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What’s News, Breaking: Monday, March 27, 2023

March 27, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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WORKSHOP HELPS PARENTS INITIATE ‘THE TALK’ WITH THEIR KIDS

PARK SLOPE — Parents who have anxiety about sitting their pre-teens down for “The Talk” may be interested in a workshop taking place this Thursday, March 30 that the P.S. 321 PTA is co-sponsoring with Park Slope Parents and hosting in the school auditorium. During the workshop, running from 6:30 to 8 p.m., and titled “The Talk: Sex Ed 2.0,” Sexuality Educator Rachel Lotus will discuss ways to initiate conversations with elementary-school age children on personal boundaries, respect for gender and identity, puberty, confidence and other matters with which 21st-century families deal.

The workshop, open to the community with suggested $10 donation, is designed to equip parents with actionable steps, practical help with language, and developmentally-appropriate resources.

DAILY TOP BROOKLYN NEWS
News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

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HOUSING ADVOCATES HEAD TO ALBANY TO PUSH FOR EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE

CITYWIDE — Charging that New York was the only state in the nation to deprioritize tenants of subsidized housing for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) leaders and residents will head to Albany on Tuesday, March 28 to urge government to fund emergency rental assistance for public housing tenants who have fallen behind in their payments.

Rent payment arrears in NYCHA alone totaling $454 million as of the end of the 2022 calendar year and have since grown to $466 million in the first three months of 2023.

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TREES, VERTICAL GARDEN, TO BE INSTALLED AT WILLIAMSBURG DOMINO SUGAR FACTORY

WILLIAMSBURG – The building that once contained the renowned Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg, at one point the largest sugar manufacturing producer in the world, is being outfitted with trees and a vertical garden, announced Two Trees Management on Monday. The office will have a whopping 17 30-foot trees craned in and upon completion the new flora will be visible to residents in the vicinity of Domino Park. The lively and naturalesque aesthetics will be implanted by the Domino Park design team, who also created “pandemic circles,” which allowed for social distancing and safer park enjoyment during the pandemic. 

 On April 5th, Brooklyn-based place-maker Two Trees Management will perform an incredible task literally craning massive trees up and over the historic brick facade and surgically dropping them inside the narrow 12-foot space between the old brick and new glass building within.

Renderings of the vertical gardens at the Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg. Photo: Berlin Rosen.

Renderings of the vertical gardens at the Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg. Photo: Two Trees Management.
Renderings of the vertical gardens at the Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg. Photo: Two Trees Management.

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OLD STONE HOUSE HOSTS A CELEBRATION OF SEEDS AND PLANTING

PARK SLOPE — A festival of a new planting and gardening season takes place this Sunday, April 2 at the Old Stone House and Washington Park. This free event from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., titled Celebration of Seeds, will include a neighborhood seed swap that the Old Stone House’s Director of Gardens Sam Lewis & Garden Coordinator Angela Lombardo will facilitate, with participants being encouraged to diversify their home gardens by bringing seeds or cuttings from favorite plants to trade.

The Celebration of Seeds will conclude with a planting ceremony that New York artist Dario Mohr will lead.

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CITY LAWMAKERS PUSH FOR FASTER BUSES

CITYWIDE – New York wants the buses to go faster, according to an open letter to the legislature made by city councilmembers on Monday. Lawmakers asked Albany for the proper maintenance and enforcement of the Automated Bus Lane Enforcement (ABLE) program to boost speeds and reduce traffic collisions, expanding MTA and NYC DOT authority to enforce additional traffic violations where MTA buses operate. Governor Hochul’s additional proposals (Part A of 2.4008-A/A.4008-A) would allow the MTA and NYC DOT to enforce double-parking, bus stop violations, bike lane violations, and bus lane violations that impede bus operations.

“More than a million riders rely on buses and every day many of them end up stuck on slow buses, behind private vehicle traffic that needlessly blocks out city’s dedicated bus lanes,” said Council Majority Whip Selvena N. Brooks-Powers. “Camera-protected bus lanes significantly speed up commutes for riders and create safer streets for all by decreasing traffic collisions.”

