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    A few too many years later, folks have started realizing the obvious: the brilliant idea that was Caton Market has failed. By bringing the outdoor vendors indoors, the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce, who championed the project with former councilperson Una Clarke, they actually killed the excitement of an Constantinople-style marketplace. Not that outdoor markets are particularly easy on merchants, given the weather and such, but customers trump no customers any day. And hey, on rainy days or freezing days you get to sleep in.

    Great article and pictures in The Daily News.

    Todd Maisel, Daily News

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  • 11/13/13--20:31: The Qatarification Quandary
  • In the fall of 2044, the temperature once again confounded expectations of public and professionals alike, and the water continued spouting from the dragon at Imagination Playground well into the middle of November. But as the weather finally began to shift from a tapered summer into a once-Floridian winter, a much less subtle shift took hold of the Lefferts Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn, one that had left many longtime residents worrying about their futures and their very homes and, as some whispered, culture.

    Many traced the trouble to the Great Fracking Disasters of the late '20s, when dead fish started washing ashore at three of NYC's primary reservoirs, forcing a state of emergency that led many to assume the Big Apple's best days were behind it, the damage already having been done to a generation or so of future drinking water. At first just a few nervous longtime residents along the eastern side of Prospect Park sold their homes, cashing in on the past couple decades of double-digit annual growth, most moving to northern Canada for its temperate climate and discernible seasons. But soon a flood of frenzied selling led prices to fall sharply all over the neighborhood, and borough. A good many homeowners stood their ground, and quite a few were therefore relieved when the first wave of foreign buyers arrived, bringing their hard-earned overseas cold-fusion currency and tantalizing exotic cuisine to the neighborhood. The blood having ceased pouring from the wound, despite the massive drop in pressure i.e. prices, most Leffertsians felt that the neighborhood and its mixture of 20 and 30 story buildings along Flatbush, its landmarked tree-lined streets, and its last remaining quaint-seeming locavore sit-down restaurants, coffee bars, yoga centers, and shoppes specializing in various forms of self-expression - these ensured a relatively stable and homey quality of life for those of Generation X, Y and Z and their children, many of whom belonged to a generation yet unnamed. Most of the new "unnamed" were somewhat disaffected in the way of youth and spent their days roving the streets in gangs on Stateboards, so-named for the cold-fusion engines built in their wheels and trucks that allowed a skateboarder to float two or three inches above the ground if desired, and speed off quickly when the cops came around. "State" became the world's primary source of non-polluting energy for vehicles sometime during the energy gold-rush of the mid-30s. It was invented by the Chinese and trademarked by the neo-Maoist regime led by the ridiculously tall infamously seductive Ted-talker Yao Ming Jr., and now nearly every vehicle in the world paid the State-controlled government in Beijing royalties on every tankfull, having made China and its Arab nation allies rich beyond historical precedent. Yao Ming Jr. himself, at nearly 8 feet and 1/4 inch, was now the world's richest man by a power of 10, having recently bought half of the Fortune 500, renaming it the Yao Ming 250, shares of which could only be bought and sold on third Thursdays between 2 and 5 pm CST (Chinese Standard Time).

    As a direct result of the world's tilt in economic and political power, Manhattan had seen huge shifts in demographics. Professional class "whites" steadily left for greener pastures in Detroit, but NYC remained the entertainment capital of the world. In fact, Andrew Rooney III once quipped that NYC had become something of a vaudeville for the world, with New Yorkers playing the roles but the international community footing the bill. Most notably, folks from the hottest and richest parts of the globe were moving to New York for its mild winters and relatively low real estate prices and 24-hour theater, dance, music and art - and truth be told its wholesome sex industry. Whole social structures in NYC were shifting and businesses were catering more and more to the incoming wealth. A few families from the recently dethroned monarchy of Qatar purchased the grandest homes of Lefferts Gardens at fire-sale prices, one of them, whose post-Qatar inter-name was Walter Whitman (by the '30s people had frequently assumed "international names" to reflect their new status as world players; thus Nada Zeiden became Whitman when outside his native Doha), wrote eloquently of the way he was welcomed into the friendly, diverse neighborhood of Lefferts on his Zlogسؤالفيبركسد

    Many of the Qatarian diaspora were entranced by his words and, not so coincidentally, the phenomenal bargains available so near the still gorgeous Prospect Park, whose entire "native" flora had been remade to resemble that of prehistoric North Carolina. Remarked one son of former Qatari King Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani "I cannot believe my good fortune to have found a genuine four-story brownstone with good bones and original detailing at less than $5 million dollars, which wouldn't buy you a studio apartment in Saudi Arabia! And did I mention it's near the Park?"

