Friday, April 13, 2007

Hot dog on a roll: Pampered pooch pushed in stroller

By Matthew Lysiak
The Brooklyn Paper

Photos/ The Brooklyn Paper / Gregory P. Mango / Aaron Greenhood

Anne Carnes has Shadow in tow while she gets her nails done. Because her dog is in a stroller, stores are more likely to let her pooch inside.

It isn’t enough that we save them a spot at the bottom of the bed, wrap our restaurant leftovers for them as a late-night snack, or wake up early to follow them around in the rain with a pooper-scooper, but today some pampered pooches now need wheels.

“It is unbelievable how many people stop me and think I am pushing a baby,” said Annie Carnes, who strollers “Shadow,” her Toy Yorkie, around Bay Ridge in her customized puppy stroller.

“People stop me every five minutes — sometimes they even stop their car and get out to look for themselves at my dog stroller.”

Carnes, who paid $200 for the stroller, wasn’t planning on purchasing the canine cruiser until Shadow jumped into a display model at Posh Pets at 9540 Fourth Ave., and has barely jumped out since.

“It was worth every penny,” Carnes said. “Shadow lets me know when he has to do his business and he jumps right out. He also lets me know when he gets tired and he jumps back in, he is a very smart dog.”

Carnes, who walks Shadow a few miles a day, believes that the doggy carriage trend is something that will catch on in New York. After all, having the stroller allows her to bring Shadow into stores, restaurants and other places with “No dogs allowed” signs — not to mention the miles of wear and tear it takes off of her precious Shadow.

“I am starting to see a lot more people strolling their dogs,” Carnes said. “My good friend has a stroller and now my niece has one, too.”

Most dog strollers work much like the traditional baby strollers, with a comfort lining, colorful toys to keep the pups stimulated, and even some storage room for groceries or pooch supplies, according to Beth Deprado, the owner of Posh Pets.

“This has really become a phenomenon,” said Deprado. “They are becoming more popular, especially for senior dogs who don’t want to walk anymore.”

Deprado’s store sells six different models ranging in prices from the Happy Trails model at $65, to the $200 luxury Jeep model. Most accommodate dogs in the 20-pound range and the strollers come in all colors.

“I admit that it may be a little ridiculous, but we do love to spoil our pets,” Deprado added.

One dog enthusiast believes that there is a fine line between man’s best friend and man’s master.

“What’s next? Are we going to be buying dog toilet paper?” asked Ridge resident Andrew Dula, who was walking his Golden Retriever, Gunther, along Shore Road. “The day you find me pushing my dog in a stroller is the day he becomes my master.”

Dutifully, however, Dula later picked up Gunther’s poop.

A culture of death in Bay Ridge?

By Matthew Lysiak
The Brooklyn Paper

Has a darkness settled over Bay Ridge? The recent discovery of a dead newborn, discarded in a trash bag on the back porch of a Colonial Road home, has once again shined the spotlight on our quiet community, and for a familiar reason — Bay Ridge, Brooklyn is again the scene of a horrific death of a child.

“This kind of thing just doesn’t happen here,” said Yellow Hooker’s neighbor, who has lived in Bay Ridge for 46 years. “It feels like we have been cursed lately. We have gone years without reading about the death of a child, and now the third child in the last two months.

“You can feel the death in the air,” she added.

Residents still haven’t recovered from the Feb. 8 fire that ripped through an apartment building on 74th Street and took the lives of two young girls, ages 2 and 4. It was a tragic accident that scarred many residents, especially in the tightly knit Arab-American community.

“The accident was horrific, but it is far easier to wrap your mind around an accident than it is to understand how a mother could murder her own child,” my neighbor added, an allusion to the allegation that Laura Sergio, 29, murdered her newborn baby and dumped the body at her mom’s Colonial Road house.

That sordid saga began when Sergio’s parents took her to Lutheran Medical Center at 9 pm last Friday after she complained of stomach pains. Doctors soon realized that she had recently given birth, so they asked her where the baby was. When Sergio reacted evasively, the doctors called the cops.

Police found the baby wrapped in a trash bag — left to die on the back porch in the frigid cold. Later, they charged Sergio with killing the child.

