Sunday, February 28, 2010

Snowy Pictures!

A local resident took some pictures of the snowstorm earlier this weekend and shared them with us via Twitter. Check out a few below and look at the whole album on Flickr.

Photos from by J. Conor's Flickr

Brooklyn Paper: Columbia St. is right mix of hip and home

An article that ran in the NY Post / The Brooklyn Paper late last week profiled our neighborhood as struggling under the designation as "the next Williamsburg" and having a "boom that never came." It also reaches the conclusion that that might actually be a good thing, as the overall description of the neighborhood at the top of the article is "the right mix of hip and home."

The article gives some overall descriptions of the neighborhood and then goes on to profile many of our local businesses in a great light - pointing out that there are still things to do in the winter months, despite what some may think.

If you are reading this and are not familiar with our area, please note that there are many other businesses not profiled in the article as well! See our list on the sidebar.

A snippet is below. Click here to read the whole thing.

Like many neighborhoods on the edge of Brooklyn’s bustling Downtown, the Columbia Street Waterfront District has been struggling under the weight of being “the next Williamsburg” for a few years now.

But just as Greenpoint and DUMBO earned — and then casually tossed aside — that designation to become interesting, but never frenzied, neighborhoods, so has the stretch of Columbia Street between Atlantic and Hamilton avenues.

Yes, there are plenty of great places to eat and drink, shop or browse — and one music venue that ranks with the best in the city — but Columbia Street remains a quiet livable neighborhood.

Part of that is certainly due to its mass transit isolation — the best way to get to the area is probably via the Ikea shuttle from Borough Hall rather than anything provided by the MTA.

But the neighborhood’s status is also no doubt due to the boom that never really came. For every pioneer that has made it — Alma — there are two that didn’t (Red’s Tapas Bar on the south end of the strip and Pit Stop, that pitch-perfect French bistro on the north end, both closed within a few months of each other).

Stalled Development Sites

Council member Brad Lander recently unveiled a new website that provides information on stalled development sites across the 39th Council District. The purpose of this site is to make information on the sites readily available and to start a discussion about possible legislative changes and other long term solutions that could remedy the problems that these sites represent for our communities.

Many of the development sites on the list were submitted to his office by local residents, so while the list has many locations, it is not complete. The Columbia Waterfront section, for example, shows two sites, while I'm sure that there are several more. Please visit this new website and submit information on anything that you find missing so that it can be as comprehensive as possible. We wouldn't want to miss out on any positive changes to these development sites by forgetting to submit information!

Check out the website here and read below for a portion of the email that announced the release of the project:

Many of you have talked to me about stalled development sites on your blocks - half-built structures, abandoned foundations, or vacant lots surrounded by plywood fencing. Too often, we've seen fences falling down onto sidewalks and loose construction debris blow in the wind. Many blocks have been turned into "moonscapes."

We need to take action to confront the problem - to make sure the sites are safe and secure, and to work together on longer-term solutions. Some sites are appropriate to become mixed-income or affordable housing. Some have violated our zoning rules and must be corrected. Some could provide pocket-parks or community gardens.

We thought the way to start was to get our community on the same (web)page about just what is going on at these stalled development sites. So we got right to work creating a new, interactive tool.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Brooklyn Botanica Presents: Winter Wonderland tonight!

Tonight at 8:30 Pm

Brooklyn Botanica presents: Winter Wonderland

From their facebook page:
Come enjoy the Winter Wonderland for the final snowstorm of the year. We will be experimenting with SnowCone Cocktails (yellow ones half price), and hosting team snowball fights for anyone game...

DJ's Hans Schenck & Mike Donofrio will be spinning up their own storm.

Location: 220 Conover St.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Columbia Waterfront CSA at the Urban Meadow

The Urban Meadow team is in the early stages of setting up a CSA (community supported agriculture program) at the garden and would like to get a sense of how many community members would be interested in participating.

If you'd be interested in participating in a local CSA, please contact me at cbarker1 {at} We need a certain level of interest shown in order to be able to officially set it up.