    Pretty soon Qataris were purchasing any home that came up for sale. A few enterprising apartment owners, sensing pent up demand, began easing out longtime highly educated once solidly middle and upper-middle class residents. This came as quite a shock to renters who had been paying their landlords faithfully, some ofthem, for 20 years or more. While it would be easy to call the whole old-timer/new-timer divide "racial," the fact of the matter was that many of the Qataris hailed from various ethnic groups and times being what they were many of these new families were mixed marriages anyway, with at least one spouse being Jewish-African or African-American or Indian-Scandinavian or Japanese-Haitian or Chinese-African as so many were...even calling them strictly Qatari was a bit misleading given the hodge and the podge, but generally the term stuck and thus "Qatarification" become a word tossed around with a great deal of froth.

    And to say that the longtime residents were "white" was just as misleading, in that a great number of the longtime residents were not strictly "caucasian," though truth be told Lefferts had been referred to as a predominantly white neighborhood since at least 2020, and the phrase was rarely heard by locals as anything other than a statement of fact, an often jaundiced fact but there it was, and even black residents had grown accustomed to it, if not completely happy about it.

    Rent stabilization had disappeared after the Great Fracking Disasters due to their obvious obsolescence, and zoning rules had been abandoned in a flurry of "please come and build whatever you like, ANYTHING, pretty please" prospectuses sent to any number of international developers with promises of tax incentives and tickets to Broadway shows for life in exchange for 10% of the apartments left to current neighborhood residents at 1/3 the market rates. Seizing the opportunity, Qatari developers started by tearing down 626 Flatbush, a particular eyesore to many, and replacing it with a 50-story gleaming tower shaped like a set of interlocking cantilevered hex-wrenches (rendering below).

    Perhaps for the first time in a generation, longtime residents began to feel that this was no longer "their" neighborhood, and as they watched the Multi-Hex building rise, some got a sinking feeling that the world they'd known was disappearing forever. At first it was a rumour here or rumour there, but soon it became increasingly clear that landlords were favoring the new Qatari residents over longtimers and their children and even white kids just out of college. Landlords were quick to point to Qatari's high employment rates and flush bank accounts and called the whole thing a simple matter of business, nothing personal. When the first new restaurants arrived, longtimers were excited as anyone, though the prices were outlandish and the service peculiar. Some didn't even feel completely comfortable or welcome.

    It's not that the Qatari's weren't friendly and civic-minded. Quite the contrary, they had all kinds of big ideas of how to make the neighborhood better, more attractive, more economically vibrant. They joined committees. They formed committees. They started all sorts of projects and rabble-roused at the precincts to rein in the Stateboarders, whom they viewed with great suspicion, even when they were just being teenagers. The fact was, a lot Qataris had little experience with middle-class whites in Brooklyn, and couldn't really tell the trouble-makers (and there WERE a good many trouble-makers) from the merely rough-around-the-edges. The fact that a lot of the "unnamed" teenagers had taken to chewing the stimulant Qat lent an ironic twist to the Qatari invasion. The illegal substance was everywhere, and the spitting offended the Qatari's to such a degree that City officials created a Qat task force. Lots of young white kids were being shaken down by undercovers in an effort to rid the area of negative influences. The seeds of unrest were being sown in every policeman's reach into the coat pockets of relatively innocent youngsters.

    Which brings us to the present. On the night of a balmy December 7th, six young white men were chewing qat outside their rent stabilized apartments, those eyesore edifices as most Qatari newcomers called them, at 33 Lincoln Road. Undercovers pulled up. Insults were hurled. Someone threw something, though accounts differ as to what it was exactly. Many corroborated that one of the kids threw his farm-fresh organic donut at a rookie, and as the rich fair-trade cacao frosting dripped off his glasses, he reached into his holster. What happened next has been told differently by everyone present. There's no reason for me to re-tell the end result, the carnage, the sadness, the anger, and the riots that erupted in the following days.

    As a proud, educated, diversity-loving person-without-much-color myself, I still can't fully process how I feel about it all. No one should resort to violence, not cops, not residents, not kids, not grammas. But there it is. There's been a lot of good taking place, but as the events of the past few days illustrate, things are not always as they seem on the surface. We all have a lot of soul-searching to do, and as we head into the New Year, 2045, I only hope some way forward is presented by the emerging leaders who express such desire to grow and prosper - TOGETHER.