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CONEY ISLAND USA WILL HOST TWO WEEKEND-LONG CELEBRATIONS OF UNUSUAL ARTS AND PERFORMANCES

CONEY ISLAND – South Brooklyn’s premier not-for-profit organization, Coney Island USA, will be hosting a peculiar series of artistic performances for 2023’s “Congress of Curious Peoples – A Gathering of Unique Individuals,” featuring unusual performances and personalities in a circus- and sideshow-style theme April 7 through April 9, as well as April 15 and 16. The debut performance will be on April 7, revolving around the categories of performances: “Born Different”, “Self-Inflicted”, “Working Act”, “Attraction” and “Show Folk.”  April 8 will feature an “oddities market” with free admission to the Freak Bar and Arts Annex. Brianna Belladonna, a special performer who will be shown throughout the Congress of Curious Peoples, will conduct sword swallowing, fire eating, glass walking and other fantastic displays. 

Since the 1860’s, Coney Island has been a beacon for interesting performances. For generations, it has attracted the curious and the enlightened in both the onlooker and the performer. This long-standing tradition continues with this gathering of unique individuals at Sideshows by the Seashore and the Coney Island Museum.

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TWO-THIRDS OF ELIGIBLE PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS NOT RECEIVING BILINGUAL SPECIAL ED. SERVICES

CITYWIDE — Nearly two-thirds of New York City students who are entitled to bilingual special education services are not receiving all their mandated support, according to new figures that the city’s education department has released and that the website Chalkbeat New York covered on March 27. At the end of the 2021-22 school year, just 36 percent of children who were assigned bilingual special education services received the correct amount of instruction from a certified bilingual teacher and in a classroom with the proper ratio of students and staff.

Although state officials have for years criticized New York City for failing to provide bilingual special education services, the situation became more urgent with the influx into the public schools of about 14,000 children from families seeking asylum in the United States and for whom the lack of English proficiency is still a barrier.

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SOUTHERN PORTION OF BOROUGH LEFT OUT OF PARTICIPATORY BUDGETING PROCESS

SOUTHERN BROOKLYN — Because some Brooklyn Councilmanic Districts are not listed as taking part in this year’s Participatory Budgeting, a large swath of southern Brooklyn voters, from Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst to Sheepshead Bay and Manhattan Beach, are being left out of the Participatory Budgeting process.

The Brooklyn City Councilmembers not on this year’s roster are Darlene Mealy (District 41), Justin Brannan (District 43), Kalman Yeger (District 44), Mercedes Narcisse (District 46); and Ari Kagan and Inna Vernikov, both Republicans, who currently represent Districts 47 and 48, respectively.

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VOTING FOR NEIGHBORHOOD IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS

CITYWIDE — New Yorkers are urged to make their voices heard during Participatory Budgeting Vote Week, which runs through next Sunday, April 2 and which gives people as young as age 11 in certain City Council Districts the chance to have a say in getting vital projects funded. Vote online or in person (through one’s City Councilmember’s office) to decide how nearly $30 million in capital funding will be spent in the Fiscal Year 2024 city budget to improve neighborhood schools, parks, libraries, and local infrastructure This year, 29 districts across Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Manhattan, are participating. For the full list, visit the aforementioned website.

All projects are capital budget proposals, which are significant neighborhood infrastructure investments. They were crafted and refined in conversation with relevant city agencies and facilitated by participating Council Members’ offices.

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PUBLIC ADVOCATE URGES CITY COUNCIL TO PASS BILLS ON POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY

CITYWIDE — New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams pushed to pass his police accountability bills, first introduced last year, and having the sponsorship of several Brooklyn City Councilmembers, at a hearing of the City Council Committee on Public Safety. Intro 586, one half of the How Many Stops Act, would require the NYPD to report in-depth on all levels of police stops and encounters, including the factors leading to the encounter; this bill expands on the Right to Know Act passed in 2017.

