Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Namaste Yoga in Kensington

Namaste Yoga in Kensington

Looking for a dance or yoga class close to home? There is no reason to look any further than Namaste Yoga of Kensington at 482 Coney Island Avenue. They are the first neighborhood yoga studio in Kensington, welcoming patrons to come and gain self-confidence while improving physical and mental health.

Namaste Yoga was founded by Wilhyn Larsen, a former corporate executive. She has over twenty years of experience in the arts, and brings her talent to this unique dance studio.

The studio offers a wide variety of dance classes for every level and interest, including: Belly Dance, Zumba, Pilates, Tai Chi, Cardio Dance, Turbo Kick, classes for kids, and more.

Pricing is competitive and there are often discounts and specials available. Call 347-533-6226 for more information.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Kensington Man Found Slain in Pennsylvania

Cafe Owner Joshua Rubin from Kensington
Joshua Rubin, the 30-year-old owner of The Whisk Bakery Café in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, was found on November 1st in a woods right outside of Allentown, Pennsylvania. It took until this past week to identify the remains as that of Rubin.

His body had been burned after being shot and killed by a bullet wound to the head.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Mikhail Plotkin, 56, a salesman at an electronics store on the same block as the cafe.

“He was a little strange, but otherwise, he was a nice kid. I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.”

Rubin was last seen leaving his home on October 31st, and his credit card was used just a few days later at the Woodbury Commons mall in Orange County, New York.

Friends and loved ones put up flyers to help locate their friend, but there efforts did not lead to any clues or further information about what happened.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kensington Woman to Compete in the Third Annual Latke Recipe Contest

Dori Fern will be competing in the Third Annual Latke Festival this coming Monday against 14 other chefs, all of whom are professionals. Dori won Edible Brooklyn’s reader recipe contest for her Double-Happiness Latkes topped with Five-Spice Duck Confit, which succeeded against 60 other submissions.

According to Edible East End editor and publisher of Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn Brian Halwell, the decision to choose Fern’s recipe above the others was not easy:

“People were stretching the very definition or notion of what ingredients go into a potato pancake,” says Halweil. “We had people put in all sorts of spices and flavorings and herbs into them and using different sorts of potatoes and mixing in different root crops.”

Fern’s recipe won because it put the latkes at the center of the eating experience:
Frying Potato Latkes

“She captured not just the locavore sentiment that’s part of the magazine, but a creativeness that elevates latkes from a side dish to something that’s the focus on the meal.”

The Latke Festival is co-sponsored by Great Performances and Edible Brooklyn and will take place on Monday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Participatory Government Continues in Kensington

This past autumn New York City began a brave new experiment designed to bring citizens back into the process of democratic government and to encourage participation and autonomy. The program, known as the Participatory Budgeting Project gives people the opportunity to suggest ways they would like to see their tax dollars spent, and then to vote on those grass-roots ideas.

There were hundreds of people on hand from the four districts whose Council members are involved over the past few months who attended public assemblies to discuss their ideas on what to do with about $1 million in capital funds for each district. There are volunteer committees now debating the proposals, and voting on these proposals is expected to take place this spring.

The four Council members involved in this exciting project are Brad Lander of the 39th district which includes Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Park Slope and parts of Kensington and Borough Park; Jumaane Williams of the 45th district including Flatbush, Midwood and parts of Canarsi; Melissa Mark-Viverito of the 8th district in Harlem and the South Bronx; and Eric Ulrich the 32nd district Council member representing southwest Queens.

Brad Lander had this to say about the project:

“We are excited to put budgeting power directly in the hands of the people. Not only will next year’s budget be more democratic as a result, it will also be more effective because our constituents know best where money needs to go in our community.”

When asked what he felt was the quirkiest idea, Mr. Lander said, “Make a Gowanus Canal gondola, aptly called “The Gowandola;” create dumpster pools for hot summer days like they had on Manhattan’s East Side on Saturdays in 2010, and which first popped up in the Gowanus neighborhood.”

Lander felt the boldest idea was to create “A community center to bring together the diverse neighborhoods that make up Kensington, Brooklyn. To make the idea feasible within the $1 million budget limitation, committee members are looking for rooms in libraries or other public spaces that can be remodeled to be mini-community centers.”

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Trees for Sale in Brooklyn

There are many places to pick from to get a Christmas tree in the area:

•    Eighth Avenue Fundraiser—Park Slope resident Tim Foley will give $10 to any of 14 area schools when someone purchases a tree from him. “I’m about doing the right thing for the neighborhood and its public schools,” Foley said, who is a father to three children who go to schools in the area, PS 230, MS 51 and Brooklyn Tech. “It’s a pay-it-forward mentality.” Last year Foley raised $2,600, and this year, together with his other tree stand on Smith and Butler Streets; he hopes to raise $6,000 to $7,000.

