SCH Meeting Recap

I’m sad to say that I arrived at the meeting late and missed the presentation on the potential food co-op (more info on this on the official site, and on Brownstoner [check out the entertaining comment thread]).  Personally, I’ve never been to the Park Slope Food Co-op.  To me, it has always sounded a little too cultish and crunchy for my taste.  Then again, I hear there are amazing deals to be had. I think if we did this up FG/CH style, it could be awesome.  Now, will someone with a membership please bring me into the PS co-op so I can see for myself what it’s really like?  Thanks.

Speaking of groceries, next on the agenda was Admiral’s Row in the Navy Yard.  I’m no expert on this, but what I gleaned is that the crumbling Admiral’s Row houses are slated to be demolished and replaced by a giant grocery store, with a parking lot for 300 cars (!!!!!).  Various presenters suggested that the parking lot be reduced to accommodate approximately 80 cars (akin to the Key Foods lot in Park Slope), and retain the old homes at the same time.  Since the supermarket is being touted as being for the benefit of public housing residents (who would WALK there), why are so many parking spaces needed?  The renovated structures could be used for anything ranging from a bakery and fish market, specialty food stores (all of which could employ local teenagers), to condos or for use as the Navy Yard museum (which is being planned currently as a new building).

Someone at the meeting suggested the city (or whoever is ultimately in charge) consider bringing a Trader Joe’s to the Navy Yard space, pointing out that it offers reasonable, high-quality food, produce and meat that the entire neighborhood desires.  I am ALL FOR THIS plan.  The city is home to far too many shitty Pathmark stores that smell like the 1970s.  Of cours, Trader Joe’s means LOTS of shoppers.  Perhaps extra bus service could be extended to the area?

Another general suggestion regarding the Navy Yard was guided tours, or ferry tours from Manhattan.  This is an interesting idea.  The Navy Yard is vast, fascinating, mysterious and full of history.  It annoys me that no one can get in just to look around.  I think, ideally, the yard should be open to the public, contain public space and offer interesting retail.  Creative reuse, people!

Moving on…

Atlantic Yards was mentioned briefly.  The bridge on Carlton Ave is slated to be closed soon for construction of the Ratner Nightmare.  This means that firetrucks will be rerouted to drive AGAINST TRAFFIC ON TWO STREETS SOUTH OF ATLANTIC.  Giant trucks hurdling the wrong way down one-way streets?!  This is a solution?!  Maybe in the ‘burbs, but jeez!  No one even pulls over for siren vehicles here!

Finally, there was talk of forming various committees to interface with local police about neighborhood issues, including crime and trucks illegally driving on several streets (Washing Ave. specifically).  The idea is that if we can present evidence that police action needs to be taken (for example, photographing and counting illegal trucks), the precinct will not be able to claim there isn’t a problem.  Also, residents were reminded to REPORT any and all crime.  I know the cops sometimes make this difficult.  One of the SCH board members explained that his car was recently broken into, and the cops wouldn’t come out until the next day to look at it.  By the time they arrived, he had moved the car due to street cleaning.  They told him that once he moved it, they couldn’t do anything about it.  Classic.

(And speaking of cops, I’ve noticed several cop cars casually breaking traffic laws — running red lights and driving the wrong way on one-way streets.  There were no sirens or high-speed chases.  They were doing it because they couldn’t be bothered to abide by regular citizens’ rules.  I’m sure this is not unique to our neighborhood, but it really pisses me off.)

The meeting moved along more smoothly than usual, although a few speakers were kind of rude when prompted that they had gone over their time.  One man actually mouthed off to the SCH officer who told him they were out of time.  I find this extremely disrespectful.  I know everyone has a lot to say, but the meetings are meant to be an overview of what’s going on in the area.  I think each issue presented should offer an email signup list, and those who are interested in discussing said issue in depth should sign up and attend a separate meeting or participate on a message board.  My advice?  Please tell us about your news, but don’t be a dick about it.  Be courteous of other speakers’ and attendees’ time!!!! Thanks!

(Special thanks to Thirst and Tamboril for the wine and appetizers!)

28 thoughts on “SCH Meeting Recap

  1. funkjester

    Trader Joe’s is a nice thought, but we really need a high-quality full-service grocer in Clinton Hill/Fort Greene–hence the mention of 300 parking spaces, meaning that the tenant would largely serve a regional borough population. That area IS actually well-served by at least two bus routes (both the b57 and B61, if not others. I take them frequently to get downtown from Wallabout).