Moreover, Williams’ Intro 781 would require the NYPD to include in vehicle encounter reports the justification used by an officer to conduct a vehicle stop; and Intro 585, would require the NYPD to share all body-worn camera footage with the Department of Investigation’s Inspector General for the NYPD and the Department of Records and Information Services within 5 days of the recording.

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DEMAND FOR WORKING ELEVATORS

CITYWIDE — Working MTA elevators and transit accessibility are the demands that several advocacy groups will make during a rally at MTA headquarters in Lower Manhattan on Wednesday morning, March 29, before a scheduled board meeting.  The Rise and Resist Elevator Action Group, coalition partners and elected officials will rally to demand that Governor Kathy Hochul improve subway elevator reliability, alert riders to breakdowns and fix them promptly. While several ADA construction projects are in progress at stations around Brooklyn, this group is emphasizing the need for elevators’ consistent and ongoing reliability throughout the transit system.

Constant elevator and escalator breakdowns make subway travel dangerous and unpredictable for wheelchair users, caregivers with strollers, older adults, workers with deliveries and travelers with luggage. The group will urge Gov. Hochul to commit to stationing MTA personnel at broken elevators and escalators to help riders, as they say is the policy in other cities.

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LAW FIRM REPRESENTING BROOKLYN MEDICAL CENTERS MUST PAY RESTITUTION FOR LAX DATA SECURITY

CITYWIDE — Several Brooklyn medical facilities that are clients of a Manhattan law firm were affected by a 2021 data breach for which New York Attorney General Letitia James has secured $200,000 as restitution. The Office of the Attorney General reported on Monday, March 27, that law firm Heidell, Pittoni, Murphy & Bach, LLP (HPMB), which represents hospitals including Maimonides Medical Center, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, NYU Langone and NY Presbyterian, had failed to protect New Yorkers’ personal and health care data and that the firm’s poor data security measures made it vulnerable to the data breach comprising the private information of approximately 114,000 patients, and violating both HIPAA and state law.

HIPAA required the law firm to adhere to certain advanced data security practices. As a result of the agreement, HPMB must pay $200,000 in penalties to the state and strengthen its cybersecurity measures to protect consumers’ personal and private health information.

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STATE JUDGE: STATE CANNOT PENALIZE RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS FOR FAILING TO MEET EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS

STATEWIDE — The state cannot force parents of children to withdraw their children from private and/or religious schools that fail to meet educational standards, a state trial judge in Albany has ruled, reports The Times of Israel. State Supreme Court Justice Christina Ryba’s ruling on Friday, which was a response to an extended lawsuit pitting the Haredi Jewish schools (yeshivas) against education advocacy groups, strikes down a key set of rules aimed at ensuring that the yeshivas provide an education that is “substantially equivalent” to that of a public school.

The same ruling forbids the state from closing private and religious schools that do not meet the standard, and that the state “overstepped its authority” in establishing penalties for schools that de-emphasize, language arts, math and science in their curricula.

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STATE SENATOR GOUNARDES HOLDS MOBILE HOURS AT BROOKLYN HTS. LIBRARY

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — State Senator Andrew Gounardes (D-26), the Bay Ridge legislator whose district expanded northward after the most recent census to include the Brooklyn waterfront up to DUMBO, is holding mobile office hours at the Brooklyn Heights Library on Cadman Plaza West. Sen. Gounardes is available to his northern Brooklyn constituents on alternating Wednesdays — the next date being April 12 — with walk-in hours from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., according to Community Board 2.

Senator Gounardes formerly held the 22nd Senate District before his geographical area grew after the 2020 Census.