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     A small snafu, nothing big. (Only this year did I learn that S.N.A.F.U. is an acronym. Go ahead if you didn't know that, look it up, I won't tell anyone).

    From Rudy;:

    Dear Friends of Parkside,

    The Parks Department tells us that they've had to delay the planting of our new trees on Parkside Avenue by a few weeks.  Our trees are on the way ... but will not be in the ground before this Sunday.

    So, we are delaying the tree celebration & daffodil planting that we had planned for this Sunday, November 17.  Please accept our apologies, and please accept our promise that in short order we'll be announcing a new date!

    More soon,

    Rudy, for the Parkside Committee

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  • 11/15/13--19:36: Care to Share?
  • From neighbor Alan Berger comes a novel plan to begin a true Lefferts Barter network, though something called I just signed myself up and realized I have so many things to potentially lend to people I wouldn't know where to begin. My wit? My charm? My ego? My messiah complex? My push lawnmower?

    Seriously, this sounds like a great idea if it reaches critical mass.

    Here's Alan:

     Hi Everyone, I'm getting back to you all on the next step in setting up the PLG sharing goods program! I've written to the Lefferts list serve a couple of times on this recently and want to make sure we are reaching as many people as possible in the PLG neighborhood, so apologies if you're getting this more than once if you happen to be on multiple services. For those not familiar with this concept, it's an outgrowth of the sharing economy ( Examples are Zipcar, Airbnb, Citibikes-- ride sharing, couch surfing, and many others. It's about sharing and making more accessible all the stuff we own. But instead of sharing cars, homes, rooms, bikes, or couches, (mostly to make money), the effort in PLG is about sharing the household goods that we all own, but don't use very much, (or use but are happy to share with neighbors), without trying to make money. The goals are to buy less stuff to reduce consumption and help the environment, save money, have access to a wider variety of goods, and build community. We can also share services with each other too.

    To get this off the ground we've chosen NeighborGoods ( as the online site where we can connect and list our goods and services to share and do so privately at no cost to individuals or to the group or neighborhood. We've already created a private group called PLGshare, so the people you share your things with will be people who live, or maybe work, in this neighborhood. The only way this is really going to work well is if we get a critical mass of people from the PLG neighborhood to join and offer goods and services to establish a real marketplace in our area. So, it's important to sign up, list the goods and services you want to share, and get the word out to as many people as possible that live in this neighborhood or in close proximity to it.

    Below is a step-by-step guide to joining the service and listing or requesting goods and services. Please let me, Alan, know if you have questions or concerns about any of this. We can also help you join and list your goods on the site, so let me know if you'd like us to do that for you. To help publicize this program, we're putting a call out for people to create a flyer and post it up around the neighborhood. If you know of online sites, community meetings, block parties, or other ways to get the word out, please let me know.

    Thanks and hope to be meeting you and sharing goods with you soon! Alan, Susan, Bill, and Caroline

    Step-by-step guide to joining the PLG sharing goods program:

    • 1. Go to site -, and register. You'll receive an email asking you to confirm and enter in a code to the neighborgoods site to complete registration. 
    • 2. Once that is done register for the PLGshare group-you can do that two different ways: one is to go to the Groups section on the left side of the screen and click on PLGshare, then click on "apply to join," and send any message and I'll sign you up. Or, you could ask me for an invite and I'll send you one to enable you to join.
    • 3. To add things to share or to put out a request for something that you want, go to the left side of your home page under Your Stuff, under the Groups section click on PLGshare 
    • 4. On the right side of your home page under Group Tools, you can click on "Add an Item" or "Add to Wishlist" depending on what you want to do. 
    • 5. To add an item - click on "Add an Item" - enter the name of your item in the "Share your" box - enter the approximate cost of your item in the "I paid about" box (this info is used to help the service figure out the total value of goods and services being shared to get an idea of the social value of this service) - enter the type of item you are sharing from the "Category" box, if it's a service, select "Other." - in the "Who can borrow this" box, select the "share privately with group" option. - Finally, click on "Add to inventory." 
    • 6. To request an item, click on the "Add to Wishlist" box on the right side under "Group Tools" and follow the steps, which are similar to adding an item. 
    • 7. If you'd like to invite other people in the neighborhood, hit on the "Send Invites" button under "Group Tools," and follow the steps. The more people and goods we get onto this group, the more likely we are to make this work for everyone! 

