What’s News, Breaking: Wednesday, December 14, 2022
LOGAN FOUNTAIN TO TRANSFORM DEFUNCT GAS STATION INTO AFFORDABLE HOUSING COMPLEX
The groundbreaking has taken place for Logan Fountain, a mixed-use project developed under the 2016 East New York rezoning, that will transform a defunct gas station into affordable housing units, transitional housing for homeless families, and new retail space, Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams announced on Wednesday, December 14. Named Logan Fountain for two streets surrounding the property (and intersecting with Atlantic Avenue at 265 Logan St.), the new project was designed as a hybrid model that will include an affordable and supportive housing component and a family shelter in a 13-story building.
MHG Architects designed Logan Fountain, which Broadway Builders, an affiliate of The Hudson Companies, will build.
DUO WANTED FOR ASSAULT OF LIVERY CAB DRIVER
Police are asking the public to help locate two unidentified individuals being sought in connection with a robbery that occurred in New Lots/East New York, within the 75th Precinct, on Tuesday, November 22 around 3:25 p.m. The victim, a 61-year-old male livery cab driver, picked up two male passengers in front of 662 Riverdale Avenue in New Lots, who then assaulted and robbed him of $20 upon leaving the cab a few blocks away.
The male individuals fled on foot towards the vicinity of 389 New Lots Avenue. The victim refused medical attention at the scene.
HOSPITAL SERVING SOUTH BROOKLYN WILL GET NEW ECHOCARDIOGRAM EQUIPMENT
SOUTH BROOKLYN – NYC Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health has received $1 million from State Assemblyman William Colton (D-47th District) to replace six echocardiogram machines that will in turn support the expansion of the medical center’s cardiac services. South Brooklyn Health is now a New York State-certified Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) Center, providing comprehensive cardiac services close to home for South Brooklyn residents experiencing cardiac emergencies.
A 2022 community health needs assessment showed that heart disease is the second leading cause of premature death for Brooklynites. South Brooklyn Health also provides health care to a disproportionately-older population, with nearly half being age 45 and above.
PROTESTS CITY’S TREATMENT OF BUILDINGS IN LANDMARK APPLICATION PROCESS
The advocacy group Justice for 441 Willoughby (Bedford Stuyvesant), will join elected officials, Historic Districts Council preservationists, and community leaders on the steps of City Hall on Thursday, December 15 to accuse the city of demolishing buildings that are about to be landmarked. The groups will protest the deterioration and demolition of buildings that have either been landmarked or are on the agenda for landmark status votes — which is supposed to protect them from the wrecking ball.
The group Justice for 441 Willoughby is named for the address of the now-demolished Jacob Dangler Mansion, which was a 120-year-old French-Gothic building at the corner of Willoughby and Nostrand Avenues. Dangler, a prosperous immigrant entrepreneur, built the French Gothic Revival-style mansion around 1902; it later became a community center.
EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE FUNDING PORTAL TO CLOSE IN JANUARY
STATEWIDE – Litigation that the Legal Aid Society initiated earlier this year has protected more than 136,000 New Yorkers from eviction by qualifying them for funding to address their late rental payments, the advocacy group announced on Wednesday, December 14. The case, Hidalgo v. New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, forced the defendant agency to reopen the Emergency Rental Assistance Program portal (ERAP), and to contact potential applicants whose attempts to apply were rejected due to OTDA’s unlawful policy.
Wednesday’s announcement was made in response to news that OTDA will close the ERAP portal in January 2023, although OTDA agrees that it will continue to accept applications for this relief beyond January 15, 2023, if new and sufficient state or federal funding becomes available to continue underwriting projected costs after January 15.
THE TRIPLE LIVES OF AN AIRLINE EMPLOYEE
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN – A Brooklyn man employed as both a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer and airline crew member was arrested Tuesday night, December 13, for defrauding the airline. The defendant, 36-year-old Steven Livingston, had devised a scheme to hold both jobs by convincing his airline employer that he was on military leave — he is in the National Guard — and submitted forged Army orders between April 2019 and December 2022 in order to qualify for benefits, according to a complaint submitted to the U.S. Attorney’s Office/Eastern District, here in Brooklyn.
The defendant was a soldier for the New York Army National Guard until his discharge in or around November 2022.