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COMMENTS WANTED ON WAVERLY AVE. LOADING ZONE EXPANSION

CLINTON HILL — Public comment is invited on a request for a Loading Zone Expansion on the west side of Waverly Avenue between Lafayette and Greene avenues in Clinton Hill, within Community Board 2. The NYC Department of Transportation invites comments, with a deadline of Wednesday, April 12, that would impact three parking spots (a total of 60 feet), and expanding the timeframe from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. Readers should note that the “Submit Comments” link brings them to a Community Board 2 “Connect” page.

The NYC DOT has launched a new Loading Zone webpage that defines zone types and regulations, and includes a map with all existing commercial loading zones, which is updated daily.

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GIVING LAND USE DECISION-MAKING TO THE COMMUNITIES

CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 35 — Calling the current land use decision-making process in New York City as “deeply flawed,” Councilmember Crystal Hudson (D-35) has collaborated with the civic advocacy non-profit organization Hester Street on a new approach to ensure that community priorities are integrated in land use processes within District 35, which covers Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights and parts of Crown Heights and Bedford-Stuyvesant. Councilmember Hudson invites residents of the aforementioned neighborhoods to complete a survey ahead of an April 1 public engagement meeting to discuss ways to improve the land use decision-making process and ensure that community priorities are heeded in shaping the outcomes of new building and development projects.

The results from the survey and public meetings will inform a Land Use Vision and Prioritization Framework, which will in turn establish a set of community-established parameters for development within District 35.

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CERT VOLUNTEER TRAINING BEING HELD THIS WEEK

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — New York City’s Department of Emergency Management, the FDNY and NYPD conduct regular trainings for the public to assist in unplanned disasters and other urgent situations. The next Community Emergency Response Team three-hour training takes place this Monday and Tuesday evenings, March 27 and 28, in the vicinity of Cadman Plaza East and Red Cross Place in Downtown Brooklyn. The public should expect to see FDNY and NYPD in action.

Brooklynites wanting to learn more about the Community Emergency Response Team program (funded with a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security) and local training can go online.

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COLTON FORMS NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH GROUP FOR SOUTHERN BROOKLYN

BENSONHURST — A new Neighborhood Watch is forming in Assemblymember William Colton’s (D-47) district encompassing Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, and Dyker Heights, in conjunction with the UA3, Chinese American Social Service (CASS) organizations and Susan Zhuang, a City Council candidate. Colton, whose office established “Neighborhood Watch” with the purpose of keeping the aforementioned communities safe, is recruiting locals to join and will hold a press conference in front of the CASS office on Avenue O, Saturday morning, March 25, with that goal. 

Colton declared, “If you see something say something,” quoting a popular MTA slogan launched right after the September 11, 2001 terror attack.

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PRATT INSTITUTE’S RESEARCH YARD DEBUTS AT BROOKLYN NAVY YARD

BROOKLYN NAVY YARD — Pratt Institute’s Research Yard, a brand-new site for creative projects, opened last week at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Held as part of Research Open House, Pratt’s annual showcase of student and faculty research offered tours of the 20,000-square-foot, advanced learning facility, housed in the Navy Yard’s historic eleven-story Building 3. Research Yard is now home to all of Pratt’s research centers and has fabrication labs, research areas for the study of robotics, information visualization, sustainability, community development, environmental sensing, design incubation in rural areas, and digital archeology, along with a number of accelerators.

The Brooklyn Navy Yard, one of the fastest-growing entrepreneurial spaces in the country, has a storied history as the nation’s “most storied naval shipbuilding facility, which for over 150 years built and launched America’s most famous fighting ships, including the USS Maine, USS Arizona, and USS Missouri,” according to its website.

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BRIGHTON BEACH CLINIC OPERATORS CHARGED IN HEALTH CARE FRAUD AGAINST MEDICAID

BRIGHTON BEACH — A doctor and office manager at a Brighton Beach medical clinic have been charged with grand larceny and health care fraud for allegedly defrauding Medicaid out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez and NYC Department of Social Services Acting Commissioner Molly Wasow Park announced on Friday, March 24. The defendants, Dr. Alexander Ivanov, 66, of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, and Svetlana Kozlovskaya, 64, of Brighton Beach, who operated a psychiatry and pain management clinic on Brightwater Court, are alleged to have stolen more than $700,000 over a four-year period by fraudulently billing Medicaid for non-existent services and by selling prescriptions for narcotics, opioids, and other controlled substances to patients they were not treating.

