Schumer joins fight against North Brooklyn Pipeline

National Grid’s plan to build a new natural gas pipeline underneath various neighborhoods in Northern Brooklyn has drawn the ire of locals since its inception.
The energy provider’s fight became much harder this week, however, when Senator Chuck Schumer announced his own opposition to the project. He is the highest-ranking politician to oppose the project, which has already faced opposition from a bevy of local representatives.
“The facts are clear, this pipeline will undermine New York’s climate goals while pumping carbon-based fuel through communities already face high pollution,” Schumer said during a press conference last week.
The North Brooklyn Pipeline project would install a gas pipeline underneath parts of Brownsville, Greenpoint, Bedford-Stuyvesant, and Williamsburg. Detractors argue that the pipeline would pollute the ground and water of multiple low-income communities of color.
“When they had to build a highway, when they had to build a pipeline, they didn’t go to the communities where there was power and wealth,” Schumer added. “They went through poor communities, communities of color. That meant more asthma, more particulates in the lungs, it meant more poison in the air. That’s got to stop.”
Just last month, Schumer also spoke up in opposition to a proposed new fracked gas plant in Astoria. Similar to the North Brooklyn Pipeline, the project has been criticized for potentially adding more pollutants into the air of a neighborhood that has already been dubbed “Asthma Alley.”
In addition to the environmental impact of the North Brooklyn Pipeline, local residents are concerned by the increased costs in their monthly bills to pay for it. National Grid hsaid its agreement with the state Department of Public Service would raise their customers’ bills by an average of $5.56 per month in 2021 and then by $4.89 per month in 2022.
The $100 or more price hike added fuels to the flames of an already adamant anti-pipeline movement in North Brooklyn.
Since July 1, over 200 Greenpointers have joined a strike to protest the controversial North Brooklyn Pipeline project by National Grid. The strike asks that residents withhold $66 from their monthly gas bill, and has found support from Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher and State Senator Jabari Brisport.
Lee Ziesche, community engagement coordinator for the grassroots organization Sane Energy Project, offered the following comment about the ongoing strike efforts:
“The state and the city really haven’t stood up to National Grid, it’s really only ever been the community,” Ziesche said. “After almost a year of confidential settlement negotiations that didn’t really involve community members, the plan that National Grid and the state came up with and filed in May just really ignored all the community’s concerns.”
Despite the continued opposition, National Grid defends the pipeline project.
“National Grid shares Senator Schumer’s commitment to transitioning to a sustainable energy future, which we all know will not happen overnight,” a National Grid spokesperson said. “In the meantime, we have an obligation to provide energy to our two million downstate customers until there is a viable, affordable alternative for heating.”

Restaurant coming to McCarren Park

Community Board 1 recently reviewed plans to redesign the old park house in McCarren Park.
The board is in the process of approving a new restaurant to open in the iconic but decaying McCarren Park House at 855 Lorimer Street.
The renovation and restaurant will be managed by Aaron Broudo and Belvy Klein, a duo of businessmen who have previously worked on the Brooklyn Night Bazaar in Greenpoint and the Rockaway Beach Boardwalk.
The renovation project will cost approximately $1.2 million, and will result in the arrival of a new restaurant in the middle of McCarren Park. The restaurant, which is yet to be named, will serve coffee and snacks in the morning and then alcohol and dinner in the evening.
Broudo and Klein are currently applying for a liquor license for the space. The renovated park house is also expected to be completely electric.
Elaine Brodsky of the North Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce is confident that Broudo and Klein’s track record is reason enough to support the project.
“These are local guys and have proven they know how to run a business,” she said.
This new project in McCarren Park adds to the trend of development happening directly around the greenspace. A developer is currently applying to rezone 840 Lorimer Street in order to build a ten-story, mixed-use building across the street from McCarren Park.
If approved, the new construction would include 74 apartments, 30 parking spaces, office space, and retail space. Nineteen of the apartments would be affordable in line with the mayor’s Inclusionary Housing program.
The 840 Lorimer project is located next to the Grand McCarren Park, a new six-story rental building that opened in 2019 in a refurbished industrial facility.

