Friday, September 22, 2006

What the %$@^

We've seen a lot of stupid boat names in our years on the water. Big power boats with names like Blue Chip and Mai Tai. There are the obvious double entendre boat names like Liquor Box, Sea-Deuce (we've seen Sea Deucer) and yes, even Wet Dream. But there is one boat that deserves dubious distinction: The Tartan 10 Tar Baby.

You gotta draw a line somewhere, and maybe that line is in the vicinity of naming a boat Tar Baby.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Coda: 207 Wyckoff

An unexpected trip out of town kept us from the action at 207 Wyckoff for a couple of days. When we left Monday evening, the work crew was disconnecting the water line that once connected to the property at 207 Wyckoff and continuing to remove debris from the lot. They had yet to fully remove the eastern or western walls of the building.

A lot changed in two days.

As of today, the building is fully dismantled, the lot is cleaned and the basement is filled with dirt. The adjacent parking lot is empty of bricks and equipment and heavy machinery. A chain link fence has been erected around the property and there are a few punch-list items to finish. While they were able to disconnect the water line, they were not able to find and disconnect the sewer line, so the boys will be back to finish off that job in the next few days. The broken bluestone sidewalk will be removed (a shame that the crumbling tower crushed the old bluestone in front of the building) and put a fresh layer of concrete will replace it (we hear that some neighbors on Wyckoff Street have dibs on the bluestone).

Wyckoff Street bookmakers are laying down odds on how long 207 Wyckoff will remain vacant; what, if any, action the City will take against the owner (neighboring buildings have not heard from Yassky's office since his initial call a few days after the buiding came down); and the pending litigation.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Salvaging in Sheepshead Bay or Cleaning Up Ernesto's Mess

This weekend's perfect weather not only drew boaters out to enjoy the last weekend of the summer, but also brought more repair and recovery activities to the waterfront. In addition to the damage Ernesto brought to Sheepshead Bay, we've discovered the greater extent of his damage in ports very close to our local waters. In Atlantic Highlands, a favorite overnight spot of Brooklyn sailors, 28 vessels that broke free of their moorings , 18 broke free in Keyport, 18 broke free in Perth Amboy and 25 broke free in Great Kills Harbor. None of the Raritan Bay mooring fields were spared. Not all of these boats sank but they were all severely damaged.

An example of what some local boaters must be experiencing took place at Sheepshead Bay Yacht Club this weekend. A half-dozen men gathered at the main dock along Sheepshead Bay , joined by an FDNY rescue boat and and a diver. They were there to bring a small fishing boat that was docked in a slip at the club up from the bottom of the Bay. To bring her up, they At first they tied air filled bags to the hull, which started to raise her off the bottom. In order to get the deck and transom above the water line, the men tied the sunken boat to two neighboring boats and began to pull her up to a point where the FDNY used an automatic pump to expedite the bailing process.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Summer Weekend Finale on the Brooklyn Waterfront

This was the last weekend of summer. Autumn begins on September 23rd.

2006 Atlantic Antic

Our land-based crew headed over to the Atlantic Antic to soak in the local flavor. The 2006 Atlantic Antic was hot and crowded but Brooklynites seemed to take it in stride and enjoyed the local talent, missionaires, djs, food, beer, wine and the merchandise.

We were not surprised to see some representatives who are lobbying strongly against Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards plan. Representatives from Develop don't Destroy and the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods were there to inform the public about the the current plan for the Atlantic Yards site, alternative plans and ways to make your voice heard for people opposed to the current plan of action for the Atlantic Yards site.

We really enjoyed the many local entertainers. We were particularly fond of a singing banjo player Hank's as well as the special SixPoint brew that was produced in limited quantities especially for the Antic. And what's the point of going if you're not going to try some of the local cuisine. We laughed our way over to the Jerk Center for some amazing jerk chicken and pork accompanied with a side of mac & cheese.

We say laughed our way over because one of our favorite Seinfeld episodes, entitled "The Comeback" where George , during a company lunch, is stuffing his mouth with shrimp, and a coworker says "George, the ocean called and they said they're running out of shrimp." Everyone laughs and George gets pissed off.

The rest of the episode is spent with George planning to use his best comeback on the guy "The jerk store called, and they're running out of you." At the end, after traveling hours to meet the guy, the guy replies to the comeback by saying "Why would they call me? You're their all time best seller."

Lastly, we loved the ability for a diverse crowd to get along and enjoy themselves. Perhaps there's a lesson to be learned .

Following are some shots from the 06 antic. More shots can be seen at the Sail Brooklyn Flickr Page.

Third Week of Demo at 207 Wyckoff

Today marks the start of the third week of demolition at 207 Wyckoff St. in Boerum Hill, Brookyn.

As of this posting, the good folks at A. Russo Wrecking, have brought the front and rear walls fully down. The majority of the wall that is adjacent to the parking lot has been removed and about one story of the wall that abuts 209 Wyckoff has to come down (we're curious how they are going to bring that wall down). On Friday, Russo brought in the heavy machinery (I think its a materials handler), which resembles a man-made, yellow dinosaur, to start hauling out the 10-foot pile of debris out of the site. The crew has been hauling truckloads as they move to empty out the lot so they can fill in the foundation.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ernesto Rocks Sheepshead Bay (Update)

Earlier in the week, we reported on the havoc Ernesto created as he came roaring through Sheepshead Bay.

