A/C Trains to Stay Running (Instead of Becoming Fish Colonies)

Ugh. I often feel like the A/C line will be the very last to see new train cars.  And now that suspicion is validated.  AM NY recently reported that the MTA's decided to keep them in service even longer than scheduled, instead of tossing them into the ocean.  I'm sure the G is not even in the plan for new trains. How nice are those super new trains that show all of the upcoming stops (and thus can be programmed for any line, instead of having to see the "this route not in service" light on the 4,5 when you're in a 1,2,3 car)?  The only thing I don't like about them is the fact that they all have their letter / number in red on the front car.  Part of the fun is seeing the colored circle rounding the corner into the station.

Police "Sting" on the B38

This in recently from a disgruntled reader: This morning I was waiting for the B38 at the corner of Classon and DeKalb. As usual when it came, it was packed - or at least the front half was. Every time I get on the bus, we are all squeezing into the front because nobody moves back. On the rare occasion, the bus driver asks that people move back, but nobody ever does. I missed the first bus this morning as there was no room to get on and waited 15 minutes for the next one to come. Again, the front was packed, so I joined about 15 people who got on at the back of the bus. I am not trying to avoid paying the fare - I buy my monthly ticket every month for over 6 years now - I am simply trying to get to work on time. About 6 undercover cops got on the bus and asked everyone who walked on through the back door to get off. They held us there for about 20 minutes while they checked our identification and wrote us all tickets for $100 for trying to evade the fare. One man was taken away in handcuffs - I heard him say he was a felon and I believe he had an outstanding warrant or something.

I have mixed feelings about this. I mean, why are the cops spending time on this?  Then again, fare evasion costs the MTA millions of dollars every year.  Then again, I'm sure some if not most of these riders were MetroCard holders who just needed to get to work.

In the six years I've lived here, the B38 has been consistently effed up when it comes to rush hour.  I'm not sure why they can't get the timing right.  If it was me who had been stopped by the cops, I'd be pissed.  Maybe Tish James can help make this route function better.

Pratt Post Office: How's It Going?

I never thought I'd be glad to say that my post office is Adelphi Station, but it's true! So far, I've heard of some snafus up at Pratt.  A northside neighbor recently received a package slip notifying him that he had a package for pickup at Bushwick Station, and after spending a whole morning trekking out there and waiting in line, they told him his package was actually being held at the mobile van on Myrtle outside Pratt Station!

UG.  My suggestion - no matter what the slip says, just check the trailer first.

Official Post Office Announcement from CB2

This came yesterday from Community Board 2: PRATT STATION POST OFFICE CLOSING TEMPORARILY


Effective Monday, February 22, 2010, the carriers for Pratt Station Post Office have relocated to the Metro Station Post Office at 47 Debevoise St; 11206 until further notice.  Pratt Station Post Office needs to undergo emergency building repairs.  There is a building structural problem and it needs immediate attention.  Depending on the actual depth and severity of the problem, Pratt Station could be closed from 6 to 8 weeks, if not longer.

The retail windows may be kept open for a week or longer until Saturday, February 27, 2010.  However, there will be Mobile Units in front of Pratt Station to accomodate the community.

We will keep you posted as changes occur.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation and patience during this transition.

USPS Brooklyn Post Office

Why is there no mention of actual stuff like where packages will be?

Update: I have just emailed Councilwoman James' office to ask about packages and getting news out to the community as to what will be changed during this time.

Y: Going Downhill?

Is it just me, or has the Bed-Stuy Y gone downhill?  Don't get me wrong- it's still a great value.  But when I joined, it was cleaner, less machines were broken, and you could actually ask the front desk staff a question.  Now the place is bursting at its seams (and it's not just the New Year Resolutioners- it's been packed for months now).  I can never even get a class schedule since the wait at the front desk takes ages, they're out of paper towels, stuff is duct-taped together, and the locker room is smelling like a musty, moldy pool.  Maybe they were overwhelmed with new members in the last year?

B38: Still Crappy

My new job necessitates taking the R train at DeKalb, so I am back to taking the B38 (at least on days when I am wearing heels).  Today, I saw a huge crowd waiting for the bus and groaned.  And then four (yes, FOUR) B38s pulled up, all in a row.  Seriously?  They still haven't worked this out? And btw, why does the B38 now turn down Ashland?  Is it because of the new building construction? $!@&!!!