Trees For Sale in Brooklyn
•    In Front of CVS on Ninth Street—This stand has garnered the reputation of having the largest trees available. Louis Rondin and Nichola Dubois are French Canadians who bring their trees south from Nova Scotia, selling their trees round-the-clock, in French.

•    Wind Swept Farm on Union Street—These Christmas trees, from Barton, Vermont, are organically grown, and cost $10 a foot, until you get to 8 feet, when the price goes up to $15 a foot. They have other tree stands around Brooklyn and also sell maple syrup and wreaths from Vermont.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mixed Reviews on Kensington Aerobics and Fitness

The Kensington Aerobics and Fitness facility located on Caton Avenue (between 2nd and 3rd Streets) has been getting some extremely mixed reviews with some loving it and others feeling it is not such a good deal.  However, on doing a comparative price investigation, it does seem that the deal being offered at the center really is pretty unbeatable.  It is true that some of the cardio machines are not always in working order and on the gym’s upper level it is not suitable for taller people to use machinery there due to its low ceiling, but other than that, one really can get a great workout in.

People can always find something to complain about and one of the gripes is the music.  Yet really this shouldn’t be such a big deal since exercisers can also bring their own music on headphones.  Another criticism is that there is no option for a trial membership but one can get a pretty good idea of what is available by checking it out first. As well, at $420 a year, that’s pretty impressive.

Some people enjoy a relaxing sauna after a workout too but that has been (not-so-strategically) placed in the men’s locker room and some complain it does not really heat up adequately.

In addition, there are various classes available such as: abs, Pilates, spinning and more.  there is no swimming pool but the hours are great too – Monday through Thursday, 5 am ‘til 12 midnight; Friday ‘til 10pm and Saturday and Sunday from 8am ‘til 8pm).

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Children of Deceased Kensington Woman Say It Took Seven Days to Tell Them Mom Died in Hospital

The son and daughter of an elderly woman, Catherine Hawa, say it took New York Community Hospital seven days to inform them of their mother’s demise.
Catherine Hawa with Family 1966

The brother and sister, Michael and Jeanette Hawa say their mother passed away on November 16th, but they were only informed of that fact on November 23rd. Jeanette says that she was preparing to visit her mother at the Midwood hospital when she received a call from someone at the hospital telling her that her mother was dead and had already been in the morgue for seven days.

Michael says that he also received a call from a hospital staff worker on the same day, telling him that his mother was dead, but offering no explanation for the delay.

“I really don’t know why we didn’t call you,” he said she told him.

Born in Indianapolis, Catherine moved to Brooklyn when she married Edward Hawa in 1946. Hawa was a well-known figure at the McCrory’s department store in downtown Brooklyn where she sold greeting cards.

Hawa lived in Kensington until the time of her death at the age of 89, on East 5th Street, and was involved in several neighborhood groups like the Friends of Kensington, a fundraising organization for the Kensington Library, of which she was the president.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Councilman Greenfield Requests MTA to Not Disrupt Friday Train Service in Brooklyn

David Greenfield
Councilman David G. Greenfield of the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Midwood, Boro Park and Bensonhurst requested that the Metropolitan Transit Authority minimize upcoming service changes to his constituents which would have caused major inconveniences.

The changes also would be highly disruptive to Kensington and Flatbush residents, with a special concern for the two Fridays of December 2nd and December 9th. The service changes are due to the construction which is now in progress along the Q line, which is forcing the trains to skip over the subway stations which pass through the heart of Brooklyn’s highly concentrated Jewish populations.

The MTA had originally planned the disruptions for 10am until 3pm on the two above mentioned Fridays, skipping several of the Q line’s regular stops, including Cortelyou Road, Avenue H, Avenue J, and Avenue M. This would have meant a major inconvenience for Orthodox Jews who begin their Sabbath observance at 4:11pm for the next two weeks.

The MTA responded favorably to Councilman Greenfield’s request, and residents can expect usual service on the effected trains until further notice.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kensington Man Loses Musical Parrot

Calling all Brooklynites! Keep on the lookout for a 25 year old female parrot who will sing harmony with you, and even dance. Going by the name “Captain,” the yellow and green Amazon parrot was sitting on the shoulder of her owner, Allen Kirson, while he was biking down Ocean Parkway in Kensington last Friday when she suddenly decided to take flight.

Kirson is worried that because Captain had her wings clipped, she will not be able to escape from marauding cats and other dangers of the Brooklyn jungle-like neighborhood of Kensington.