News of the murder even reached my hometown of Danville, Pennsylvania, provoking a semi-frantic telephone call from my family, which ended up being just the medicine I needed.

“Are you sure Bay Ridge is the right place for you?” asked my mother in her restrained voice. “Do you sometimes think it would be better if you moved closer to home?”

Closer to home? My instinctual reaction was to leap to the Ridge’s defense and explain how she had it all wrong, and that this kind of thing just doesn’t happen in Bay Ridge — how although we are part of the big city, it is still part of a community.

Most of all, I wanted to tell her that, recent deaths aside, I had never been to a place that had as much life as Bay Ridge. But what actually came through the phone was much more to the point.

“Move closer to home?” I said. “But I could never leave Bay Ridge.”

The Kitchen Sink
We love a great April Fools gag, so credit must go to the mysterious “Phantom” who runs the Bay Ridge Blog after posting that Staten Island Ferry service would return to Bay Ridge. The blogger was trying to top his previous year’s April Fool’s Day post that Mike Tyson would be fighting at the Alpine, which received national attention. …

Bensonhurst’s famous New Utrecht Reform Church on 18th Avenue and 84th Street will be holding a thrift sale on Saturday, April 21, 10–3, to raise the $2 million needed to fix the church’s sanctuary. Will there be bargains? “Of course!” said Rose Gianni Lood, a parishioner for more than 70 years. “We’re over 330 years old and will have bargains galore.” …

Last week, we asked, “Which famous talk show host did John Quaglione, spokesman for state Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge), once work for?” The choices were Oprah , Ellen or Tim Russert. And the winning answer is Tim Russert of “Meet the Press” (though you could be forgiven for thinking that the smooth-talking “John Q” learned the tricks of his trade from Oprah).

Sonny fought City Hall — and won

By Matthew Lysiak
The Brooklyn Paper

Sonny Soave fought the law, and he won — at least in this one battle with the Department of Sanitation.

Soave’s hard-fought victory against the agency came on behalf of an elderly neighbor he believed was unfairly ticketed for having a dirty driveway.

“I feel good about it,” Soave said. “Finally, we can say the little guy has done something about the Sanitation dictatorship.”

The good news came in the form of a letter from the department stating that the case was dropped.

The trouble began last April when Soave spotted an enforcement officer parked across the street from his house, so he went over and knocked on the car window.

“I saw her writing tickets, without even getting out of her car,” Soave said. “When I asked her if she was going to write my neighbor a ticket, she just smiled at me and said no.”

But Soave stuck around to see what would happen, and sure enough, the officer ticketed several people on his block, including his friendly neighbor.

“The ticket stated that there were papers and candy bar wrappers in her driveway. Not only doesn’t she have a driveway, but there were no papers anywhere near her yard,” Soave said.

He took the ticket to Councilman Vince Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) and Community Board 10 — and now has become a leading voice in the movement to fight Sanitation tickets.

“The agency says you’re guilty until you prove your innocence,” Soave said. “So if you are unfairly ticketed, go to every official and every newspaper you can find and make a fuss.”

Soave also believes that by bringing his neighbors tickets into the public spotlight, he is already seeing dividends.

“I haven’t seen one of those little cars around since you put this in the paper,” Soave said. “I just hope they learned a lesson from all this.”

The Councilman also felt vindicated.

“I’m happy the city decided to dismiss this wrongly issued ticket,” said Gentile. “In the future, I hope tickets are issued more carefully.”

A long, hot gridlock summer on tap for Ridge motorists

By Matthew Lysiak
The Brooklyn Paper

A perfect storm of traffic congestion is beginning to form off the coast of Bay Ridge, and is expected to hit with full strength just in time for the summer driving season.

First, a two-year renovation of 86th Street will begin in the next few weeks as sidewalks from Shore Road to Gatling Place will be torn-up by the Department of Design and Construction for work on an underground water main.

Then, in June, one lane in each direction on the Verrazano Bridge will be closing to allow for a rehab of the lower level exit ramp.

That work is also expected to last about two years.

It’s going to be rough, but, as they say in Bay Ridge, what are you gonna do about it?