** You would not need to be a member of the Urban Meadow to participate in a CSA there, and expressing interest in participation does not imply your commitment at this time.

Don't know what a CSA is? Check out the description provided by Just Food below:

CSA allows city residents to have direct access to high quality, fresh produce grown locally by regional farmers.
When you become a member of a CSA, you’re purchasing a “share” of vegetables from a regional farmer. Weekly or bi-weekly, from June until October or November, your farmer will deliver that share of produce to a convenient drop-off location in your neighborhood.

CSA members pay for an entire season of produce upfront (typically $400-$600). This early bulk payment enables your farmer to plan for the season, purchase new seed, make equipment repairs, and more.
Shares usually include 7-10 types of vegetables, enough for a family of 2-3 people. Most CSAs also offer half shares for smaller households or busy New Yorkers who frequently eat out.
Many CSAs also offer the option of other produce from local farms. For a few extra dollars a week, in addition to your vegetables, you can add fruit, eggs, meat, and even flowers to your order.

Read more at the Just Food website here

Reminder: Submit accident information and take Safer Streets survey

A member of our Facebook group uploaded the above accident photo this week, which shows an accident that took place last August on Summit and Columbia between a truck and a car.

Since our neighborhood walk-through with representatives from the DOT and Elected Official offices was postponed due to the snow last week, there's still time for community residents to submit photos, videos, or details about accidents and other traffic issues, as well as to take the COWNA Safer Street Survey.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The new COWNA Environment Committe

Concerned about environmental issues in our community? Looking for a way to get involved in local issues?

If so, then please consider participating in the newly established Environment Committee of the Columbia Waterfront Neighborhood Association (COWNA)!!!

The Environment Committee will conduct research, outreach, and advocacy around locally relevant environmental issues, ranging from small issues to large ones.

Some topics on the agenda for discussion during the first meeting include:

- Adding more bike racks to the neighborhood
- Planting more trees and protecting the existing ones
- Reducing port and traffic related emissions
- Building capacity and participation at local parks, gardens, and green spaces
- Access to composting, recycling, and e-waste disposal

You're also welcome to bring your own ideas and areas of interest to the table!

The first meeting will be this Thursday, 2/25, at 7pm. Please email cbarker1 {at} if you would like to come to the meeting or participate on the committee in any way.

Fultummys International Sandwich Cafe coming to Columbia St soon!

We heard from the owner of this space a while back that the new tenant would be offering some sort of Asian cuisine. In the months since, we've also heard murmurs of an "international sandwich cafe."

Well today, the new sign is up on what used to be the Piccolo Cafe space, and it reads Fultummys. A quick search on the internet brought us to their facebook page, which confirms the description of International Sandwich Cafe (see flyer/logos below). The facebook page also mentions that they've been working on entirely redoing the space (see image below) and that they hope to be open as early as this week!

We're hoping some Vietnamese Sandwiches will be among the options! Its also so exciting to see something new opening up in light of recent losses.

Remodeling and flyer images from the Fultummy's facebook page.

Community Survey for Pratt Study

As a part of the current study of the neighborhood being conducted by Pratt planning and preservation students, a survey has been developed to see what the community sees as landmarks or places of importance in the Columbia Waterfront neighborhood. Please take a few minutes and complete this survey which will help with data collection and planning for the future of the neighborhood.

Click Here to take survey

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Upcoming classes at Brooklyn General

Brooklyn General has some new upcoming classes. You can never have enough stuff listed under the "hobbies/skills" section of your resume.

Create a one-of-a-kind garment for a child.
Session A: Tuesdays, February 23, March 2, 9 & 16 @ 10 am-12 pm

Beautifully knit projects can be ruined by sloppy finishing. This class will give you the skills you need to make your knitted garments a success from start to finish.
Session A: Sundays February 28 & March 7 @5pm-7pm

To sign up please call the store at (718) 237-7753!

See you at the shop!