FIRE DEATH RECLASSIFIED AS HOMICIDE, SAY POLICE
The NYPD has announced that they are now investigating the suspicious November death of a Broadway Junction woman as a homicide. On Nov. 11, emergency services personnel responding to an early morning fire at a building on Van Siclen Avenue discovered the body of an unidentified woman in an apartment after extinguishing the fire.
Police say that the Fire Marshal will determine the cause of the fire and that the investigation is ongoing.
COUNCIL SEEKS TO BAN GUINEA PIG SALES
CITYWIDE – The City Council is set to finally hold a meeting on Wednesday morning on the proposed bill to ban the sales of guinea pigs in city pet shops. The legislation is intended to address the skyrocketing numbers of guinea pigs being surrendered to shelters or abandoned after adoption by erstwhile pet owners during the early days of the pandemic.
The bill, which activists have been advocating for since February, has achieved a supermajority of supporters in the council but has not yet been passed, reportedly due to reluctance by Speaker Adrienne Adams as well as backlogs in council business.
NEW YEAR’S EVE FIREWORKS IN PROSPECT PARK
PARK SLOPE – Spectacular New Year’s Eve fireworks are returning this year to Prospect Park after two years of absence during the worst of the pandemic. The family-friendly event will start at 10 PM with live music before the display itself begins at midnight.
Tickets are recommended but not required, and can be reserved on EventBrite.
TRAGIC DEATH IN QUIET NEIGHBORHOOD
SUNSET PARK – The NYPD reports that a 48-year-old woman was found deceased with a stab wound to the neck at a home in Sunset Park on Tuesday following a 911 call. A man who lives at that address, Rubu Zhao, 52, has been taken into custody and charged with murder and criminal possession of a weapon.
The NYPD have not released the woman’s identity pending notification of the family.
POLICE SEEK HELP IDENTIFYING ASSAULTER
CYPRESS HILLS – The NYPD is asking the public for help identifying an individual suspected of assaulting a man in Cypress Hills in November. In the early afternoon of Nov. 15, this person engaged a local man in a verbal dispute on the corner of Fulton and Essex streets before punching the man in the face and fleeing on foot.
Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782), or to submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or on Twitter @NYPDTips.
NEW BQE PLAN: ONLINE MEETING ANNOUNCED
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS – DOT will be holding an online meeting to display its preliminary designs for the “BQE Central” section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, on Thursday, December 15 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be held on Zoom and attendees are required to register before attending.
The preliminary designs are based on feedback DOT received at a series of meetings held in October.
SUPERMARKET CLOSURE WORRIES LOCALS
FLATBUSH – The impending closure of a local Stop & Shop supermarket has alarmed Flatbush residents, who worry that grocery options in the neighborhood are dwindling even as food prices rise. Community activists say that they are concerned that parts of the neighborhood are in danger of becoming food deserts, a term that describes areas without ready access to affordable and healthy food options.
PIX 11 reports that the store will remain open until Jan. 19, after which some employees will be transferred to other Stop & Shop locations in the city as a new store takes over their lease.
CHRISTMAS DISPLAY LIGHTS UP SOUTH BROOKLYN
DYKER HEIGHTS – The Dyker Heights Christmas light display, which has quickly become a beloved New York tradition, is once again lighting up south Brooklyn this year thanks to neighborhood residents, who are known for going all-out in their efforts to decorate their homes and bring holiday cheer to the borough. For those new to the magic, Time Out magazine has a helpful guide on the best ways to experience this urban winter wonderland.
Although the festive display delights visitors, some Dyker Heights residents have become concerned with the amount of traffic and noise sightseers can bring to the area, especially in the years since the initial outbreak of the pandemic.
JUMAANE WILLIAMS TAKES ON ROLE IN ANCIENT GREEK PLAY
CITYWIDE – Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will be participating in a unique online adaptation of Sophocles’ tragedy “Antigone,” in which a young woman fights to uphold her values in the face of public opposition, on Wednesday, December 14. “The Nurse Antigone”, which will feature professional actors such as Anthony Edwards and Taylor Schilling, as well as other public figures performing dramatic readings from the ancient play backed by a chorus of nurses, “dramatizes the heavy cost of silencing and marginalizing caregivers, especially during times of crisis.”
Attendees will need to register in advance for the play, which will be held on Zoom at 5 p.m. and is presented by Theater of War Productions.