Captain is a talented bird who has performed with Kirson at children’s hospitals and homes for senior citizens.

“She was a ham,” Kirson told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg. “If I played my harmonica she would almost always start singing along with that. But her real love was singing harmony — she has perfect pitch.”

If you see Captain, please call the following number: 347-350-5914

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Bikers Bearing Gifts Ride from Kensington to Coney Island

For the twenty-third time in its history, Bikers for Brooklyn hosted a toy giveaway in the holiday spirit of helping the less fortunate.

The ride took place on November 19 and began in the Kensington neighborhood of Brooklyn. They biked to their final destination, the Coney Island community Day Care center on West 27th Street, where the over 100 participants handed out gifts to the children there.

George Barker, the president of the biker’s club, explained that they hold this special event on the eve of the holidays to help give something back to kids in under-served New York City communities.

The 100 riders, including several dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus, made an imposing site riding down the streets of Brooklyn on their way to deliver board games, sports equipment, stuffed animals and more.
The enthusiastic Coney Island residents were appreciative of the kind gesture.

“My son’s very happy,” said Shieshia Taylor, whose 4 year old was pleased with his new toy truck — and the chance to sit on Santa’s lap. “I didn’t know [bike clubs] did things like that.”

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Shenanigans Pub in Kensington Fun Night Spot

Great bartenders, cheap drinks all night long, karaoke and even a barbecue in the back, makes Shenanigans Pub at 802 Caton Avenue a unique place to relax and have a great evening out.

As Kensington continues its climb into the realm of gentrification, places like Shenanigans Pub will become more popular. This is just one more place which makes Kensington an awesome place to live.

For more information call 718-633-3689.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Brooklyn Bike Patrol Gearing Up for Beefed Up Service

Jay "Rocket" Ruiz of BPP
As the Southbound F and G subway line service interruption in Kensington begins, extra patrolling by the volunteer Brooklyn Bike Patrol is getting into gear.

As was mentioned in an earlier blog post, the Metropolitan Transit Authority, (MTA) will be suspending service of its southbound F and G trains at the 15th Street-Prospect Park and the Forth Hamilton stations. Service was curtailed on November 14th, and will continue until May of next year.

The closing down of service at these stations means that people will have to get off the train either before or after the closed stations, lengthening their travel time above ground, where several attacks on women have  taken place, spreading fear in the neighborhood.

Augmenting the increase in police patrols in the neighborhood is the Brooklyn Bike Patrol, whose president Jay “Rocket” Ruiz has stated that his volunteer organization will be at the F/G Seventh Avenue Station beginning last Monday night to make sure women will get home safe.

Before the suspension of service began Ruiz stated, “We are going to be out here tonight, we will be out here all week,” Ruiz said on Monday, explaining that BBP will be paying close attention to the F/G suspension.

“We will actually be out here all year long, until service is resumed at these stations.”

Beginning at 8pm each evening, Ruiz and 11 additional volunteers will be there on their bikes to escort women safely home.  Women can call for an escort or they can contact BPP using e-mail, Facebook or Twitter and get volunteer to accompany her home from any of 25 different subway stations in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Park Slope, Kensington, Sunset Park, Carroll Gardens, Prospect Heights, and now, Fort Greene-Clinton Hill.

Keep these numbers handy:

•    Tel: 718-744-7592
•    E-mail: brooklynbikepatrol@gmail.com
•    Facebook: facebook.com/BROOKLYNBIKEPATROL
•    Twitter: @BKbikepatrol
•    Hours: Sunday through Thursday, 8 p.m. to midnight
•    Friday through Saturday, 8 p.m. to 3:30 a.m.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Kensington Man Survives Brighton Beach Building Collapse

Oleksandr Kushch of Kensington described last week how he was knocked unconscious when the steel skeleton of the condo complex he was helping construct collapsed and woke up several moments later under a pile of rubble.

Oleksandr Kushch
Kushch, 26, explained that he was using a buffer to smooth out freshly poured concrete on the fourth floor of the partly constructed building when the accident happened.

“When I woke up, I saw all the metal beams. Everything was on top of me,” he said while recovering at his home in Kensington.

“Oh my god, I was buried,” Kushch continued. “I started digging myself out. I don’t know how I got out. ... I have two small children. I had to get out.”

One floor below two other construction workers were also injured, and one of them, Ivan Lendel, a Ukrainian immigrant, died later from his wounds.

Preliminary investigations by city officials are guessing that the building collapsed because the concrete was poured on the top floors before the bottom floors were completely fortified.

Kushch himself did not notice any problems with the way the construction was being conducted.

