Brooklyn’s biggest news stories of 2018

The time has come to close the books on another news-packed 365 days in Brooklyn. And what a year it was! State officials with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority dropped April 27, 2019 as the official start date for the “L-pocalypse.” Brooklyn’s school-zone speed cameras switched off in July due to inaction from some state pols — and switched on a month later under a temporary scheme hatched by Gov. Cuomo and Mayor DeBlasio. Federal officials detained a pizza delivery man at Fort Hamilton Army Base, bringing the national conversation over immigration laws to the streets of Bay Ridge. And the new owners of the old Pavilion Theater reopened it as Nitehawk Prospect Park days before Christmas, giving an early present to local cinephiles. But wait, there’s more! Relive what else happened in the year of our Lord, two thousand and eighteen, in our year in review:


Extra-special delivery! Brooklyn’s first baby of 2018, Joshua Miguel Brito, arrived at 12:25 am at Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Woodhull Medical Center on Jan. 1. The New Year’s Day birth of the little miracle weighing six pounds and 14 ounces was particularly special for his family, because he entered the world six years after his great-grandmother left it when she died on the very same day.

You’re out: Coney Islanders called for Assemblywoman Pamela Harris to resign after prosecutors indicted her on Jan. 9 for stealing thousands of dollars from the city and federal agencies, crimes a jury later convicted of. Prosecutors charged the now disgraced pol with fraud and witness tampering as part of a scheme to steal $30,000 in city funds, and thousands more in superstorm Sandy recovery aid, and her constituents demanded she should give up her seat for the sake of public trust.

They’re electric! The city rolled out a tiny test fleet of ten electric buses on Jan. 8, as part of an initiative to modernize its bus system The environmentally friendly buses shuttled riders of the B32, which travels from Williamsburg to Queens, as well as straphangers on other routes in Queens and Manhattan. The pilot fleet of gas-free buses, which the state deployed in a three-year test program, could be beefed up to include of 60 zero-emission vehicles, according to Gov. Cuomo.

Case closed: The district attorney decided not to press charges against the garbage-truck driver who hit and killed a 27-year-old cyclist in Greenpoint in July 2017. Eric Gonzalez on Jan. 9 declared there wasn’t enough evidence to charge the worker for private carter Action Carting after investigators’ nearly six-month probe into the incident, even after that probe found the driver was behind the wheel without the proper license when he fatally struck Neftaly Ramirez. Gonzalez’s announcement came months after police closed their investigation into the fatal crash.


Gassed: Parents slammed the city for not doing enough to protect pedestrians from motorists using a Fourth Avenue gas station near a Sunset Park school that they called a “death trap.” The moms and dads said they and their tykes enrolled at PS 172 must dodge careless drivers who speed into the Speedway gas station, often illegally driving on the sidewalk to reach its pumps. Months later, in April, the city’s Department of Transportation initiated safety improvements, including the installation of granite blocks granite-block barricades outside the station, and Speedway employees painted arrows clearly marking where cars should enter and exit the lot.

Caribbean dream: The beloved Caribbean marketplace, Flatbush Caton Market, reopened inside a new, temporary space, after vacating its old location last summer. Hundreds of shoppers celebrated its reopening on Clarendon Road, where it will remain until builders finish constructing its new permanent digs at the bottom of an in-development residential high-rise on the market’s former site.

Sad day: A United Parcel Service driver fatally crashed into a 27-year-old woman just feet from the Brooklyn Hospital Center on Feb. 17. Sumiah Ali was crossing Ashland Place in Fort Greene when the driver turned right onto the street and struck her around 6:30 pm. Cops said Ali entered the crosswalk when the “Do not walk” signal was flashing, but drivers are required by law to give pedestrians the right of way when a signal is flashing. The driver, who remained at the scene, was not immediately arrested by police.

Big house: Longtime Marine Parkers blasted the city for letting the owners of a small one-family home in the residential neighborhood supersize it into what they called a multi-family monstrosity. Locals said the six-family Kimball Street residence is completely out of character with the rest of the area’s quaint homes, and that the house sticks out like a sore thumb thanks to a cluster of gas meters in the front and a mess of ductless air-conditioning units on the side. And some worried that the home could start a trend of building bigger in Marine Park, crowding it with new developments like those rising in nearby Sheepshead Bay.

