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A LOOK BACK AT 2011

JANUARY/FEBRUARY

Snow Job

Even though the blizzard that left Brooklynites strandedoccurred in December 2010, the cleanup lasted until well intoJanuary. Despite that, the city reinstated alternate side of thestreet parking, to a clamor of disapproval, as residents said thatif they managed to move their cars from the snowdrifts in whichthey were buried, there was no place to put them.

Then, after the storm, people were left to deal with anotherproblem, potholes.

The potholes, an unknown number of which were caused by thesnow, made driving through neighborhood streets a bumpy anddangerous ride. As a result, additional funds were allocated sothat the potholes could be filled in and the streets repaired. Thevarious holes were set to be filled in from January to April.

Seniors Faced Budget Axe

Senior citizens were hit hard by the news that funding tocenters and programs for the elderly was to be cut.

An estimated 110 senior centers were slated to be closed. Anongoing battle ensued between the seniors of Brooklyn, with thehelp of local officials, and representatives in Albany.

In March, it was decided that senior centers would be spared,causing cheers across Brooklyn and a win for the elderly.

MARCH/APRIL

Acid Attack

A student at Fort Hamilton High School (FHHS) viciously attackeda fellow student with diluted acid in chemistry class.

There were many alleged reasons for the attack, ranging fromjealousy over a boy to a fight in a program both girls were in. Thegirl who had acid poured on her, AlbinaEshimbaeva

The attacker, Zhanna Smsarian

Tortoise to Blame

In an odd turn of events, a pet tortoise was accused ofarson.

The amphibian was responsible for a fire that broke out in aFifth Avenue apartment on March 19. Giovani, the tortoise, is alsoan escape artist who climbed out of his tank, knocking over a heatlamp that fell into a pile of art supplies, igniting the blaze.

No one was in the apartment at the time of the fast-moving fire.Three police officers and one firefighter were treated forinjuries. Giovanni was rescued by fire personnel.

Book ‘Em!

The Fort Hamilton branch of the public library system reopenedits doors on March 28 after undergoing extensive renovations forthree long years.

Local officials including Councilmember VincentGentile and Borough President MartyMarkowitz provided financial support for the project.Residents who had frequented the book haven were anxiously awaitingthe day when it would once again be open.

Patrons piled into the library to check out its new features andwalked out with stacks of novels. The library is located at 9424Fourth Avenue.

Inspirational Couple

Nathan and Elisa Bond capturedthe hearts of Ridgeites when their story went viral in lateMarch.

The pair was diagnosed with stage three colorectal cancer andstage four metastatic breast cancer within days of one another. TheBonds’ close friends and the community rallied around the husbandand wife team, setting up a family trust and offering theirservices, including babysitting the Bond’s daughter Sadie.

To follow the Bonds’ journey and donate, go to their family blogat www. familybondingtime.blogspot.com and the Elisa andNathan Bond Family Trust web page at www.friendsofnathanandelisa.blogspot.com.

Baby Born to Fire Victim

A woman, who was being treated for serious injuries obtainedwhen her Sunset Park apartment building was set on fire, delivereda baby boy.

It was the first time a baby had been born in the burn unit,said Staten Island University Hospital. The fire was allegedlystarted by Chiu Tsang. Forty people were injuredand even more were left without homes in the wake of theconflagration. Amidst the tragedy and displacement, the babyprovided a ray of hope and the sense of a new beginning.

Words Land Teacher in Hot Water

Fort Hamilton High School teacher Sabrina Milowas arrested in late March after making comments that referencedthe Columbine school shooting, saying she would bring a gun intowork to settle some scores.

Some students defended the teacher, saying that she would nevercarry out her threats and that she liked to joke around. Thestudents planned to have a walk-out but the plan was thwarted byschool safety agents.

The charges against Milo were dismissed in April, but, inDecember, she resigned from her post as the Department of Educationsought to fire her. Milo had previously been reassigned forstriking a student’s hand with a ruler.

Bike Lane Debate Spins its Wheels

One issue that graced the pages of The Home Reportermany times was the proposed addition of bike lanes to Bay RidgeParkway.

The community was divided about the cycling-only areas. Someechoed the DOT in saying that the lanes would be a great addition,promoting healthier lifestyles and making roads safer.

However, other residents — with the support of Community Boards10 and 11 — claimed the lanes would be unsafe, as well as being animpediment to traffic.

Stay tuned in 2012, as the bike lane debate continues into thenew year.