“I’ve worked in a lot of places in nine years. This is the way we’ve always done it. It’s easier to bring the machines down than up,” he said.

“The building was all metal, not wood. It should have held. It should have been strong,” he added.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kensington Residents in for a Ride on F and G Lines Beginning Monday

Kensington residents should take note that beginning this coming week there will be more than the usual inconveniences of traveling the city by subways.

Commuters of Kensington as well as Windsor Terrace will no longer be able to take the F and G trains to Fort Hamilton and 15th St/Prospect Park until this coming spring.  The F and G trains will not be able to stop at those above mentioned stations due to ongoing work on the Culver Viaduct, which caused previous delays for northbound trains which were forced to skip those stations for five months at the beginning of this past year.

The closures will affect about 11,000 commuters. But those commuters should feel safer as, according to Brad Lander’s office the NYPD will be dedicating extra manpower to protecting the area, “particularly during the darker evening hours,” because of the well-known recent surge in sexual attacks.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Despite Lawyers' Protests Levi Aron’s Trial Will Take Place in Brooklyn

Despite the protests of Levi Aron’s lawyers, the court decided on Tuesday to allow the accused murderer of the eight year old Leiby Kletzky of Boro Park to be conducted in Brooklyn.

Aron’s lawyers tried to move the trial venue to the Bronx or Suffolk County, complaining that the enormous media coverage and “propaganda campaign” orchestrated by District Attorney Charles Hynes along with the police department, had caused any prospective jurors from the area to be biased towards their client.

“The DA’s office and the police have fallen all over themselves to poison the public’s mind against the defendant,” said Howard Greenberg, one of Aron’s lawyers. “I wanted to try this case in Brooklyn in front of 12 fiercely independent jurors.”

Aron’s lawyers contend that Aron is crazy and that the confession which Aron, a Kensington resident, scrawled on a piece of paper was forced from him shortly after he was arrested in July.

Pretrial motions will take place on December 21st with the defendant appearing in court, but the trial itself, including the opening arguments are not scheduled to begin until early in 2012.

Levi Aron is accused of kidnapping, killing and then butchering the eight-year-old Hasidic Brooklyn boy in July.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Blind Man Saves Himself After Tumbling Onto Train Tracks

An as yet unidentified blind man, was standing on the subway platform at the Church Avenue/McDonald Avenue Station in the Kensington section of Brooklyn, when he stepped off the platform as the G train was approaching the station.

Witnesses said the man, appearing to be in his 60s, believed the train had already arrived at the station and thought he was about to enter it, when he mistakenly stepped off the platform instead. With only seconds to spare, the man rolled away from the oncoming train and found a space under the platform to escape the train’s crushing wheels.

The incident happened at about 7am on Tuesday. Soon after the man was pulled back onto the platform by emergency responders, where witnesses noticed that the man seemed to be doing fine. He was then taken to Maimonides Medical Center, but his condition has not yet been disclosed.

One man who saw the accident, a construction worker said, “I am sure he was scared out of his mind. But I do not think he had even a cut or a bruise. He is extremely lucky.”

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Kensington Resident Cari Jackson Organizes Rally for Paid Sick Leave Legislation

Many New Yorkers are not aware that a huge percentage of employees in the private-sector workforce are not entitled to paid sick leave. In order to bring a solution to this problem, Kensington resident Cari Jackson, along with several others, organized a rally in mid-October, demanding legislation which would give workers in New York between five to seven accrued paid sick days each year.

More Than You Think

The estimated number of private-sector workers in New York is about 1 million, or 37%.

“Many people aren’t aware of how many New Yorkers don’t have paid sick time,” said Cari Jackson.  “A million don’t have it, and even if you do, many can’t use it if their kids get sick — that puts a real burden on parents.”

Shelved Legislation

Christine C. Quinn
New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn introduced a measure in 2009 addressing this issue, but she chose to shelve it temporarily in the hopes that with an improvement in the economy the law’s chances of passing would improve. Others believe that the postponement of pushing ahead with the legislation was a way to please the business community to pave the way to a successful mayoral bid in 2013.

Public Health Issue, Too

Supporters of the legislation add that the issue is not just economic, but affects the public health of New Yorkers as well. When faced with the choice of staying home and losing money, or going to work sick, most people will go to work which poses a threat to everyone else in the work place. In addition, when workers are not able to stay home with sick children they will send their sick kids to school to avoid having their pay docked.

Good Business or Bad?

Business leaders are opposed to the sick leave legislation, stating that it could be an extra burden on business during difficult economic times. However the Bureau of Labor Statistics have data which shows that paid sick leave, on average, makes up only 1 percent of all payroll costs. Supporters of the law say this is not much of a burden for businesses to bear.