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  • 11/18/13--07:38: Phantom Toll Booth
  • Ever wondered what's up with that olde tyme carnival money booth near the Lefferts House and Carousel? Does this look familiar?

    This is Flatbush near Hawthorne. I have never seen a picture that so beautifully captures how Flatbush looked in the late 19th Century. And what an odd idea, to charge for use of a boardwalk on top of the dirty/muddy road, to make it easy for horse-drawn buggies to travel. Wow. This is a real mind-blower.

    From the Historical Society website:

    This photograph features a toll booth that stood on Flatbush Avenue between Fenimore Street and Winthrop Street in what is now Lefferts Built in the 1850s by the Brooklyn, Flatbush, and Jamaica Plank Road Company, the booth was used to collect tolls on Old Flatbush Turnpike, one of the main thoroughfares connecting the town of Flatbush to the city of Brooklyn. The road’s plank surface made it easier for wagons and carriages to travel on the dirt road. When the road company went out of business in 1893, the booth was gifted to John Moore, the last Flatbush Road Commissioner, who placed it in his backyard in East Flatbush. Today, the booth stands in Prospect Park, near the Lefferts Historic House and the carousel.

    Among the major investors in the Plank Road were members of the Lefferts family. You can learn more about them and their role in developing the town of Flatbush from An American Family Grows in Brooklyn, BHS’s new digital exhibit.

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  • 11/18/13--19:22: As Easy as 123 (On the Park)
  • Just rode by the ol' Caledonian Hospital tonight and noticed a bunch of lights on. You could see right in. Looked like many of the apartments in the main building are doggone finished.

    Walk up close, and you see this sign (please excuse the was nighttime and I couldn't find the scaffold's light switch)

    The most useful piece of info on the poster is that it will open in Summer 2014.

    I know nothing about architecture, except to say...ewww. That is to say I'm sure they'll make lovely homes, but...ewwww. College library much? Dorms? Office Park?

    Like I said I look forward to welcoming new neighbors some time next year.

    * To those who do renderings for a living, I ask a simple question. Does it cross one's mind what sort of person to put in the foreground of the picture, crossing the street in front of the building? Probably just a random choice, yes? Or perhaps in honor of the Caledonian's Scottish heritage, she hails from Edinburgh? A Scottish attorney perhaps? Once again, always thin. So very thin, the people in these new buildings are to be. I wonder whether the doorways are especially narrow as well. And the elevators have artificially low maximum weights! Bodymassist Developers!

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  • 11/19/13--14:59: PLG Arts Membership Launch
  • Not much more to say than my name is Clarkson FlatBed, the Q, and I heartily endorse this message. Give early, give often. Go to the party!

    Dear Neighbor,
    Please join us at the PLG Arts Membership Launch
    Cocktail Party!

    Help us support the arts, the neighborhood, and your quality of life in one fell swoop!

    Come to our special cocktail party to meet current and new members, and learn more about our goals, activities, and history.

    Where: The Inkwell Cafe, 408 Rogers Ave (betw Sterling & Lefferts), Brooklyn, NY 11221

    WhenFriday November 22, 7-9 PM

    Over the last 6 years, PLG Arts has focused on the vibrant creativity of the residents of Prospect-Lefferts Gardens and surrounding Brooklyn neighborhoods. Our successes to date, though impressive, have been accomplished with a fairly small number of dedicated volunteers. You probably already know PLG Arts through some of our activities:

    ·   Art exhibitions at the Tugboat Tea Company coffee shop
    ·   Jazz at the Inkwell (twice-a-month music series)
    ·   Theater program kickoff event August 17
    ·   Mural near the Q train and on Flatbush Ave (beautification of  construction site by local artists, including children)
    ·   Mural on Fenimore Street off Flatbush, etc. (filling in the blank spots with creativity!)
    ·   Neighborhood Group Art Show 2011 (over 3,000 attended in just 2 weeks)

    By joining PLG Arts, you will help us create and sponsor more visual arts, dance programs, theater events, and music for the children and adults of our community. Here are just a few of the benefits you will receive as a member:
    ·   Be among the first to know about PLG Arts events
    ·   Enjoy “Dinner with the Artist” events
    ·   Receive discounts from local merchants who also support PLG Arts
    ·   Platinum Membership provides free access to PLG Arts events for a year
    ·   Artist Memberships and Institutional/Corporate Memberships also available

    Come share a cocktail and join your neighbors in local arts!
    We look forward to seeing you there.

