Brooklyn Eagle: It’s official: Brooklyn Point tops out as borough’s highest building

Have you heard? Brooklyn Point is officially the borough’s tallest building.

Extell Development’s condo tower at Downtown Brooklyn’s mixed-use City Point mega-development has topped out, which means construction workers just put a roof on the slim skyscraper.

It’s now 720 feet tall and 68 stories high.

The architecture firm behind the building, Kohn Pedersen Fox, “wanted to honor the creative spirit of Brooklyn, while crafting a new landmark for the borough’s downtown,” Design Principal Rob Whitlock said in a statement.

Extell released photos taken from the top of Brooklyn Point — they’re nice, but have you seen our video?

The Brooklyn Eagle got an exclusive tour back in March, and we filmed it for you.

Take a look.

We were on the 61st floor, 600 feet in the air.

We got an eyeful of the iconic World Trade Center and Midtown Manhattan skyscrapers, plus three bridges and numerous Brooklyn landmarks.

Follow Brooklyn Eagle reporter Lore Croghan on Twitter.

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Brooklyn Eagle: Sewage will shut down more city beaches in the future, experts say

The good news is New York Harbor is cleaner now than at any time in the last 100 years.

The bad news is intensifying rain is increasingly contaminating the city’s beaches with raw sewage and disease-causing pathogens.

If current trends continue, the city’s beaches will be closed to the public during more and more of the summer season, environmental experts told City Council members at a Committee on Parks and Recreation hearing on Tuesday.

The purpose of the hearing was to look at the city’s practices for ensuring the water is safe at area beaches, and was led by Barry Grodenchik, chair of the Committee on Parks and Recreation.

The last six years of figures from the Department of Health show that an increase in precipitation has caused greater amounts of fecal matter — otherwise known as poop — to flow into the waters in which New Yorkers swim, testified Kate Fritz, a witness for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Contamination of waterways and beaches “occurs after almost every rainfall,” Fritz said. “Raw sewage, pet waste, trash and polluted runoff wash into where people swim.”

Rain water that falls on the city’s sidewalks and streets is combined with raw sewage in the city’s underground sewer lines. During heavy storms, the stormwater exceeds the sewer pipes’ capacity, and overflows of the combined rain and sewage are released into local waterways. The released muck is known as combined sewage overflow.

Though the city is implementing strategies to reduce this overflow, an increase in intense weather has so far outpaced the city’s efforts. Rainfall rose by 44 percent in 2018 compared to 2016, Fritz said. On average, sewage overflow occurred once every three days in 2018.

Exposure to the pathogens that feast on the sewage can cause intestinal illness, rash and infection, she said.

“It was a gross year”

The Water Trails Association sampled waters off the coast all around New York City, testified Mike Dulong, senior attorney for the nonprofit Riverkeeper.

“Their 2018 results were miserable. It was gross. It was a gross year,” he said.

While the city’s records may not be clear on this point, beach closures “are directly related to sewage discharge,” Dulong told councilmembers. “Every single waterway in New York is affected by them … and there is recreation going on in every single waterway in New York City. The Department of Environmental Protection’s plans will not solve the problem.”

City beaches are categorized by the Department of Health as either “open swim,” “warning” or “closed.”

Public beaches were placed on warning on 49 days in 2018, along with one closure day, Dulong said.

“That’s more than double than what happened in 2017 — there were 22 warnings then. More than four times than 2016, when there were only 12 warnings, and there were 16 warnings in 2015,” he testified. “The difference was that 2018 saw significant amount of rainfall. From May to October, we saw 32 inches, compared to 24 inches. And so, with rainfall in New York City comes sewage.”

“These two problems are only expected to grow worse,” Dulong said. “New York City’s Panel on Climate Change expects a 1.8 percent increase in precipitation by the 2020s … and a 4 to 11 percent increase by the 2050s. In heat, we expect an increase between 4 and 5.7 degrees by the 2050s. So what we are going to see in the future is more beach warnings, more beach closures.”