'Jackofest' Moves to Prospect Park

Until the end of last week, Spike Lee planned on throwing a birthday bash in memory of Michael Jackson in Fort Greene Park.  Then, Abby Weissman wrote a piece on the Local questioning the implications of the party and the impact it would have on the neighborhood.  Within hours, it was announced that the party would be moved to Prospect Park.  Weissman made several comments about expected turnout, cleanup and park capacity, citing the frenzy that took place in LA for the official memorial.  He also claimed the party was being "forced upon him." Mostly, he seemed concerned that the public and local organizations were not consulted or even informed in advance of the party. (Mr. Weissman was also the author who initiatiated the anti-soccer Fort Greene Park post on the Local.) Several neighbors I've spoken to are disappointed in the turn of events.  In fact, I haven't spoken to one person who's said, "Thank god that party's moving out of our neighborhood!"  A Gothamist post about the situation was titled, "Locals Want Spike Lee to Beat It."  But was it Locals, plural?  (See an opposing commentary on Brooklyn Born here.)

The fact is, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.  Did you think the party would be safe, fine, and awesome?  Call the local precinct, Marty Markowitz's office, 40 Acres and a Mule.  Contact the Local and ask if you can run your own Op-Ed. The park is for everyone and not just one person.

Would the party have been a blight on our neighborhood?  We'll never know.  But I for one am mourning the loss.


Trash Timing: There are Rules!

A reader recently emailed me about a nuisance I have long noticed but never realized was a fine-able action: placing trash on the curb too early in the day: I've just moved back to Clinton Hill, which has some of the most beautiful streets in the entire city. But they are less than lovely on the days before trash pickup. On pleasant summer afternoons and early evenings we have to walk past, and try not to look at, bags of trash put out on sidewalks much earlier than they need to be. The day before recycling pickup is the worst, since so much of the trash is in clear plastic bags, or in bundles, or just loose.

According to Sanitation regulations, it cannot be put out until 5 p.m. on the day before pickup, but that's still 4 hours before dark, spoiling the view for people coming home or going for a late-afternoon stroll.

According to a 311 operator, Sanitation will issue summonses for trash placed on sidewalks before 5 pm, but they obviously don't. I doubt if most people even know about the 5 pm rule (it used to be 8 pm during Daylight Saving time, and that should be reinstated). But the emphasis should be on consciousness raising and voluntary compliance in the interest of keeping the neighborhood beautiful.

I'm going to keep an eye out to see when the trash near me appears on the sidewalk.  What do you think?  Is 5pm too early?  I can see how having a later limit would be more difficult for large residential buildings (even though they create the biggest trash piles), but it would be nice to see (and smell) less leaky trash bags on a pleasant stroll.

More on the Explosion

Many of you have probably walked by the explosion scene by now, but in case you haven't, here it is: CO2 explosion on washington ave at lafayette

No wonder it was so loud!  The sidewalk was completely shattered from below!

Thanks to all the readers who responded, especially in the immediate aftermath.  Many of you have expressed your frustration at not being able to find any news about this, so I'm glad I was able to at least create a space to share information.

Reader David also noted that here may have been two additional explosions on Classon at Myrtle-Willoughby yesterday (via Gothamist Labs).

Is this a common occurence?  The blast was loud and frightening on Friday night.  The authorities seemed to know in advance that it would happen -- firetrucks were lining Washington immediately afterwards.  But still.  Someone walking past could have been seriously injured.  It doesn't seem fair that there was no communication with the neighborhood from ConEd, etc, aside from the residents whose homes had to be searched before and after the blast.

Fulton Construction and Parking Problems

Received this from a reader:I live in Clinton Hill at Washington Ave and Fulton St.  There has be a lot of continuous construction going on in this general area, making it very difficult to find parking.  Does anyone know if Alternate Side of the Street Parking has been temporarily suspended in the area due to construction?  I checked nyc.gov and there was no such notice posted.

That work's been going on for years now, and I've heard no such thing about parking rules being suspended because of it.  Wouldn't it be nice if they were, though? I never considered the effect this must continue to have on parking availability in that immediate area.  Is there a way to petition for this?

I do know that the alternate side rules are being reduced in the near future, from four days to two, in our community board district.  No word on when the change will take effect.

MTA Dicks Over Clinton Hill

g train flooded Most people write about this two days ago, but I was toiling away at work and didn't have time to get a post up.

The MTA, in its monthly meeting today, will present a "Doomsday Scenerio" budget and plan that calls for reduction in service on the G line by 50%!

I've never heard anything more ridiculous.  Most neighborhoods serviced by the G have seen population increases, and transit ridership is at an all-time high.