    (Please RSVP to so we can cater for numbers)


    Grahame Conibear (, Rina Kleege ( and Brian Fernandes-Halloran ( )

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    The Q understands that the above headline is a major stretch in the pun department, but he's on a deadline at work.

    The much-beloved often misunderstood diner at the corner of Rogers and Empire is now history, and Massey Knakal is peddling the site for development. One can only hope that, despite the commercial zoning, someone will put up some semi-affordable housing here, in the spirit of the Q's hopes for an Empire housing boom. We have nothing to fear but fear itself. And Taco Bell.

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    In a long, long overdue move, DOT finally painted the lines and connected the dots. A tiny bit of sanity has come to the most painfully confused, dangerous and absurd stretches of commercial real estate that this blogger has ever seen - Flatbush Empire to the Junction.

    Finally admitting that there is not room for parking on both sides and four lanes of traffic. the lanes have been repainted to allow for a single thru lane each way, and turning bays wherever needed. Yes, I'll admit that there was a bit of backup today...but it won't last, and here's why. Drivers were beginning to adjust, and as they did, they realized that they could no longer abide double-parkers. The few that tried it were either ticketed by police (a first...I've never seen a car ticketed for double-parking while the driver was in it before - a warning it looked like) or honked into compliance. The concerns about double-parking are genuine...but it is now impossible to double-park and not cause big disruptions. For instance, in front of Peppa's the usual doubles moved along after realizing there was no place for them.

    But traffic DID move. I've seen much worse jams due to double-parkers in the past. And this was just the first day.

    With any hope, the cops will strictly enforce the new laws, at least until behavior changes. The real test will be seeing whether the Dollar Vans stick to the thru lane and pull over only when and where there's room. Dollar Van riders (myself included) need to be skooled to hail only where there's a space for the Van. So as much as the drivers themselves are crazy, stepping out into traffic to grab a DV is just as zany, or insisting that they pull over in a crowded area with zooming traffic. Nuts has become the accepted normal around here.

    A little less insanity would be good for everyone. (Except the very insane of course, for whom a LOT less insanity would be called for - or not I suppose, as long as you're not hurting anyone.)

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    I'll be honest, we need a superstar. Someone who can bring Pizazz and Pizza to the Piazza at Parkside. Maybe not pizza, but certainly fresh items that could potentially be placed ON a pizza. What is it? I'll give you a hint:

    The actress pictured is Frances FARMER
    Think that's silly? Think a little harder. Still silly? Yes, quite. But how 'bout NOW? Yes, still very silly. And yet...

    A Farmers Market, or Farmer's Market, or Farmers' Market (I've seen it all three ways) is being negotiated with venerable do-gooders Seeds In the Middle, an organization dedicated to bringing healthy food and healthy living through learning and soccer to Central Brooklyn and beyond. But...we need someone who will be dedicated to the project at least for the coming year while we get it off the ground. Experience in shopping and eating a plus. Must be a good organizer and be able to work with a diverse cast of characters. The famer's market will need to take food stamps, now EBT, so we'll need some sophistication on that end, but it's fairly easy to learn. An interest in the needs of young people a double-plus. And a desire to work hard for little compensation a triple-plus. Remember, we're just trying to get things off the ground here!

    So...who has a flexible schedule and a desire to make a huge difference in our community? We will do our best to raise money and work with the business side to find modest compensation eventually.

    (Would a CSA like to talk about partnering? Would the fledgling food coop want to sell wares and build membership? Hmmm. The possibilities are endless...)

    Email me here!

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  • 11/22/13--18:06: 33 Lincoln Posts Renderings
  • While riding up and down the Flabenue for kicks, watching the slow-mo figuring out of traffic by befuddled motorists, I noticed that Tom Anderson has put up renderings of his new building that will straddle the Q/B/S stop at Prospect Park.

    Sorry for the night vision pics, but this is pretty clear:

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     sent an email (below) to the gentleman Greg Haas who spearheaded the flatbush ave reconfiguration. let the record state that they can't say the didn't know.
    As a resident, blogger and member of CB9 I've been a big proponent of your changes to the Flatbush corridor. Drivers are struggling to figure it all out, and Dollar Vans are vexing efforts, but with help from some enforcement I'm sure it will all work out.

    There is a MAJOR problem at Lincoln/Flatbush/Washington. The lines seem to suggest that drivers can't turn left from Lincoln onto Washington, but they're doing it anyway, at full speed as they always have, and there's no DO NOT ENTER sign, just a big bulb drawn on the pavement. The effect is that drivers and bicyclists are being guided straight into each other HEAD ON. It's only a matter of time before the's total chaos at that interesection.

