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Stableton?!

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Residents of a seven-square-block micro-neighborhood south of Prospect Park are succeeding in their quest to have the community renamed “Stable Brooklyn” — yes, that’s the name of the neighborhood, not the local bumper-sticker slogan.

Sure, some opponents think the name is uppity — and, perhaps more important, local real-estate brokers haven’t latched on yet — but city officials have adopted the locution that evokes a political message as much as the appeal of a barnyard.

“Stable Brooklyn is a small neighborhood with significant character and charm,” Councilman Bill DeBlasio (D–Carroll Gardens) said in a press release last week, supporting residents who want to restrict the size of new buildings in the area bounded by Caton Avenue, Prospect Expressway, Coney Island Avenue and Ocean Parkway.

The Department of City Planning also uttered the name in recent documents about a proposed rezoning of an area that many residents know as Kensington, but the agency is reluctant to rankle the territorial nature of cantankerous Brooklynites.

“This is a tempest in a teapot — City Planning is not in the business of defining neighborhood names; we work closely with communities, to preserve the character of their self-identified neighborho­ods,” said Jennifer Torres, a spokeswoman for the agency. “In this seven-block area of Brooklyn, residents agree on the need to preserve the character of this area, by any name.”

But in Brooklyn, your neighborhood says something about your identity.

The local community preferred to let sleeping dogs lie rather than potentially stir up a turf war like the Jets versus the Sharks.

“You can’t call one block this neighborhood and the next block another neighborhood without someone taking offense,” said Jeremy Laufer, district manager of Community Board 7, which covers a vast area once known as South Brooklyn, but now is broken up into neighborhoods such as Windsor Terrace, Sunset Park and the South Slope.

Real-estate brokers, known for latching onto innovative neighborhood names to forge that identity to increase their profit, are dubious for once.

“It sounds weird. I love the horses, but [the name suggests] a block that’s messy,” said Mary Mulkahey, an agent in Park Terrace Properties. “It has a country ring to it, but I’m not sold on it.”

Anyone who doubts that a name with malodorous connotations can catch on needs only look to the Meatpacking District in Manhattan to see that smelly, gory pasts can be cleansed into a trendy barrio (which, ironically, is exactly what the community group rallying behind “Stable Brooklyn” want to avoid).

The relatively young Stable Brooklyn Community Group wants to deter real estate agents and developers from taking an interest in their corner.

“When we formed in 2005, it was sort of a pun of what we hoped to achieve,” said Mandy Harris, a founding member of the Stable Brooklyn Community Group.

The group, which makes names like DUMBO and East Williamsburg sound like ancient areas, coalesced when the sole heir to the pungent and hay-strewn heyday that gave the organization its name, the Kensington Stables on Caton Place, was reduced to one stall after developers tore down its “old gray barn” to make way for luxury condos.

While real-estate dealers downplayed the appeal of Stable Brooklyn, Harris told The Brooklyn Paper that her group caught some flak from neighbors in Kensington, a name that pays homage to the equestrian past, too. Some residents there criticized the Stable Brooklyn group for trying to break away from the rest of neighborhood, as if they were too good to be lumped in with polyglot and working-class Kensington.

Harris said they’re not secessionists because wide boulevards and highways perforated them long ago.

“We’re bordered by all the big streets,” and “we feel isolated from other parts of Brooklyn.”

In other words, stable.

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Reader Feedback

Pat from Clinton says:
Yeah, good luck with that renaming thing.
Dec. 18, 2008, 8:33 pm
Haha from Former "Stableton" resident says:
I find this artice and the accompanying picture hilarious. I jsut moved out of the area in the last year. Nice picture that actually shows people working on that building that they had to tear down the other stable for. Work slowed last year to almost nonexistent and caused thw whole area to lose parking spots and major inconveniences. Maybe they could also get started on the empty lot across from that as well...sits there with no security for the buildings--hence the reason I was robbed along with 6 other appartments 2 years ago! Long live overpricing adn gentrification in Brooklyn.
Dec. 19, 2008, 12:41 pm
Mandy Harris from Windsor Terrace / Kensington says:
Wow. I just want to say that our community group is not on a "quest" to rename anything. I never said that. What I did say to Mr. McLaughlin was that the name came about because when we organized our neighborhood group it was in response to out of scale development. We were setting up a website and we needed a domain name, quite frankly. The pun seemed to fit because it fit with our goals of trying to stabilize the flux that was occurring around us and it incorporated the stables, one of the defining features of the area.

It is true that the area does seem cut off from other parts of Windsor Terrace (of which it is technically a part) because of the high-volume streets surrounding it. We also feel more aligned with Kensington because of the particularly large road to our north (a Moses-era entrance ramp). If it works as a designation, so be it, but that was not our intention. We were merely trying to be descriptive. City Planning picked it up and included it in the ULURP; I imagine that is because we were so active as a group in getting our ideas heard.

If anyone wants to know more about the community plan we developed, feel free to read our report at (you know) www.stablebrooklyn.com

Thanks!
Dec. 19, 2008, 9:19 pm
Mandy Harris from Windsor Terrace / Kensington says:
In case my letter to the editor is not published, here it is for you all to read:

To the Editor:

I am annoyed by Mr. McLaughlin's recent story regarding my neighborhood. He interviewed me because he was interested in what he believed to be a new neighborhood name and he wanted to know where it came from.

I told him that that the name actually belonged to our community group and not to the neighborhood. When we organized in response to out-of-scale development in 2005, we were setting up a website and we needed a domain name, quite frankly. The pun seemed to fit because it reflected our goals of trying to stabilize the flux that was occurring around us and it incorporated the stables, one of the defining features of the area. End of story.

Mr. McLaughlin must have felt this was not a good enough story, so he invented his own, imagining that our group was on a re-naming quest and that there were people in favor and against it, etc. A complete fabrication and a telling indication of Mr. McLaughlin's inability to see the real story here.

Our group's energy (and imagination) has been spent on pursuing things that matter--zoning to protect our homes and ensure diversity in our neighborhood as well as traffic, pedestrian, bicycle, and equestrian safety improvements for residents and visitors to the area.

I can only guess that our community group's name became associated with the area because we were so active in getting our ideas heard. It is a reflection of that and nothing more. As for the term in the title, "Stableton," that must also be of Mr. McLaughlin's creation. I have never heard that name before.

Regrettably, if this letter is published, I know it will do too little to correct the errors and misconceptions already boradcast by his article. I urge you, then, as editors, to impress upon your reporters the need to report the news and not invent it.

Thank you for your time.

Mandy Harris
Dec. 20, 2008, 1:16 pm

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