“We had to mandate a minimum wage and minimum age for work, and we have to mandate this,” Jackson later explained. “If you don’t offer paid sick time it’s just pure greed. Businesses have a responsibility to ensure the health of their employees.”

Sunday, October 30, 2011

El Gaucho Offers Authentic Argentinean Cuisine

Shmuel David, owner and manager of El Gaucho in the Kensington section of Brooklyn, explains that it was a long-time dream of his to “offer the kosher community the exciting experience of eating an authentic Argentinean steak.”

One of El Gaucho’s specialties includes asado (barbecue) which is a fire made on the ground or in a fire pit. The fire is encircled by metal sticks which hold the entire opened up carcass of the animal which then cooks by the heat of the fire. Shmuel David replicates this traditional cooking method in his restaurant using cutting-edge radiant grill technology by which the meat never touches a flame, but is entirely cooked by the heat of the fire. The meat is then served individually on personal sized table grills called parillas which keep the meat hot and sizzling.

El Gaucho, which has the added advantage of being Glatt Kosher, is located at 4102 18th Avenue at the corner of East 4th Street. For more information or to make reservations call 718-438-3006.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rocky’s Pizza Best in Kensington

At 474 Coney Island Avenue, right off Church Avenue is a pizza place worth remembering: Rocky’s Pizzaria Restaurant.

The menu is huge, with a choice of appetizers such as mozzarella sticks, garlic knots or hot dogs in blankets; calzones of many kinds; pasta al horno; and much more.

You are welcome to come in to eat, but if you are just hanging out at home, they are happy to deliver to your door. Rocky suggests that you go to their web site, organize your order and then call 718-854-9270, and your order will arrive in practically no time at all.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Halloween Decoration Stirs Controversy in Brooklyn

Councilman Charles Barron
Halloween is not a holiday known for its respectful, conforming flavor; but for many this year’s Kensington prank went just a little bit too far.

Someone hung an obviously black-skinned scarecrow from a tree in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Kensington this week, bringing to many people’s mind a vision of an old, southern-style lynching.

The tasteless Halloween decoration was brought to the attention of City Councilman Charles Barron. In response he released a statement which said, "The scarecrow is offensive and reprehensible not only to the Black Community, but to all those who have a history of persecution and, or have been victimized by lynch mobs. The perpetrators of this horrific display are only acting out what they conceal in their hearts."

Barron added that not only was the display ‘grotesque’ it was also definitely not ‘cool.’

Barron’s opinion was not shared by everyone, however. One woman, Nicole Clemente, expressed her own feelings about the Halloween prank, "I don't think that that portrays lynching. I mean, it's Halloween, that's part of the Halloween spirit. When I see a jack-o-lantern with a scary face on, I don't get scared and think monsters are going to come get me."

Whatever the consensus on the distinctly original Halloween display, the NYPD took down the scarecrow on the grounds that the tree is city property and the law disallows all forms of decorations or signage to be hung on public property.

The perpetrator of the misdemeanor has not yet been apprehended.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lander Calls For End to Helicoper Joy Rides

A group of Brooklyn officials are calling for a ban on low-flying tourist helicopters over the city, according to reports printed in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

The demand to halt tourist helicopter flights is in response to the tragic crash of a helicopter into the East River last week which killed one passenger and seriously hurt three out of a total of five on board.

Five political figures called for the ban, including Councilman Brad Lander, Democratic representative from Kensington/Park Slope. These five had previously asked for an end to low-flying helicopter flights due to the noise pollution they create, but now the issue is even more essential, as it involves safety and life and death issues.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Councilman Brad Lander Calling Citizens to Get Involved

Brad Lander and fellow councilmembers Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn), Eric Ulrich (R-Queens), and Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) are excited over an initiative which will give residents real power to say how they want their tax money spent in their districts.
Brad Lander

It is called “Participatory Budgeting,” and Lander explains why he is so enthusiastic about the initiative:

"This is a time when faith in government is weakened; but for those of us who believe democracy is at its best when we work together as a community to solve problems, this is an opportunity to take part," explained Lander. "

The plan was first announced in September. In the next few weeks Lander’s 39th district will hold assemblies to get people involved. The first such assembly will be held in Park Slope this coming Wednesday, October 5th, at the Old First Reformed Church at 729 Carroll Street. A second assembly is planned for October 20th, at PS 58 in Carroll Gardens, both for 6:30pm.

"The idea is so novel; it's something people won't want to miss. If this works, we'll be part of something as pioneers," said Maria Pagano, Carroll Gardens resident and the President of the Carroll Gardens Neighborhood Association.