NEW COMMUNITY SCHOLARSHIP HELPS STUDENTS SAVE FOR COLLEGE
CANARSIE – Thanks to a new Community Scholarship, 1,200 first-graders in East Flatbush and Canarsie will receive $1,000 in their NYC Scholarship Accounts, which is dedicated to college and career savings. The funding comes from a $1.2 million investment from Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Greenwood Initiative and Brooklyn Community Foundation’s Donor-Advised Funds, and utilizes NYC Kids RISE’s Save for College Program as a community-driven wealth-building platform, making this the largest Community Scholarship in the Program’s history.
The Community Scholarship is being strategically deployed to help combat the racial wealth gap in New York City neighborhoods where 86% of students are Black — the largest proportion of any geographic school district in New York City.
TWO U.S. RESIDENTS IN RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE SCHEME RELEASED WITH FEBRUARY COURT DATE
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN – After a hearing in Brooklyn federal court on Tuesday, December 13, Alexey Brayman, a legal U.S. resident who was part of a conspiracy and money laundering scheme along with five Russian nationals and a U.S. citizen, was released after surrendering his passports, posting $150K unsecured bond, and being required to adhere to electronic monitoring at home. One of his accomplices, an American citizen identified as Vadim Yermolenko, put up a $500K bond partly secured by his home. Both must return to Brooklyn federal court on February 7.
The group was allegedly affiliated with Serniya Engineering and Sertal LLC, Moscow-based companies that operate under the direction of Russian intelligence services to procure advanced electronics and sophisticated testing equipment for Russia’s military-industrial complex and research and development sector.
FLATBUSH MAN GETS TWO DECADES IN PRISON FOR SHOOTING OF ARCHITECTURAL STUDENT
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN – A Flatbush man has been sentenced to up to 21 years in prison for a February 2017 shooting that killed an innocent teen. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez identified the defendant as Zidon Clarke, 23, a member of the “SRK” subset of the violent Folk Nation street gang, who received his sentence Tuesday, December 13 from Justice Danny Chun after a bench trial last month.
The victim, Rohan Levy, a student at Williamsburg High School for Architecture and Design, was returning home with friends after playing basketball when Clarke mistook them for rival gang members whom he was hunting.
FIREFIGHTER INJURED IN 3-ALARM RED HOOK TOW POUND FIRE
RED HOOK – An FDNY firefighter has been injured in what has now been called a three-alarm fire at the Erie Basin NYPD Auto Pound in Red Hook. The fire, which began around 10:43 a.m. and spread to three alarms within half an hour, prompted the NYPD 76th Precinct, which covers Red Hook, to dispatch a Tweet warning the public to avoid the area of Columbia St. near Erie Basin in Red Hook, and that there are road closures near Columbia St. and Bay St.
This particular auto pound is distinct from tow pounds, explains the NYPD on its website, because it stores vehicles that have been confiscated for reasons other than parking violations.
ION-LITHIUM BATTERY INITIALLY BLAMED FOR TUESDAY’S FIRE IN RED HOOK IMPOUND LOT
RED HOOK WATERFRONT – An ion-lithium battery may have sparked the three-alarm fire that raged in an NYPD vehicle impound depot, injuring at least two firefighters, according to preliminary news reports. John Quadrozzi, Jr., owner of the GBX~ Gowanus Bay Terminal that’s in the vicinity of the fire, told the Brooklyn Eagle, “Heard from lots of people checking to see if GBX~ was alright before I even knew what was happening. Fortunately it was at the end of the block from GBX~, far enough out of danger, however a lot of smoke came our way.”
The fire was first reported around 10:43 a.m. at the depot, on Columbia St. near Erie Basin in Red Hook.
HAPPY DAYS DINER CLOSES
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS – Happy Days Diner, until last month a popular mainstay at 148 Montague St., serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner 24/7 for almost 30 years, recently closed its doors, apparently having never recovered from the pandemic lockdown. Court documents and the real estate website Brownstoner reported that an eviction petition was filed in July against Happy Days Diner, owned by Onkar Food Corp, owed $632,801.17 through July 2022 for a ground-floor monthly rent of $22,380.
Although Brownstoner reported that “Happy Days Diner first took a lease for the space at 148 Montague Street in 2000,” that date is arguably inaccurate. Several Eagle staffers have, since the early 1990s, regularly gotten their meals at all hours from Happy Days –– before the restaurant was forced to shorten its hours.
