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What’s News, Breaking: Monday, July 17, 2023

July 17, 2023 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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ICONIC ASTROLAND ROCKET SHIP RETURNS TO CONEY ISLAND

CONEY ISLAND — Back to the future! The historic Astroland Rocket Ship is finally back in Coney Island, at Deno’s Wonder Wheel Park. The ‘60s-era rocket ship, one of very few surviving early amusement park space “simulators,” returned to Coney Island in June after five years in storage at Staten Island’s Homeport. The attraction, damaged in Superstorm Sandy, has been converted into an exhibition space by the Coney Island History Project. Visitors can watch a rocket film, “The Rocket Has Landed” by Charles Denson, and view an exhibit. Originally built as the “Star Flyer,” the Astroland Rocket later sat atop the boardwalk restaurant Gregory and Paul’s. After Astroland closed in 2008, the city promised to make the rocket a centerpiece of the revitalized amusement district. 

The attraction is open daily from noon until 8 p.m.

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

18th AVENUE F TRAIN STATION GETS UPGRADES

KENSINGTON — The latest subway stop to undergo work as part of the MTA’s Station Re-NEW-Vation Program is the 18th Avenue F train station, above McDonald Avenue in Kensington, which on Monday, July 17, saw the completion of functional and aesthetic renovations. Over last weekend, while planned Communications Based Train Control work took place, transit workers installed new LED fixtures to brighten darkened areas, repaired concrete tripping hazards, cleaned service and emergency lighting, remediated water damage, and scrubbed and repainted station surfaces. The station uplift also includes the refurbishment of transit employee facilities. The Re-NEW-Vation program utilizes planned weekend service outages to perform upgrades, repairs, and enhanced cleaning in stations within a 55-hour window, providing customers with overhauled stations when service interruptions end on Mondays.

This is the 39th station to be refurbished and is the second of 14 newly announced stations set to receive upgrades. Brooklyn stations rising on the list include Marcy Avenue (J, M, Z) in Williamsburg and Sutter Ave. (L line) in East New York/Brownsville.

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MAYOR APPOINTS CITY’S FIRST LATINO POLICE COMMISSIONER

CITY HALL — Mayor Eric Adams on Monday, July 17, officially appointed Edward A. Caban as the 46th commissioner and Tania Kinsella as 45th first deputy commissioner of the NYPD. Caban becomes the first Latino to serve as commissioner of the NYPD in its 178-year history, and Kinsella is the first woman of color to serve as the first deputy commissioner in NYPD history — although not as the top cop, since Keechant Sewell, the previous commissioner, is also a woman of color. A 32-year veteran of the NYPD and the son of a Transit Police detective, Caban has served at several precincts across the five boroughs, where he held nearly every position within the Police Department before Monday’s promotion to commissioner. He has also served as an adjutant in Brooklyn North. First Deputy Police Commissioner Tania Kinsella, a 20-year NYPD veteran, was promoted to sergeant in 2008 and assigned at the time to the 68th Precinct in Brooklyn; she has since received several more promotions before Monday’s ceremony.

Caban was designated acting police commissioner by Mayor Adams on July 1, 2023, after Keechant Sewell’s resignation last month.

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STUDENTS GET TO CREATE APPS AS PART
OF CONGRESSIONAL CHALLENGE CONTEST

BAY RIDGE/DYKER HEIGHTS — Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-11/southwestern Brooklyn-Staten Island) will be participating in the Congressional App Challenge 2023, a nationwide competition to inspire students to explore STEM, coding and computer science through hands-on practice. The Internet Education Foundation sponsors this annual event encouraging students to design an app on any topic. Participants must be either in middle school or high school as of Nov. 1, and can compete only in a congressional district that is hosting an App Challenge. Students may use any programming language (e.g. C, C++, JavaScript, Python, Ruby, “block code,” etc.), on any platform (e.g. PC, web, tablet, robot, mobile).