Lander is hoping a large contingent from his district will participate, involving Brooklynites from Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Columbia Waterfront, Gowanus, Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Boro Park, and Kensington.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Kensington Youthmarket a Success

This spring and summer saw the opening of the Kensington-Windsor Terrace Youthmarket. The market was such a success that it was the largest revenue producing Youthmarket of all the GrowNYC markets in the network.

The good news was announced by Catherine Zinnel, the Kensington Liaison/District Director, who was appointed to her position by Councilman Brad Lander.

Due to the great success of the project here in Kensington, the initial trial period is now over and we can all expect to see the Youthmarket back next spring, perhaps in an expanded version with flowers, fresh meat and/or fish for sale.

The Youthmarket is scheduled to stay open every Saturday this season until closing day on October 29. Go see what all the excitement is about on East 5th Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway from 9am to 3pm.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Summons Slowdown Eliciting Ire of Police Chief James Tuller

The NYPD ticket-writing slowdown is resulting in such a huge loss of income for the city that three-star chief James Tuller wants to see his cops writing at least 15 summonses each month.

This quota, which police officials would rather call a “productivity goal” has annoyed police in return.

Moving violations, like running a red light, using a cell phone or driving without a seatbelt, have dropped by 44% during the week ending on September 11th, as compared to the same time last year. For the 28 days previously the numbers of moving violation tickets were also down by 36.3% throughout the city, as compared to last year.

The 70th Precinct, which is in Kensington, was particularly hit hard. Here, as well as in Midtown Manhattan and the 122nd Precinct in Staten Island had a 79% reduction in summonses for the above named moving violations.
Due to the pressure coming from Chief Tuller, many commanders have been placed in an awkward position. As one policeman put it,

"Most precinct commanders don't care about summons 'productivity.' Their careers are based on crime reduction," he said. "The bosses can push a precinct C.O., but you still gotta get a cop to write them."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Park Slope Fiend Attacks Again

In what adds up to the eleventh such attack since March, a 29 year-old woman was approached from behind as she left the Prospect Avenue R train station at 9:05pm last Wednesday night. The attacker, who is now known as the Park Slope Sex Fiend, grabbed her breasts from behind and then ran away after she screamed.

Typical of Other Attacks

The police are convinced that this latest attack is indeed the work of the same perpetrator of the other attacks.

“The victim’s description fits with the pattern of attempted assaults,” said a police source. “And it’s typical with the other incidents. She was grabbed from behind by surprise.”

Since March the fiend, or perhaps fiends, since there are different descriptions of what the assailant looks like, has managed to rape one woman and grope ten others, frightening women from South Slope, Bay Ridge, Sunset Park and Park Slope.

Residents Respond

The latest attack comes just one day after the police told a frustrated citizenry that they are doing all they can to nab the criminal. Residents, not satisfied with the police response, have held rallies, placed ‘Wanted’ posters, and organized self-defense classes. The police say they have added patrols as of August, after the fifth attack.

A woman from Kensington said that she called Crime Stoppers after someone who fit the description of the Park Slope Fiend exposed himself to her on the subway. Unfortunately, according to the woman, the officer on the phone hung up on her.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Brooklyn Bike Patrol Take Back Brooklyn Streets

Jay Ruiz of Brooklyn Bike Patrol
Park Slope, a neighborhood just a bit north of Kensington, has responded to an increase in the number of sexual assaults that have taken place there lately, with a bike patrol composed of volunteers.

Brooklyn bikers will stand at the ready when a woman emerges from the subway station and will offer to accompany her home if she does not feel comfortable walking  alone at night.

Jay Ruiz, a 55 year old dispatcher for a bike messenger company,  founded the group and gave it the name Brooklyn Bike Patrol.  Ruiz said,

“We just want the monsters to stop already.”

The group began escorting women home last Friday.

Ruiz explained that they are not only covering the area of southern Park Slope, but the Brooklyn Bike Patrol will also be on the lookout for crimes in his own neighborhood of Prospect Heights, which has had several robberies in the recent past.

Ruiz explained his motivation: “It’s so bad to see women getting attacked. I feel like I have to do something.”
So far Ruiz has found 10 volunteers to help him cover the area from 8pm to midnight, with an emphasis on the five subway stations in the area.

What finally inspired Ruiz to take action was the “Take Back Our Streets” rally last week which was organized by women of the neighborhood.

"The cops can't be everywhere," Ruiz said. "Just give us a call and we'll have someone there."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Diversity Abounds in Kensington, Brooklyn

Kensington is known as a quiet, verdant area in Brooklyn. It is only one square mile, but packed into that limited area are well over 70,000 residents. Among those residents are several well-established immigrant groups, adding to the neighborhood’s color, interest and wonderful diversity, with the neighborhood's children speaking at least 25 different languages.

