Saturday, February 27, 2010

Even More Good News! The G Train is Running

The MTA changed its mind -- again -- and called off service disruptions to the G train this weekend, according to the Brooklyn Paper. So that's it, folks. Both of our local trains are running this weekend.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Start Submitting Pre-Kindergarten Applications on Monday

The application process for Universal Pre-K slots begins on Monday, March 1. You have until Friday, April 9 to submit your child's application. Who is eligible for Free Pre-K? Children who will turn four years old between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2010, and who reside in New York City. Click here for the application form.

Thanks to Councilmember Brad Lander for the head's up.

Brad Lander Invites Parents to Help Protect and Improve Local Schools

Hey, public school parents! Just got this email from Councilmember Brad Lander:
The snow day seemed like a good time to write about public schools. Like many of you, public education is one of the issues I feel most passionately about -- based on my own experience as a parent, on the many stories of triumph and frustration that I've heard from families across the district, and on the belief that public education is the bedrock of a city that aspires to genuine opportunity for all its kids.

So I was excited on Wednesday night to convene a meeting of parent leaders from across the district. We met to brainstorm and strategize about some of the key issues facing our schools -- budget cuts, testing policy, overcrowding, environmental sustainability, healthier school food, special needs education, after-school programs, and support for PTAs.

Together, we started to develop plans to make a real difference in our local schools. Some of the highlights included:
  • Healthier school food: Building on the great work already taking place in individual schools toward a district-wide initiative.
  • Confronting expanded testing policy: Organizing a coordinated push against Kidergarten-2nd grade testing in our elementary schools
  • Fighting budget cuts to the classroom: Strengthening the network of parents, students, administrators, and teachers organizing to prevent devastating cuts.
If you are interested in getting involved in these efforts, please contact Jessica Turner at or (718) 499-1090.

Good News! Full F Train Service This Weekend

This just in from Ellen Whelan-Wuest in State Senator Dan Squadron's office...
Just wanted to let everyone know that this weekend's planned interruption of F train service between Jay St and Church Ave. has been suspended due to the weather. The work that was to be done this weekend will be rescheduled for a later weekend, and I will be sure to let you all know as soon as the MTA passes along this information.
Unfortunately, I can't give G train riders the same good news. Will let you know if I hear anything.

No F or G Trains Again [Updated] [Updated Again]

Not than anyone should be going outside anyway. Look at all that snow! But if you must go, be advised that the F and G train service is disrupted again this weekend -- and that means more shuttle busses. The Brooklyn Paper has more.

Update: The F is running! See the next post.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Scratch Their Backs and They'll Scratch Ours

Grad students from the Pratt Institute's School of Architecture are in the middle of a year-long study of the Columbia Waterfront District. They've looked at the history. Now they're turning toward the future.

Help them help us. Fill out a survey that the students have created. Tell them what kind of neighborhood you want to live in. And spread the word far and wide. This is a great opportunity, so take advantage of it!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Alert: No F *and* G Trains This Weekend

We previously reported that F train service would be suspended this weekend. Well, make that both the F and G trains. Next weekend too, according to the Brooklyn Paper. You can tell us in comments how the shuttle buses are working.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Save Our Buses -- Stop the Cuts

At the urging of the Public Services Committee, CoWNA recently wrote to Councilmember Brad Lander, Assemblywoman Joan Millman and State Senator Daniel Squadron and asked three questions.

Question 1:
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority proposes to eliminate the B71 bus. This is one of only two buses that serve our community, and its loss would be significant. CoWNA thanks you for opposing this proposal. We ask what step you are taking to save the B71.
Question 2:
MTA also proposes to restructured the B61 route. CoWNA worries that this will undermine the service gains from the January 2010 restructuring of the route. We ask what steps you are taking to ensure that any future restructuring does not lead to the return of chronic delays.
Question 3 (for Millman and Squadron only, not Lander):
The State Senate and Assembly let six rider and worker representatives be eliminated from the MTA board. CoWNA believes that with service reductions and layoffs on the table, rider and worker voices need to be heard. We ask what you are doing to return these six representatives to their positions before the board takes action on service cuts and layoffs.
We'll let you know their answers when we receive them.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

CoWNA Supports Shore Power ... And You Should, Too

At the urging of the newly formed Environmental Committee, CoWNA joined The Word on Columbia Street and A View from the Hook and sent a letter to the New York State Public Service Commission in support of shore power -- and we urge all our Columbia Waterfront District neighbors to do the same. Shore power allows ships to plug into the electrical grid, rather than idling and spewing pollutants into our air. A great idea, right?

Here's our letter. Use it as a sample when you write your own.

Columbia Waterfront Neighborhood Association
Brooklyn, NY 11231

February 16, 2010

Hon. Jaclyn A Brilling
Secretary to the Commision
New York State Public Service Commissin
Empire State Plaza
Agency Building 3
Albany, NY 12223-1350

Dear Secretary Brilling:

This letter is to inform you that the Columbia Waterfront Neighborhood Association (CoWNA), which represents the Columbia Waterfront neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY, is in support of the proposed standby rate for the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal currently being reviewed under 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."

It is our understanding that access to such a standby rate would allow terminal operators to utilize on-shore power at an affordable rate, and thereby discontinue use of highly polluting diesel generators that are currently used by ships while at the port.