Arraigned on Friday, with Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun presiding, the defendants were released without bail and ordered back to court on May 31.

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MAKE BUS LANE ENFORCEMENT CAMERA PROGRAM PERMANENT, SAY ADVOCATES

CITYWIDE — The city’s Automated Bus Lane Enforcement (ABLE) cameras program should be made permanent, said Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) leaders and transit advocates. Standing together on Friday, March 24, the groups urged the state legislature to include a bill for funding in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2024 Executive Budget that would also grant the MTA and the NYCDOT authority to enforce certain traffic violations that impede bus operations anywhere they travel, and would expand camera enforcement beyond bus lanes.

More than 224,000 violations have been issued since camera enforcement was implemented on bus lanes. While only five percent of violators have committed more than two violations, commercial vehicles are the most frequent recidivist violators.

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BROOKLYN BOROUGH PRESIDENT RELEASES 10 RECOMMENDATIONS TO ASSIST SENIOR ADULTS

BOROUGHWIDE — Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso and the New York Academy of Medicine have released a set of 10 recommendations from the Age-friendly Brooklyn Task Force. Among the top five recommendations: Expand and promote housing options for older adults, including supportive housing, grandparent housing, and home sharing options; ensure safe, clean and well-maintained sidewalks and safe, well-lit intersections in neighborhoods; provide training to MTA bus drivers and rideshare drivers on working with older riders and/or riders with disabilities; and increase digital accessibility and literacy for older adults.

Mayor Eric Adams, during his tenure as the Brooklyn Borough President, launched the initiative in 2019. The task force, composed of 29 Brooklyn-based organizations that are advocates for older Brooklynites, analyzed and prioritized the results of a 2019 borough-wide survey of nearly 2,000 older adults.

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MISSING BROWNSVILLE TEEN FOUND TO BE SAFE

BROWNSVILLE — A missing Brownsville teen has been found safe following an NYPD CrimeStoppers alert earlier on Wednesday, March 22. Kasey Sutton of Amboy Street had last been seen Wednesday, around 7 p.m. As of Friday, March 24, around 3 p.m., the NYPD reported that the girl is safe.

NYPD Crimestoppers frequently ask the public for assistance in tracking down missing persons; however, the most recent update did not indicate whether anyone had assisted the police in this case.

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INTERNSHIP PROGRAM ALLOWS BUSINESSES TO HIRE CUNY STUDENTS, WHOM NY STATE WILL PAY

CITYWIDE — A $4 million state-funded internship program offers employers the chance to hire qualified City University of New York students at no cost, placing 600 CUNY students in small businesses, tech startups, non-profits, corporations, and government agencies this spring semester, Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Friday, March 24. CUNY, which has several campuses in Brooklyn, including Kingsborough Community College in Manhattan Beach, Medgar Evers College in Crown Heights and Brooklyn College in Midwood, partnered with businesses, agencies and organizations that need talent to support projects in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), environmental preservation, community services, health care, and marketing fields.

Students participating in the 10-week program, Spring Forward, earn $20 an hour while gaining the experience necessary to secure a job post-college.

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NEW ‘CODE FOR AMERICA’ HELPS WIC APPLICANTS OVERCOME PROGRAM ROADBLOCKS

STATEWIDE — A new client feedback initiative aims to improve understanding of the challenges New Yorkers face enrolling in the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, also known as WIC, Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Friday, March 24. Initially, Code for America will help implement a live online chat function to replace the Department of Health’s automated chat bot that appears on the agency’s WIC page; and callers will be connected to a WIC staffer for live interaction, considered a more effective way to guide applicants through the process and enrollees with using their benefits and providing an invaluable source of feedback.