Island hoppers: Gov. Cuomo announced the state would shell out $6 million in taxpayer funds to bring the New York Islanders’ hockey team’s former home, Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum, up to National Hockey League codes so the squad can spend nearly half of their next three seasons competing at their old haunt ahead of its permanent move from the Barclays Center to a new arena at Belmont Park in the outer borough of Queens. The Islanders are expected to hit the ice in their outer-borough digs in time for the 2021–22 season.


Modern makeover: The Brooklyn Public Library announced a series of multi-million dollar changes to the Central Branch, beginning with the construction of a new lobby space. Library leaders allocated $35 million for the new welcome center — named after the late Brooklyn Congressman Major Owens, a former local librarian — construction of which began in April. Building the Major Owens Welcome Center, which is expected to open in 2020, is the first of four phases in a larger renovation of the reading room — a decade-long project that will in total cost some $135 million, and includes building a space for teenagers at the branch, opening up a new basement floor, and building a landscaped deck over the book lender’s back lot that provides direct paths to the nearby Mount Prospect park and Brooklyn Botanical Garden.

Tragedy: A driver hit and killed two children — and injured their mothers, one of whom was pregnant, along with another man — when she rolled through a red light on Ninth Street and slammed into the pedestrians as they crossed Fifth Avenue in Park Slope on March 5. Prosecutors in May charged Staten Island motorist Dorothy Bruns with reckless manslaughter for the deaths of 1-year-old Joshua Lew and 4-year-old Abigail Blumenstein — whose mother, Tony Award–winning actress Ruthie Ann Miles, lost her unborn baby due to injuries sustained in the crash days after the charges were announced. Bruns, whom prosecutors alleged knew not to get behind the wheel at the advice of her doctors, spent time on Rikers Island following her indictment, because she could not make bail. And the case met a sudden, tragic end in November, when a friend discovered Bruns dead from an apparent suicide in her Staten Island home.

Behind bars: A federal judge sentenced Sheepshead Bay native and “pharma bro” Martin Shkreli to seven years behind bars on March 9, more than six months after a jury convicted him of fraud for running a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme under the guise of a hedge fund. The Sheepshead Bay native defrauded his investors out of more than $10 million and formerly ran the drug company Retrophin, famously earning the nickname “The Most Hated Man in America” after jacking up the price of a drug for AIDS patients from $13.50 to $750 per pill in 2015.

Caught up with him: A city watchdog agency slapped Former District Attorney Charles Hynes with the highest fine it ever dealt for illegal campaign-related activities on March 27. The $40,000 fine from the city’s Conflict of Interest Board came after Hynes admitted to abusing his government e-mail during a contentious 2013 re-election bid he ultimately lost. The Flatbush native sent more than 5,000 emails to newspapers, campaign managers, political consultants, donors, and more from his municipal account to defeat opponent Ken Thompson — who won the race, but died two years into his term in 2016.

Raise the hoof: The new owner of Kensington Stables unveiled plans to turn the barn into a “state of the art” horse-riding facility for Prospect Park-goers. Red Hook industrialist John Quadrozzi, Jr., who is renaming the facility Prospect Park Stables, asked the city to sign off an application to upzone the property, so he can build seven new stories atop the stables, creating 12 rental units that will earn revenue to maintain the beloved barn.


Read all about it! Schneps Community News Group papers cleaned up at the New York Press Association’s conference and awards ceremony in Albany. Our sister publication the Brooklyn Paper won first-place for headline writing, beating out some 156 newspapers across the state. In addition, sister publication the Bay Ridge Courier won first-place for best front page; reporters Julianne Cuba and Julianne McShane earned a second-place prize for their coverage of the heated race to replace Councilman Vincent Gentile; and McShane and former reporter Caroline Spivack won honorable mention for their stories about an oil spill in Gravesend Bay.