Yaro brings ceramics, clay to Greenpoint

The streets around the Greenpoint waterfront are quickly becoming more and more developed with high-rise towers, however the area is still home to some genuine beacons of creativity and community.
Such is the case with Yaro, a new community arts center nestled quietly into the storefront of 76 Kent Street. Focusing on ceramics, clay, textiles, and other hands-on artistic mediums, the space plans on hosting artisans of all trades and already offers classes teaching local residents new skills.
Founder Andrea Kamini Parikh discussed the origin story and mission statement behind Greenpoint’s newest small business.
“I left a corporate job to start this,” Parikh said during an interview last week.
Raised in Texas, Parikh previously worked at a large architecture firm in the Lone Star State, where she quickly grew tired of the money-focused mindset driving the work. She decided it was time for a change, and set her sights on creating a new business — in a new city — that would be more fulfilling.
“I signed the lease right before COVID,” Parikh explained of Yaro’s Kent Street location. “That ended up being a good thing. I talked a lot on the phone with Diana [Rojas, Yaro’s Studio Manager] and was able to really explain my ideas, my thoughts about what the aesthetic should be, and how to execute it.”
Parikh is also relatively new to Greenpoint, and even though she had some concerns before moving because of the widespread gentrification in the area, she has since found her place among a wide network of like-minded friends and artists.
“I come from a mixed race, multicultural, multi-religious background, so I was a little concerned about living around just rich people,” Parikh said. “ I live on the other side of Greenpoint though, the manufacturing side, and it’s kind of like I know everyone over there.
“I know all the businesses, the places to always go to,” she added. “It’s almost like there are two different sides of Greenpoint.”
Parikh is hopeful that her work can support and encourage other groups trying to find their place in the greater North Brooklyn community.
“I think there’s a responsibility that you have to be aware of as a business owner,” Parikh said. “Our end goal here isn’t just to make a lot of money. Yes, you need enough to pay rent, but we are hoping to also incorporate a methodology and practice that supports artisans and teaches people something new through classes and workshops.”
Parikh has been fascinated with the arts her whole life, and spent her childhood learning how to work with clay, ceramics, and any other material she could get her hands on.
At Yaro, Parikh hopes to instill this same passion in others and to show people just how much they can accomplish with their own hands.
“I think it gives people agency,” Parikh explained. “If you can teach people to create a thing, then that teaches them that they can create things in other places in their life. It reminds people what it is like to really dive into something physical. There is something meditative about being really invested in a project.
“There’s a tactility to many materials, like clay for example,” she added. “There’s this approachability, like it’s inherent in our being that we know what to do with it. Maybe Patrick Swayze and Ghost helped out a bit too, but sitting at a throwing wheel feels natural and approachable for a lot of people.”
Currently, Yaro is offering wheel throwing ceramic classes, handbuilt sculptural tableware classes, and other workshops. In the future, Parikh and the team at Yaro are planning on inviting artisans from around the world to visit and work in the space as well.
For the time being though, Parikh hopes that her team’s success can inspire other people to pursue their passion in a way that will contribute something positive to their community.
“I think it’s really important, even for myself, to take some time and provide some space for yourself, to find a bit of balance in life,” Parikh explained. “We all make a lot of excuses to work really hard and be stressed all the time, but we work better and smarter when we are happier. So whether it’s making something physically, or cooking, or whatever, finding that balance is really important.”