During the project’s second phase, the Department of Health will work with Code for America to implement improvements based on the gathered feedback, in turn helping the agency determine what is preventing eligible families from participating and taking full advantage of the program, and then using that information to improve delivery of WIC services.

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TAX ONLINE DELIVERIES TO PAY FOR BQE, OTHER UPGRADES: GOUNARDES

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — State Sen. Andrew Gounardes introduced a bill earlier this week which would add a 25-cent tax to each online delivery sale made within NYC and earmark the revenues for the repair of transportation infrastructure like the BQE, as well as for the upgrade and construction of docks, rails and other structures that would reduce the amount of freight transported on city roadways. According to the senator, NYC’s roads are being destroyed by the delivery of over 2.3 million e-commerce packages each day, up from 1.8 million pre-pandemic, but while the Department of Transportation recommends shifting freight from roadways to water and rail transport, the physical infrastructure needed for such a transition is not currently fit for use at such high volumes, requiring an infusion of billions of dollars to get up to speed — funding for which would be generated by Gounardes’ bill.

“Our streets are clogged, our highways are weakened, and our neighborhoods are polluted because of the volume of online deliveries made each day in New York City. This bill is a common-sense solution to our city’s infrastructure problem as e-commerce retailers struggle to keep pace with our demand for overnight deliveries,” Gounardes wrote in a statement, highlighting the skyrocketing costs of the fixes to the BQE, currently in the planning stages.

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FIRE OFFICIALS SAY ELECTRICAL FAULT TORCHED NYPD EVIDENCE WAREHOUSE

RED HOOK — Fire officials on Thursday revealed that the cause of the massive fire that destroyed an NYPD evidence warehouse in Red Hook last year is believed to be “an electrical blowout in a conduit leading to an exit sign,” reports NBC News. Some had speculated that the fire might have been set deliberately, as the warehouse contained decades’ worth of evidence, including DNA evidence, for high-profile cases, stored in cardboard barrels, all of which were consumed by the blaze.

The three-alarm fire at the Erie Pound Basin site on Dec. 13 of last year required more than 100 firefighters to contain and resulted in eight minor injuries, but no deaths.

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FRANKLIN AVE. ART FESTIVAL POSTPONED

CROWN HEIGHTS — Organizers announced on Thursday that the Franklin Avenue Festival, scheduled for this Saturday, March 25, will be postponed to next Saturday, April 1, as a result of likely rainy weather. The festival is a food and drink crawl featuring dishes and beverages from 20 Crown Heights restaurants, with proceeds benefiting urban nutrition and food justice nonprofit Seeds in the Middle, which also highlights neighborhood artists and offers activities for kids and families.

“This is a fundraiser to fight food insecurity and support small businesses. We can’t take a chance people won’t show… So we are praying to April rain gods… and hope we aren’t an April Fool’s,” organizer, Tastes of Brooklyn wrote in a statement.

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TEENAGER BEATS LIRR CONDUCTORS, STEALS TICKET MACHINE

EAST NEW YORK — A 17-year-old was arrested and charged with felony assault on Thursday for allegedly beating two LIRR conductors on Wednesday morning after being asked to buy a ticket on an Atlantic Terminal-bound LIRR train. The suspect also took a ticket-issuing machine from them before fleeing the train at the East New York station, while the conductors were taken to a hospital in Brooklyn following the attack for treatment of injuries.

Assaulting conductors who are doing their jobs helping riders get to jobs, health care and other places they need to go is intolerable, outrageous and will result in aggressive investigation. Having made a rapid arrest, it is now up to prosecutors to ensure the law is enforced, so this violent perpetrator faces consequences, and the victims receive the justice they deserve,” MTA police chief John Mueller wrote in a press statement.

