Greenpoint ferry service returns

By Matthew Fischetti

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After 18 months of delays and setbacks, the Greenpoint Ferry officially restored service to residents on Monday.

The ferry initially closed in May 2021 due to problems with the piles, and the reopening date has been pushed back a few times due to complications with the work.

The ferry was reopened after the Small Business Services department closed out work permits, according to the private developer Lendlease, which owns the pier. The New York City Economic Development Corporation holds the contract with San Francisco-based vendor Hornblower.

In an interview with the Greenpoint Star, Councilman Lincoln Restler reiterated his support for public ownership of the pier, stating that “public transportation should be a fully public asset where we utilize public land and to ensure that we can reliably move around reliably and safely move around.”

While the councilman acknowledged that the engineering issues were complex, he said that the closure happened longer than he would have liked it to.

“For many Greenpoint residents who were nearly a mile from the subway station, this closure caused extreme inconvenience. And we just simply cannot afford for future closures to happen again, at this location.”

The pier will have a temporary gangway while shoreline improvements are made in the meantime. 

“We are thrilled to be bringing NYC Ferry service back to Greenpoint and it was great welcoming riders back this week. We appreciate the patience of Greenpointers, and all NYC Ferry riders, as we worked with Lendlease to safely restore the landing,” Senior Vice President of Public Affairs for the Economic Development Council Jeff Holmes said in a statement.

“We’re excited to announce that the Greenpoint landing will reopen on Monday, November 14,” NYC Ferry said in a statement. “We appreciate your patience and look forward to serving our Greenpoint riders once again on the East River route.”

Credit: Dan Nguyen

Brooklyn DA: “Suspect charged in the death of Matthew Jensen”

The Brooklyn District Attorney named a suspect believed to be responsible for fatally striking beloved P.S. 110 school teacher Matthew Jensen. 

The incident took place along McGuinness Boulevard last May, when Jensen was struck by the driver of a Rolls Royce whilst walking home from his 58th birthday party. 

According to the DA’s office, 30-year-old Tariq Witherspoon from Bushwick was arraigned on charges. The allegations include crimnally negligent homicide, leaving the scene of an incident without reporting, second-degree reckless endagerment, reckless driving, and excessive speed.  

“Matthew Jensen was a beloved teacher at P.S.110 who is sorely missed by his students, co-workers, friends and family,” Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said in a statement on Tuesday. “We will now seek to bring this defendant to justice for his alleged actions, which left a community heartbroken.” 

Following a rally over Jensen’s death, former NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio stated that the city would spend $39 million to redesign McGuinness Boulevard into a safer thoroughfare. 

“One driver may have committed this act, but it is our city that is ultimately responsible. The way to ensure that this tragedy is never again repeated is through a comprehensive redesign of McGuinness Boulevard. Eliminating travel lanes on McGuinness eliminates the possibility of dangerous speeding by design,” members of the Make McGuinness Safe Coalition, an advocacy group that has been advocating for safety changes in the redesign, said in a statement.

Matthew Jensen on the bulletin board of P.S. 110 (Photo Courtesy of Jensen Family)

Assemblywoman Emily Gallagher, who has been an advocate for making changes to McGuinness Boulevard for years, suggested that policy is the correct way to get justice for Jensen rather than incarceration. 

“Since 2013, there have been 1,450 reported crashes, injuring 40 cyclists and 59 pedestrians. Some of them will never fully recover. The only way to permanently reduce and eliminate these needless tragedies is to redesign our roadways to be safer for everyone,” Assemblywoman Gallagher said.

Councilman Lincoln Restler, a friend of Matthew Jensen’s, echoed similar sentiments. 

“Accountability matters. I’m hoping for healing and restorative justice for Matthew’s cousin John, the rest of his family and friends, and all of our neighbors mourning this painful loss,” Restler said. “Our office is committed to moving the Make McGuinness Safe project forward as swiftly as possible to protect our community.”

Witherspoon is currently being held on bail of $75,000 bond or $15,000 cash and is due to return to court on April 27, 2022.

The intersection of McGuinness Boulevard and Bayard Street where Matthew Jensen was killed by a hit-and-run driver in May 2021

Emmy Burger will be available at Emmy Squared in March

For a limited time only, customers at Emmy Squared will get a taste of the famed double-stack “Emmy Burger” typically served at its sister restaurant, Emily, in the West Village.

Both Emily and Emmy Squared are part of the family of pizza restaurants called Pizza Loves Emily.

The Emmy Burger is consistently listed as one of the city’s best burgers, according to the company. It features double-stack dry-aged beef patties cooked medium rare with Emmy sauce, which is made of gochujang and Kewpie-mayo. It’s then topped off with caramelized onions, American cheese, pickles and served on a pretzel bun.

The burger is served with curly fries.

Guests can take to social media to weigh in on the rivalry between the Emmy Burger and another famed burger, Le Big Matt. At the end of the month, every guest who voted for the winning burger will receive a $10 gift card to Emmy Squared.

Emmy Squared has three locations in New York City, including one at 346 Grand Street in Williamsburg.

Calls for vaccinating more seniors in north Brooklyn

St. Nicks Alliance, Los Sures and The People’s Firehouse released their own plan to get thousands of seniors in north Brooklyn vaccinated.