Dulong said that the city’s Beach Surveillance Monitoring Report is “slightly misleading” in that it states that only a fraction of the warning days are due to wet weather.

“That’s not true. They’re all due to wet weather,” he said. “All of the pathogens, all of the pollutants that get into the water, that cause beach closures, occur during wet weather days.”

DEP: Harbor cleaner than ever

The city Department of Environmental Protection is currently working the city’s long term plan to control runoff going into the major waterways — the Hudson River, East River, Harlem River and the western portion of Long Island Sound.

According to the city’s most recent Harbor Survey Report, New York Harbor is cleaner now than at any time in the past century. Improvements to the city’s 14 wastewater treatment plants have resulted in an 80 percent reduction in combined sewer overflows since the mid-1980s, according to DEP.

DEP says it is currently working on a Citywide Long Term Control Plan to better understand how existing combined sewer overflows impact water quality throughout the harbor.

“We urge you to get engaged in that plan and we urge you to ask DEP to release that plan to the public and to the Council’s oversight before it goes to the state,” Dulong urged councilmembers.

New, stricter rules

City beaches include Brighton Beach, Cedar Grove Beach, Coney Island, Manhattan Beach, Midland Beach, Orchard Beach, Rockaway Beach, South Beach and Wolfe’s Pond Beach. It was reported that in 2018, approximately 16 million people visited these beaches, including 7.4 million visitors at Coney Island beaches and 5.5 million visitors at Rockaway beaches.

The city’s Department of Health is responsible for beach monitoring, including for the city’s 17 private beaches. Beginning one month before beach season, water samples are collected from city beaches on a weekly basis, according to Trevor McProud, director of Public Health Engineering at DOH. Rockaway and Breezy Point are tested every two weeks because of generally cleaner waters.

In particular, DOH tests water samples for enterococci, bacteria that live in the intestinal tracts of warm-blooded animals. When found in beach water, these bacteria tend to indicate possible contamination by fecal waste and could signal the potential presence of other pathogens.

“In general, the water quality in NYC beaches is acceptable to provide the health benefits in a healthy and safe manner,” McProud testified. He added, however, “It’s highly correlated with seasonal precipitation totals. Extreme rainfall has increased two to four times in the region.”

McProud said that New York State would soon be issuing revised water standards, and this would likely increase the number of beach closings.

“These were passed by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2012 and are currently being finalized. Since they are more stringent, we expect more notification days,” he told councilmembers.

“More notification days will not mean the water quality is getting worse,” he added. “It will be held to a stricter standard to allow recreational beach activities.”

According to the EPA, the new criteria use a broader definition of illness to recognize that symptoms may occur without a fever. EPA also narrowed the time period over which the results of monitoring samples may be averaged, from 90 days to 30 days. This shortened time period accounts for heavy rainfall that can cause sewer overflows.

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Brooklyn Eagle: From Grimaldi’s to L&B, this pizza tour gives you ‘A Slice of Brooklyn’

For Bensonhurst native Tony Muia, the proof is in the pizza — and so is Brooklyn’s history.

Muia, the lifelong Brooklynite who founded A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours in 2005, has taken hundreds of thousands of tourists through the borough on tours that, since then, still begin and end with two of Brooklyn’s most popular pizzerias.

“I was in healthcare for 20 years,” he recounted, “but, in the ‘90s, I got to travel extensively.” As he made his way around the globe, Muia said, one thing became clear: “People are really fascinated with Brooklyn.

“As a proud Brooklynite, I was happy to tell them about it,” he said. Even more so, Muia was happy to be their tour guide when they came to visit. Among the sights to see: The Brooklyn Bridge, the Wonder Wheel and Muia’s favorite pizzerias.