DIOCESAN CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING AT GRAND ARMY PLAZA
GRAND ARMY PLAZA – A Brooklyn Diocesan holiday tradition continues tomorrow, Wednesday, December 14, when Bishop Robert Brennan lights the Christmas tree and blesses the nativity scene at Grand Army Plaza. The 28-foot Norway Spruce tree is decorated with 16,000 multi-colored LED lights to represent the diversity of Brooklyn’s Roman Catholics, often referred to as the “Diocese of Immigrants.”
Expected to join Bishop Brennan for the annual 4 p.m. ceremony, at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch, will be Christine Persichette, anchor of Currents News on NET-TV, a faith-based broadcast network.
FIVE RUSSIAN NATIONALS CHARGED; FOUR OF THEM STILL AT LARGE
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN – Five Russian nationals have been charged in Brooklyn federal court in a 16-count indictment that was unsealed on Monday, December 12. Yevgeniy Grinin, Aleksey Ippolitov, Boris Livshits, Svetlana Skvortsova and Vadim Konoshchenok are charged with conspiracy and other counts related to a global procurement and money laundering network on behalf of the Russian government, after Estonian authorities searched a warehouse used by Konoshchenok and recovered approximately 375 pounds worth of U.S.-origin ammunition.
Only Vadim Konoshchenok, a suspected officer with Russia’s Federal Security Service, had been apprehended as of press time; he was arrested in Estonia on December 6 and will be extradited to the United States.
RUSSIAN CONSPIRATORS RESIDED IN BROOKLYN AND OTHER PARTS OF NORTHEAST
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN – Boris Livshits, one of the aforementioned Russian nationalists to be charged with conspiracy and money laundering, and who reportedly lives in Brooklyn, is part of a gang of Russian undercover operators who lied and schemed in order to acquire military and sensitive dual-use technologies from U.S. manufacturers, in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and other U.S. criminal statutes. These items included advanced electronics and sophisticated testing equipment used in quantum computing, hypersonic and nuclear weapons development and other military and space-based military applications.
Two additional gang members are scheduled for arraignment on Tuesday afternoon: U.S. citizen Vadim Yermolenko in Brooklyn federal court and legal U.S./New Hampshire resident Alexey Brayman in that state’s federal court.
PANEL TALK ON ‘RACISM AND THE LIBERAL WHITE ILLUSION’
“Racism and the Liberal White Illusion” is the focus of a virtual talk coming up next month at the Center for Brooklyn History. The January 9 conversation (registration via Brooklyn Public Library) will examine scholarly research and complex narratives that point to how “the liberal white creed of empathy” can actually sabotage racial healing and equitable policymaking.
The moderator will be the Associated Press’ national race and ethnicity reporter Aaron Morrison.
BIGGEST EVER CHRISTMAS TREE AT BORO HALL
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN – Brooklyn welcomed in the holidays last week with the lighting of its biggest Christmas tree ever! More than 100 merrymakers joined the celebration according to Borough President Antonio Reynoso, which in addition to the 30-foot tree, featured caroling by Opera on Tap, candy canes and a special appearance by honorary Brooklynite Santa Claus.
Reynoso also thanked Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Marty Maher, National Grid, Ponce Bank, Urbanspace, Uber, Target, and Brooklyn For All for “helping us bring the cheer to Brooklyn.”
LAST CHANCE FOR PUBLIC COMMENT ON HELICOPTER TOURS
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS – The deadline for the public to comment on the controversial new helicopter tour regulation plan has been extended to December 30. Activist group Stop the Chop NY-NJ and the Brooklyn Heights Association, who say that these new regulations will lead to a dramatic increase in helicopter traffic, a heightened risk of terrorism and close flyovers over Brooklyn Heights at only 500 feet off the ground, urge concerned residents to submit their concerns to the National Parks Service and FAA via the National Parks Service website.
Stop the Chop and the Brooklyn Heights Association both advocate for the end of sightseeing helicopter tours, which have increased in quantity to 60,000 flights a year since the closure of the West 30th St. heliport and generate little direct income for the city.
MASK UP, SAYS HEALTH COMMISSIONER
NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan has issued a new Health Advisory that urges residents to use high-quality masks when indoors and in crowded outdoor settings in order to guard against potential new variants of the coronavirus and to protect seniors and other vulnerable New Yorkers, says Community Board 2. The Commissioner’s Advisory also urges all residents to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and flu, even if they have been vaccinated previously.