Our community is situated directly north of the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and directly adjacent to the Brooklyn Marine Terminal and the Red Hook Container Terminal. As such, port emissions have a major impact on our daily lives. The standby rate and on-shore power will go a long way toward improving the air quality of our neighborhood and New York City in general.

Thank you for your consideration.

Norman R. Cox

Monday, February 15, 2010

What Happened at the Salt Pile Meeting?

But it wasn't just electeds and residents of the Columbia Waterfront District in the room. The guest of honor -- so to speak -- was Matt Yates, the director of operations at American Stevedoring, Inc.

So what happened? Gary Busio from the Courier Life papers wrote a good summary.

But here's the big news: Matt Yates gave out his phone number and extension at ASI. He promised to be much more responsive to community complaints. So if the salt starts blowing again, call Matt Yates at (718) 875-0777 ext. 277. Then make a complaint at 311. And then why not call Matt Yates again?

If you have any questions about the, leave them in comments.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Local Day Care Centers Closing?

NYC Administration for Children's Services plans close 10 day care centers in Brooklyn -- including the Court Street Day Care Center in Cobble Hill, the Bethel Day Care Center in Boerum Hill and the Salvation Army Fiesta Center in Red Hook. The Brooklyn Paper has more on the story.

Finding good, affordable child care is one of the toughest things about being a parent in New York City. CoWNA's Public Services Committee wants to know: Do any Columbia Waterfront families use the centers under threat? Leave a comment below or write to publicservices [at] cowna [dot] org.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Salt Pile Meeting TONIGHT

Despite the icy leftovers from yesterday's snow day, the community meeting about the infamous salt pile is still on for tonight.

Who: American Stevedoring, Inc.; Columbia Waterfront Neighborhood Association; Councilmember Brad Lander; State Senator Daniel Squadron; Assemblymember Joan Millman; Councilmember Steve Levin

When: Thursday, February 11, 6:00 p.m.

Where: Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, 177 Columbia Street (at Degraw St.), 5th Floor

This is your chance to speak out ... so be there.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Crain's: Brooklyn braces for loss of bus lines

Great article on the possible elimination of the B71 and B75 buses from -- of all places -- Crain's New York Business:

Brooklyn Braces for Loss of Bus Lines
MTA cash crunch comes home to roost in Carroll Gardens
By Amanda Fung

For Phyllis Straka, there's just nothing like the bus for getting around in Brooklyn.

"I'm a senior citizen on a pension, so a car services is too expensive," says Ms. Straka. As for the F train stop on Smith and Ninth streets, it's too far for her to get to on foot.

Beginning this summer, she and her Carroll Gardenes neighbors may have no other choice. As part of a desperate attempt to save cash, the Metropolitan Transporation Authority has put two popular area bus lines, the B71 and the B75, on the chopping block.

"These buses are the lifeblood of the neighborhood," says City Councilman Brad Lander. "Carroll Gardens has a lot of seniors, and those seniors can't ride the subway. These buses are absolutely essential for families."

But here's a key part:

MTA officials point out that they have proposed an alternative service for each line, which involves extending the B61 and the B77 to replace the B75 on Ninth Street and Prospect Park West, and having riders use the B65 instead of the B71.

But the latter bus isn't really all that easy to replace. It is the only east-to-west connector from Carroll Gardens to Cobble Hill and Park Slope, according to Craig Hammerman, district manager of Community Board 6, which represents the neighborhoods, who adds that there is no subway alternative.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What do you think about the F train shuttles?

As the wags at The Brooklyn Paper put it, "F train shuttles -- they're baaa-aaack!"

Columbia Waterfront residents had ample experience with these buses last year. And now we're due for another dose, thanks to the ongoing -- and much needed -- rehabilitation of the aged Culver Viaduct.

CoWNA's Public Services Committee wants to know what you think about the shuttles. Has the service been good or bad? Any suggestions for making it better? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

Public Services Committee Meets TONIGHT

Don't forget ... our Public Services Committee meets at 7:00 tonight at the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, 177 Columbia St. Come earn your ticket to civic heaven.

Friday, February 5, 2010

What do you think about the salt pile?

Make your voice heard. Come to the...

Community Meeting

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:

And if you can't make it, you can still speak up. Click below to leave your comments. Or contact Michael Curtin in Councilmember Lander's office at 718-499-1090 or

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Weekend F/G Service Suspensions Starting Again

Ellen Whelan-Wuest, of State Senator Dan Squadron's office, sends word that F and G service will be suspended on two upcoming weekends.

When: February 20-22, February 27-March 1
Where: Jay St./Borough Hall to Church Ave.

The trains will stop running at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday and start again at 5:00 a.m. on Monday. Shuttle buses -- local and express -- will replace the trains. All this is due to the ongoing rehabilitation of the Culver Viaduct.

Many thanks to Ellen and Sen. Squadron for keeping us in the know.

Public Services Committee Meets Tuesday

Ticked off about traffic? Bonkers for bike racks? Grouchy about garbage? Then come to the next meeting of the CoWNA Public Services Committee.

When: Tuesday, February 9, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Postgraduate Center for Mental Health, 177 Columbia St.

There's just one way to improve our neighborhood ... it's everybody working together. Turn out on Tuesday!

Questions? Email publicservices [at] cowna [dot] org