“I started getting this name for myself as the ‘Ambassador of Brooklyn,’” he laughed, “but I was just doing it for fun. Then, by the time I was burnt out [career-wise] and had no idea what to do next, my friends looked at me and said, ‘Tony, you know exactly what to do.’”

And so, A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours was born.

Despite a rocky start (the tour’s original itinerary was to include Lento’s, but, on the morning Muia was set to print brochures, he caught wind of the beloved Bay Ridge eatery’s impending closure), the tour continues to thrive.

To this day, the tour takes ticket-holders to taste what its founder considers Brooklyn’s best Neapolitan slice at Grimaldi’s in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge. Later, it heads to Gravesend, for a sample of his favorite Sicilian slice at L&B Spumoni Gardens.

But, since its inception, the Slice of Brooklyn tour has been about plenty more than pizza. In between, the bus purposefully passes some of Brooklyn’s biggest attractions and even makes some stops in what Muia called “bucket list” places like Coney Island.

The tour takes the hungry and the curious around the borough. Photo courtesy of A Slice of Brooklyn Tours
The tour takes the hungry and the curious around the borough. Photo courtesy of A Slice of Brooklyn Tours

“I wanted to feed their stomachs but also their minds and their souls,” he said, adding that “to get a full history and a feel of what Brooklyn is really about,” bus riders are treated to a complete audio-visual experience, complete with televisions.

“They help paint a bigger picture” he explained. “You’ve got music, old photos, movie clips — anything and everything to help drive it home. It really helps to point to something when you drive down 86th Street and you’re trying to explain that this is where John Travolta filmed ‘Saturday Night Fever.’”

The tours depart from Manhattan’s Union Square. “You’re talkin’ to someone who’s gotta get to Brooklyn as quick as possible,” he said.

And it’s worked. On any given day, Muia’s buses seat tourists from anywhere from Australia and Germany to right here in the States. In 2007, A Slice of Brooklyn was featured on “The Today Show,” a spotlight, Muia said, that led countless curious customers his way.

“It’s all about creating an easy way for people to understand the food through the borough, and vice versa,” he said, adding that his whole team is made up of Brooklynites. “You’re not gonna get a tour guide from Texas telling you how to eat your slice.

“We’re all proud Brooklynites,” Muia added. “I love where I’m from and the fact that I get to show it off for a living – there’s nothing better.”

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Brooklyn Paper: Full articles: Live from Brooklyn: Hundreds celebrate planned Sunset Park cancer center

See this story at BrooklynPaper.com.

By Kevin Duggan

Brooklyn Paper

They’re toasting to the future!

Hundreds of Brooklynites came out to celebrate and support the soon-to-open NYU Langone Health Perlmutter Cancer Center at a fundraising event in Brooklyn Heights on Monday.

Some 270 guests attended Perlmutter Cancer Center—Live from Brooklyn at the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge to celebrate the Sunset Park healthcare facility’s upcoming opening by enjoying live music, dancing, and raising $1.7 million in an auction to support the new center, which is set to open on Second Avenue between 57th and 58th streets later this year.

The new location will have state of the art machines that will allow cancer patients to get their chemo therapy and radiation therapy just a little over a block away from each other, so that patients no longer have to go all the way to Manhattan to get their comprehensive care, which can often be a difficulty, according to one of the hospital’s leaders.

“Simple logistic things can be very difficult,” said the vice chair of clinical operations Andrew Evans. “Just having these incredible machines will deliver much better treatments.”

The outpatient facility will offer medical and radiation oncology treatment for a wide variety of cancers with care teams that will perform radiation and infusion treatments using cutting edge technology, according to a press release by the hospital group.

The director of the new center said that the new center will bring the best cancer care to Kings Countians.

“Brooklynites deserve to get top-tier care without leaving the borough, and NYU Langone Health and Perlmutter Cancer Center are deeply committed to making that happen,” said Benjamin Neel.

Reach reporter Kevin Duggan at (718) 260–2511 or by e-mail at kduggan@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @kduggan16.

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