Fiery suicide: A Windsor Terrace man burned himself to death in Prospect Park on April 14, leaving behind charred remains that horrified people passing by. David Buckel, 60 — who earned national acclaim for his work as an attorney serving the LGBTQ community — described his decision to take his life as a protest against humanity’s destruction of the environment in a suicide note, which he distributed to media outlets, including The New York Times.

Throw it back! The Feds in charge of cleansing the fetid Gowanus Canal announced they and state officials would install new signs along the waterway that warn anglers about the dangers of catching and eating marine life found in it, after concerned locals with the Gowanus Community Advisory Group pushed for the placards. But the signs’ announcement spurred a months-long back-and-forth over the language used on them, which the locals demanded should ban fishing and eating fish outright — something state health officials said they could not do due to lack of available data on just how tainted the species in the Gowanus are. The Gowanusaurs ultimately — almost — got their way with the state in October agreeing to put signs that say no fishing or crabbing, no swimming, and use caution while boating. But some still claimed the placards did not go far enough because they specifically do not ban eating canal creatures, too.

Bye booze cruises: City and state pols on April 24 announced they would finally give the infamous booze cruises that set sail from Sheepshead Bay the heave-ho. The electeds set a Sept. 1 deadline for all the vessels to dock elsewhere, which, while months after the mayor’s previously promised deadline of before summer 2018, still came as good news to residents after years complaints about the rowdy party boats.


Spruced-up space: Brooklyn Botanic Garden leaders announced plans to give a hill overlooking the sprawling flower bed a makeover, giving patrons new ways to access the garden’s “Overlook” — a 1.25-acre mound which boasts views of the Cherry Esplanade. The work, which includes carving winding pathways from the esplanade foot of the Overlook to its summit, and installing built-in seating on those paths, kicked off in July and is expected to wrap next summer.

Borrow a tune: Brooklyn Public Library leaders kicked off the reading room’s first instrument-lending program on May 23, through which members could borrow one of five sound makers — acoustic guitar, ukulele, violin, electronic keyboard, and practice drum pads — and play it at home for two months at a time. The instruments came with practice books, tuners, and other accessories to help borrowers start making music. The program’s pilot run topped the charts, according to library leaders, who said they hoped to secure funding to make it permanent.

Unwanted changes: Sheepshead Bay residents lamented what they called booming development along the neighborhood’s namesake thoroughfare, claiming new commercial buildings on Sheepshead Bay Road destroyed the area’s small-town feel. Locals also accused the new developments of pricing out the mom-and-pop shops that once characterized Sheepshead Bay Road.

Watch out! New signs on a bicycling corridor in Prospect Park — which officials installed to make the path safer for bikers after Mayor DeBlasio’s ban all traffic in the park started in January — sent one cyclist to the hospital after he crashed into one on May 31, within a week of its arrival. Rather than putting the signs on the sides of the West Drive, critics claimed city transit gurus placed them in the middle of the pavement, creating an obstacle for cyclists who may not be expecting a placard-bearing metal pole in their path — like the man who plowed his bike into the sign near Vanderbilt Playground. Department of Transportation reps said workers moved the signs from the middle of the road following the bike accident.


Not so special delivery: Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials on June 1 detained an undocumented immigrant delivering pizza to Fort Hamilton Army Base. Base officials handed over Pablo Villavicencio-Calderon — who worked for Queens eatery Nonna Delia’s, and made monthly deliveries to Fort Hamilton — because they discovered an active warrant on file from the federal immigration agency while doing a background check to grant him a temporary entrance pass, because he allegedly lacked the proper military identification required for entry, according to a spokeswoman for the base. A federal judge, however, stayed the deportation of Villavicencio-Calderon in July, demanding he be immediately released from detention because even though he was in the country illegally, he had always abided by the law. And the Feds ultimately dropped their deportation case against Villavicencio-Calderon in October.