News from Element Natural Healing Arts

Element Natural Healing Arts on Henry St. has announced some new weekly classes, workshops and special events for February and March:

We now offer a Parent and Baby Yoga class, Pilates Mat, a Breast Cancer Support Group Gathering, and Date Night Couples Massage by the fireplace. An upcoming new service, Maya Abdominal Massage starts in March, as well as a Childbirth Preparation Class, a 6 week Weight Management Series, and a Pilates Powerhouse Workshop. We appreciate your input, so please feel free to email us if you have an idea for a class, workshop or event you would like to see at Element. Classes and Events are also posted on our website.

Pingu showing at Big Movies for Little Kids on 2/22

A selection of episodes from the show Pingu will be showing at Big Movies for Little Kids on 2/22 at 4pm.

Big Movies for Little Kids takes place at Cobble Hill Theatere.

Check out their blog here for more details about this and other upcoming screenings.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Message from City Council Speaker: MTA cuts

Dear Brooklyn Resident,
In December the MTA unveiled a package of service cuts that is a slap in the face to millions of New Yorkers across the five boroughs. Your borough now faces critical cuts in service that will negatively affect the commutes of thousands of Brooklynites each day. Please click here to sign our petition and oppose these cuts! Also, please attend the MTA's public hearing in Brooklyn next month and let your voice be heard. Details are below:
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
6 p.m.
Brooklyn Museum
Cantor Auditorium
200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn

Among the proposed cuts to your borough are:
  • Elimination of Student MetroCards
  • $40 million in cuts to Access-a-Ride
  • Buses to be eliminated: B23, B37, B39, B51, B71, B75, B77, X29, X37 and the X38
  • Weekend elimination of the B2, B24, B69, X27 and X28
  • The following trains face reduced service, which will result in longer waits and more crowded subway cars: D, F, G, A, L and M trains. The M will be replaced by the V train.
Take Action!
  • Help us collect signatures for our petition, which we plan to deliver to each of the MTA's public hearings.
  • Urge the MTA to find alternative ways to prevent these terrible cuts. To contact the MTA by phone, dial (212) 878-7483. To contact them by e-mail, click here.
The New York City Council and the Straphangers Campaign have proposed an alternate budget solution that will allow us to avoid these painful service cuts. To read more about our plan click here. Or click here to read our Op-Ed in the Daily News.
With your help we can stop these drastic cuts and ensure greater input from Brooklyn residents in the MTA's budget process.
Christine C. Quinn
New York City Council
James Vacca
Chair, Transportation Committee
New York City Council

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Report on the Salt Pile meeting Courier ran an article yesterday on last week's salt pile meeting with ASI.

While the meeting seems to have gone well overall, the true test will be to see if ASI lives up to its apologies and either moves the pile or keeps it under MUCH better control.

Some of the article is posted below. Click here for the whole thing. Thanks to Councilmember Lander, Councilmember Levin, Senator Squadron, and Assemlywoman Millman for making this important step happen and getting ASI to come to the table!

Lydia Jimenez doesn’t have to go far to get her daily sodium requirement — the Baltic Street resident simply steps outside her home, and sticks out her tongue.

“I can smell it, I can taste it. It’s all over our vehicles and when its windy, it comes in our homes,” she said at a meeting convened last week to address the problem.

Jimenez is one of several vexed homeowners living near a mountain of salt stored at American Stevedoring International’s container terminal abutting the Columbia Street waterfront district....

At the meeting, Matt Yates the director of commercial operations for American Stevedoring International, took full responsibility for the predicament, apologizing to residents and admitting that mistakes have been made in handling the mineral. “The buck stops here,” he said. “Our job is to manage the port and supervise it.”

Yates said that in the short term, the salt, which is imported from South America and Canada and stored near the Columbia Street side of the port, would be better managed and covered properly. He promised to return to the community with specifics and a long term plan, one that could involve moving the pile farther away from residents’ homes.

“We probably should have thought of a more internal location,” Yates said. “We didn’t think enough about how this was going to impact the community.”