“The construction is going to be an absolute nightmare,” said Josephine Beckmann, district manager of Community Board 10. “But Bay Ridge has a very old infrastructure and these improvements need to be made, no matter how inconvenient.”

Beckmann said her board, as well as local pols, are trying to get the city to, at least, do the work on 86th Street in two phases.

Local business owners, especially those who depend on the use of outdoor sidewalk cafes, are especially enraged.

“I know the work has to be done, but two years is going to kill us,” said Leo Lykourezos who owns Casa Calamari on 86th Street and Third Avenue. “They should be working 24 hours a day to get this done.”

Lykourezos also hopes the city will do the work in two phases.

“It would be a good idea to break this project up to give us a little break,” Lykourezos said. “[The city] says it’ll take 21 months, but we are talking about the government — so who knows? It could take four years.”

Fresh on Ridge’s memory, is the city’s project to replace water and sewer lines at the corner of 92nd Street and Fort Hamilton Parkway — a “one-year” project that turned into an 18-month nightmare, according to Beckmann.

“We had people complaining of the vibrations, cracks that went through houses, and four businesses had to close down,” Beckmann said. “It was a total disaster. And minor work continues [on that project] to this day.”

Meanwhile, in other Bay Ridge traffic and transit news:

• CB10 voted unanimously to bar the Metropolitan Transportation Authority from adding bus routes to 86th Street and Fourth Avenue, part of an effort by the transit agency to have the Staten Island portion of its “bus rapid transit” program terminate in Bay Ridge.

“We just don’t need another bus,” said CB10 Chairman Dean Rasinya, who believes there is already enough traffic at the crowded intersection.

• The Department of Transportation told CB10 that it wants to relocate the Sixth Avenue entrance ramp of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and widen the exit ramp by 2009.

“This is something we need to get done,” said Beckmann. “We have been told that this stretch is one of our most accident-prone locations.”

After the project is completed, it should relieve the congestion caused by cars backing up on the ramp and onto the highway.

Beckmann saw the news as good — down the road, that is.

“We are going to have to sacrifice a little now, but we will see dividends,” she said.

• A handful of roads in the neighborhood will be resurfaced beginning in May, with a full list of the specific streets available shortly.

“It means that for a short while you may have to move your car,” Beckmann said. “But that usually isn’t too big a deal.”

Dyker downzone moves ahead

By Matthew Lysiak
The Brooklyn Paper

A city plan to block over-development in low-rise Dyker Heights moved another step closer to reality this week as a local civic association backed the proposal.

More than 100 residents showed up at Monday night’s meeting of the Dyker Heights Civic Association — which then voted to support a City Planning Commission bid to limit high-rise development in the 160 blocks between 62nd and 86th streets.

Community Board 10 will consider the matter on Monday, April 16, as part of the proposal’s public-review process.

There’s little doubt how the board will vote, given how strongly local pols support the Bloomberg Administration proposal.

“This rezoning plan will help protect the unique character of the neighborhood for future generations,” said Rep. Vito Fossella (R-Bay Ridge). “I am hopeful this plan will move quickly through the public review process.”

Dyker Heights is just the latest neighborhood to demand that the city protect its character by changing the zoning to block high-rise construction. Park Slope, Carroll Gardens and Fort Greene have also completed or are working on similar zoning changes.

But opponents say that downzoning results in less housing — which is critically needed as Brooklyn grows. Housing advocates say the high cost of real estate is pricing many people out of their neighborhood. Downzoning, they say, limits housing opportunities for both lower- and middle-class residents.

Community Board 10’s public hearing on the matter is scheduled for Monday, April 16, at the Knights of Columbus (1305 86th St. between 13th and 14th avenues), 7:15 pm. Call (718) 745-6827 for information.

Raising the roof at PS 185

By Matthew Lysiak
The Brooklyn Paper

“Wow, I still can’t believe they built a playground on the roof,” said 12-year-old Dolah Altam. “No one was ever allowed up there before.”

The Walter Kassenbrock School, located at 8601 Ridge Blvd., requested the $1-million renovation about two years ago, but the funding was finally allocated after a nudge by Councilman Vince Gentile (D–Bay Ridge).

Last week, the school invited Gentile for a rooftop playdate.