Ten years ago, the U.S. House of Representatives outlined plans (through House Resolution 77) by which members of Congress would host district-by-district computer science, or “app,” competitions every year for students. By unanimous vote, the rules were passed authorizing each representative to host such a competition. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-8/Northern, Eastern, Southern Brooklyn) led that first initiative; his being the only other district participating in the 2023 Challenge.

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PILOT PROGRAM: ONE FREE BUS ROUTE IN EACH NYC BOROUGH

CITYWIDE — Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Monday that the MTA will try out a fare-free bus pilot program on five routes, one in each borough, by late September. The pilot will last from 6-12 months. In Brooklyn, the B60 bus route, which operates between Williams Avenue/Flatlands Avenue in Canarsie and Williamsburg Bridge Plaza, was chosen as the free route. The B60 serves the Canarsie, Brownsville, Ocean Hill, Bushwick and Williamsburg neighborhoods.” I was immediately on board with the pilot program, as soon as I learned about it,” said Assemblymember Latrice Walker.

The other fare-free routes will include the M116, Bx18A/B, Q4 LCL/LTD and S46/96.

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NEW REPORT ON YOUTH GUN POSSESSION CITES
FEAR AND SURVIVAL AS TOP REASONS

CROWN HEIGHTS — The Center for Justice Innovation on Monday, July 17, released a landmark new report detailing the nuanced reasons why young people carry guns. Titled “‘Two Battlefields’: Opps, Cops, and NYC Youth Gun Culture,” and based on interviews with more than 100 young gun-carriers in Crown Heights, the report sought to answer fundamental questions about youth gun culture. The report found that self-preservation and fear were the pervading reasons: fear for their own lives and the lives of their loved ones. The youths identified two groups of which they are most fearful — cops and “opps,” a term that refers to rival gang members, people involved in the street economy, or other adversaries.

The majority of interview participants have experienced or witnessed gun violence: 89% have had a friend or family member shot; 80% have witnessed someone get shot; and 76% themselves either have been shot or have narrowly missed bullets.

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14-YEAR-OLD BROOKLYN GIRL MISSING

GOWANUS — Police are seeking the public’s assistance in locating 14-year-old Asha Roberts, who was last seen on Saturday, July 15, at her residence near Bond and Douglass streets in Gowanus, within the jurisdiction of the 76th Precinct. Asha is described as 5’3” tall and weighing approximately 200 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair braids. She was last seen wearing an orange tank top, black pajama pants and multi-colored sneakers, and left home with a blue Razor scooter. 

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit tips by logging onto the CrimeStoppers website at https://crimestoppers.nypdonline.org/.

Asha Roberts, age 14, is missing. Photo: NYPD.

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SUSPECT IN GILGO BEACH MURDERS CREEPED OUT BK HEIGHTS CO-OP OWNERS

BROOKLYN HEIGHTS — Architect Rex Heuermann, the suspect in the Gilgo Beach serial killings, not only menaced some of his neighbors in Massapequa Park on Long Island, but he also gave a bad feeling to some of the Brooklyn Heights co-op owners who had hired him to oversee renovations, the New York Times reported on Monday. While one property owner called him a “gem,” Kelly Parisi, a former president of a Brooklyn Heights co-op board, told the Times he was “adversarial with everyone” and so “overly fastidious” that the board eventually fired him. Paul Teitelbaum, another former president of the building’s board, described him as “a really kind of cold and distant person, kind of creepy.”

Heuermann’s company, RH Consultants & Associates, represented clients before the Landmarks Preservation Commission and claimed credit for “hundreds of successful applications” before city agencies, the Times said. Heuermann was arrested on Thursday.

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CHARITABLE GROUPS IN SOUTHEASTERN BROOKLYN
RECEIVE OPERATING GRANTS

SOUTHEASTERN BROOKLYN — State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud (D/SD-19) has secured more than $500,000 in operating grants from the recently enacted FY 2023-2024 State Budget for local institutions and charitable non-profit organizations within her southeastern Brooklyn district, stretching from Brownsville and East New York to Howard Beach in Queens. Recipients of programmatic grants from Senator Persaud include but are not limited to JCC Canarsie, Millennium Development, Neighborhood Housing Services of Brooklyn, Fresh Air Fund, Center for Employment Opportunities, Good Shepherd Services, New York Legal Assistance Group, CAMBA, and East Flatbush Village Inc.