At the meeting, held at the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health on Columbia Street, Yates was flanked by City Councilmembers Steve Levin and Brad Lander, along with state Senator Daniel Squadron....

Columbia Street resident Norman Cox, the president of the Columbia Waterfront Neighborhood Association, said he was heartened by the presence of the elected officials, and impressed by Yates’ effort. “But I won’t be totally satisfied until the pule is gone,” he said. “I really don’t think it’s appropriate there.”

Local resident Terry Hasan wasn’t as impressed. “The take away, when all is said and done, is that I don’t know how much is going to change,” he said. “To change, you have to either eliminate the salt pile or tell us very specific changes [that will be enacted] to manage the pile. Until then, it’s just ‘hey, we’ll do our best.’”

Monday, February 15, 2010

Red Hook Hooverville

Gothamist and EphemeralNY posted some pictures last week of "Hoovervilles" around New York during the Great Depression. The above picture of one such Hooverville in "Red Hook off Columbia St." was included in both posts. Pretty fascinating stuff - especially in light of all the comparisons to the Great Depression that we've heard over the past year due to the recession.

For more information on Hoovervilles, check out a Wikipedia page here and a PBS Kids Big Apple History page here

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Write in your support for "shore power" and reduce port pollution

Adam Armstrong of the blog "A View From the Hook" recently forwarded me some information regarding a power rate case before the New York State Public Service Commission to establish shore power at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. Community members are urged to write in letters of support so that terminal operators can pay a special electricity rate for on-shore power, thereby making it cost efficient for them to use that over the highly polluting diesel generator power that is currently used.

Adam sums up more of the details surrounding this case and the overall issue through a post on his blog, which I have re-posted below. If you are concerned about air quality and pollution in our area, I strongly urge you to support this issue by writing a letter to the Public Services Commission (contact information included below)

Can you help eliminate 100 tons of NOx, 100 tons of SOx and 6 tons of particulates per year from our neighborhoods' air, and our kids' lungs?

The Public Service Commission (PSC) is hearing a case that would set electricity rates allowing for cruise ships to "plug in" to the electricity grid while in port at the "Brooklyn Cruise Terminal" in Red Hook.

Currently, these ships "idle" constantly in port (as do the container and cargo ships), burning an extra dirty form of diesel that is at least 90 times more polluting than that used by trucks. 1 ship/day = 12,000 cars/day.

The smokestack emission from the ships - container, cargo and cruise - emit the harmful, polluting, asthma inducing and carcinogenic substances I listed above.

The proposal to "plug in" the cruise ships to "shore power" while in port would eliminate these emissions from the ships visiting the Cruise Terminal, and the cruise operators have committed to doing this, but they need an appropriate power rate to make it work, economically.

Even though this will not be the case with the container and cargo ships at the Container Terminal, it is an important first step in eliminating these harmful pollutants from our air.

Can you write an email or a letter to the PSC stating your support for establishing a Con Edison "stand-by" electricity rate that cruise ships can use?

The details are below - email and mailing address - and important information in the last three lines (bold).

Please take note of the PSC Case No. 09-E-0428, which should be included in any correspondence, and the specifics of how the letters should be addressed.
(They should be addressed to either the chairman of the PSC or one of the commissioners as listed below - your choice - directed through the secretary.)

Thanks so much for your support on this important matter. Please spread the word.

Here are the details -

Comments can be directed to any one of the following Public Service Commission members, and routed through the Secretary:

Chairman: Garry A. Brown

Patricia L. Acampora
Robert E. Curry, Jr.
Maureen F. Harris, Esq.
James L. Larocca

Send you letters to the Public Service Commission at the address below:

Secretary to the Commission
Hon. Jaclyn A. Brilling
Secretary to the Commission
New York State Public Service Commission
Empire State Plaza
Agency Building 3
Albany, NY 12223-1350
Phone: (518) 474-6530
Fax: (518) 486-6081


Reference should be made to PSC Case No. 09-E-0428, Proceeding before the Commission as to the Rates, Charges, Rules and Regulations of Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc.