“Kids were saying how they loved the extra space,” said Gentile. “When I asked why, one kid said, ‘Who doesn’t like playing on the roof?’”

Monday, April 9, 2007

Organic crime in Bay Ridge

By Matt Lysiak
for The Brooklyn Paper

The first rule of Milk Club is you don’t talk about Milk Club.

The second rule of Milk Club is you do not talk about Milk Club.

That’s what I learned this week while investigating what my wife described as Brooklyn’s Underground Raw Milk Movement.

“I know something you might have some interest in that one of my friends is into, but I doubt you will be able to find anyone who will talk about it,” she told me. “She’s smuggling milk that isn’t pasteurized from a farm in Pennsylvania to her Bay Ridge apartment.”

Milk smugglers?

She continued:

“If the government finds out they could shut her down, shut the farmer down, shut everyone down.”

For drinking raw milk?

I immediately flashed back to a children’s book I once owned about how Louis Pasteur saved all of humanity by discovering that spoilage could be thwarted in wine by heating it below its boiling point. He then applied the same process to milk to destroy unwanted enzymes that looked a lot like unshaven Mr. Yuck stickers.

“Your friend is a paranoid — and an idiot,” I told her. “Why would she want all those enzymes in her milk? And I have serious doubts that anyone is going to jail for drinking milk.”

“You’re the idiot,” she replied. “If you ever read a book you would know that a lot of people believe it is much healthier, and that the government will go after you if they find out you are distributing.”

I was intrigued, especially after I learned she was correct.

It turns out that while possession of raw milk is legal, selling it is a crime. It’s also a violation of federal law to transport raw milk across state lines with the intent to sell it for human consumption.

So, I asked my wife if she would e-mail her friend (we’ll call her Deep Milk) and get more details about this alleged milk underground.

But this raw milkmaid wanted some assurances of her own.

“I am going to need to read the article before I can give you permission to print anything,” she said in an e-mail. “The others will also have to review it, just to make sure we are all on the same page.”

She wanted approval rights over my story for her and “others?” This went deeper than I thought.

I called upon my wife to try to make sense out of it all and told her that the demands were unreasonable, but she couldn’t (or wouldn’t) say a thing about the Milk Underground, although she could arrange a meeting (that had to be kept confidential, too.)

Turns out the rabbit hole does go deeper.

Deep Milk began to tell me her story, which began as an unenlightened drinker of pasteurized milk, who on the advice of a friend began to research the benefits of raw milk.

“I discovered that in almost every other culture raw milk was cherished for its remarkable health benefits, so long as the cows were not from a factory farm, hormone free, and allowed to eat grass,” she said.

Deep Milk believes that the heating process involved in pasteurizing the milk does kill some bad stuff, but also kills healthy stuff too, not to mention the fact that at 40 years old she could easily pass for 32. She isn’t alone. Web sites and groups across the country have sprouted up quicker than bacteria on moldy bread singing the praises of the utter.

They believe that science supports them, and that mainstream medicine is historically two steps behind the truth (leeches anyone?).

Turns out the process of smuggling contraband milk into Brooklyn is more complicated than the spider-web of tax-dollar subsidies channeled to Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project.

To get around the law, no money changes hands in New York. It must all be done online — and only after you sign a form releasing the seller of all liability. After paying online, the milk is made available for pick-up at five different strategically located drop-off points throughout the city.

I was allowed to write that she once made her husband wait four hours for a late truck in Manhattan, which begs the question, why would someone wait four hours for something the FDA considers poison?

An FDA report on illnesses caused by raw milk over the last five years says there have been 18 “outbreaks” of bacterial illness involving raw milk or raw milk cheeses in 15 states. Those outbreaks have sickened 451 people, a few of those seriously enough to be hospitalized. The report lists types of bacteria that might be found in raw milk, including campylobacter, escherichia, listeria, salmonella, yersina and brucella. It also lists diseases raw milk products can cause, such as tuberculosis, diphtheria, polio, strep throat, scarlet fever and typhoid fever. How could the FDA have been so wrong?

I made a call to our family pediatrician, and asked for her position on the underground milk smugglers, and she said she isn’t getting anywhere near the stuff.