Girl gone: A driver fatally hit 4-year-old girl while pulling out of a Bushwick laundromat’s parking lot on June 24, then fled the scene. But cops, who caught up with the motorist about a block away from the deadly hit-and-run, did not immediately arrest her. Days after the motorist hit and killed Luz Gonzalez, her family and friends marched through Bushwick demanding justice for the girl, with Borough President Adams demanding the driver be held accountable for fleeing the deadly scene. The district attorney’s investigation into the incident is still ongoing, according to a spokesman.

Sugar rush: Fans of the great outdoors flocked to the Williamsburg waterfront on June 10 to be among the first to step inside the newly finished park at the old Domino Sugar factory campus on its opening day. The six-acre Domino Park, built and owned by private developer Two Trees, but open to the public, includes a volleyball and two bocce courts, a dog run, Japanese-style garden, dedicated kids’ and picnic spaces, and a taco stand run by the restaurateur behind Shake Shack. The green space was the second of the larger development site’s many components to open, following the debut of its donut-shaped tower at 325 Kent Ave., which residents moved into last summer.

Molto bene! The city’s first Italian-American community center, “Il Centro,” finally opened its doors in Bensonhurst on June 21, nearly a decade after the project was first announced. The center’s first floor, which includes classrooms, is open to the public, and its upper floors, available to due-paying members, include a gym, basketball court, pool, and soon-to-come rooftop garden.

Passionate protestors: Hundreds of teens dressed in orange, the color of solidarity adopted by leading gun-law reform groups including Moms Demand Action, marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to advocate gun-law reform and demand lawmakers pass legislation to prevent more shootings. The advocates walked hand-in-hand across the steel bridge to Manhattan, with some carrying a symbolic white casket and others brandishing posters that read “The Scariest Thing in School Should be My Grades.”


Camera shy: All 140 of the city’s school-zone speed cameras stopped doling out tickets to drivers on July 25, after the state Senate failed to pass legislation extending the cameras’ use before the upper chamber ended its session in June. Activists blasted the Republican pols who led the state Senate — including Bay Ridge state Sen. Marty Golden — for not heeding Gov. Como’s call for them to convene a special session to extend the speed-camera law before it expired, with some supporters hosting protests outside legislators’ offices decrying the loss of the technology that they claimed saves kids’ lives. Roughly a month later, Cuomo and Mayor DeBlasio in August together worked out a temporary plan to turn the cameras back on before school resumed in September, but that scheme— which relies on a gubernatorial executive order — did not absolve the state Senate from the responsibility of voting on legislation that would preserve the program, something it has not yet done.

Chopped: Fans of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden blasted the green space’s leaders after they cut down a stately old London plane tree in favor of a younger plant, calling the decision arboreal ageism. Garden workers claimed the mature tree was hazardous and susceptible to collapse, since it contained a cavernous hole in its trunk — a feature that made the tree beloved by youngsters, who could hide from their parents in it.

All aboard! The city launched the first super-sized boat in its fleet of ferries that shuttle commuters across the East River. The 350-seat vessel started sailing the Rockaway route on July 21, going back and forth between Queens and Manhattan with a stop at the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park. One-way passage on the ferry, named the “Ocean Queen Rockstar” by young students at a Queens public school, costs $2.75 — the same as a ride on any other city ferry, or subway. It was the first of six 350-capacity vessels to join the NYC Ferry fleet.

Cracking the code: Manhattan Beachers cheered a local high-school student who won a prestigious global competition with his invention of a password generator and manager that helps prevent hackers from stealing peoples’ passwords. Leonard Melnik, 16, took home the Leonardo da Vinci Prize for high-school students in the Inventor’s Challenge — an international innovation competition with more than 240 entries this year — for his program, which he said he was inspired to create after seeing friends and family repeatedly complain about forgetting their many passwords and being unable to protect their online accounts.


The rest is history: Prospect Heights civic gurus collected signatures from more than 1,000 people in support of their push to create a new historic district in the neighborhood. The successful campaign was an important milestone in the push to create the so-called Prospect Heights Apartment House Historic District because, according to proponents, who say it will show just how much the public approves of the effort when it comes time to convince local community board members, pols, and city preservationists on the Landmarks Preservation Commission to sign off on the scheme.