Parties commenting should include a reference to stand-by rates (the company electric tariff the ships would take power under as their needs will be intermittent).

What the settlement proposes is a collaborative to explore changes to standby rates to facilitate development of a tariff that could be used by cruise ships and others.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Subway Interruptions / MTA Service Cuts

Councilmember Lander recently sent out an email that does a good job of summing up subway service interruptions and ways to get involved in speaking out against proposed MTA cuts. The email is as follows:

I wanted to pass along to you some information about upcoming weekend suspensions to the F and G service between Jay Street and Church Avenue due to the ongoing Culver Viaduct rehabilitation project. During these weekends shuttle buses will replace F G service between the effected stops. The planned weekends for suspension are:

February 20-22
February 27-March 1
May 8-10
May 15-17
May 22-24
November 13-15
and November 20-22

I also hope that all of you will join me in taking action to protest the recent cuts that have been proposed by the MTA. Among other dramatic reductions in services, the MTA is proposing to reduce service or completely eliminate the B23, B51, B69, B67, B71, B75, and B77 buses all of which directly serve our district; phase-out the student MetroCards, which get 600,000 kids to school; and reduce paratransit (Access-A-Ride) service by $40 million. There are several things that we can do to make our voices heard on this issue:

  • Contact Governor Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg to tell them that these cuts will harm our neighborhoods: and
  • Call the MTA at (212) 878-7483 and tell them not to slash our services
  • Sign a petition that the New York City Council, along with the Straphangers Campaign, has put together
  • Attend one of the hearings that the MTA is hosting. The Brooklyn hearing will be on Wednesday, March 3 at 6pm in the Brooklyn Museum, Cantor Auditorium (200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn). A full schedule of hearings can be found here:

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Public Meeting with American Stevedoring regarding the Salt Pile

Community Meeting

with American Stevedoring Inc. (ASI) and
Columbia Waterfront Neighborhood Association (CoWNA)

to discuss community concerns regarding:

the Salt Pile on Columbia Street pier

Thursday, February 11th, 2010
6:00 PM

Postgraduate Center for Mental Health
Community Room
177 Columbia Street (at Degraw Street), 5th Floor

Sponsored by:
Councilmember Brad Lander
State Senator Daniel Squadron
Assemblywoman Joan L. Millman
Councilmember Stephen Levin

For more information, please contact Michael Curtin
in Councilmember Lander's office
718-499-1090 or mcurtin { at }

alt.Brooklyn.Valentine w/ Red Hook Lobster Pound, Dry Dock, and more....

Red Hook Lobster Pound has been circulating the following email in promotion of this great upcoming special:

Show some real love by cooking up some of the best that the local Brooklyn food purveyors have to offer.

Seafood has long been considered an aphrodisiac, a belief that can be traced back to the ancient Greeks who believed their goddess of love Aphrodite was born of the sea, and that the ocean's creatures were her playmates in the game of love, and gosh, lobster is the king of seafood and The Meat Hook has the sexiest meat and butchers around. Combine that with the briny flavor of Rick's Picks, the sultry sea salt caramels from the vixens at Liddabit Sweets, all topped off with a trip to the best new wine store on the block, Dry Dock Wines, and woken up the next am with a delicious and socially responsible cup of coffee and we say that you have a guaranteed full-on night/morning of whoopee.

The Red Hook Lobster Pound has put together the ultimate in alt.Valentine's Day (and the morning after) feast in a pot. Each package includes:

A 15 quart Lobster Pot w/ steamer insert
2 1.5 lb lobsters

Bibs, Crackers and Lobster Picks
Cooking Directions
Chocolates and Sea Salt Caramels from Liddabit Sweets
A Jar of People's Pickles from Rick's Picks
Morning After Green Chorizo Sausage from the Meat Hook
½ lb Special Blend Coffee from Crop to Cup
A bottle of Selected Wine from the Dry Dock Wine and Spirits

The Valentine's Day Pot is available for Pick up at the Red Hook Lobster Pound on 2/13 and 2/14 from 12pm-6pm. Wine must be picked up from Dry Dock (down the street from the Pound). Price is $115 without wine, $140 with wine.