    Thanks for forwarding this to the attention of whomever can take immediate remedial efforts.

     A commenter asked about complaining about Dollar Vans. These "commuter vans" are regulated by the Taxi and Limousine Commission. A call to 311 will register your issue, though it would take many of them to get TLC to take notice.

    My suggested route is through the Community Board, where a direct interaction with TLC is possible. If this is a big enough issue to the community, this is the way to proceed. I'll send Ed Fanning and Rosemarie Perry a note asking they put scofflaw dollar vans on the Transportation and Public Safety agendas (respectively), hopefully for a joint meeting in December or January.

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  • 11/25/13--05:19: Response from DOT
  • All I can say carefully! Below is the response from Greg at DOT. Note the part where he says "if you have any other questions, comments or observations..."

    Hi Tim, 

    Thanks for writing. The signs for the small section of Lincoln Road from Washington Avenue to Flatbush Avenue to become one-way westbound will be put up tomorrow or Wednesday at the latest. There will be “DO NOT ENTER” signs facing eastbound Lincoln Road traffic at the far side of Flatbush Avenue, “ONE WAY” signs pointing west on the east side of Flatbush Avenue at Lincoln Road, and signs with left and right arrows and the “ONLY” message for traffic on eastbound Lincoln Road approaching Flatbush Avenue to tell drivers they must turn left or right, they cannot go through.

    We understand your concern. We try to get the signs and the markings up at exactly the same time, but sometimes there is a time lag.
    Please advise if you have any other questions, comments or observations.


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    The cold stings, but things are heating around here in Mayberry PLG, from stalled traffic to tall buildings. Starting around 8pm, a piece started running on NY1 highlighting community opposition to the height of 626 Flatbush. View the piece here: NY1 on 626. The text is below, for the click-o-phobic. Regardless of your feelings on the building, I'm particularly gratified to see longtime local gentry coming out to voice their feelings. Too often, the internets are clogged with younger, newer voices. It hasn't escaped the Q's attention that Lefferts' proud Boomers can be quite effective at organizing and getting stuff done. To that, hats off from the Q, he of Generation X. PPEN's online petition may soon top 300 names, with many more in the bag on something called "paper," which some people have apparently signed with something called a "pen."

    A towering new residential and retail building will dramatically change the landscape in Central Brooklyn, but it is not without opposition. There are big plans for a vacant parking facility on Flatbush Avenue: a 23-story high rise that will dwarf Prospect Lefferts Gardens and tower over nearby Prospect Park. 

    A community group called Prospect Park East Network says that the development is out of scale for the neighborhood and will ruin the park experience. 

    "We don't want a tower shadowing it and feeling like we're in the middle of Manhattan," said resident Brenda Edwards.

    "It's a very intimate community. It's low rise. People are very neighborly," said resident Suki Cheong. "This tower is going to really be visible from many of these scenic views by the lake."

    The group put together its own rendering to dramatize the impact to the park and is asking residents to sign a petition to stop the project, but the developer says that the building was designed to fit into the community. It'll have a brick facade instead of glass and metal. It'll be ground-floor retail with 254 rental apartments, with 20 percent for low- and middle-income tenants. It also follows city zoning rules for the area.

    "We haven't asked for any special variances, so what we're doing is as-of-right zoning," said Alison Novak, vice president of Hudson Companies. "And I think that when City Planning put together the zoning code, they were very careful about light and air and shadows. So I don't think that that will be actually a major issue."

    However, the Prospect Park Alliance, which helps oversee the park, says "We feel a 23-story building on the edge of the park will compromise the original Olmstead and Vaux vision for the park as an urban refuge where the public can enjoy unspoiled natural views."

    Both the Alliance and community opponents are calling for zoning changes.
    "We are the only section next to the park that does not have what we call contextual zoning," said resident Carole Schaffer. "All of the other areas - Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, everything around the perimeter - has it."
    The city says that it's received requests about rezoning and will look into the possibilities. In the meantime, the developer says that he has all the permits and money to move ahead, and plans on starting demolition by the end of the year.

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  • 11/26/13--06:23: Traffic Update
  • I texted Vinnie this morning and told him the nabe was in an uproar. He just texted me back and said that they've called for traffic agents.