Senator Persaud will announce additional capital project grant awards at a later date. Organizations in the district are encouraged to review the “How do I Submit a proposal guide” online.

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BARCLAYS CENTER’S 650 CONCESSION WORKERS SET TO HOLD STRIKE VOTE

DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — Concession workers at Barclays Center were set to vote Monday on whether or not to authorize a walkout, the New York Daily News reports. UniteHere! Local 100, the union that represents the venue’s 650 bartenders, servers and cooks, wants better wages and benefits from concession company Levy. Workers at Barclays have seen their hours diminished after the New York Islanders moved to Long Island, disqualifying the majority of them from health insurance, and most have been forced to work other jobs. Levy told the News they are “optimistic we will reach a fair agreement.”

In related news, Eater reported on Monday that Fini Pizza, the Williamsburg slice shop from a co-owner of Lilia, plans to open at Barclays Center this fall. The site, in a former Starbucks, will be the third location for the pizzeria, known for its “tomato slices with breadcrumbs and hot shallots,” Eater says.

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STATE TAX RECEIPTS LOWER COMPARED TO
LAST FISCAL YEAR’S RECEIVABLES

STATEWIDE — Although state tax receipts exceeded Budget Division expectations during the first quarter of State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2023-24, actual collections were billions lower than last year’s during this time, according to the latest monthly State Cash Report from State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. State tax receipts totaled $27.6 billion — $450.8 million higher than estimates released in the Division of the Budget’s (DOB) Enacted Budget Financial Plan. However, collections were $6.8 billion lower than last year through the quarter ending in June 2022. And while personal income tax receipts totaled $14.5 billion, this amount was $128.4 million below DOB’s financial plan projections through the first quarter.

Likewise, year-to-date consumption and use (sales) tax collections totaled $5.4 billion, which was 5.9%, or $302 million, higher than the same period last year, but $9.5 million lower than DOB anticipated.

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CHAPIN SISTERS’ NEW SONG HONORS BERGEN STREET

BROOKLYN/HUDSON VALLEY — Abigail and Lily Chapin, members of Brooklyn’s beloved musical dynasty, have released a stirring new single, “Bergen Street” (Lake Bottom Records) — a song written as the sisters were leaving Brooklyn to move back to the Hudson Valley during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s a bittersweet ode. Not a sad moment, exactly, but wistful,” Lily’s sister Abigail told Grateful Web. Abigail and Lily’s father is Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Tom Chapin; their late uncle is the legendary musician/activist Harry Chapin (“Cat’s In The Cradle”); and, their grandfather Jim Chapin was a noted jazz drummer.

“The first time I played it for my daughter, she cried,” Lily confided. Residents of Brooklyn Heights will feel the same when they listen to the poignant tune, which can be heard on YouTube.

Local residents honored the late Harry Chapin by dedicating this toddler playground to him in Brooklyn Heights. Brooklyn Eagle photo by Mary Frost

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DEC ISSUES AIR QUALITY HEALTH ADVISORY FOR MONDAY

STATEWIDE — New York City Metro, Long Island and much of upstate to the Lake Ontario boundary are under an Air Quality Health Advisory for Monday, July 17, according to a notice issued Sunday evening from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos and State Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner Dr. James McDonald. The pollutants of concern for the city are ozone and fine particulate matter, with the advisory on the latter in effect from midnight Sunday until 11:59 p.m. Monday. The ozone advisory will be in effect from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. The DEC clarifies that ground-level ozone is not the same as the protective ozone layer in the earth’s atmosphere that guards against the sun’s radiation.

Primary ground-level ozone sources, with summer heat as a catalyst, include automobile exhaust and out-of-state emissions and are considered the most serious air pollution problems in the northeast. Wildfire smoke is not considered a primary ozone-making component at the moment.