MAY/JUNE

Firehouse Closing

The Dyker Heights community and officials rallied to save EngineCompany 284, which was on the list of firehouses set to close dueto budget cuts.

People logged in numerous calls to 311 and circulated petitionsthat were delivered to Mayor MichaelBloomberg.

Hundreds of people came out to support the engine company onJune 2 and their efforts were not in vain as towards the end of themonth Bloomberg announced Engine 284 and others would bespared.

Last of Leske’s

Leske’s Bakery, a staple of Bay Ridge for several decades,closed on May 31.

Local residents were devastated at the news that theestablishment had shut up shop.

At this moment, the spot that Leske’s occupied remainsempty.

Marching Along

The Brooklyn Memorial Day Parade dodged a bullet this year.

The annual commemoration, held for 144 years, was having troublegetting off the ground after government funding for the event wastaken away. However, with the financial support of residents andlocal politicians, organizers were able to gather the funds neededto make the parade happen.

Piping Up

The McKinley Park bathroom was fixed after having been unusablefor three years as the question of who was responsible for fixingit bounced between the Department of Parks & Recreation and theDepartment of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Credit goes to the Dyker Heights Civic Association andCongressmember Michael Grimm for getting theproblem solved and the bathroom restored to working order.

Littered with Problems

At the urging of Community Board 10, the Department ofSanitation (DOS) took away the trash cans from severalintersections along Fourth Avenue.

The initiative was a response to complaints from Bay Ridgeitesabout excess trash spilling onto their sidewalks. But, removal ofthe cans had litter reaching all-time highs in certain places, likethe area around the R train station on 69 Street, and lows inothers.

Due to the high volume of trash by the station, the DOS returnedcans to the corners adjacent to the station. But these weredesigned differently to eliminate residents putting householdgarbage into the bins.

Sunset Park Fights for School

The neighborhood mobilized to battle for the rights of SunsetPark High School (SPHS) to expand in its own building, withoutanother educational institution sharing the space. The school hadshared its space with charter school, Brooklyn Prospect, in a dealthat was supposed two years.

However, as time ran out, the Department of Education claimedthat the school would have to house Brooklyn Prospect for longer.Activists, students and educators were up in arms over thisextension, contending it would overtax resources and put thebuilding over capacity. The issue was resolved when BrooklynProspect was moved to unused space in Bishop Ford High School.

A similar issue arose in Gravesend with I.S. 303. The school wasalready sharing space with Rachel Carson High School, when the DOEannounced plans to move charter school Coney Island Prep into thesame building. In this case, however, the DOE went ahead, overparental objections, buoyed by a legal decision that supported itsplans.

Politicians Resign

In June, Congressmember Anthony Weiner resignedafter weeks of unrelenting media coverage of the sexting scandalthe 46-year-old representative had touched off through hisindiscreet use of Twitter. His vacant congressional seat went toRepublican Bob Turner in a special election.

A few months later, Senator Carl Kruger vacatedthe State Senate seat he held for 16 years-after pleading guilty totwo counts of conspiracy to commit honest services fraud and twocounts of conspiracy to commit bribery. Kruger was indicted alongwith six other individuals. A special election will be held to fillthe gap left by Kruger’s resignation.

Brooklyn Divided

On June 24, Governor Andrew Cuomo and statelawmakers legalized same-sex marriage, making New York the sixthand largest state to grant marriage equality.

Debate over passage of the law split Bay Ridge in two, as somecheered the decisions and others worried about the effects it wouldhave on the community.

Steven Amore of Bay Ridge captured both sidesof the argument saying, To [gay marriage supporters], berespectful to those who don’t share your views and don’timmediately accuse them of being hateful or homophobic. To [thoseagainst it], don’t see the law as a loss or deterioration ofAmerican society, and be patient with the law….Above all, treatone another with love and respect.

JULY/AUGUST

Community Reels after Child’s Murder

The murder of eight-year-old Leiby Kletzky leftBrooklynites stunned.

Kletzky, a Boro Park resident, went missing after attempting towalk home from camp by himself for the first time.

The boy wound up on 18th Avenue where he stopped and asked a manfor directions. The man, Levi Aron

Immediately there was an outpouring of support and a demand fortougher laws and punishments on people who commit crimes againstchildren. On June 24, a candlelight vigil was held for Kletzky anda memorial fund was set up in the boy’s name.

Bus Service

The MTA announced the reinstatement of midtown express busservice from Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights during rush hours, The X37and X38 lines had been removed much to the chagrin of local arearesidents, so their return in July was a matter for rejoicing.