Reservations and pre-payments are required and will be taken up to 2/12. Stop by the pound or send us payment via paypal for this special purchase to redhooklobster { at }

Climate Change film screening at Carroll Gardens Library

FROGG, NY Sierra Club, and a group of Carroll Gardens residents present:

A community viewing of the film "earth2100" and a discussion on climate change planning.

Wednesday, February 10,
6:30 pm, located at the
Carroll Gardens Library
396 Clinton St. @ Union St.

Film includes commentary from the science community:
· Malcolm Bowman
· Jared Diamond
· E. O. Wilson
· John Holdren
· Peter Gleick

“When an insurance company, or an institution like the Pentagon, prepares for future threats, they always develop a worst case scenario -- a sober assessment, based on expert research, of the most serious possible risks. To avoid the worst, they believe, you must plan for it.
This program was developed to show a worst-case scenario for human civilization. Again, we are not saying that these events will happen -- rather, that if we fail to seriously address the complex problems of climate change, resource depletion and overpopulation, they are much more likely to happen.”
-- Michael Bicks, Executive Produce

On January 21, 2010 the New York Times reported: Past Decade Warmest on Record, NASA Data Shows. The report stated “The agency also found that 2009 was the second warmest year since 1880, when modern temperature measurement began. The warmest year was 2005. The other hottest recorded years have all occurred since 1998, NASA said.“

Is our government planning for possible impacts we may experience from raising temperatures? Join us for this community discussion on the role of scenario planning in climate adaptation. What does it mean to our Brooklyn neighborhood, as well as to the country, and the planet? What are we doing to prevent the scenario in this film from taking place here?

Sponsored by FROGG and NYC Sierra Club; organized by Carroll Garden citizens; for additional information contact Diane Buxbaum, 718-855-2399 or Marlene Donnelly, 718-625-2311. Special thanks to The Brooklyn Public Library for use of their community room.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Bollywood Dance Class for kids in the 'Hood!

Dear Moms & Dads (Aunties and Uncles too!)
So excited to announce a Bollywood Dance Class for Kids at Everyday Athlete Studio in Brooklyn! It's a great way for your children to experience healthy physical activity, broaden their cultural understanding, develop musical skills and have FUN!

Here are the details:
What: Bollywood Dance Class for Tots - Ages 3-5
When: 6 Wk Session Starts Tuesdays: February 23-March 30th at 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Where: Everyday Athlete Studio - 136 Union Street, Brooklyn - near corner Union/Hicks Sts.
Costs: $120 for classes + $20 costume rental for performance

To register contact teacher:
Priya Pandya 347.644.0052 or register online (click "Take a Class").

Come check out Free Demo Class
Next Tuesday, February 9th, 2010 at 1:30 p.m.
at Everyday Athlete Studios

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy Hour with the Cobble Hill Association - Wed 3rd

Our neighbors from the Cobble Hill Association will be hosting a happy hour this Wednesday, February 3rd (they are now doing them once a month, on the first Wednesday of each month). Drink deals and food will be available, and its a great way to meet people and talk about issues effecting Cobble Hill and the greater area.

It takes place at Watty and Meg - which is on the corner of Kane and Court.

Check out the CHA blog for updates and details

Monday, February 1, 2010

Safer Streets Survey: Community Input Needed

Due to our recent petitioning, letter writing, and the generous support of various elected officials, the Department of Transportation has agreed to conduct studies of the Columbia Waterfront neighborhood over the next couple of months.

Some members of COWNA, along with staff members from the offices of various elected officials, will be conducting a walk-through of the neighborhood with DOT officials in mid-February.

An important goal during this meeting will be to present the DOT with as much data, information, and community input as possible, thereby alerting them of specific issues and concerns, as well as to discuss some potential solutions. Please take 10 minutes of your time to fill in this "Safer Streets Survey"

Your survey responses will be strictly confidential and data from this research will be reported only in the aggregate.