In what seems like a monthly endeavor, I attended yet another forum on where Park Slope is headed.
Forgive me. I hate to sound cynical, but we all know where Park Slope is going, and I had mostly given up being angry about it since it seems to be a done deal.
But at last week’s “Where Goes the Neighborhood?” forum sponsored by the Park Slope Civic Council, I got a fresh reason why I’m so angry about the direction of the neighborhood.
Throughout the uneventful evening, people kept talking about “compromise,” as in, how the upzoning that is turning Fourth Avenue into a high-rise, yet still-ugly, boulevard was a “compromise” to prevent over-development on the side streets.
Or how a proposal to expand Park Slope’s historic district is a “compromise” because it could halt some development, but also hinder a homeowner’s ability to alter his own property.
But I couldn’t help feeling that the evening wasn’t about comprise at all, but about steamrolling.
As in, we got steamrolled.
Architect Stuart Pertz, a former Landmarks Commissioner and presently a consultant for the Municipal Art Society on the Atlantic Yards project, explained how Bruce Ratner’s mini-city was “a perfect example of backwards planning.”
Ratner, he said, is “building a huge project and then the city will deal with the impact on the streets, the transportation systems, the sewers and the schools. But they needed to do all that stuff first,” he said.
Well, they haven’t and they won’t. Instead, the Department of Transportation comes in after the fact and says it wants to convert quiet Sixth Avenue and commercial Seventh Avenue into one-way thoroughfares, high-speed Yellow Brick Roads to and from Ratner’s state-polished Emerald City.
Compromise? There isn’t any. You just got steamrolled.
I can’t help having this feeling of deja-vu. I grew up in another long-gone enclave of artists, activists and preservationists: Greenwich Village. And look what has happened to that charming, old-world area of Manhattan. The small scale of the buildings is gone, the cute shopping streets are all brand name, and no artist can afford to live there unless his last name is Picasso.
So the issue isn’t compromise. The issue, apparently, is learning to accept the changes, or finding a new place to live.
The Kitchen Sink
It was all quiet on Sixth Street last week, even after the New York Post reported that New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick — who so famously bailed on becoming Jets head coach in 2000 — had bought a $2.2-million townhouse for his alleged mistress, Sharon Shenocca. At least someone could start a J-E-T-S Jets! Jets! Jets! chant outside the front door, just to razz Belichick a bit. … The Prospect Park Residence will rename one of its lounges “The Centenarian Room” in honor of residents who have reached the 100-year mark. The senior center currently has two residents over 100. …
What do you get when you volunteer to clean and maintain the Borough’s biggest park? Breakfast (and a nicer, cleaner park)! Last Saturday, the 6,000 unpaid workers were invited to the annual Volunteers Recognition award ceremony. Howard Dube and Mike Colon, who each put in 200 hours of service in one year, were the recipients of the Mary Cregg Award. The Administrator’s Awards, for those who work 500 hours in one year, were given to Chris Belden, Danielle Brissett, Bart Chezar, Howard Dube, Tim McKinney, Mark Ravitz, and Jo Beth Ravitz. …
Brooklyn-based poet and not-for-profit do-gooder Laura Silver has left her compost garden and the comforts of her home borough to spend the spring in Senegal. Silver — a Brooklyn Paper contributor who will always be known as “The Knish Lady” for her love of the potato-filled delicacy — will be lending her unpaid skills to the Senegalese Association for Research, Education and Support for Development, which helps women learn to farm so that they do not have to leave their families to work in the city. …
PS 107 on Eighth Avenue is gearing up for another great year in its “Readings from the Fourth Floor” series. This year, the big names include Mo Willems, John Hodgman, Sarah Vowell, Jonathan Lethem, David Rakoff and Jon Scieska. The first reading, on March 28, will center on Iraq and feature New Yorker staff writer George Packer and Leslie Gelb from the Council on Foreign Relations. Don’t worry, the readings take place after your tot is asleep. Go to www.ps107.org for tickets. …
The Church of the Virgin Mary is hosting a concert and reception on March 24 to benefit the Lebanese people. The ticket price is a bit steep at $55, but all money collected will go to the Caritas charity. And let’s face it, listening to some music and eating food isn’t a bad way to help a whole bunch of people.
Nica Lalli, a member of Community Board 6, is also the author of the forthcoming memoir, “Nothing: Something to Believe In” (Prometheus Books), which will be out next week.