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"This time for sure!"

Posted by Steve on Sat, 03/06/2010 - 2:48pm


The old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon show had a series of interstitials with Bullwinkle attempting, and failing, to pull a rabbit out of a hat and Rocky increasingly skeptical that he would ever succeed.

FlyerAs tortured an analogy as that may be, it's how the Bay Ridge community has regarded announcements of the opening of the prodigal Key Food supermarket on Bay Ridge Ave (69th St).    It was almost two years ago that the neighborhood was buzzing with rumors that Key Food was negotiating to take over the two large buildings formerly owned by Harry's furniture store.  Yet, only a couple of months before that, Key Food announced that it was closing its well-patronized 95th St supermarket.  So this latest scuttlebutt left much to be skeptical about, especially when the new location wasn't exactly ideal for a large supermarket.

For one thing, there was no parking lot.  There was a single-story building across the street that was the old Harry's annex which at one point in its history might have served as a garage of some sort.  But with the pillar obstructions I remembered seeing in the old Harry's annex and the nonexistent driving skills of Bay Ridge SUV pilots, they couldn't honestly be thinking about letting soccer moms and cell phone jockeys park their own land barges in there.  It would be a day-long fender bender.  You could construct bleachers and sell tickets!

Then there was the issue of 69th Street itself: a narrow two-lane road that already has serious congestion issues from being forced to service avenue-level traffic.  Both local and express buses use 69th Street as do trucks and emergency vehicles.   Worse, there's a kitchen wholesale business on the block and their semis often stop traffic for several minutes while the driver threads the needle with his 18 wheeler and the narrow loading dock.


The High Price for Cheap Rent

Posted by Steve on Sun, 11/15/2009 - 11:57pm


On a nearby street, a line of ugly, cheaply built, 1980s-vintage row houses stand on a plot of land where there was once a neglected old Victorian. The six houses share a communal front "yard" -- a quarter-acre concrete pad that gives the place all the charm of a New Jersey strip mall. To complete that grim visual, cars are illegally parked on it, usually double wide, often obstructing the sidewalk.

In fact, there are more cars than one would expect from six single-family homes. A couple of months ago, I deduced why that was when I saw a small "For Rent" sign hanging from the railing in front of one of those row houses. The answer: because they've also got illegal apartments. A visit to the Department of Buildings' information system confirmed that all of those houses lack a Certificate of Occupancy to permit rental apartments.

Troubles for the Prodigal Key Food?

Posted by Steve on Sat, 12/27/2008 - 12:48pm


Ever since the residents of north Bay Ridge lost their only convenient supermarket several years ago, the poorly managed Waldbaum's at 4th Ave and Senator Street, the neighborhood has been anxious for a store to replace it. Then last spring Key Food announced that it was closing its 95th St store which would leave Bay Ridge even more desperate for supermarket options.

But shortly after that disappointing Key Food announcement, there was a brighter one. Bensonhurst Key Food owner, Sammy Abed, announced that he would be opening a new Key Food in north Bay Ridge on the site of the old Harry's furniture stores on 69th Street off Third Ave.

There was much public and political celebration over the news. Finally, Bay Ridge would get another supermarket, and with convenient parking as well.

The "Coming Soon" banners went up along with the building permits and instructions for home delivery from Abed's Bensonhurst store. Although no official announcement was made, the grand opening was supposed to be early 2009.

But since then, there's been very little visible progress on the property.

In September I got a quick peek inside and saw that trenches had been cut in the concrete floor, probably to accommodate wiring and plumbing for refrigeration.

In November I got another quick look inside and saw that it looked exactly the same. Although I've seen one or two workers going into the place it seemed like nothing substantial was happening with the property besides more graffiti on the facade.


HomeOwnersLike.Us

Posted by Steve on Sat, 11/22/2008 - 10:45pm


I've been neglecting my blog, and my house for that matter, but for a good reason.  This summer a client and I were chatting about an idea for networking public health-related blogs.  He described his concept as a clearinghouse for blogs on a given topic, such as child health, where users would have a single point of access to selected RSS feeds on a given subject.

"Wait," sez me.  "That sounds like HouseBlogs for the wellness community." So I sent him to HouseBlogs and he told me it was similar to what he envisioned. He wanted a few additional features, like a Wiki, a virtual "home page" where the publisher could talk about his organization, answer user questions, post links to other resources and manage his own feed, and a Slashdot-type of ratings system. Okay, the last idea was mine.  No harm in up-selling an eager client.

Cops and Robbers

Posted by Steve on Mon, 10/27/2008 - 2:30am


So we're experiencing a sudden crime wave in my peaceful 'hood. Nobody's said WHY this is happening but according to The Brooklyn Paper:

During a 28-day period starting on Sept. 5, crooks broke into 39 residences in Bay Ridge — an increase of more than 60 percent compared to the same four-week periods in 2007 and 2006, when there were 24 and 21 burglaries respectively.



What's a community anyway?

Posted by Steve on Fri, 10/03/2008 - 6:08pm


I spent last weekend building a blog for our block. I'll post more about this later, and I'd like to get some opinions about it, especially as regards making it more useful. First, a little personal history.

For as long as I've been into computers I've been into virtual communities, particularly how computers can be leveraged to enhance real lives. I got sucked into Usenet and dial-up BBSes in the early 1980s. I was one of the builders of NYC's first multiuser BBS, the Ailanthus Tree in 1984. In 1985, I ported the A-Tree to MS-DOS and launched Magpie. I ported it to Unix in 1986 and released it Shareware, where it became one of the top three Unix BBSes through the 1990s.

Magpie made a sort of name for itself during the Bosnian crisis with Magpie sysop, Sinisa Novasel, as an information conduit between people suddenly stranded in Zagreb and their expatriated families and the Red Cross. Before the web, Magpie was used in Philadelphia for the first online AIDS information system. It was later adopted by six of the ten largest school systems in the US, including NYC's NYCENET.

My personal web site was launched in 1993. The first thing I did with it is organize NYC Motorcyclists as a cyber club. Then I ran mailing lists for bass players, Triumph and women motorcycle owners, a local sushi club, and several others, most of which are still going strong over a decade later.

My current job is designing and building software to network medically-underserved families with physicians and hospitals for the Children's Health Fund.

Where am I going with this?

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