    Here’s hoping that Fairway might get interested in that site. They have set a precedent already for saving historical buildings in Red Hook, though Admiral’s Row is in much worse shape than the warehouse they converted there.

    The idea of saving the Row for specialty merchants is a good one. Maybe a florist will finally locate itself there, and/or a bakery, though Fairway would have their own, I’m sure.

    Fairway would bring a lot of jobs to the nearby residents and a quality, broad-based selection of groceries for everyone in the neighborhood. Much of the area along Flushing Ave. is slated for development in the next decade, and Fairway would serve the new residents as well as the ones already here looking for better choices for food.

  2. lesterhead Post author

    Funk- I wonder if we as a neighborhood could start a petition to bring Fairway to the site, or contact them. I am, of course, obsessed with the Red Hook location. Thoughts? How can we bring in what WE want, and not some crap grocery?

  3. Brian

    I mentioned this in another thread, but when my car was broken in to, the cops showed up and were pretty adamant that I not bother filing a police report, since it wouldn’t do any good. I ended up not filing one, and I really wish I had.

    I’ve also noticed lots of cops compeltely disregarding traffic laws. while I respect what they do, it’s not right for them to completely flaunt the laws they’re working to uphold.

    As for Trader Joe’s, I’m all for it.

  4. jl

    The current Admirals Row plan is especially heartbreaking – demolishing historic structures to build a parking lot? Why are we building parking lots in New York City at all? The suburban model of putting large grocery stores on the outskirst of communities for people to drive to doesn’t make any sense at this moment in history when people are scrambling to reduce their carbon footprint. I would favror smaller markets in the neighborhood to the Fairways and Trader Joes and all the driving that they generate.

  5. Melanie Flood

    Whenever police break the traffic laws, call 311 and file a report. Be sure to get the ID number that is on their car, give the time & location. I’ve been doing it every single time. They should not be above the law.

    As far as trucks driving on Washington Avenue, I can attest that it happens all day long. Perhaps I should set a video camera up to record it all. Even still, I highly doubt anything will prevent this from occurring.
    Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Fairway all sound grand to me…The markets in our hood are in dire need of a makeover.

  6. anon

    Sometimes police are instructed to respond without lights. Everytime you see a police car beaking a traffic rule without lights doesn’t mean they aren’t headed to call – the element of surprise is useful.

  7. k

    Lesterhead –
    As a blogger that is writing this blog as a service to the CH community, you do a great job of bringing items to people’s attention, but I think you could do a better job of doing some background research on items you report on before writing about them. You admit in your summary that you aren’t an expert on the admirals row houses, but a google search would give you TONS of background that you could then mention or link to in this post. It would make the post much more informative and let people know the background of what’s going on.

    If this was a blog that was just about what you think about things going on in the neighborhood, what you have here would be fine. But since this blog is becoming a more service oriented site, you should be more of a professional reporter and start doing some research with your reporting rather than asking questions that can easily be answered via google.

  8. flavahmakah

    fairway and trader joe’s = big parking lots, more traffic in ch and no admiral’s row. it’s so easy to deplore a pathmark (where poorer non-whiteys tend to shop) but once we’re talking fresh produce at reasonable prices, fucking knock that shit down and pave over what’s left!

  9. Rach

    im waiting for the day we get a whole food’s… i love that place… although personally im not too familiar with trader joe’s and i’m sure that it’s just as great… the point is we should definitely get some places like that in our area… it would be so convenient especially for someone like me who has certain food allergies and stores like that always have plenty of foods that I’m able to eat.

    i think that making a much smaller parking lot and adding small shops instead is a great idea… and they would make it such a nicer area then some dark parking lot

  10. CHF Brian

    Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Fairway – any would be very welcome.

    When I moved in back in the summer of 2005, there was a rumor going around that Trader Joes was going to move in to a space near the Home Depot. It seems to have been a rather unfounded rumor.

  11. Jeany H

    you don’t need to be with a member to get a tour of the PS co-op. They give tours i think every sunday or every other sunday. Anyway, regularly. Also, i was a long-time member and never found it objectionable the way people often describe. It’s just that there’s a lot of rules, and they try to apply the rules consistently, which is important to make the place work.