Just south of Windsor Terrace, Kensington’s borders are Caton Avenue and Fort Hamilton Parkway on the North, Coney Island Avenue on the East, 18th Avenue on the south, and McDonald Avenue and 36th Street on the west.

Prices of homes are more reasonable in Kensington than in many other nearby Brooklyn neighborhoods. Gentrification is coming to Kensington, but at a much slower pace than in other areas, which should help keep the prices of homes down, while forcing residents to go elsewhere for good restaurants and other forms of entertainment.
Kensington Apartment Building

Among the diverse populations of Kensington is said to be the highest in Brooklyn. In Kensington can be found Bangladeshi and Pakistani residents; with Muslims along the eastern strip with Coney Island Avenue. An ultra-orthodox Hasidic Jewish community lives along the southern border, next to Borough Park.  The main shopping is on Church Avenue, but there are many other streets with smaller commercial areas. There is easy access to the subway, which will bring you to Midtown Manhattan in about 45 minutes. Express busses get to town quicker, with a 15 minute commute to Wall Street and about 30 minutes to Midtown.

Considering everything, its nice to call Kensington home.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bike Share Coming to Kensington and Other Parts of Brooklyn

Brooklyn will soon be joining many major cities around the world that have an innovative and clever alternative means of transportation at their disposal; and that is a European style bike sharing program.
The Department of Transportation of New York City announced yesterday that Alta Bicycle Share won the contract to operate the bike system, after an evaluation of several proposals by a number of different companies specializing in creating and running such systems.

Alta Bike Share will not need any taxpayer money to run the program, and any profit they have will be shared with the city as a result of a revenue sharing agreement which is part of the deal.

Brooklynites will be able to use Alta bike share bicycles for a yearly or monthly fee, which will be made available to them at bike stations located at a large number of crucial spots around town. The idea is that riders take a bike from one station, for instance near their homes, and leave the bike at another station, perhaps near a subway stop. 

Alta Bike Share published their preliminary plans for station locations. They are planning on building stations in Brooklyn stretching from Greenpoint, Kensington and Brooklyn Heights to parts of Bedford-Stuyvesant and south to Park Slope.

“Public bike sharing is a great opportunity for the city to continue moving in a greener direction through expanding mobility options for NYC residents; the initiative also promotes a healthy lifestyle,” said Council Member Letitia James (D-Fort Greene/Prospect Heights). “Also, new jobs will be created through the NYC Bike Share program, along with an increase in revenue for the city, which should make bicycle sharing a win-win program all around.”

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Kensington Resident Cleans Up Flooded Passageway

After days of waiting for city officials to alleviate the flooding and subsequent mess caused by the recent rains along the passageway to the Fort Hamilton Parkway F/G subway station in Kensington, one neighbor took the initiative of cleaning up the refuse. The neighbor borrowed a shovel from Sasco tools on Coney Island Avenue and a broom from Sean Casey Animal Rescue to get the job done, carefully placing the debris and trash in a neat pile for the powers-that-be to haul away as per their jobs.

The difference is huge and the entire neighborhood sends kudos to the good neighbor who made it his responsibility when no one else did to make the time and effort to help his neighbors despite there being no other reward than the satisfaction of helping out.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years Later: Kensington Families Featured in Stories About 9/11

It is exactly ten years since the tragic attacks on the World Trade Center buildings, which killed almost 3,000 people and left about 3,000 children younger than 18 without a parent.

Some of those families were and/or are Kensington residents, and their stories are featured in such places as the New York Times and ESPN.

One of the stories, written by Steve Wulf for ESPN discusses the uplifting story of the Conroy family whose husband/father Kevin Conroy, was killed on September 11. The four children were taken under the wing of Bobby Valentine, former major league baseball player and manager.

The New York Times article focuses on the Vukosa family of Kensington, especially Adam and Austin, who also lost their father, Alfred, when the WTC was destroyed.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

FEMA Leaves Brooklyn Off Funding List in Wake of Irene

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is blowing up a storm in reaction to the decision by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to leave Brooklyn out of the declared region which will receive federal aid to help clean up after the mess Hurricane Irene left in her wake.

Brooklyn is the only borough of New York’s five which was left out of the FEMA declared areas, although its status can still change. In the next few days a more complete assessment of the damage inflicted by Irene on Brooklyn will be conducted, which will hopefully change Brooklyn’s status for FEMA funding.

In the meantime Markowitz is blown away by FEMA’s preliminary decision to leave Brooklyn out.