Done deal: A private builder became the official owner of Dyker Heights’s sprawling Angel Guardian home after he and the Sisters of Mercy closed the $37.5-million deal on the property on Aug. 15. Developer Scott Barone’s plans for the site include building market-rate, affordable, and senior housing on the property, along with a school, which he said will help make the century-old orphanage a cornerstone of the community again. The nuns, who operated the former orphanage at the Dyker Heights building until the 1970s, first put the property up for sale in 2016, when they could no longer afford to keep up the city-block-sized campus.

Derailed dreams: Mayor DeBlasio admitted his $2.5-billion waterfront trolley connecting Sunset Park and Queens would not be possible without federal funding, putting the fate of his beloved BQX project in the hands of President Trump. The mayor first claimed the transit system would pay for itself via tax revenue generated by a surge of development along its 14-mile track, but has now said additional support is needed to green-light the project. Weeks after the mayor turned to the Feds for money, a trio of Congressional Brooklyn pols from both parties said mayor should not hold his breath for federal cash for his trolley, citing the need for more details about the project and Trump’s slow-moving infrastructure agenda.

Kids are alright: Two goats found roaming the N-train tracks near the Hamilton Parkway and New Utrecht Avenue-62nd Street stations in Dyker Heights were rescued and sent to an upstate rescue farm — thanks to the help of comedian Jon Stewart, who took custody of the animals following their rescue by cops and Metropolitan Transportation Authority workers. Stewart and his wife Tracey picked the kids up from a city animal-care center after police tranquilized and removed them from the tracks, and then transported them to a bucolic rescue farm in upstate New York.


Premium parking: Officials hiked metered street-parking fees in Kings County on Sept. 4, in an effort to free up curb space in some of Brooklyn’s most-congested neighborhoods. Parking rates doubled from $1 to $2 per hour in select areas, including Downtown, Brooklyn Heights, and Park Slope, while other areas’ hourly rates increased from $1 to $1.50, and still others went from $1 to $1.25. The fee spikes were the first to take effect in five years, and match other major cities’ hourly street-parking rates, according to city officials.

New faces of your local paper: Schneps Communications, a local family-run business owned by Victoria and Joshua Schneps, acquired Community News Group and NYC Community Media, combining the three leading local media companies serving the five boroughs of New York City into one firm with unrivaled reach in the five boroughs of New York City, as well as Long Island and Westchester.

She’s Miss America! Brooklynite and former Miss New York Nia Imani Franklin was crowned Miss America in faraway New Jersey’s Atlantic City on Sept. 9. The new Miss America originally hails from North Carolina, but lived in New York for a year, most recently calling Clinton Hill home. Franklin, who won the title of Miss Five Boroughs less than a year after a moving here, then took the crown of Miss New York this past July, which allowed her to move on to the final Miss America stage.

Arsonist charged: Federal prosecutors charged a Flatlands man with damaging more than 135 vehicles owned by various local car dealerships when he allegedly intentionally set a fire that ripped through the Kings Plaza Shopping Center’s parking garage on Sept. 17. The fire raged for more than three hours in the garage — where the dealerships stored their rides on some floors — injuring some 26 people, including 20 firefighters, before New York’s Bravest put it out.

Stamp of approval: A Council subcommittee on Sept. 20 unanimously voted to approve the rezoning requested by a developer in order to erect the controversial five-building 80 Flatbush complex at the edge of Boerum Hill, after the builder reduced the size of its massive project in order to win the local pol’s key vote. Alloy Development agreed to cut the floor-area ratio of the complex — which contains nearly 900 apartments, roughly 200 of which are so-called affordable, two new schools, and cultural and commercial space —from 18 to 15.75, and Councilman Stephen Levin said the shrinkage will result in a development that can retain its public benefits and is more appropriate for the lot he previously stressed must be transitional between Boerum Hill’s Brownstones and Downtown’s skyscrapers

Promen-nada! Transit leaders announced the Brooklyn Heights Promenade might become a speedway for Brooklyn-Queens Expressway traffic in order for the city to complete its looming reair to the roadway’s crumbling triple cantilever. The plan to turn the Promenade into a six-lane speedway through Brooklyn Heights for no less than six years was one of two officials announced they are considering on Sept. 20, with the other being to refurbish the triple cantilever on a lane-by-lane basis and close the Promenade for a shorter period of time. The city claimed the latter option wouldn’t be completed until 2029 — three years after experts warned the expressway would start to crumble beneath the weight of the thousands of trucks that travel it daily. Sending traffic along the Promenade, however, would allow the job to finish by 2026, according to officials, who claimed both options would cost between $3 and $4 billion.