  12. flavahmakah

    a question for the usual ch blog reader: would you prefer for the city to use that space for affordable housing, a park, a whole foods, or a trader joes?

  13. betsy

    trader joes? Fairway? either way I will feel like i’ve died and gone to heaven. Like others said, we don’t need another crappy grocery store, there are already a few of them Give us something different! If there is a petition, I will sign it fo sho. 🙂

  14. Brian

    I’d personally prefer a whole food or a trader joes – having something like that within easy walking distance would be great.

    Then again, a park wouldn’t be awful either 🙂

  15. Jennie

    Thanks very much for the rundown on the meeting–I wanted to attend and wasn’t able to. Flavah, we need affordable housing more than anything–but how do we get THAT done? Does it have to be a city initiative? (I need to educate myself on that, not your responsibility, of course.)

  16. barb

    Thanks, L, for your report–fantastic.

    On the trucks on Washington, where I live, I agree with the above poster: we could get up any morning of the week and videotape semis all morning long. We moved our bedroom to the back of the house because of this.

    On the grocery store issue, some of you guys don’t seem to know anything about these various stores being kicked around for Admiral’s Row. Whole Foods is a lot better than Gristedes, but it’s ridiculously overpriced and is a specialty retailer for organic-only folks (despite its Texas-based Republican owner) and is thus missing many key products that people want. Like Coke, and toilet paper that your finger won’t pop through at unfortunate times. Trader Joe’s is a USELESS specialty shop with cheap, frozen hors d’oeuvres and crappy 2-Buck Chuck–it is NOT a comprehensive grocery of any kind–and it is a mystery to me why anybody likes it, unless you’re throwing a giant party for people you don’t like much. Pathmark, C-Town, Key, Associated, all of these ghetto stores have been ripping off New Yorkers for way too long with substandard veggies and stinky meat–it is not elitist to want food for everybody that is fresh.

    Which is why it needs to be a Fairway, the best market I have ever seen ANYWHERE.

    Great, fancy gourmet food. Regular old Cheerios and Pepsi. House-packaged fresh herbs for HALF the price of Associated and every other grocery in America– a big bunch of fresh rosemary or tarragon is $1.29 at Fairway. You can’t touch that in Cleveland, let alone NYC.

    Seriously, folks, do some research and see if you disagree. Have you shopped Fairway? It would be amazing to get one close, so we don’t have to schlep around Atlantic Yards to get to Red Hook! Sign me up for the petition!

  17. LimestoneKid

    How about getting a Wegman’s in? They’re the bomb! However I don’t think the location meets their needs or their target market.

    The building of the mixed use housing development on Vanderbilt is going to put a real strain on the presently under served grocery market.

    Lastly, as to the police officers that seem to completely disregard the traffic laws – don’t they realize that they’re behavior does nothing but undermine their credibility and causes them to lose respect?

  18. turnipple

    Those of you who think signing a petition will get you the grocery store you want are sorely mistaken. Whether it be a Whole Food, a Gristedes, or a Fairway, these are all for-profit companies. These companies will do market research and if they find that it the location won’t generate lots and lots of money for them, they won’t do it. We don’t have a right to a grocery store.
    As far as K’s comment is concerned, I completely disagree. This blog is a service that Lesterhead chooses to provide. And as far as I know, it is not a full-time job or anything that she gets paid to do. She should not be expected to research everything she posts about. It would be entirely different if she were posting false information.

  19. funkjester

    Barb, you took the words right out of my mouth RE: Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s vs. Fairway for the Row site. That’s the nice thing about Fairway (at least in the Red Hook location as opposed to UWS, anyway) is that yes, you can get most of the high-end stuff, organic produce and services like an in-house bakery, fresh fish counter, butcher, fresh coffee beans in bulk and stuff like that OR plain old everyday groceries and things for the house as well.

    Turnipple is correct indeed in saying that all the big grocers and retailers base location decisions these days on very detailed and sophisticated demographic data, but don’t for a moment think that Fort Greene, Clinton Hill and Wallbout can’t already support a more comprehensive grocer like Fairway (or even Whole Foods), either right now or in the very near future.