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  • 11/26/13--07:43: A Note on Dollar Vans
  • Pearl Miles just wrote me that she has not had complaints on Dollar Vans in a few years. As District Manager at the Community Board, she's the single person to whom such complaints might be properly addressed. Complaints are not reaching their intended targets. Bottom line, if you have not engaged the Community Board on this issue, you have not filed your grievance. It is, as the saying goes, just pissing in the wind.

    I encourage everyone to write a note to:

    If you want even MORE impact, call the office:  718-778-9279. Phone calls are so rare these days, especially from a certain demographic, that they register in a different, I would say more potent, manner.

    Please note that if you don't do so, your complaint is not being heard. Listservs and blogs, even 311, will not result in a change.

    If you see a Dollar Van blatantly break the law, and can get its license plate, that would be a HUGE help too. There seem to be 1000s of the things, but in fact it's the same 100 or so running back and forth. Get rid of the worst 25% and you'd likely see a huge change.

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    The 71 Precinct has received numerous calls about heavy traffic delays on Flatbush Avenue and Empire Boulevard in both directions. The 71 Community Affairs office has visited the locations on Monday and Tuesday and has witnessed first hand the delays. The 71 Precinct has reached out to the DOT who has informed us the project will be complete in less then two weeks and traffic should improve. The 71 Precinct and Community Board 9 realize it can be a long two weeks. Both the 71 Precinct and CB9 have reached out to Department of Traffic and are requesting numerous traffic agents to help at the intersections until the traffic project is complete and traffic is back to normal. The 71 Precinct will also step up enforcement in the area as necessary. We understand the frustration in the community, it also has been affecting numerous Police Officers trying to get to work and go home. We hope to have the traffic agents in place soon. Sorry for any inconvenience this is causing the community.

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    So I'm cruising along on my cruiser today and noticing for the first time since moving to the neighborhood all those years ago something really quite remarkable. Traffic on Flatbush, the Flabenue, was moving...calmly. That's right. No darting in and out. No slamming on brakes then flooring it. I didn't feel like I was taking my life into my hands, and the street looked like any of a hundred other busy thoroughfares in NYC. Busy, but not insane.

    Granted the volume is down compared to a normal weekday. BUT drivers were clearly getting more used to the pattern. The horrorshow at Lincoln/Flatbush/Washington continues, and there's still no sign of traffic agents (supposedly coming Monday). But that's part of the point. Flatbush volume has been too high for ages, what with buses, cabs, trucks, dollar vans, car services and...commuters.

    A lot of rumors and misconceptions are kicking around out there. Like that median that's being removed at Empire next to the demolished Botanic Garden entrance. That job has nothing to do with the new DOT traffic calming measures. Nor is it related to complaints from drivers about backups. That median, with the sweet little tree on it (sob) made it impossible for trucks of a certain size to turn. It was a big flaw in design and had to be corrected. As will other design flaws be corrected, if they prove to be untenable in the longrun.

    But get this straight. DOT is not going back to six lanes on Flatbush. It's too narrow and therefore very unsafe, and in fact is not considered safe at that width anywhere else in the City or any other City for that matter. DOT could probably be convinced to eliminate parking on the outbound side during rush hours (4-7pm), though the reason they didn't was because of concerns about the merchants who are open at those times. However, such concerns did not stop DOT from eliminating parking on Flatbush from the Manhattan Bridge to Grand Army Plaza, so I don't see why we should get special treatment. Traffic is clearly flowing better at rush hour in the morning because of the extra space, so afternoons could work better too. We'll see whether that's politically possible.

    Some wonder about the wisdom of the right turn only as you come down Flatbush from GAP and hit Empire. Well, this makes perfect sense, so drivers have time to get it together to form a single lane. You see it work all of the place; we're just not used to it yet. They should add either a right turn signal or an allowed right turn on red to make it even clearer. HONK your butts off drivers! Let 'em know you care!

    If in fact the traffic agents turn out, credit goes to Pearl Miles of CB9, who on her vacation, called the powers-that-be to get it going. She also put in tough words to get the 71st out there. Credit should go where it's due...if. I was on a lot of the email back and forth and I feel confident that the responses from Greg and Claudette at DOT and the police came AFTER we complained and complained some more. But I'm glad they're listening. I got a call from Inspector Fitzgibbon on Wednesday guaranteeing an upgraded response. Again, we'll see.

    I learned also that for all the complaints about Dollar Vans I've heard through the years, precious few have reached anyone with any power to do anything about it. Have you or anyone you know ever called an elected official? Or the Community Board? Or the TLC? Thought not. It's time for us to create an official task force on the issue. I'm hoping Ed Fanning will lead the effort, as chair of the Transportation committee and/or Rosemarie Perry of Public Safety.