“Although I am a huge believer in organic foods, I think we need to be careful where we draw a line,” said Maimonides pediatrician Dr. Joanna Tsopelas. “I would drink raw milk [only] if I could boil it under high pressure for an hour at high temperatures. So I guess the answer is no.”

The raw milk underground will not be dissuaded, and according to Deep Milk, they are spreading out in clubs across Brooklyn looking to turn the clock back to the days when food was simpler and cows weren’t sharing IVs.

Of course, that doesn’t mean they want their plan written about in a major Brooklyn weekly.

Thus, I got another message from Deep Milk.

“I am really sorry for wasting your time,” she said, claiming she got orders from the top. “But we can’t help you anymore at the risk of the government finding out, so the story can’t run at all.”

Is there a witness protection program for raw milk advocates?

Is Gentile pulling a Ratner on us?

By Matthew Lysiak
The Brooklyn Paper

Take notes, kids: the fate of the “Green Church” is offering a textbook example of a philosophical and political debate older than the distinctive sandstone clock tower gracing its top: What are more important, individual rights or the good of the community?

On one side, we have Councilman Vince Gentile (D–Bay Ridge). When locals voiced their anger at the news that Bay Ridge United Methodist would be sold and torn down to make room for condos, Gentile acted to save the landmark

“I think, one thing that we can all agree on, is that the destruction of the ‘Green Church’ would not be in the best interest of any one in our community,” Gentile said last month. He also touted a deal he worked out that would have saved the church, added condo units to the neighborhood and yielded a $300,000 annual windfall for the church for upkeep.

On the other side of the debate, we had the parishioners, who to almost everyone’s surprise, carried the minority position of actually wanting to see the church destroyed.

“Our church is falling apart and as a congregation, we know that the Almighty has more important work for us than throwing money at a building,” one parishioner said (and Yellow Hooker believed her).

A classic dog-pile quickly ensued of parishioners, pundits, and even a reverend. Craig Miller, the pastor at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, told Gentile he was “greatly disappointed to hear you presume to tell a congregation its mission” and “injecting an inappropriate political influence in the affairs of the church.”

How could this have happened? How could the Councilman, who was only responding to a powerful public sentiment to save a cherished Bay Ridge institution, be cast as the villain?

“I think people are misunderstanding our position, we are only working towards a plan that would be in everybody’s best interest,” said a Gentile aid (and Yellow Hooker believed him).

“I happen to like Vince Gentile” said the Rev. Miller. “But he got himself in the middle of something he had no business in, and that … crossed the line.”

Rev. Miller was talking about the “Action Sheet” Gentile passed out that urged people to call the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which has the power to declare a building a landmark even without the owner’s permission; and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who must approve the sale of all religious property to private developers.

“The problem with pressuring Andrew Cuomo and the Landmarks Preservation Commission, is that neither one of them owns the church,” Rev. Miller said.

That moved Gentile into the unenviable position of appearing like Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner — who got the state to condemn private property and turn it over to him. Gentile’s aid, Eric Kuo, wouldn’t take such bait.

“What everyone needs to recognize is that the community has an interest in what happens to the ‘Green Church,’ too,” Kuo said. “The Attorney General and the Landmarks Preservation Commission are both working on behalf of the public.”

Political philosophy 101: Individual property rights or the best interest of the community?

Yellow Hooker would make the argument that the premise itself is the result of a false dichotomy because there exists no greater communal interest than private property rights. But then again, I flunked the only political philosophy course I ever took.

The Kitchen Sink
Look for Community Board 10 to take a central role in preserving Bay Ridge’s historic churches. New chairman Dean Rasinya told The Stoop that the key is cooperation. “We aren’t going to be making any threats because we fully understand who owns these churches,” Rasinya said. “But we [will try to] maintain these structures that are so important to us.” Good luck Dean. …

Our love for Griswold’s Pub is as rich as its barbeque ribs and Brown Betty apple pie, but since the sale of the bar was announced (and further delayed for another few weeks) the quality of the Griswold’s experience has gone the way of a bear market. Thankfully, Yellow Hook, a new pub on Third Avenue and 70th Street, looks like a good heir apparent. …

John Quaglione, a spokesman for state Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge), voiced his concern that he never gets his name in the Sink (as if he doesn’t see his name in the paper enough!) So how’s this, John?: Which famous talk show host did John Q once work for? A) Oprah B) Ellen or C) Tim Russert? Answer next week! …

If you notice two fences along the path at the Narrows Botanical Garden, thank big government. The installation of a new black wrought-iron fence was easy enough, but the trouble came in removing the old one, which which was accomplished only after going through an elaborate maze of government agencies.