In difficult economic times, it's best practice to increase funding for public transit infrastructure, which bioth creates jobs and reduces reliance on cars.

And aside from that policy stuff, the G train has been awfully crowded lately as it is.

Neighborhood News from B'Stoner

CH resident Brownstoner is able to blog full-time (lucky duck). Rather than repeat his scoops after the fact, here are some quick summaries and links from his site:

The Never-Ending Construction Work

I noticed this nicely-designed sign on Fulton and Putnam over the weekend, and I hadn't noticed it before: such a nice sign for such a shitty job

This is a shockingly pretty sign coming from the city. Additional irony is earned from the crappiness of Fulton Street and the ridiculousness of the street renovations that have been going on now for, oh, two or three years.

I have high hopes, now that we've been afforded a city B.I.D.

Thanks to the Pratt Area Community Council for their hard work on making this happen!

Clinton Hill's Urban Prairie?

I've been immersed in a lot of urban studies reading at work lately, and have recently come across an intriguing phenomenon: the urban prairie. This occurrence is usually found in rust belt cities, like the one where I grew up. An urban prairie occurs when city buildings collapse or have been torn down and nothing rebuilt in its place. As a result, grasses and weeds begin to grow and wildlife may begin to reinhabit it.

Yes, we have our fair share of empty lots that have become overgrown with grass and weeds and trash. But this post is about a different observation: Walking around on both Washington and Lafayette recently, I've noticed that there are an insane amount of grasses and weeds growing up out of the sidewalk areas that are paved with old bricks. The first is at the southeast corner of Underhill park, on Washington:

So sad, seeing that this is a well-used children's park.

urban prairie?

The second has cropped up on Lafayette Ave past St. James, in front of the St. James Apartments (Mitchell-Lama housing). This brick space extends for an entire block, and, with the buildings set away from the street, makes the north side of the street here look desolate and dirty. Imagine this space with tables and benches!

So, who is responsible for maintaining these areas of sidewalk? The city? Think about how pretty these planters would look if they were being maintained!

Why wouldn't the residents here get together to fix this?

Who makes the decisions about these spaces, and how can we fix them?

Why We Need Root Stock & Quade in the 'Hood

I know there's been some mixed opinions on the price points at Root Stock & Quade on Myrtle, but I for one am thrilled to have them nearby, even if I can only buy a bouquet there every once and a while. While walking down Myrtle near Hall this past weekend, I noticed these flowers for sale at a bodega:


Those purple flowers? Yeah, they're half dead.

Bike Lanes in the 'Hood

Since I've been biking a lot lately, I've come to realize how wonderful bike lanes actually are.  I'm pleased to say that we now have a bike lane on both Myrtle AND DeKalb!  However, I have noticed that the DeKalb bike lane seems to be contributing to the bottle necking that happens around Classon Ave, causing a backup. It's not actually the bike lane that's causing this.

The cause is the police parking.  Cop cars cut off an entire lane just west of Classon on DeKalb, and now that practice has become even more dangerous.  Look at these pics sent to me by a reader:



This intersection has already become a traffic nightmare, and now cyclists have to divert out into traffic that's already dangerous.  Surely there must be a better way to arrange this.  With a huge increase in neighborhood traffic (especially on Sundays with the Flea), this isn't cool.

Speaking of bike lanes, WE NEED ONE ON LAFAYETTE AVENUE!!!  ASAP!!!

G Train Clusterf*ck

I just "love" how about a hundred people waited 20-30 minutes on the G platform this morning with no announcement or staffing whatsoever to tell us no train was coming, and then how every single bus that roared by on DeKalb was packed full and said, "NEXT BUS PLEASE." I know things happen, but would it have killed the MTA to tell us not to wait for the G???  As we exited, people were still swiping through to wait for the train!  Jeez - even a taped up sign written in magic marker would have been better than nothing.

Thankfully, I ran into a neighbor on the platform and then her coworker and we hit up Tillie's for huge iced coffees and walked down to the DeKalb stop together, chatting and laughing.  It made the morning infinitely better.  Yay for Clinton Hillers!

"Mourning" the Loss of Head Over Heels

Head Over Heels Cafe was long the bane of my existence. I'd call them and they were open, but when I'd go by (I tried at least five times), there was no sign of them -- no open storefront, no signage, nothing. Finally, it seems they've thrown in the towel:


(525 DeKalb Ave at Skillman)

I really do try to patronize as many local places as possible, and even when a new business is full of problems, I try to point out the positive.

But let this be a lesson! If you say you open at X am, then BE OPEN at X am. And certainly be open two hours AFTER X am.