    Dollar Vans shouldn't be eliminated. They are part of the solution. At rush hour, they carry as many as 12 people, and cost less than the buses, which are also packed at rush hour. Car services and cabs, well, they're what they are and aren't going away. Trucks are not to be on Flatbush if they're not delivering locally, so we need enforcement there. Double parking needs to be enforced as strongly as north of GAP. And drivers, most just one to a car, need to know that Flatbush is not a freeway and shouldn't expect a quick ride at rush hours. I don't drive through the Holland Tunnel at rush hour expecting a speedy ride; the Flabenue is no different. Tough enforcement all around is needed. I'm with Alex - we may need some sort of hearing to demand it.

    If we can deal with some of the behavior, and convince a few commuters to take a different non-bus route from work, perhaps I'll be eating a gratis steak dinner courtesy of neighbor Josh G., who bet me that Flatbush will still be a big mess come the new year. I'm looking forward to my big juicy steak, courtesy of Gino's. Make sure you don't max out credit cards Josh!

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    1. Small Business Saturday is here to remind you that bigger is not always better when it comes to shopping for gifts for the loved ones in your life. Finding something special for someone special may, in fact, require special shopping. You can do that by treading places others don't tread.

    2. Play Kids at 676 Flatbush will be giving out free tote bags. Oh, and selling some of the swellest and educationalest toys for your tots anywhere. Voted best toy store in the City by New York Magazine!

    3. The Q guarantees you will find a gift at Tafari Tribe (593 Flatbush) that NO big box retailers are carrying. It's a one-of-a-kind treasure trove of items from around the world, and hands-down the most colorful store on the Flatbenue. San

    4.  Marcia Diva Boutique easily wins the Q's "Most Exciting New Shoppe on the Flabenue for 2013" (though the tiny intimate apparel shop near it may be a more accurate use of the word) and the inventory is wildly eclectic.
    Stop in for a browse today at 670 Flatbush.

    5. Save-a-Thon-Fabrics at 824 Flatbush is quite simply a neighborhood treasure, not just for its reams of fabrics but for its aisles upon aisles of knicks knacks and paddy wacks, the basic essentials for all kinds of hands-on projects, little things to inspire you to make your own's like one of those suburban craft stores but packed into a decades-old mom-and-pop operation.

    6. Smile for Every Sistah in You is run by "sistah" Enuku, and she has a dedicated clientele for a reason - she's friendly as all get-out and curates a completely unique line of bags, clothes and accessories. Definitely worth a stop, again, because you don't want to bore your cousins and aunts with the same ol' same ol' do you? 581 Flatbush. Best named store on the Flabenue, hands down.

    7. Gem. Okay, not technically a "boutique" or anything, but dang if they don't have a fantastic selection of really dope and bling Christmas ornaments. My kids love the seasonal section in the front, and this place is my go-to for everything from t.p. to tape to shaving cream. Most items are 25% less than at the Duane Reade next door, which doesn't make my list because I can't think of a single reason to shop there now that I've switched my prescriptions to the delightful and FAST Lincoln Pharmacy across the street. Oh, right. Eco-diapers. But Little Miss FlatBed Jr. III will be out of those soon...I hope.

    8. Nykki's Boutique is run by dressmaker Cheryl Carty, and she's a real artist, more than worthy of your patronage. Her bread and butter is custom outfits, but check out the small but choice inventory she keeps for a one-of-a-kind gift for the special lady in your life.

    9. Trixie's Pet Food and Supplies gets a 4 1/2 out of 5 stars on 24 reviews on Yelp. That's really rare high praise. Now that the Q's cats have moved on, I don't have as much need, but gifts for friends' pets are a great way to show you care AND that you understand their attachment to their little snuggle-wuggle.

    There are more of course, but I gotta go make breakfast now. See you out there on the avenue.

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    The New American Academy (Q write-up here) is a public school with quite a few twists, most notably a highly exciting emphasis on giving heavily vetted teachers the things they need to succeed...lower teacher to student ratios (15:1), less bureaucracy, higher salaries for master teachers, and plenty of team planning time. The school has become a favorite of local families, despite its location due east, past Utica near Lincoln Terrace Park. Word trickling out is that the school is "as advertised" and as with most young schools, could use lots of financial support. Below is a flyer for its Barnes & Noble Book Fair (the Q prefers two words) on Saturday (note: the B&N on Court Street, not 7th Ave).

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