Not for teacher: Hundreds of Brooklyn College students demanded that school officials fire a faculty member over his blog post defending controversial Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — or any man accused of sexual assault during high-school years — at an Oct. 4 protest. The students insisted that the school’s administration fire Mitchell Langbert, an associate professor at the college’s business school, after he wrote that committing sexual assault in high school is part of being a man in a post shared amid the Senate’s confirmation of Kavanagh, whom federal officials ultimately swore into the nation’s top court on Oct. 6.

His two cents: Mayor DeBlasio on Oct. 12 told WNYC radio host Brian Lehrer that he preferred the plan to turn the Brooklyn Heights Promenade into a speedway for cars and trucks during repairs to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway’s triple cantilever, worrying locals that the city already decided how to proceed with the job even as other officials claimed more options were still on the table. DeBlasio, who called his preferred option the “Band-Aid approach,” claimed it is the most time-efficient solution in explaining his endorsement on Lehrer’s program.

Parking it: Officials announced the city will break ground on a long-delayed scheme to build a new Downtown park and vending-machine-style parking facility beneath it in January. Economic Development Corporation bigwigs — who are overseeing the creation of Willoughby Square Park and the garage below it, both of which the city promised to build when it controversially upzoned much of the neighborhood in 2004 — said they plan to quickly advance the project after the local community board on Oct. 17 issued its second and final approval for a special permit first authorized 14 years ago. News of the ground-breaking followed a July announcement that the garage’s developer shrunk the facility from three to two levels, reducing its parking spaces from 694 to 467.

Violent robbery: Police on Oct. 9 arrested two people for a violent home invasion in Marine Park the day before. The 20-year-old male and 25-year-old female suspects, plus a third male suspect, broke into the Madison Place home of a retired police lieutenant, attacked the 72-year-old former cop with a boxcutter, sexually assaulted his 71-year-old wife, and stole the couple’s car, according to authorities. Police charged the two with attempted murder, assault, burglary, grand larceny, and criminal possession of a weapon. And weeks later, cops cuffed their third suspect on Nov. 20, slapping him with charges including murder, robbery, assault, burglary, sex abuse, unlawful imprisonment, and stealing a car.

Feeling the heat: The city’s Department of Buildings on Oct. 11 issued violations to the owners of Kings Plaza Shopping Center for illegally using its parking garage to store cars for local dealerships, a practice brought to light when the September fire inside the mall’s garage damaged more than a hundred cars. The parking garage only allows for shoppers and mall employees’ parking, and not for vehicle storage, according to the garage’s certificate of occupancy.

Back in business: Prospect-Lefferts Gardens blogger Tim Thomas on Oct. 15 returned to publishing his “Q at Parkside” blog days after shutting it down on Oct. 5 in the face of a public protest over his alleged racism. Thomas abruptly announced the end of his blog in order to stop local anti-gentrification activist Alicia Boyd, a frequent target of the author’s criticism, from proclaiming him a racist at an event hosted by his employer. But the blogger in an Oct. 14 post claimed his vow to never again cover his neighborhood — along with Crown Heights, Ditmas Park, and Flatbush — was simply a ruse to distract his rival while he devised an iron-clad legal strategy to defend himself against Boyd’s smear campaign.

Brooklyn bomber: Federal officers arrested a former Brooklynite for allegedly mailing no less than a dozen bombs to news organizations, politicians, and activists often criticized by President Trump. The suspect started his alleged maniacal mass-mailing on Oct. 22, sending a homemade explosive device to the home of billionaire George Soros, a donor to Democratic causes and frequent Trump target.

