)
419 McDonald Ave. Bklyn, NY 11218

Monday, March 12, 2007

Where is Kensington?

Although the brokers as of late have extended the borders of Kensington considerably the true area is as follows.... bordered by Coney Island Ave. to the east, Caton Ave. to the north, McDonald Ave. to the west, and Ditmas Ave. to the south. The 'hoods that border Kensington are Ditmas Park and Prospect Park South to the east, Windsor Terrace to the north, Borough Park to the west, and Parkville to the south.

Local Subway: F
F stop at Fort Hamilton (although truly the last stop of Windsor Terrace)
F stop at Church Ave.
F stop at Ditmas Ave.

Local Buses:
B67 on McDonald Ave.
runs up McDonald Ave to 7th Ave., Park Slope, down Flatbush Ave to Jay St.
B35 on Church Ave.
B16 on Caton Ave.

Local Zip Code: 11218

Local Library: Windsor Terrace Branch at Fort Hamilton & E5th St.