The groups are calling for setting up both fixed and mobile vaccination sites in:

  • Senior centers like Swinging Sixties Senior Center (211 Ainslie Street) or Los Sures David Santiago Senior Citizens Center (201 South 4th Street)
  • Senior housing sites like Metro Houses (609 Metropolitan Avenue), Jennings Hall (260 Powers Street), Monsignor Vetro Houses (320 Devoe Street) or Monsignor Alexius Jarka Hall (70 Bedford Avenue)
  • Large housing complexes like Lindsay Park Cooperative or local NYCHA developments

They also want to partner with providers to streamline the appointment registration process. Their plan calls for providing transportation through St. Nicks Alliance, collaborating with local drug stores to bring vaccines to the homebound and home care workers, and working with local elected officials.

The three organizations provide the bulk of senior services in north Brooklyn, according to St. Nicks Alliance executive director Michael Rochford. They also have deep roots in the community.

Read more about their plan to vaccinate more seniors in this week’s Greenpoint Star newspaper.

Volunteer to help clean up north Brooklyn

Join NYC H2O and Councilwoman Darma Diaz’s office for a volunteer cleanup event on Saturday, February 20 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The event will focus on cleaning up Euclid Avenue and Atlantic Avenue. There will be three two-hour shifts available. Volunteers can sign up for just one shift.

Gloves, garbage bags and pickers will be provided for volunteers. Everyone will be asked to maintain six feet of physical distancing and wear masks.

Register for the cleanup event here.

Electric vehicle charging hub coming to old Pfizer site

Revel is building the continent’s largest electric vehicle charging depot at 630 Flushing Avenue, the former home of the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.

When it’s built out, the hub will have 30 chargers open to the public 24/7, accessible to all electric vehicle brands.

Revel plans to build out charging hubs like these throughout New York City to promote the use of electric vehicles.

The hub, which will go live this spring, will use Tritium’s RTM75 model for the first 10 chargers. These chargers provide the vehicles with 100 additional miles in about 20 minutes.

Read more about the new charging hub in this week’s Greenpoint Star newspaper.

Two Bushwick groups receive SBS grants

Screen shot via Google Maps

The NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS) has awarded over $750,000 in grants to neighborhood business organizations across the city, including two groups supporting Bushwick businesses.

Brooklyn Alliance, which services Bushwick and Canarsie, and Evergreen, serving Bushwick, are recipients of the Strategic Impact COVID-19 Commercial District Support Grant.

The funding is meant to be used for merchant organizing, technical assistance, and increasing awareness of city and state rules and regulations.

SBS so far has only allocated the first phase of grants, with another round coming. Applications for the second phase opened on January 25 and close on February 8.

Read more about the SBS grants in this week’s Greenpoint Star newspaper.

Cornegy leads Brooklyn BP race in fundraising

Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, left, would be the first woman to serve as Brooklyn borough president.

With a dozen candidates running to replace Eric Adams as Brooklyn borough president, we’re looking into the fundraising numbers that have come out after the January 15th filing deadline.

Leading the pack is Bed-Stuy Councilman Robert Cornegy, who has raised nearly $250,000 in the race. Second is Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon, who collected nearly $243,000, according to the Campaign Finance Board.

According to Simon’s campaign, Brooklyn residents made up over 80 percent of her 800 unique contributors. More than 90 percent of her donors are from New York City.

If elected, Simon would be the first woman to serve as Brooklyn borough president. She has been endorsed by State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, 504 Democratic Club, Central Brooklyn Independent Democrats, Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn and the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club.

Williamsburg/Bushwick Councilman Antonio Reynoso has raised over $166,000 in the race, while Khari Edwards has amassed nearly $145,000 in contributions.

Other notable candidates include Councilman Mathieu Eugene with $38,000, Kimberly Council with $47,000, and Lamor Whitehead-Miller with $22,000.

Velazquez endorses Gutierrez for City Council

Jennifer Gutierrez, center, is running for City Council to represent Bushwick and Williamsburg.

A City Council candidate in north Brooklyn has earned the support of “La Luchadora.”

Jennifer Gutierrez, who is running for City Council to represent Williamsburg, Bushwick and Ridgewood, is currently the chief of staff for Councilman Antonio Reynoso, who is term-limited and running for Brooklyn borough president himself.

She was endorsed was Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, who has represented the area for decades and is a political power broker in New York City politics.

“Jennifer has been a strong ally for me in North Brooklyn for many years,” Velazquez said. “I know that I can trust Jennifer to fight hard for her community and deliver important progressive victories in the years to come.”

The endorsement comes as no surprise. Velazquez has long been a champion of the progressive wing of the local Democratic Party, and counts Reynoso among her many allies.

The race to replace Reynoso only has three candidates so far: Gutierrez, Sean Esrafily and Terrell Finner. Gutierrez is shaping up to the leader of the pack.

Per Scholas receives NFL’s Inspiring Change grant

A Brooklyn nonprofit organization is one of 13 partners that will receive grant funding as part of the NFL’s Inspiring Change social justice initiative.

Per Scholas, which has an office in the Broadway Triangle area, provides skills training and access to employer networks for people often excluded from tech careers through no-cost technical training.

The nonprofit will use its Inspire Change grant to enroll 220 people into their software engineering courses, a 15-week, full-time training program that includes technical instruction and professional development to advance economic equality.

Since 2018, the NFL has provided more than $95 million in support of programs focused on education, economic advancement, police and community relations, and criminal justice reform.