The city must investigate a recent rash of complaints alleging that Bensonhurst business owners lack permits for their storefronts’ signage, according to local civic leaders, who said the uptick in such allegations already cost mom-and-pop shopkeepers thousands of dollars in fines (“Policing placards: Bensonhurst civic leaders call for investigation into complaints against small businesses’ signs,” by Julianne McShane, online Dec. 28).
A probe of the reports filed with the city’s 311 hotline is necessary to ensure greedy agents are not cashing in at the small-business owners’ expense, according to the district manager of Community Board 11.
This year, the 311 hotline received some 127 complaints about signs and awnings belonging to businesses within the board’s district, which also includes Bath Beach, Gravesend, and Mapleton — a whopping 113 more than it received about storefronts in the same area last year, according to a letter CB11 members fired off on Dec. 19 to the Mayor’s Office of Operations, which oversees the hotline run by the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.
Readers weighed in:
I’ve noticed a lot of bodegas here in Bed-Stuy have been removing their awnings, this is probably why. Underneath those hideous awnings is often the original signage from the ’40s and ’50s — plus, you now get to see the beautiful architectural details that have been hidden for decades. Those awnings should all be banned as they are ugly and cheapen the neighborhood.Matt from Stuyvesant Heights
Don’t kid yourself, it’s about revenue! Fines of $6,000 according to the NY Times. All because something “might” fall down. The city sees no evil in spray painted tags all over, but no awnings — time to make the avenues look like a refuge camp.
Signs that withstood superstorm Sandy, and many a winter. GimmeGimmeGimme — we want any money you might have left after sales tax, and outrageous property tax.
And why did these awnings come about? To cover the riot shutters and roll-down gates that these small businesses had to install to save their livelihoods.Rufus Leaking from BH
Here are some revelations: 1) New York City Buildings Department does not asses the fines for violations, that is done by the Council. 2) Buildings Department does not impose “cloak of anonymity” as the complaints come from 311. They are most likely from the community boards themselves all over the city.
Take a look at Bensonhurst, now predominately Chinese. City data shows that in the last few years 311 complaints for this area have exploded. Where do you suppose the complaints are coming from? Check the bigoted community boards throughout this city.Joe Bloe from Bensonhurst
“I have been breaking the law for the past 15 years and now you come around…” Yeah, what nerve of the city to give you a fine. I did not realize that the longer you break the law the more entitled you become.Frank from Flushing
Brooklyn Heights residents will breathe in toxic chemicals for years if the city moves forward with a plan to turn the neighborhood’s Promenade into a six-lane speedway for gas-guzzling cars and trucks during the looming reconstruction of the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway, experts warn (“Highway to health problems: Locals will breathe in toxic air for years if city sends traffic along Promenade to fix BQE, experts warn,” by Julianne Cuba, online Dec. 26).
The historic Promenade, which sits at the top of the 70-year-old highway’s crumbling three-tiered structure, currently acts as a barrier that blocks the toxic pollutant known as “fine particulate matter,” or pm 2.5, emitted by the 153,000 cars and trucks on the expressway daily, according to journalist and public-health expert Laurie Garrett.
Commenters shared their thoughts:
Not only is it irresponsible in the short-term (next 10-plus years) to rebuild this roadway in this manner, it’s irresponsible in the long-term (next 100-plus years) to replace it in this spot period. Pollution, noise, quality of life, waste of premier waterfront real estate.
We need to tunnel from the ditch south of Atlantic to the north side of Brooklyn Heights. If there are things in the way, we can move them — if Boston did it so can we. We’d even need to include direct tubes to the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges to improve functionality over what we have now. The result would leave us with with a “cantilever riverwalk” where shops and cafes could be added overlooking NYC’s most astounding area of waterfront and the Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Time to think big is now, so we’re not stuck with this mistake for our life times and the life times of those that will come after us.Tunneler from Brooklyn
Is there a third alternative near Brooklyn Bridge Park? What is wrong with that? Why didn’t the city fix the BQE cantilever before it built Brooklyn Bridge Park?
Did any city officials and/or politicians recommend at that time that the BQE cantilever be replaced before the park was created? What were their names? Titles? Do they still work for the city? David Weinkrantz
from Downtown Brooklyn
Now the privileged, politically connected, Brooklyn Heights residents who are among the richest people in the borough could be subject to the same environmental hazards routinely faced by their maids, servants, landscapers, doormen, and parking valets, and whose kids breathe unhealthy levels of ozone and diesel fumes in other parts of Brooklyn (in neighborhoods statistically scarcely covered by this newspaper).
There are scores of specific chronic air and toxic waste pollution hazards that denser swaths of the population currently face in the borough that this newspaper could address in a top story.
But instead, it trumpets the whines of the wealthy residents of about 25 to 35 buildings (and who most likely get around by Uber, taxis and their own private vehicles when they need to).Chomsky from Greenwood
Commenters: It’s not about who gets the worst of it or who’s turn is it now, it’s about fixing a wrong and making it right, permanently.
Covering the ditch south of Atlantic and going underground from there is the way to go. A tunnel can be bored over the next couple of years without ever starting entrances and exits to it, virtually eliminating 75 percent of the disruption repairing the cantilever would cause. And then there’s all the other benefits I state above.
The BQE is Brooklyn’s most important artery and we deserve that it be done right this time — tunnel it!Tunneler from Brooklyn
Festivities for all
To the Editor,
I read with interest your article about the Christmas festivities at IS 281 in Brooklyn (“Classroom cheer: IS 281 students and families celebrate season,” by Julianne McShane, online Dec. 10). I am sure they were very nice, but don’t we have separation of church and state with regard to our schools? Such a celebration should have included festivities for Jewish, Muslim, and even atheist students. No child should have been excluded.
As a retired teacher who taught in both Districts 17 and 21 for a total of 33 years, I don’t understand how the principal at 281 could have done something like this. How did children of other faiths feel while this was occurring? Obviously, they felt excluded. How about the parents of the other children? Why didn’t they state their displeasure at this? As a parent or teacher in the school, I would have made sure to be quite vocal on this issue.
As a tax-payer, I resent the idea that tax-payer money is used to promote religious values in our schools. This does not belong in the schools. Such festivities should be occurring in the homes.
During my professional career as a pedagogue in the New York City school system, I made sure never to promote my religious values and during the course of those years, when a student asked me why my room wasn’t decorated accordingly at holiday time, I made sure to mention the separation of church and state idea.
To me, actions like this are perfect examples of prosletyzing and have no place in our schools.Ed Greenspan