    It’s no secret that our grocery choices in the neighborhood are strained right now, to put the situation kindly. I do fairly well for what I need, but then again, I’m a semi-retired 5-star chef who follows a mostly whole-food diet, and I source plenty of things out of the neighborhood in my travels and buy a lot of things like fresh seafood down in Chinatown, and I live close enough to the B61 route to get to the Red Hook Fairway easily, as well as to the F at Jay St. to go two stops to 2nd Ave. via the F to hit Whole Foods for their cheese room and other stuff. Pathmark is fine for what it is, but they just don’t have a depth of quality and selection that (I think, anyway) a good grocer in this neighborhood really needs. Pathmark can handle VOLUME just fine, but DIVERSITY and QUALITY are shortcomings of theirs as a retailer.

    I know most people won’t go some of the lengths I do to get specific produce or cheeses, and we sorely need a grocer who can serve the widening food needs of all of us without having to schlep to Manhattan on the weekends, or come home loaded down on a rush-hour train. In this light, Fairway seems to be the best solution for a grocer who can serve all of us on the Row site.

    Lesterhead, I’d definitely be up for trying to get a petition up to send to Fairway’s management. I will e-mail you privately and we can discuss. You probably have better online resources than I do to get this started. If nothing else, a significant amount of interest will at the very least alert some of the Fairway people into maybe crunching the numbers on the neighborhood, if they haven’t done so already.

    Remember, there are 400 units of housing going up on the old Navy Brig site a few blocks away (meaning a likely 1000+ people living in ONE square block in Wallabout), with construction set to begin this summer, along with the huge Atlantic Yards coming within five years or so, and lots of other development along Myrtle already underway, with much more planned for Wallabout along and off of Flushing Ave. that hasn’t received much attention at all yet, plus all the stuff on Gold St. that has been going up as well, and the clock-tower condos and the flatiron-looking condo tower on Fulton St.

    Most of that housing will be populated by people who will expect more than the small Associated, Met and Bravo markets can provide, and the purchasing power will be there. Fairway would be foolish NOT to consider the Admiral’s Row site. If they build it, we will come.

    I, for one, would hope Fairway could snap it up before Whole Foods. Fairway better serves the broad spectrum of the market, at least the folks that are here RIGHT NOW. Whole Foods, from my observations on their recent expansion in NYC, seems to focus more on locations where there are a critical mass of Yuppies who are willing to pay their high prices. While we’ll certainly have our share of that same Yuppie critical mass after the dust has cleared over the next 10 or 15 years (remember, what’s happening in downtown Brooklyn will change the face of NYC in the next 20 years), we could do better than Whole Foods or the more niche Trader Joe’s at the Admiral’s Row site.

    We’re also close enough to the new Trader Joe’s on Atlantic Ave. as well as the huge Whole Foods that will be going up in Gowanus/S. Slope/wherever it is (not to mention the newest Bowery WF via subway) that it’s not a hassle to get there if you really want to shop there. I’d rather make a trip out of the nabe to get there than to get to Fairway.

    Remember, too, that Fairway is a LOCAL grocer based in New York, and that means dollars spent by New Yorkers will STAY IN NEW YORK rather than being funneled away as profit to Austin.

    To me, that’s a VERY important thing.

    Either way, I think it’s a good idea to start getting some names behind some solid ideas for the site, before someone like Pathmark gets a line on the development plans.

    BTW, Limestone Kid, Wegman’s is also a FANTASTIC idea. I went to school Upstate close to Rochester and got exposed to Wegman’s in college. They are pound for pound the best retail grocer I’ve ever encountered in my life, and that says a lot coming from a chef. They’ve expanded a lot downstate and into NJ and even PA in recent years, but I don’t think they’ve yet cracked the metro NYC market. It would be worth the stamp to send them a copy of the petition, too, and they certainly can handle the diversity, quality and volume we need at least as well as Fairway can (though dollars would again be sucked off to Rochester, but hey, at least it’s New York State).

  20. JD

    Funkjester –

    Thank you! You are so dead on. I would rather we got a Wegman’s or a Fairway, than Whole Foods or Trader Joes. Trader Joe’s in great for what it is (peanut brittle, cheap wine, etc) and Whole Foods is fantastic for a good rib eye and fresh baked baguettes that are still warm when you get home – but what we also need a place that sells cheerios & diet coke & charmin toliet paper as well as those things.

