Sunday, December 16, 2012

Councilman Levin Seeks Slowdown in Neighborhood Film Shoots

October and November this year saw a relentless stream of film crews descending on the otherwise quiet streets of Brooklyn Heights. In the past two months alone 14 different productions have brought chaos to the historic, tree-lined streets as filmmakers use this brownstone-filled area as the backdrop for TV shows and motion pictures.

“I understand and respect the fact that the movie and television industry provides revenue for the city and employs a number of New Yorkers, but residents of a single neighborhood, especially one that is primarily residential, like Brooklyn Heights, should not have to bear the burden of on-street filming on an almost daily basis,” said Councilman Stephen Levin.

“The people who live in this community should be able to freely walk down the sidewalk, park on the street, and bring their children to the local playground without constantly dodging film crews,” Levin added.

Councilman Stephen Levin
Filming requires streets to be closed, parking spaces to be absconded and other inconveniences imposed on residents, and now those residents are standing up to the onslaught with the help of Levin. The councilman, who represents Brooklyn’s District 33, contacted the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting in order to place all of Brooklyn Heights on the City’s list of “hot spots.” This listing will place a hold on filming until a more reasonable schedule for filming can be implemented which impacts less on the lives of the neighborhood’s residents.

Brooklyn Heights is not the only place the film industry has been encroaching on. Film crews have been shooting in Windsor Terrace and Kensington of late as well. Some of the major projects filming in these neighborhoods include a Vince Vaughn comedy called “Delivery Man,” a Martin Scorsese star vehicle called “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and a few TV shows such as “Elementary” and “Boardwalk Empire.”

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sandy’s Victims Get Helping Hand from United Cerebral Palsy of New York

Schevone Williams
Gravesend, Brooklyn resident, thirty-two year old Schevone Williams, who has cerebral palsy, lost almost everything when her apartment was inundated with flood waters from the torrential forces of Hurricane Sandy.

Using a specialized device to communicate Williams explained what happened.

"My apartment was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy,” said Williams. “I lost everything my hospital bed, my motorized wheelchair and all of my clothes.”

In addition to her specialized equipment which makes her life possible as a person with cerebral palsy, she also lost the ordinary objects everyone needs in their home, such as her major appliances including her refrigerator, stove and washing machine.

Williams, who is dependent on her $17,000 wheelchair for mobility, was at home when the flood waters entered, bringing in debris from the outside, and threatening to drown her.

“The Fire Department actually rescued Schevone, that’s how serious it was for her,” says Amy Bittinger the director of Family Support Services with United Cerebral Palsy of New York City.

According to Bittinger UCP of New York had to come to the aid immediately of many clients who were at risk during Sandy. Now there most pressing concern is finding Williams a replacement wheelchair.

“We were able to get her a loaner manual chair with proper positioning and we were able to get her augmentative communication device working again,” says Bittinger.

The Kensington branch of United Cerebral Palsy of New York has many visitors with a range of disabilities due to the popularity of their innovative “tech works” room. The room offers the latest in technology to help ease some of the challenges of having cerebral palsy or other disabilities, including iPads, which can help with communication. There is also a mobile van which visits different locations throughout the city to publicize the latest assistive technologies.

“This way we can go to communities that can’t come here and tabling events and be able to show products at those events,” says Liz Voluz, the director of Assistive Technology.

United Cerebral Palsy of New York has been answering the phones non-stop since Sandy devastated so many lives, helping people with disabilities get their lives back on track by getting their hi-tech equipment replaced. Workers at UCP New York say that Williams should have a new wheelchair before Christmas.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Environmentally Friendly Library Opens in Kensington

Brooklyn opened its most green library to date last week when the new Kensington Library opened its doors to the public. On hand to celebrate the event last Wednesday were city officials joining library staff.

The building was constructed from scratch for $16 million, the first Brooklyn library to have that honor in almost 20 years. The building is an environmentally concerned book-lover dream come true.

The building has LEED Silver certification and features some really neat features such as large front windows and a skylight to enhance the use of natural light and reduce the need for artificial lighting.

Sculptures powered by the rays of the sun hang down from the ceiling near the windows, spinning around when the sun is shining brightly.

In addition the spanking new library has 24 computers for public use; three iPads; and an assortment of spaces for story hours for children and community meetings for adults.

The new Kensington Library is located at 4207 18th Avenue. Come visit and see its high-tech amenities in action.