Many providers offer both vaccines, and appointments can be made through the city’s Vaccine Finder website or by calling 877-VAX-4NYC (877-829-4692).
AWARD-WINNING BROOKLYN COMPOSER PASSES AWAY
BENSONHURST – Grammy-winning “Twin Peaks” score composer Angelo Badalamenti, born in Bensonhurst, has passed away in New Jersey at age 85 after more than 50 years of creating songs for both Hollywood productions and musical megastars. Badalamenti began his career as a music teacher at Dyker Heights Junior High before transitioning into songwriting, starting with a Christmas musical which aired on WNET in 1964 and going on to work with artists like David Bowie, Paul McCartney and Liza Minelli and to form a close partnership with, among others, filmmaker David Lynch, for whom he scored “Twin Peaks,” “Blue Velvet” and “Mulholland Drive.”
Badalamenti is survived by his wife Lonny, daughter Danielle, and niece Frances, who conducted a touching interview with the composer in 2019.
POLICE SEEK HELP IN FINDING ATTEMPTED RAPIST
FORT GREENE – The 88th Precinct is asking the public for help in identifying a man in connection to an attempted rape on Nov. 28. A 19-year-old woman was returning home from school when the suspect, described as a male with black hair and glasses last seen wearing a maroon sweater and a black jacket, approached her and attempted to force her to the ground before fleeing on foot.
Anyone with information in regard to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782); or to submit their tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website or on Twitter @NYPDTips.
YWCA BROOKLYN RECEIVES $37,000 GRANT
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN – YWCA Brooklyn has received a $37,000 Spectrum Digital Education Grant in addition to a donation of 25 new laptops for its digital literacy skills program. This program, which began in 2021 also thanks to a grant from Spectrum, started with the purchase of more than 30 tablets for a technology lending library before expanding to offer education on how broadband Internet can benefit senior residents’ lives, intermediate-level digital literacy classes and education on mobile technologies to help stay connected in an increasingly digital world.
YWCA Brooklyn, a grassroots non-profit that has been a champion for racial justice and gender equity for over 130 years, today focuses on serving women and girls of color, providing more than 300 safe, permanent and affordable homes in its Downtown Brooklyn building for low-income and vulnerable women; a college access and leadership program for girls of color; and services for immigrant women.
SOCCER TOURNAMENT RAISES FUNDS FOR YOUTH PROGRAM
NEW LOTS – Eight teams gathered on Sunday, December 11, to play in the City in the Community Holiday Cup, a charity tournament held to help homeless youth access soccer programming and warm winter clothing. NYCFC and Midea Appliances sponsored the tournament, which also featured fun games and family holiday activities for people living in shelters.
To date, Midea and NYCFC’s partnership has seen City in the Community provide leadership and workforce development training to more than 70 young people aged 16-24 who are currently in the shelter system, giving them the skills, confidence and paid job opportunities to deliver soccer programs to younger kids in the community.
DISGRACED CRYPTO CEO CAUGHT IN BAHAMAS
NEW YORK – The Southern District of New York confirmed on Twitter that former billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, head of the now-bankrupt FTX cryptocurrency exchange, was arrested in the Bahamas on Monday, December 12. US Attorney Damien Williams stated that the SDNY expects to move to unseal the indictment on the morning of Tuesday, December 13, and will have more to say at that time.
In addition to the reportedly wide variety of charges filed by the US attorney stemming from the spectacular collapse of FTX in the last few months, which caused the embattled CEO’s net worth to plummet from an estimated $26 billion to $0, Bankman-Fried faces separate charges from the SEC, who stated on Twitter that they would also be filing against him on Tuesday morning.
J TRAIN SERVICE DISRUPTIONS OVER WILLIAMSBURG BRIDGE
WILLIAMSBURG – Service disruptions are coming for J train riders traveling between Brooklyn and Manhattan, reports Gothamist. According to the DOT, much-needed repairs on the decaying Williamsburg Bridge will necessitate the closure of the bridge to train traffic on at least 25 separate weekends over the course of 2023 and 2024, avoiding the worst-case fears of some commuters of a total shutdown.
While the MTA says the repair schedule has not been finalized, a proposed schedule given to DOT contractors suggests these closures could start as soon as next month.
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