Norway Attacks Reach Ridge

In July, Ridgeites reeled in the wake of terrorist attacks werecarried out on the Norwegian island of Utoya and the city of Oslo.In total, 76 people died in the shooting and bombing allegedlycommitted by Anders Behring Breivik.

Bay Ridge and Norway have a deep rooted connection as thecommunity used to have large Scandinavian population. In November,City Councilmember Vincent Gentile and MayorRichard Ivar Buch of Farsund Municipality inNorway signed a Sister City Agreement that provided a permanentlink between the two areas.

A Norwegian Sunset Maple tree was planted in Leif Ericson Parkto honor the lives lost during the attacks.

Attack of the MuniMeters

In August, the Department of Transportation began installingMuniMeters wherever there were existing parking meters. The newadditions have the DOT, merchants and locals hoping it will free upcurb space and increase the number parking spots on the street.

Earthquake-Hurricane Combo ShocksBrooklynites

Most people living in Brooklyn have never experienced anearthquake or one of its aftershocks. So on August 23, when theground began to move under people’s feet, confusion, panic and fearset in.

Although the shaking lasted approximately 15 seconds, BrooklynBorough Hall, City Hall and other buildings were evacuated. Therewere only minor injuries and damages reported locally.

Less than a week later, Hurricane Irene blew through the area.People in coastal areas of Brooklyn and other boroughs had to beevacuated due to the threat of rising water and storm damage. Twoschools in Dyker Heights, I.S. 187 and I.S. 201, served as sheltersfor people displaced by Irene.

Local officials were on hand to help give out supplies and thecity’s response to the storm was heightened, possibly due to themishandling of the 2010 winter blizzard.

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER

Brooklynites remember September 11

Memorial services, church masses, vigils and performances wereheld in the days leading up to September 11 to mark the 10thanniversary of the attack.

The events were held by various organizations, with one goal inmind, to remember the people who died on the day that ispermanently etched into everyone’s memories.

On that day, officials and residents gathered in Cannonball Parkand on the 69th Street Pier, as they do every year, to participatein a ceremony and a candlelight vigil.

Bay Ridge in Film

This year, Bay Ridge was featured in the shows Pan Am andBlue Bloods, as well as the independent film Ten-BuckBaton.

But, the most controversial filming in Bay Ridge occurred whenBrooklyn Crew cameras started rolling in October. Brooklyn Crew,a documentary style show slated to air on the Oxygen network, isabout two groups of girls looking to be queens of Bay Ridge.

When news of the show broke, some were displeased about theimage the show would project to people who are not nativeRidgeites. Pan Am and Blue Bloods received a much warmerwelcome.

Neighborhoods on Edge

Beginning in the spring, and continuing through the summer,there was a rash of sexual assaults in southwest Brooklyn, with agroper or gropers on the loose in Greenwood Heights, Sunset Parkand south Park Slope.

There were numerous arrests and accusations but no one was evercharged with all the attacks. This led to a flurry of communityactivism and an increase in the number of police patrolling theareas.

Hinsch’s Closed and Reopened

The famous ‘50s and ‘60s-inspired diner closed in September tothe disappointment of people all over Brooklyn.

Many had fond memories of visiting the 63-year-old Bay Ridgeeatery at 86 Street and Fifth Avenue. But, residents didn’t have tomourn for long.

Only a couple of weeks later, it was announced thatGerard Bell and Roger Desmond

BJ’s Comes to Bensonhurst

The City Council gave the green light to Thor Equities, LLC tobuild a shopping center with BJ’s as its anchor store along ShoreParkway adjacent to Caesar’s Bay.

Local residents and Community Board 11 were excited for the newaddition in anticipation for bargain shopping, new jobopportunities and development.

Deer Spotted…Under the Bridge?

The woodland animals had to be rescued from the water, rocks andbike path underneath the Verrazano Bridge.

One deer was spotted going under the water while another climbedonto the rocks and got stuck between the metal railings of the bikepath. After the trapped deer was rescued, two more deer were seenin the water.

All of the animals were captured and brought to New York City’sAnimal Care and Control center in East New York. Due to injuriessustained in its escape attempt, the bike path deer had to beeuthanized.

Another Landmark Closed its Doors

Cangiano’s sold its last loaf of bread on October 7 to thedismay of Bay Ridgeites.

Word of the closing came only a day before the market shut itsdoors for good. Local residents flocked to the store and emptiedthe shelves of the specialty items Cangiano’s was famous forstocking.