Victory doomed Victory

By Matthew Lysiak
The Brooklyn Paper

The Fire Department’s decision to pull Victory Memorial's ambulances off the 911 call registry — which the beleaguered hospital claimed put patients at risk — was made largely because of the medical center’s inability to keep its own emergency vehicles on the road, a high-level FDNY chief told The Brooklyn Paper.

“Victory is obligated to keep three ambulances on the road, and for the most part they weren’t very consistent,” said FDNY Chief John Peruggia. “In emergency situations, this put everyone at an obvious risk.”

The Fire Department replaced the three “inconsistent” ambulances with three that are fully functioning, two run by the Fire Department and a third run by Lutheran Medical Center. All three are kept at strategic locations throughout southwest Brooklyn, giving residents more care, and not less as Victory alleged, according to Peruggia.

“It is going to be run efficiently and without bias,” said Peruggia. “But it is important that everyone know that Victory Hospital’s emergency room is still open and that our ambulances will be bringing patients there for care.”

The decision to pull Victory off the “call list” — which allows an individual hospital to send its ambulance to a 911 call — should not have come as a surprise to officials, according to an FDNY source.

Victory spokesman Ronald DeFranco told The Brooklyn Paper last week that pulling the medical center off the call list was “premature to say the least,” and could be the blow that flat-lined Victory.

FDNY spokeswoman Eileen Ramos took issue with Victory’s contention that removing the struggling hospital from the call list would result in slower ambulatory response times for residents.

“I am not real sure how anyone could come to the conclusion that more consistent ambulances on the road would result in a slower response time,” said Ramos.

The average city response time for a patient who calls 911 is six to seven minutes.

Bill Guarinello, the acting chair of the Dyker Height’s hospital’s board of trustees, admitted that there were problems in the past with keeping the ambulances on the road, but believes that it would be in everyone’s best interest to give the new management at Victory — which is in bankruptcy — a fresh start.

“I am not going to pull any punches, there was mismanagement,” Guarinello said. “Today the board is instilling accountability and credibility to this hospital and we deserve a clean slate.”

Local emergency rooms across southwest Brooklyn are at full capacity, and forced to turn away patients who are then often sent to Victory, according to Guarinello.

“No one want to talk about this,” Guarinello said. “If next year there is no emergency room [at Victory], then the people who are now waiting for three hours for emergency care — some of them will be dead.”

But a spokesman for Lutheran Medical Center disputes Guarinello’s claim that its emergency room is overflowing

“We recently enlarged our emergency room by 60 percent and most patients are seen within 15 minutes,” said spokesman Neal Gorman. “We even have 30-beds in reserve in case we need them.”

Gorman says that if Victory closed, Lutheran would in fact be able to absorb the new patients.

“We have the room now and we are looking to grow, so the answer is yes, Lutheran would be fine,” he said.

But Eileen Tynion, a spokeswoman for Maimonides Medical Center, said that losing the extra emergency room could stress the system.

“If Victory’s ER closes, it will be difficult to handle the increased volume,” she said. “Later this summer, we will open 7,500 square feet of new ER space and add more inpatient beds. This will increase our ability to take care of patients, but we expect these beds to quickly be filled.”

A state report last year recommended Victory’s close. Still, the medical center is a vital cog in the neighborhood’s emergency medical machine. The center’s emergency room is at 104 percent capacity, according to Guarinello.

The 254-bed hospital declared bankruptcy in November amid scrutiny of the hospital’s compensation practices, which included a $1.1-million severance for departing CEO Donald DiCunto.

New management is in place, but an FDNY spokesman said the recommended closure is only a matter of time.

“People may not want to admit it,” Ramos said. “But the truth is that at some point Victory Memorial will be closing.”