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MAN ARRESTED FOR VANDALIZING STATE SENATOR’S OFFICE IN ACTIONS CAUGHT ON VIDEO

DYKER HEIGHTS — A man has been arrested in connection with Friday’s targeted vandalism of State Senator Iwen Chu’s district office in Dyker Heights, reports Gothamist, and has since been identified as Mo Hu, a 42-year-old Asian. He was taken into custody based on video surveillance that shows him tossing a cluster of bricks into the District 17 office, shattering a window. Nobody was injured and only the staff were in the office at the time. Police, who are still investigating Mo Hu’s motive, arrested him Friday night; he faces criminal felony charges.

A Democrat, Senator Chu last year defeated Republican Vito Bella for the seat, which covers Sunset Park, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, and Kensington. She and her staff will work remotely for the time being.

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SEN. GILLIBRAND TO INTRODUCE BILL BANNING GHOST GUNS

STATEWIDE — New legislation to fight the proliferation of ghost guns is the subject of a press conference that U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is scheduled to give on Monday afternoon, July 17 at the Detectives’ Endowment Association. Ghost guns are untraceable firearms assembled from components bought online or made by 3D printers, making it possible for unlicensed persons, such as domestic abusers and violent felons to produce them. Joining her and the Detectives’ Endowment President Paul DiGiacomo, NYPD Inspector Courtney Nilan; Sam Levy, Senior Counsel at Everytown for Gun Safety; the families of slain teenagers Angellyh Yambo and Julian Oliveros; and other gun safety advocates.

State legislatures around the U.S. have passed a number of gun laws; a federal judge over this past weekend declared Oregon’s voter approved law, banning large-capacity ammunition magazines and requiring a permit, to be constitutional.

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BROOKLYN BOOK BODEGA ORGANIZING FREE FAMILY LITERACY WORKSHOPS

BROOKLYN NAVY YARD —The Brooklyn Book Bodega is reaching out to NYCHA resident families with a season of free family literacy workshops beginning this autumn. Family Literacy Workshops, organized specifically for residents of NYCHA housing with at least one child from newborn to age five, will convene groups to meet one hour each month on a Saturday from September to June. Participants will engage in community, learn from expert early childhood educators, and practice literacy habits with their child/children, with families receiving 10 free books and a literacy kit every month.

The Brooklyn Bodega, headquartered within the Brooklyn Navy Yard, has the mission of building the libraries of families and fostering community among readers. Established in 2019, the Brooklyn Book Bodega has, according to its website, distributed 277,117 books to 81,143 readers.

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CARROLL: URGE GOV. HOCHUL TO SIGN FLOOD DISCLOSURE BILL

ALBANY — Assemblymember Robert Carroll (Park Slope, Midwood) is asking constituents to call Gov. Kathy Hochul and urge her to sign his legislation regarding flood disclosure requirements for home sales. In New York state, sellers are required to inform a potential buyer whether the property is in a designated floodplain and whether it has previously flooded. However, the state currently allows sellers to opt out of this by paying $500 to the buyer — a small price to pay for such valuable information, as heavy rains increasingly cause billions of dollars in flood damage.

Carroll’s bill eliminates this loophole and requires the full disclosure of information concerning flood risk. “Encourage the Governor to sign the bill immediately by calling her at 518-474-8390,” Carroll said in a release.

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COPS RELEASE PHOTO IN POSSIBLE HATE CRIME

CROWN HEIGHTS — Police are looking for a man suspected in a possible hate crime that took place last month in Crown Heights. On June 13 at 10 a.m., a 51-year-old woman was walking in front of 252 Empire Boulevard, the site of a kosher eatery, when a man walking by from the opposite direction allegedly tripped her, unprovoked. The woman sustained bruises and abrasions to her hands and knees, and was transported to Maimonides Medical Center, police said. The man — described as roughly 40 years old with a dark complexion and thin build — was last seen wearing eyeglasses, a Nike baseball cap, a blue t-shirt, black shorts and black sneakers. He was observed entering the Sterling Street/Nostrand Avenue subway station. 

According to AMNY, the victim was wearing traditional Orthodox Jewish clothing.

Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at https://crimestoppers.nypdonline.org/. Photo: NYPD.