    I love wegmans, tho I’d be surprised if their first venture in the NYC metro area would be in Ft. Greene, I could see it up by Riverdale (by way of Stew Leonard’s) or Forest Hills Gardens – I don’t see them going within a square mile of the Walt Whitman or Ingersoll. I’m sorry, I just don’t. Even tho I read somewhere that they are 60% vacated to become a hybrid of Stuy Town.

    I could see Fairway taking the bait tho – I definitely think the success of their location in Red Hook will certainly pave the way over here. I hope that a petition will get their interest – or like you said, at least sit down and run some figures.

    As MUCH as I love whole foods, I feel like I have to do my REGULAR grocery shopping in addition. We need a place to service our needs for quality meat & cheese, as well as to not be shopping cereal at the associated with holiday packaging when it’s March.

  21. j

    To you comment about “The element of surprise can also cause traffic accidents– police cars speeding down a one-way street will never be a good idea.”
    What about someone being robbed at gun point? or someone being stabbed? Wake up you f’ing morons this is city and yes bad stuff does happen on your streets. A week ago some kids were fighting in front of my house with a gun and the cops showed up on time by coming up a one way block catching the criminal.
    Yes sometimes the police don’t get to places on time and might not catch someone but unfortunately they cant be everywhere at every minute to baby sit you idiot’s and help you with every problem you might have

  22. LimestoneKid

    j, you’re completely missing the point. When the police are doing their job and are in pursuit of a suspect or on their way to an emergency no one has a problem with them cutting corners.

    The issue is when the police roll thru stop signs, red lights, etc.. with nothing more important to do than getting to the other side.

  23. funkjester

    JD–It sure can’t hurt us to try to attract Wegman’s attention. But be forewarned, tne thing folks do need to understand is that the retail grocery business is more complex than just hanging a shingle and opening up shop. Much depends upon other things like supply and distribution chains, warehousing capabilities, and union issues with regards to employment (and as far as I know, Wegmans is a non-union house, and most of the NYC metro-area grocers are union shops, which may pose a problem). While Wegman’s certainly has the economic clout and resources to make inroads into the Metro NYC market, there’s a reason they haven’t tried to do so yet, and we’ll probably find out why that is if we try to attract them to the project, but it sure can’t hurt us to try. What’s the worst that can happen, they say no?

    I disagree about them not coming near the ingersoll and the Whitman. I can tell you for a fact that they are a broad-based retailer who is attractive to everyone in the community, and can also tell you for a fact that they have (albeit one of their oldest Rochester locations) a store by the University of Rochester that sits right on top of a high-rise project.

    I certainly think if they are going to make a foray into the urban New York market that the Admiral’s Row site would be a great place for them to do so. The public relations benefits to them would almost outweigh the economic benefits, though they’d stand to become very profitable in that site as well.

    But I’m getting off base here…the point of the matter, whether it’s Wegmans or Fairway or someone else, is to attract a retail grocer to the site who will provide for the neighborhood in terms of price, diversity and quality in a way that is sorely lacking with the grocers that do business here right now. Whole Foods, to my mind (and really, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if they already have an inside bead on the site), would be the absolute WRONG choice for this neighborhood. Whole Foods, in my own experience, seems to be more marketed towards an upscale, affluent consumer who is looking for organics and higher-end stuff, and who won’t blanch at paying inflated prices for basic necessities, mostly because THEY CAN. It’s about having the convenience of the stuff they want and the stuff they need under one roof, irregardless of the price, and not having to make another trip and take more time out of an already-busy urban lifestyle to do so. Which is fine if you want that, but as I’ve said in earlier posts, we’re close enough to other existing Whole Foods and future locations in Brooklyn that if you want to shop there, you can make a reasonable trip out of the neighborhood and/or make a stop on the way home from work or wherever.

    Fairway has shown in Red Hook that they can be a retail grocer who can serve all of us, and Wegmans has shown in Rochester and other places that they can do the same. They’re both good neighbors, too, who will both keep our dollars in the state’s economy.

    Yes to Fairway or Wegmans, and no to Whole Foods, as far as I’m concerned.

  24. Kim

    Wobash: You ask for a gym. But there’s a Crunch near BAM and the Y on Bedford, and a ton of smaller studios offering Pilates, Yoga, etc.

    What exactly are you looking for, a gym in your living room?

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