Guarinello took issue with those words. The emergency room is fully equipped and prepared to assist residents who they are most in need, he said.

“If the EMS keeps their word and Victory is kept in the loop then I think we will be alright,” Guarinello said. “But if we stop getting patients it will be a disaster for this community.”

Dyker rezoning moves ahead

Dyker rezoning moves ahead
By Matthew Lysiak
The Brooklyn Paper

A city plan to protect dozens of blocks of low-rise homes in Dyker Heights moved one step closer to reality last week.

By officially certifying a downzoning plan for Dyker Heights, the City Planning Commission started the public-review process on a Bloomberg Administration bid to limit high-rise development from 62nd to 86th Streets.

The Planning Commission move was widely hailed by local pols.

“[A downzoning] will insure that the character and integrity of the neighborhood is maintained for years to come,” said John Quaglione, an aide to state Sen. Marty Golden (R-Bay Ridge).”

The measure was pushed by Community Board 10 and the Dyker Heights Civic Association, and would apply to the roughly 160 blocks, from 62nd to 86th streets, between Seventh and 14th avenues, plus the Seventh Avenue side of Dyker Beach Park (see map above).

The idea of trying to curb neighborhood overcrowding by restricting developers from tearing down houses to build tall condos has gained popularity throughout Brooklyn, with Park Slope, Carroll Gardens and Fort Greene all completing or working on zoning changes recently.

But opponents say that downzoning results in less housing — which is critically needed as Brooklyn grows. Housing advocates say the high cost of real estate is pricing many people out of their neighborhood. Downzoning, they say, limits housing opportunities for both lower- and middle-class residents.

Soon all sides will have an opportunity to make their voices heard: CB 10’s public hearing on the matter is next week.

The Department of City Planning will present the rezoning plan to Community Board 10 and the Dyker Heights Civic Association on April 10 at the Knights of Columbus (1305 86th St. between 13th and 14th avenues), 7 pm. Call (718) 745-6827 for information. On April 16, CB10 will hold a public hearing on the matter at same location at 7:15 pm.

Herbie the cow in Hereford Heaven

Herbie the cow in Hereford Heaven
By Matthew Lysiak
The Brooklyn Paper

From slaughterhouse to vegan cake — all in four short months.

The wayward calf who had authorities in hot pursuit down Fifth Avenue in Bay Ridge has officially given up city life and is busy preparing for a “baby shower” with his new permanent owners.

The calf was transferred from Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary in upstate New York to an eight acre farm in Blairstown, New Jersey on Feb 3.

“It was hard to say goodbye to Herbie,” said Robin Henderson, an animal care giver at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. “But he won’t be going alone, he made a great friend, a two-week-old dairy calf named Kevina, and we are fortunate that they were adopted together.”

The 4-month-old Hereford calf was on the way to the slaughterhouse in December when he escaped into the streets of Bay Ridge, setting off a wild goose chase that briefly cowed local authorities.

The excitement began when “Herbie” saw an opportunity to bolt near a busy Sixth Avenue intersection as the owner attempted to transfer the calf into a truck for the trip to the slaughterhouse.

The commotion was short lived as authorities quickly had the animal tranquilized and in custody, but instead of handing the cow back to the owner, a Christmas miracle of sorts occurred (at least as far as the cow was concerned).

It turned out, the owner did not have the appropriate paperwork to be transporting the calf, so Herbie was confiscated by police and brought to the CACC, which turned him over to the animal sanctuary.

Today, Herbie is living large on the spacious Jersey farm and is getting ready to party, as his new owners are busy planning a baby shower this spring where friends and family will gather to give the calf presents like cow supplies and cow toys, according to Henderson.

“And there will be a cake for Herbie — his new owners are big animal lovers so, of course, it will be all vegan,” said Henderson.

To Herbie, this kind of happy ending might just feel like Hereford Heaven.

“This wonderful couple is a rare breed indeed,” said the Farm Animal Sanctuary Web site about the new owners in a page dedicated to Herbie.

“How many people do you know that have fantasized about having pet cows? Now they’ll never be exploited or mistreated for their flesh, milk, or skin.”

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Welcome to Lysiak's Resource Guide!
Lysiak exposing the lack of security at the Towers pipeline