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STUDENT LOAN BORROWERS WILL GET MORE ACCURATE COUNT OF PAYMENTS QUALIFYING TOWARD FORGIVENESS

NATIONWIDE — The U.S. Department of Education will immediately begin notifying more than 804,000 borrowers that they have a total of $39 billion in Federal student loans that will be automatically discharged in the coming weeks, the White House announced on Friday, July 14. The forthcoming discharges are a result of fixes that the Biden-Harris Administration has implemented to ensure all borrowers have an accurate count of the number of monthly payments that qualify for forgiveness under income-driven repayment (IDR) plans. These fixes are part of the department’s commitment to addressing historical failures in the administration of the Federal student loan program. Borrowers are eligible for forgiveness if they have accumulated the equivalent of either 20 or 25 years of qualifying months.

In total, the Biden-Harris Administration has approved more than $116.6 billion in student loan forgiveness for more than 3.4 million borrowers. This is a different component of loan forgiveness from the recent Supreme Court decision that declared the Biden plan unconstitutional and involves much older loans.

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REP. MALLIOTAKIS PRAISES FORMER COLLEAGUE FOR WORK ON ORIGINAL ZADROGA 9/11 SURVIVOR ACT

NATIONWIDE — Former Brooklyn Congressmember Carolyn Maloney and Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-11) made a joint, bipartisan visit to the World Trade Center Health Program Clinic on Richmond Rd. in Staten Island to push for the 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act of 2023; this bipartisan legislation addresses the World Trade Center (WTC) Health Program’s impending funding shortfall. Malliotakis is an original co-sponsor of the 9/11 Responder and Survivor Health Funding Correction Act of 2023, which would help keep the clinic open. She credits Maloney for her work in getting the original James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 enacted. Maloney had served northern Brooklyn in Congress for 30 years, from 2013-2023, in two differently-drawn districts.

“Carolyn Maloney was the leader in getting Zadroga established in 2010 and I look forward to carrying this mantle to make sure our heroes continue to receive the care they deserve,” said Malliotakis.

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IN MEMORIAM: EVELYN WITKIN’S GENETICS RESEARCH INCLUDED 16 YEARS AT SUNY DOWNSTATE

FLATBUSH — Evelyn M. Witkin, the geneticist who discovered the process by which DNA repairs itself, and worked on her research for a while at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, died on July 8 at the age of 102. Her research and discovery led to major advances in the treatment of cancer and genetic defects. Dr. Witkin was working at a Cold Spring Harbor laboratory during her time as a Columbia University graduate student when she discovered that some of the bacteria in an e Coli experiment had survived. It was after her time at Cold Spring Harbor that Dr. Witkins conducted research at SUNY Downstate, where she worked from 1955-1971 before moving to Rutgers. Dr. Witkin and another geneticist, Stephen J. Elledge, won the Albert Lasker Award in 2015 for Basic Medical Research, which is the highest honor in the medical sciences after the Nobel Prize.

Dr. Witkins’ son, Joseph, is both an emergency physician and founding member of the doo-wop singing group Sha Na Na, which evolved from the Columbia Kingsmen ensemble. A website dedicated to him identifies him as a proud Brooklynite.

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LOCAL BIDS, ELECTED OFFICIALS HOST FREE NARCAN TRAINING FOR BUSINESSES

NORTHERN CROWN HEIGHTS — Businesses within Brooklyn Community Board (District) 2 can take part in a free Narcan training event this week at Basquiat’s Bottle that several local BIDS and elected officials are organizing. The event, taking place on Wednesday, July 19 and geared for local business owners, operators, their management, and staff, will focus on providing lifesaving skills to fight opioid overdoses in public establishments. The Myrtle Ave Business Improvement District (BID), FAB Fulton BID, Phoenix House, City Councilmember Chi Ossé, and Assemblymember Phara Souffrant Forrest have helped organize the event, for which businesses can register online.

Narcan (Naloxone ® is an FDA-approved nasal-spray drug that can be used in emergency situations to counteract opioid overdoses, but it does have risks unless administered properly.


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