Here comes L: Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials on Oct. 30 announced they will stop Brooklyn–Manhattan L-train service on April 27, 2019, to begin their 15-month repairs of the subway’s East River–spanning tube — roughly six and a half years after the infrastructure sustained significant damage during superstorm Sandy. Months later, Gov. Cuomo took a late-night, and arguably last minute, tour of the so-called Canarsie Tube with engineering experts in December to see if there is any way to speed up the planned fix, but told locals not to get their hopes up for any big changes following his underground escapade.


Blue wave: The already largely Democratic Brooklyn turned even bluer on Election Day, with voters electing a handful of Dems to seats long held by Republican pols. Democratic state Senate hopeful Andrew Gounardes defeated longtime GOP state Sen. Marty Golden in a shocking upset. Congressional blue-party candidate Max Rose also won in his race against Rep. Dan Donovan — who represents a swath of Southern Brooklyn and all of Staten Island — knocking the city’s lone House Republican out of office. Voters also chose to send Fort Greene Councilwoman Letitia “Tish” James to Albany as New York State’s first black attorney general, electing her over her three competitors for the seat by a substantial margin.

Vote for reform: Borough President Adams called on city and state officials to overhaul the city’s archaic voting system, which on Nov. 6 failed hundreds of Brooklynites trying to cast ballots in the decisive midterm election, according to the beep, who on on Nov. 7 unveiled a five-point plan to bring the outdated system into the 21st century. Adams’s proposals to combat the reported problems included a call for immediate investigatory hearings into what caused the widespread difficulties; expanding the poll-worker program and increasing the training for it; instituting early voting policies like those in more than 30 other states across the country; using technology to modernize the way New Yorkers vote; and bringing together all involved in the voting process to work on reforming the entire system.

Marty makes it official: Republican Marty Golden formally conceded his Southern Brooklyn seat of sixteen years to Democratic rival and state Senator–elect Andrew Gounardes on Nov. 19, 13 days after Gounardes claimed an Election Day victory in the race to represent the state’s 22nd Senate district, which includes Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Gravesend, and parts of Sheepshead Bay, Borough Park, and Midwood. The concession followed Golden’s Nov. 8 vow not to bow out until election officials counted every ballot.

Don’t look now: Dumbo locals warned that a quartet of towers poised to rise across the river in Manhattan will block Washington Street’s iconic view of the Empire State Building framed by the Manhattan Bridge. A foursome of builders wants to erect the 80-, 69-, 63-, and 62-story high-rises in the outer borough on the bank of the East River in a massive development project that needs approval from the City Planning Commission, but isn’t required to formally go before the community or Council. And locals fear the 69- and 62-story towers that together recall a U-shape structure will likely block the view of the 102-story Art Deco skyscraper from the corner of Washington and Water streets.

Signing on: Another sign will soon grace the Brooklyn Heights skyline where the Jehovah’s Witnesses Watchtower letters once hovered, after the city on Nov. 8 ruled the property’s new owners’ can put their own branding on the building’s still-in-place scaffolding. The ruling came after Department of Buildings officials rejected the owners’ previous requests to install their own signage above their so-called Panorama complex, with officials claiming the Witnesses’s sign was illegal all along because the site’s original occupant, E.R. Squibb and Sons, never secured the proper permits to install its own Squibb hung there in 1961.

Room to grow: Officials on Nov. 26 revealed designs for a community farm they want to plant on a two-acre, overgrown plot next door to a Bergen Beach school. Plans for the growing patch on Avenue N between E. 71st and 72nd streets call for creating a greenhouse, several raised beds for planting crops, a kitchen and classroom, a storage shed, restrooms, an orchard, and a central patch of artificial turf where kids can roam. Work on the farm is expected to start next year, according to planners, who said they hope it will eventually attract students from all of Community District 22 — which in addition to Bergen Beach incorporates neighborhoods including Mill Basin, Marine Park, Manhattan Beach, Flatlands, parts of Sheepshead Bay, Flatbush, Midwood, and Ditmas Park.