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PARKS DEPT SEEKS NEW OPERATOR FOR DYKER BEACH GOLF COURSE

DYKER HEIGHTS — NYC Parks announced on Thursday that a Request for Proposals has been issued for the renovation, operation and maintenance of Dyker Beach Golf Course in Brooklyn, along with several other courses around the city, as well as for a new operator and concessions provider. The department says it’s looking for applicants with extensive experience in running high-level golf courses that will attract visitors from around the country and also encourages proposals to prioritize eco-consciousness and green practices.

Proposals are due by April 28, 2023, at 2 p.m.; applicants can find the RFP form on the Parks Department’s business opportunities webpage and can reach out to project manager Katherine Cognata at (212) 360-3407, or at [email protected].

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WOMAN KILLED IN HIT AND RUN IN GRAVESEND

GRAVESEND — Police arrested Yerlin Garcia, 24, on Wednesday night, after he allegedly struck and killed Elizabeth Perez, 60, with his car in a hit-and-run in Gravesend. According to an investigation, Perez had been attempting to cross Dahill Road when a car swerved across the yellow lines, striking her and continuing without stopping; Perez was found with severe injuries and was transported to Maimonides hospital, where she was pronounced deceased.

Police searched the area for the vehicle and discovered it a short distance away; Yerlin, its driver was taken into custody and has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, as well as operating a vehicle while unlicensed, unregistered and uninsured.

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NEW YORKERS GIVEN CHANCE TO CHOOSE CITY’S OFFICIAL FLOWER

CITYWIDE — New Yorkers are being given the chance to vote for New York’s official wildflower with the WildflowerNYC initiative, choosing between five candidates selected by ecological groups from each borough to crown a winner that best represents the connection between city residents and native flora. Brooklyn’s pick, nominated by Brooklyn Bridge Park, is the spiky red Wild Columbine flower, a hardy shade-dwelling Northeast native favored by hummingbirds whose five upright petals “evoke the unity of the 5 boroughs.”

City residents can go to the WildflowerNYC project’s website to read more about the five choices and vote for their favorite; voting ends in November, after which the winner will be presented to the City Council to make it official.

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GILLIBRAND RAISES AWARENESS FOR MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH HOTLINE

NATIONWIDE — Following the release of a CDC report that showed a sharp increase in maternal mortality in 2021, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Thursday held a video press conference to raise awareness of her National Maternal Mental Health Hotline and call for its full implementation. Gillibrand is pushing to expand public awareness of the hotline, which provides free, 24/7 support to women and their families during and after pregnancy, so that it can reach more women in need, having already assisted more than 10,000 women since its establishment last year.

The hotline can be reached at 1-833-943-5746 (1-833-9-HELP4MOMS), and provides free, confidential, 24/7 support to pregnant and postpartum women facing mental health challenges, through counselors trained to provide culturally appropriate and trauma-informed support, and is available by text and phone in English and Spanish, with access to interpreter services that can support 60 other languages; counselors are also able to provide referrals to local medical providers.

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ADAMS ANNOUNCES MYSTERY RAT CZARINA

CITYWIDE — Eric Adams has chosen his rat czar – or rather, rat czarina – but has not released any details about the identity or qualifications of his pick for the post, saying only that the position will be filled by a female staffer who he says demonstrated to him a passionate hate for rats, reports the New York Post. The search for a new Director of Rodent Mitigation has been ongoing for several months and has attracted numerous applicants for the $170k-a-year role, including Adams’ recent mayoral race opponent Curtis Sliwa, who in January proposed setting up feral cat colonies around the city to contain the rodents, bringing two of his own cats to Adams’ Brooklyn townhouse to demonstrate.

“We put out a call for a rat czar and we got thousands of responders. We dwindled it down to one person that we’re getting ready to announce. The first thing I asked her was, ‘How do you feel about rats?’ She was very clear. She said, ‘Listen, we got to get those rats under control and their population.’ So I look forward to it,” Adams told the press about his still-unnamed choice at a “Rat Academy” pest control class in the Bronx on Thursday.


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