South Williamsburg Ferry stop reopens

The South Williamsburg stop of the NYC Ferry system on South 10th Street near Kent Avenue reopened on July 27 after a prolonged period of repairs. The reopening restored service to the North Brooklyn area after a summer of limited ferry access.
The NYC Ferry service is operated by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) rather than the MTA, and has been in operation since 2017.
The expansive transportation system spans 60 nautical miles and stops at 21 landing sites. However, three of the landing sites in Brooklyn – South Williamsburg, DUMBO and now Greenpoint – were closed periodically throughout the summer.
The South Williamsburg stop was closed for scheduled renovations that will now allow two ferries to dock at any given time instead of just one. Additionally, the landing received a replacement barge and a wheelchair-accessible entrance ramp.
“We appreciate the patience of our riders as we upgraded the South Williamsburg landing to ensure it is safe, accessible, and sufficient for service,” a spokesperson from NYCEDC told this paper. “We are excited that service resumed on the East River route.”
The DUMBO ferry landing at the base of Old Fulton Street was also closed for repairs, but reopened multiple weeks ago.
The India Street ferry stop in Greenpoint, however, was closed without warning on May 23 because of an unexpected mechanical issue. The landing is still closed, and the MTA has since set up a free shuttle bus between Greenpoint and Hunters Point South.
The bus route roughly mimics that of the ferry and runs every 40 minutes in both directions.
Unlike the South Williamsburg and DUMBO landings, the Greenpoint landing is owned by a private real estate company rather than the city.
“At this time, the Greenpoint landing remains out of service in both directions,” the spokesperson added. “[Owner] Lendlease is currently performing an examination of the pier’s infrastructure and we anticipate they will share a timeline for repairs. As always, safety remains NYC Ferry’s top priority.”
“We expect to have a clearer picture of the extent of the needed repairs, and a timeline for restoring ferry service, next week,” a spokesperson from Lendlease added. “We are dedicated to restoring the ferry as quickly and safely as possible.”

Flood protection measures completed in Red Hook

Members of the New York City Emergency Management Department, Department of City Planning, and the Mayor’s Office visited the Atlantic Basin in Red Hook to celebrate the partial completion of the Interim Flood Protection Measures (IFPM) program.
Created in 2016 as a response to Superstorm Sandy, IFPM is focused on protecting critical facilities, infrastructure, and low-lying areas in New York City from flooding caused by a hurricane.
The Atlantic Basin in Red Hook was the first site completed by the IFPM, and is now equipped with additional flood protection measures. The basin was significantly damaged by storm surge during Sandy.
“New York City’s lowest-lying neighborhoods face increasing flood risks due to the climate crisis,” said Jainey Bavishi, director of the Mayor’s Office of Climate Resiliency. “The temporary measures that have just been completed will provide immediate protections against coastal flooding. At the same time, we are continuing to work with the community to design a permanent coastal resiliency project that will provide long-term protections.”
The Red Hook site was identified as a priority site. The Atlantic Basin IFPM design includes a combination of semi-permanent barriers with various openings that allow for normal site operations.
These storm openings can be closed when surge from a coastal storm is forecast, using just-in-time, deployable protection measures. Interim flood protection measures provide a short-term level of protection while permanent mitigation is constructed at the site.
City agencies worked with engineering consultants and agencies to evaluate flood risks, perform site visits and feasibility assessments, and determined what measures to install to reduce flood risk at each IFPM location.
“Climate change and its risks to neighborhoods like Red Hook are here, and DDC is deeply engaged in coastal resiliency projects to protect the city’s many waterfront communities,” added Department of Design and Construction commissioner Jamie Torres-Springer.
The completion of the Atlantic Basin IFPM site coincides with peak hurricane season in New York City, which runs from August through October. NYC Emergency Management plans and prepares year-round for coastal storms and has a comprehensive Coastal Storm Plan that includes detailed procedures for evacuating and sheltering residents.
During a coastal storm, an evacuation order may be issued for those living in hurricane evacuation zones. To find out if you are one of the three million New Yorkers living in a hurricane evacuation zone, visit or call 311.

St. Mark’s Comics reopens in Industry City

After a monumental 36 year run, East Village mainstay St. Mark’s Comics closed the doors to its flagship Manhattan location in 2019. Yet like any iconic superhero, the store has returned to help the world during its hour of need…this time across the river in Sunset Park’s Industry City.

Our paper recently caught up with St. Mark’s co-owner Mitch Cutler to discuss the store’s reopening and his goals for the new Brooklyn location

“Industry City called us even before we closed [the East Village location] and said ‘don’t close, we’re here,’” Cutler explained. “We weren’t ready for that yet. First I needed to sleep for two months straight after working 90 hours a week, every week for 36 years.”

Cutler continued: “We were always entertaining the idea though, but it needed to be just the right situation. Industry City was finally the right spot. The campus is beautiful, we have a great big open space, and our store opens right up to the courtyard. It’s been nothing but terrific so far.”