Squeaky clean! Federal officials on Nov. 27 announced a section of the fetid Gowanus Canal is now cleaner than it has been in more than a century, after workers in November finally wrapped a pilot dredging-and-capping program as part of the channel’s federally led cleanup. The program in the Fourth Street Turning Basin kicked off in October of 2017, and finished more than six months after its initial April 2018 deadline — a small price to pay for finally removing some of the toxic “black mayonnaise” from the canal’s floor, according to the Feds, who said they’ll soon be able to start counting down to the end of cleanse in months, not years.

Another route: City officials announced they are considering a third scheme for their looming fix to the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway’s triple cantilever, after pushback from locals and pols about their two previously revealed options. The new plan — ginned up by an urban planner tapped by members of civic group the Brooklyn Heights Association — proposes creating a temporary roadway near Brooklyn Bridge Park for expressway traffic during the repairs, instead of sending those cars and trucks on a speedway that would replace the Brooklyn Heights Promenade for much of the years-long fix. The civic gurus’ proposal did not come with a price tag or a timeline, and would also still require closing the Promenade for some time, as the walkway is part of the triple cantilever being repaired.


Closed again: The Coney Island outpost of Wahlburgers — the burger chain owned by famous siblings Mark, Donnie, and Paul Wahlberg — temporarily closed its doors this winter for the second year in a row on Dec. 2. The restaurant will re-open sometime in the spring under the same management, according to an executive at the Massachusetts-based parent company of the burger joint, which franchises its locations to independent operators. The parent company first closed the Coney location in September 2017 — roughly two years after it opened in August 2015 — citing management “restructuring,” and re-opened it May 2018 under new management.

New fur-ever home: The owners of Brooklyn Heights’s beloved Brooklyn Cat Cafe invited locals to celebrate the reopening of the facility in its new Montague Street home on Dec. 8, after they temporarily shuttered the rescue’s old Atlantic Avenue space last month to relocate it. The rescue’s new location inside the former Friend of a Farmer restaurant space between Montague Terrace and Hicks Street boasts a kitchen — a feature that could allow the so-called cafe to truly live up to its name by adding freshly brewed coffee to the menu of pre-packaged drinks and snacks it previously offered, a co-owner of the cafe said ahead of the move.

Front-yard work: Brooklyn Bridge Park leaders on Dec. 5 announced a slew of changes in store for Brooklyn’s front yard, including that they will completely replace the beleaguered Squibb Bridge to the meadow after closing it indefinitely for the second time in July; that they will boot the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory from its long-time location inside the fireboat station at Fulton Ferry Landing to make way for a new outpost of Ample Hills; and that they will be replacing a Pier 2 handball court with a new squash court. Park leaders hope to have the new squash court and Ample Hills location up and running by next summer, with the Squibb Bridge replacement open sometime in 2020.

Hero’s farewell: Hundreds of New York’s Bravest gathered on Dec. 13 to say goodbye to their colleague whom authorities suspect a man killed days before, amid a fit of road rage on the Belt Parkway that turned fatal on Dec. 9. Days before the funeral, authorities with New York’s Finest and United States Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force arrested the 29-year-old man they suspect killed 33-year-old Faizal Coto — a Ditmas Parker who served with Coney Island’s Engine 245 — in New Jersey. And District Attorney Eric Gonzalez charged the man with second-degree murder roughly a week later, on Dec. 18.

Show time! Movie buffs at Nitehawk Cinema opened their new Nitehawk Prospect Park location inside the former Pavilion Theater following its roughly two-year restoration on Dec. 19 — three days after they hosted members of a Park Slope civic group at a private screening on Dec. 16. Nitehawk bigwig Matthew Viragh in 2016 leased the landmarked theater — which opened as the Sanders Theater back in 1928, and sits within the protected Park Slope Historic District Extension — from a group of investors, and closed the cinema in late 2016 before kicking off the renovation to the movie house, which reopened as a 650-seat, seven-screen theater featuring digital projectors and three 35mm reel-to-reel projectors.