The demise of the market, a week after Hinsch’s closed (albeittemporarily), prompted people to ask Who’s next?

Cops Arrested in FBI Sting

Six 68th Precinct cops — three current and three retired –were arrested in connection with a smuggling ring.

Police Officers William MassoEddieGoris and John Mahoney and retired PoliceOfficers Joseph TrischittaMarcoVenezia and Richard Melnik were amongthose charged in October with bringing illegal guns and stolen andcounterfeit items from New Jersey to New York.

They are currently awaiting trial.

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER

Botanical Garden Vandalized

A memorial at Narrows Botanical Gardens honoring BarbaraForan and Thalia Pizzarello

Poly Prep and Battery Avenue Face Off

A Poly Prep Day School proposal to erect a fence on a section ofBattery Avenue – ostensibly to cut down on crime in the area andaround the school — had residents furious as the fence wouldeliminate already scarce parking spots. They were also upset thatthe school’s rationale had brought some bad publicity to the quietstreet.

The showdown came to a head at a Community Board 10 meeting;after some fierce debate, a Poly Prep representative pulled theproposal and vowed to have more open communication with theneighborhood.

Occupy Everywhere

The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement sparked similar protestsin Brooklyn, and a new group, Occupy Sunset Park.

The original OWS — whose home base was Manhattan’s ZuccottiPark — captured national attention with its focus on the 99percent and corporate greed.

Scary Weeks in Ridge

There was a bomb threat made against the 68th Precinct in thesecond week of December when a man walked into the precinct andallegedly said that he had a bomb in the plastic bag he wascarrying as well as in a van parked on Fort Hamilton Parkway.

The bomb turned out to be fake, but the alleged perpetrator wascharged with making terrorist threats and placing a false bomb.

The following week, there was a bomb scare outside Colandrea NewCorner Restaurant at 72nd Street and Eighth Avenue.

A briefcase left on a traffic island, later found to containpapers, roused suspicions and the police were called. Dining insidethe restaurant at the time of the commotion were SenatorMartin Golden and police and fire personnel whowere celebrating the eatery’s 75th anniversary.

The same week, a white powdery substance was mailed to the AngelGuardian Home. A Hazmat team was called in to investigate thesubstance, which was determined to be non-lethal.

Brooklyn Celebrates in a Big Way

The holiday season was full of lightings, parties, visits fromSanta and charitable donations.

As usual, Dyker Heights was the place to be for holiday lightsenthusiasts. Whenever someone mentions the neighborhood, the firstthought that comes to mind is the fantastical displays of holidayspirit.

In addition to homes being brightened, numerous churches heldtree lighting ceremonies to celebrate Christmas and honor lovedones by donating trees in their names. The arboreal splendorsfeatured on the grounds of local churches were truly a sight to seein the past month.

Sexual Assaults

On December 23, a man allegedly sodomized a teenage boy afterrepresenting himself as a cop at a Sunset Park subway station andtaking him by van to 92nd Street and Dahlgren Place.

Six days later, the police arrested StevenPappas

OBITUARIES

In February, former Brooklyn Dodger’s player EdwinDuke Snider died, leaving behind a lasting baseballlegacy. Snider used to hit home runs out of Ebbets Field, landingthem on Bedford Avenue, before moving to California with theDodgers. In 1963, Snider returned to New York, this time to playwith the Mets before bouncing back to San Francisco for theGiants.

Bay Ridgeite Tom Kane also died in February atthe age of 53. Everyone who knew Kane had nothing but good thingsto say about his larger-than-life personality and involvement inthe community. Kane cofounded BrooklynONE Theater and Film. Kanewas a local theater performer and wrote a weekly column titledCitizen Kane for the Bay Ridge Eagle.

Home Reporter founder and long-time publisherJames Frank Griffin died in March. Born in 1927in Washington, D.C., Griffin started the Home Reporter in1956 and purchased its main competitor, The BrooklynSpectator

New York Governor Hugh Carey died at the age of92 in August. Carey was probably best known from saving New YorkCity from financial collapse in 1975. Before becoming governor,Carey served in Congress for seven terms, representing the areas ofBay Ridge and Park Slope, and everything in between.

Jeannette Cassone

Former State Senator Christopher Mega also diedin October. Mega served the 50th Assembly District in the 1970s andas state senator between 1979 and 1993. After that, Mega acted aschief judge of the state Court of Claims.

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