Since their grand opening on July 30th, the team at St. Mark’s Comics has been working tirelessly to stock their shelves with a vast assortment of new and vintage comics, graphic novels, and toys. Cutler is hopeful that, despite being in a state-of-the-art campus, the old-school comic shop can retain its trademark character and charm.

“Industry City has a vintage bowling shop, a vinyl shop, a tattoo shop, and plenty of bars and restaurants,” Cutler said. “So it’s just like the East Village has moved across the river. We like to say that we’re bringing a little bit of the East Village to Brooklyn, and we’re just cleaner than before.”

During its nearly 40 years of operation, St. Mark’s Comics has seen both New York City and the comic industry change dramatically. The East Village transformed from a quaint neighborhood into a world-famous destination and the once niche-hobby of comic books has grown into an entertainment behemoth, especially following the release of Iron Man and the birth of the current Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008. In addition to the iconic East Village location, St. Mark’s also previously had a store in Brooklyn Heights for 24 years, but it shut down shortly after 9/11.

Despite these changes, the team at St. Mark’s is still excited to see what the future has in store for their city and their industry.

“Things change and sometimes you are sad to see something go. I think that’s the nature of things but it’s especially the nature of New York,” Cutler explained. “But so far, about a third of the customers [who have come to Industry City] are old customers who wanted to come in and say hi. Then there’s another third who live in the neighborhood and have been waiting for us to open, and then there is a final third that sees that there is a comic book store here and say ‘that’s a novel and cool idea.’”

“Every fandom and group has some sort of gatekeeper, but we don’t want to be like that,” Cutler added. “The more the merrier. If you know nothing about comics, you are one of my favorite customers because I am able to show you everything all over again. There is so much great material and it is still exciting for me when I get to share it.”

With truckloads of comics and toys coming in by the day, the team at St. Mark’s Comics is ready to bring their passion and energy to Sunset Park. After 40 years, Cutler and company are just as persistent as ever, just like the co-owner’s favorite hero.

“I’ve always been a Superman guy,” Cutler said with a grin. “I know it falls in and out of vogue, but his stories are always the one I come back to.”

Green-Wood Cemetery receives $247K in funding

Green-Wood Cemetery is set to receive almost $250,000 in new funding to expand its educational programming.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services, a government agency dedicated to supporting educational institutions throughout the U.S., has awarded a $247,000 grant to The Green-Wood Historic Fund to develop environmental education programming for New York City middle school students with a focus on South Brooklyn.
The three-year grant will allow Green-Wood to greatly expand its existing school programs, which now focus on history, art, and architecture, by offering new courses specifically about the environment, sustainability, and the climate.
“Green-Wood’s education department exists to share all of the unique and special features of the cemetery with students and teachers,” said Rachel Walman, director of Education. “While nature might not be what you first think of when you think of a cemetery, Green-Wood is actually as impressive a green space as it is a burying ground.”
In addition to curricula focused on the environment, Green-Wood will also use the money to provide professional development opportunities for students interested in a career in sustainability science or other related fields.
“Green-Wood is an amazing living laboratory where children can study climate change in creative ways,” said Walman. “This funding will allow us to hire a program manager with content expertise who will plan three, different thematic programs complete with pre- and post-visit materials and pilot the programs with two local schools at no cost to them.”
So far, The Institute of Museum and Library Services has distributed nearly $30 million in funding to museums and educational institutions throughout the country.
“Our current round of grants for the museum world reflects the important work of our nation’s cultural institutions during the pandemic, and the deep thinking about the future of our culture in a post-pandemic world,” said musuem director Crosby Kemper.
The new curricula Green-Wood plans on creating with the funding will build on an already robust offering of educational programming.
This past June, Green-Wood celebrated the third graduation of its Bridge to Crafts Careers program, a unique masonry and historic preservation program. Throughout the ten-week course, students helped to renovate and restore a century-old monument in the heart of the cemetery.
Green-Wood also hosts a number of events open to the public. On Saturday, August 28, the cemetery will commemorate the Battle of Brooklyn, a famous Revolutionary War conflict fought in 1776 on the present day grounds of Green-Wood. The event will feature reenactors, demonstrations, music, and storytelling.

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