"I am absolutely dumbfounded that federal officials have excluded Kings County from a disaster declaration for public assistance," said Markowitz. "I ... hope that FEMA immediately reverses this dreadful decision and includes Brooklyn.

"In Brooklyn, hundreds of trees were knocked down; doing significant damage to cars, homes and infrastructure, and some Brooklynites remain without power. Brooklyn's low-lying 'Zone A' neighborhoods that were evacuated saw significant flooding," Markowitz added.

Markowitz also said that parts of the BQE were damaged by Irene and will need to be repaired.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Kensington Photographer Catches WTC Inside and Out and Through the Years

Kensington resident and photographer Richard Massie’s photos of the World Trade Center will be featured as a special section of the autumn show “Tales of Breukelen,” which will open this month at the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition (BWAC.)

The exhibition is in honor of the tenth anniversary of the destruction of the WTC on September 11th 2001, and will display views of the WTC from both inside and out using medium-format photos taken during the mid-‘70s through the ‘80s.

The photos follow the development of the towers from when they were first being built, including rare shots of their interiors while they were still under construction. Massie’s goal was to see and show the beauty of the towers at a time when not everyone viewed them with the same artistic eye.

“At the time they were considered monstrosities — they were hated at the time, and considered a boondoggle with public money,” Massie explained. “I was going to try to turn them into something artistically appreciable.”

Also included in the exhibition will be a “works-on-paper” montage which members of BWAC created to be installed in a ceremony in exactly one week, on Sunday, September 11.

You can come visit the exhibition at the BWAC gallery located in Red Hook at 499 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Goodnight Irene

Here is one of my favorite photos from Irene's visit to New York:

 The sign on the car says "For Sale."   Right.

Some more bad damage, but I guess we're lucky it wasn't any worse.
Let' hope for some drier, calmer days in the future.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Brooklyn Homebrew's Taste Competiton to Take Place In Kensington

Booklyn Homebrew, together with Sycamore, will be presenting “Brooklyn Wort,” a beer tasting and brewing competition to take place in Kensington, at the Sycamore Flower Shop and Bar at 1118 Cortelyou Road.

The “Brooklyn Wort” was originally scheduled to be held on Saturday, August 27th, but due to the arrival of Hurricane Irene, it was rescheduled for September 10th.

One ticket to the event, which will be Brooklyn’s very first live homebrewed beer competition, will entitle participants to food and the tasting of 25 different beers from some of Brooklyn’s most deliciously successful home breweries. In addition to the Brooklyn’s best will also be Ballast Point, a San Diego favorite, pouring some of their incredible hand-crafted beers as well.

For more information visit Brooklyn Homebrew.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Last Week’s Record Rainfall Creates Mosquito Breeding Grounds throughout Brooklyn

Kensington, the rest of Brooklyn, and all other boroughs have become a choice breeding ground for mosquitoes this summer, especially in the wake of last week’s record-breaking rainfall in New York.

Added to the unpleasantness and nuisance of buzzing and biting mosquitoes is the fear that West Nile virus is also being carried by the pesky creatures. The health department has been testing for the deadly virus, and has found it in at least 33 city zip codes in every borough excluding Manhattan. In fact, the first such case of the virus was reported last week in a 64-year old woman from Manhattan. She was hospitalized at the beginning of August and is now getting better.

One woman from Kensington, Sharon Levy, revealed that her children were bitten by mosquitoes while visiting her mother in Park Slope. She believes a small kiddie pool was most likely the source of the mosquitoes, which prefer to breed in pools of standing water.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Kensington Out of Reach? Try Childhood, Brooklyn

Looking for a great place to live, raise your family; and generally enjoy life, but still keeping  a little bit of your hard-earned savings in the bank? Consider what many believe is a more than satisfactory option to the pricey, and increasingly snootier neighborhoods of Kensington and Park Slope; the nearby neighborhood known as Childhood.

Named in honor of the iconic green and crayon-yellow building of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Childhood offers tree-lined streets, Brower Park and of course the museum itself, an easy way for families to pass the day during the hot summer months with their youngins’ in tow in air-conditioned, low-keyed bliss.

Quaint brownstones give the place character while the borders of Nostrand Avenue on the west, Albany Avenue to the east, Eastern Parkway along the south and Atlantic Avenue north surround a diverse and distinct neighborhood which is lacking in many of Brooklyn’s more ‘exclusive’ areas.

According to one Childhood resident the neighborhood is “quiet and it has the park (Brower) so you can come and relax and bring the kids. One child said that Childhood is “fun, the best,” when asked how he liked his neighborhood.

Can’t find something in Kensington at the price you’d like to pay? Look into Childhood. You might be pleasantly surprised.