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Thursday, July 19, 2012

New York Shi**y, sometimes

Sewage overflow. Sound bad? it generally is, its the term for and what happens when a huge amount of water from say sudden and epic rainfall (as is seen in this AWESOME photo

Photo by Dhani Jones /
now famously snapped by former NFLer & Travel Channel star Dhani Jones as his flight was in a holding pattern over Long Island waiting to land at LaGuardia) is dumped into the sewers and drainage of NYC. 

Yesterday's epic downpours dropped nearly an inch of rain within an hour's time. 

When this happens the actual floodgates are opened and the sewage, a combination of toilet waste, street run off and other less than pleasantry and the sudden rain are dumped, into our rivers. That's bad enough, but worse of course is that we live in an interconnected world and so what goes into the river yesterday will be around the beaches this weekend, and in smaller amounts remain for days to come.

Sewage overflow does have to go somewhere or it will back up into your home, but this is the only solution we as a city have available for when there's heavy rains like yesterday. We let it pour into the rivers and eventually beaches and either don't know or don't think about the results.

That is until someone records one sewage release point (above) this one into the Hudson River, great music select from 4Sespecially who posted the video on youtube.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

45 Trees Shredded and a Battle on Bedford Av Begun

In June I awoke to the sound of machinery as opposed to the singing birds that normally roused me from slumber.  I assumed it was street repair work. Except that there was a persistent buzzing. Eventually I saw a wood-chipper machine grinding tree limbs fed from an undistinguished man and taken from an enclosed park space on Bedford Avenue. 

The park space is the width of two four story apartment buildings and is in fact two lots that residents have a claim to. They explain that the lots were granted as park space by the BEC (Brooklyn Ecumenical Corporation) and given to the Bedford Park Residents Association. They say they have not only had the space granted as a park for residents (the usage was granted to them after the buildings on the lots had been torn down and to prevent the space from falling into disuse) but they've also paid for maintenance of the space for over 18 years.

This is what the park has looked like for much of the last two decades:
Bedford Av Park looking south2
Bedford Av Park full

I've posted more pictures (from Google Maps) stream

I assumed the men tossing tree limbs into shreds were cleaning up fallen branches.

It turns out a developer who according to residents has yet to provide any proof ownership of the park space, has made a claim to the lots on which the park stands and had sent the men to chop down over 40 trees which included Maples and fruit-baring boysenberry so the land can be developed and a condo built.

When I passed Bedford avenue between Park and Prospect places this is what the park looked like:

In the span of about 3 hours over 40 trees were cut down and shredded. This shot by a resident shows the destruction and the felling of the trees:

At a community meeting held next door members of the board expressed their frustrations. Their belief is the developers have an expectation that residents wouldn't defend this space and that local officials will either defend their claim of ownership or simply not speak up.

One resident told me NY1 had recorded statements from residents for a segment on the issue but no segment was aired.

This story has been reported in the Brooklyn Paper as well as the I love Franklin Ave blog.

The Franklin Ave Blog sums it up like this:

Basically, back in 1994, the Brooklyn Ecumenical Council (BEC) dedicated a pair of lots on Bedford as a community garden and park, to be jointly used and paid for by residents and owners of the surrounding buildings. Fast forward 18 years, and a developer who's acquired some adjacent land believes he has rights to the space, and has already shredded the trees, shrubs, and bushes that had adorned the lot for the past two decades. Needless to say, the residents are fighting back, and they're hoping to mount a legal and political challenge to this land grab

In the weeks since that early June morning when most residents had gone to work while workmen whittled the park into a barren set of lots, the Bedford Park Residents Association has gotten active. They've called the police several times to prevent unnamed men from going in to the space without permission and the residents report having a Police Detective assigned to the task of verifying the ownership claims.

Speculation abounds as to what claim the developers have to the land and how they'll verify it since each time the police have been called the workmen in the park have had no documentation proving a right to be on the property or permits for the destruction.

The burden of proof swings both ways as the tenants association is working to retrieve documents they say will demonstrate the developers claim to the land is unjust.

To that end they've put a call out to any who may have documents and or photographic relating to the park and its community history.

According to Mr. Francis one of the Bedford Park Residents Association, today (Thursday 7/12) workmen are scheduled to come to do core samples of the land for use in the developers plane build condos on the space. For that reason they are asking for other residents to come out and stand up  for the space and they've put out a call to anyone with photos or documents demonstrating the tenants history of usage and claim to the park.