Reading Tomorrow, remembering yesterday

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To the editor,

This letter is about two articles in the 2018 Brooklyn Tomorrow magazine.

The first article is about the Brooklyn Navy Yard. About 30 years ago, my husband’s company sold industrial metal (and some wood) working equipment, and we did industrial auction sales. We did the sale of the contents of Admirals Row, and the contents of the largest company in the Yard.

The first sale was the homes on Admirals Row. It was sad to see how they fell into such disrepair. We sold the contents of these once-grand houses — double parlors, marble mantles, butlers’ pantries, etc.

The later sale was a company that refurbished battleships. The ships were brought into dry dock, the water released, and then the ships were worked on. We sold that company machinery, some of which could cut and bend the steel that went onto the ship’s hull. I won’t go into the way that machine was brought into the yard, but it was interesting. To set those machines on the concrete floor they had to be jackhammered up, the machine place, and a new concrete poured. I also won’t go into why the company was sold.

At the time the Yard was a rough place, nothing like now. People don’t know, but there was a one-story building in the yard, that was an indoor ice skating rink for the military personnel. That building was later used for the storage of knocked-down bunk beds, there was no longer any electricity in there.

There is also a rather grand-looking building, looks like a very large house, set up on a hill. That was a hospital. Tucked away, in the yard, is a small cemetery. Hopefully nothing was built on top of it, or that [if so] the bodies were exhumed.

The new Navy Yard COO, Mr. Michael Kelly, was a former manager of NYCHA. If I were Mr. Kelly, I would soft-pedal that information, given the condition of the NYCHA housing. He is very proud of the fact that Wegmans is coming in there and they expect people from all over to come there. I hope they have a big parking lot. I wonder if the people from the city housing project across the street will be able to afford to shop there.

The other article is about Kings Highway. The second paragraph states that Kings Highway is named for the county it crosses. Wrong. The county didn’t exist. Kings Highway is so named because King George’s troops marched up it, they were Hessian soldiers. They camped at the Ryder House, which is at Kings Highway and Avenue P and E. 21st St. That house has a sign, on the front yard, stating it was built before 1776. It was built by the Ryder family. They owned the property from Ocean Avenue to Nostrand Avenue, and from Kings Highway to Avenue U.

The house was originally built facing Avenue U so as to catch the ocean breezes. It was subsequently lifted and turned around to face 21st. I was in that house about 47 years ago. Ms. Ryder, who was the last of the Ryder family, in later life married a retired minister, they had no children. Ms. Ryder wrote a book, “A Hessian Soldier Slept Here.” One of them engraved his initials, and a message, on a windowpane. Ms. Ryder had that pane removed from the window (it isn’t a very large one) and she had it framed.

I hope this was of some interest.

Rowena Lachant


All 140 of the city’s school-zone speed cameras stopped doling out tickets on July 25, after state senators failed to vote on a new authorization in time, and a Park Slope mother whose son was killed by a speeding driver knows exactly who she blames: state Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge), who she said backtracked on a personal promise he made to her to get the bill passed. (“Out of the picture: Time runs out on city’s school-zone speed cameras,” online July 26). “I hold Marty Golden personally responsible,” said Amy Cohen, co-founder of Families for Safe Streets. Some readers had similarly passionate reactions:

First of all, I’d like to say as a parent, my heart goes out to the parents who lost a child by a reckless driver. Having said that, as a longtime motorist in this city, I feel pretty confident when I say that these speed cameras would’ve done very little to dissuade an dysfunctional driver from behaving the way he did.

I think speed cameras are a bad idea because our mayor is creating an atmosphere in the city of overpopulation and congestion that creates frustration and anger that induces drivers to behave badly. I have done extensive driving outside this city and I have witnessed none of the recklessness and speeding that I see in this city. Our mayor knows this and he just uses these cameras as a ploy to soak even more revenue out of the good citizens of this city. If you remember when he took office the speed limit was 30 miles an hour in the city and he reduced it by 5 mph and then installed speed cameras. If Brooklynites remember the strategically placed camera on the Belt Parkway service road near Ocean Parkway generated more than one million dollars. It was finally removed when concerned citizens sued the city because the camera did not meet the criteria intended to end the law. Did this city voluntarily reimburse the motorists who would unfairly ticketed? No.

Bob from Gerritsen Beach

I have to agree with Bob. The speed cameras take a picture of the license plate of the car and then a $50 ticket is mailed to the owner of the car. The driver of the car is not penalized for speeding or charged with points on their driving license. It’s a cash cow. Install speed bumps on all the streets surrounding the school, make them high enough so that cars MUST slow down to avoid losing control or damaging their cars. Prohibit all trucks from using any street that has a school.Jeff from Bensonhurst

Thank you, Sen. Marty Golden, for letting those speed cameras expire. Speed cameras have nothing to do with safety and everything to do with squeezing more money out of the tax-paying citizens who drive. It is impossible to get from one end of this city to the other at 25 miles per hour. We may as well walk. The motorist has been abused for way too long. Transit riders don’t care how much the motorist is abused. They have been leeching off the motorist for way too long.Joe Pascarella from Mill Basin

Ferry good idea

To the editor,

There is additional money available to support even more large ferry boats (“Making a splash, Ferry launches first jumbo boat”, July 27).

New York City can also apply for capital grants from the New York State Department of Transportation and the United States Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration to assist in funding.

Albany also provides State Transportation Operating Assistance [funds] for transportation systems. Ridership on any transit service generates yearly federal transportation formula capital assistance. Numerous past private ferry operators have come and gone.

They could not financially survive based upon farebox revenue alone without government subsidy. MTA bus, subway and commuter rail along with New York City Department of Transportation Staten Island Ferry is subsidized by a combination of city, state and federal assistance for both capital and operating costs. All of these proposed new ferry services will require similar subsidies if they are to survive.

Riders could purchase weekly or monthly passes for discounted fares. This will further reduce the cost per ride. Mayor Bill DeBlasio still needs to convince the MTA Board to support his fare structure of $2.75 per ride to also include cross-honoring a free transfer to a bus or subway using the current MTA MetroCard. Last October, the MTA awarded a $573 million contract to Cubic Transportation Systems to replace the MetroCard. Between 2019 and 2021, new fare collection technology will be coming on line for bus, subway and commuter rail riders.

Why not include ferry riders as well? City Hall has significant influence with both Albany and the MTA. Mayor DeBlasio appoints four of the 15-member MTA Board. His four appointees to the MTA Board would have to lobby the majority of other fellow members for support. One of his members, New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg previously worked for the U.S. Department of Transportation, has an excellent background in transit. This includes how the MTA, New York City, New York State and Washington partner together in improving and funding public transportation.

More and more commuters around New York City enjoy the fresh air and breeze at a reasonable price that only waterborne transportation can provide. Riding a ferry can be less stressful than being packed in a subway car.Larry Penner

Great Neck

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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