We scoured internets and have some updates of Ernesto in action in the Bay. In the top photo, you can see a little boat that has almost capsized because of the wind and the choppy waves. You can also see some of the new condo development that has sprouted recently on Emmons Avenue.

The blue boat in the second shot has broken free of her mooring as some people on Sheepshead Bay Yacht Club's tender try to capture her, preventing any further damage. Additionally, all of the finger docks shown in this shot were eventually destroyed by the storm. Today, while there's still evidence of storm damage, most of the major damage has been cleaned up and repaired.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Continuing Our Land-Based Feed from 207 Wyckoff St.

We're continuing to our stint of land-based reporting with continuing coverage on activities at 207 Wyckoff St. in Boerum Hill (we expect to return to sea shortly).

As of this posting, the building is very close to coming all the way down, with what appears to be tremendous progress being made in the past two days. Yesterday (picture left), there was still a significant amount of the side and rear walls standing. Today, more than 3/4 of the front and western walls are gone. And it appears as the entire rear wall has gone as well. One interesting fact about 207 Wyckoff is that even though its been empty for more than 30 years, there were still pots and pans hanging from the wall of the top floor kitchen.

Today we observed the Eastern European crew demolishing the western wall not brick-by-brick as we've seen previously, but using the crane --- specifically the bucket of the crane -- as a tool to push down the wall. We saw two guys in the bucket, as the operator moved it next to the wall. The operator then forced the bucket into the wall and voila, about a seven-foot section collapsed into the building. This also helped verify our assumptions that the demo crew is not carting away any of the material right now, but rather creating a pile in the center of the building -- a massive two story pile of debris. We can only assume that when they finally finish tearing this sucker down, that another crew will bring some new Tonka-like machines to the site and start carting all of the bricks, wood and garbage away.

Overall, residents on Wyckoff Street are happy the building is coming down. Even in this demolished state, residents have commented that the block looks better with a nearly demolished building compared to the single piece of abandoned blight on the bloc. Of course, some buildings have better light, and now, from the corner of Wyckoff and Bond Streets, residents can see the top of the Williamsburg Savings Bank, which has not been visible.

The Western wall at 209 Wyckoff seems to be in tact and other than the roof. We're curious when the last time, if ever, that wall of 209 Wyckoff has seen the light of day. While we're on the subject of 209 Wyckoff, we managed to get a hold of the previous owner, who sold the building just about a year ago. The ex-owner told us when he first found out that 207 Wyckoff had partially collapsed he "was furious" because after years of lobbying local officials at the DoB, Yassky's office, the Borough President's Office nothing was accomplished and the building fell and added "Yassky hasn't done shit for Boerum Hill."

Monday, September 11, 2006

Starting the Second Week of Demo at 207 Wyckoff

Its been one week since 207 Wyckoff St. in Boerum Hill began falling onto itself and its neighbors. Since then, the demolition crew has made some amazing progress bringing almost one-half of the front facade down. They are bringing it down brick-by-brick, to prevent any further accidents.

Moreover, Sail Brooklyn has heard from David Yassky's office regarding this building which has been a menace to Mr. Yassky's constituents for years. According to Yassky's office, the buildings department said that if the owner of 207 Wyckoff did surface and went to court to stop the demolition, given the amount and frequency of violations at 207 Wyckoff, they estimate that the most time they could see the judge giving the owner was 30 days. Our contact at Mr. Yassky's office said they believed if this was the case, a judge would most likely ask that the building come down in two weeks and if the owner did not comply, the judge would reinstate the demolition order for the city to do the work. We're also pleased to year that Mr. Yassky has personally gotten involved in the issue of 207 Wyckoff. He is sending a letter to the DoB Commissioner recounting the story fo 207 Wyckoff and citing the failure of the DoB to act and calling for the DoB to press charges against the owner independent of the fines.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Bringing Down 207 Wyckoff

As of this morning, one-half of the top floor of the remaining structure of 207 Wyckoff has been removed. Additionally, the DoB has declared it unsafe and illegal to enter into the adjoining parking lot (this was not the case a few days ago).

As we stated in earlier posts, the DoB has ordered 207 Wyckoff to be fully demolished through an immediate emergency declaration. We hear that the entire process will take approximately two weeks, followed by backfilling the foundation, removal of the protective (and ghetto fabulous) blue sheds and constructing a plywood fence around the perimiter of 207 Wyckoff.

Additionally, we've been informed that City Councilman David Yassky's office has contacted local residents and is working to ensure that the building comes down quickly and safely to enable the displaced residents to move home quickly. We're also told that once DoB decides to bring the building down, the owner has little recourse in halting the process. Moreover, the city will bill the owner of 207 Wyckoff a very, very hefty fee to bring it down -- we're told it could be as hight as five times the cost if the absentee owner were to bring it down himself. We were also told that there will be no penalty or criminal action taken against the owner of the crumbling tenement other than a fine.

Ernesto Creates Havoc in Sheepshead Bay

Winds gusting to 70, 15-foot tidal surges, destroyed docks and sunken boats is what Ernesto brought to Sheepshead Bay this weekend.

The wind came into the Sheepshead Bay from the East, which is the only unprotected side and the one that leads into the Rockaway Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean. High tide came in around 2:30 p.m., because of the winds the tides were higher then usual and there were four foot, square choppy waves in Sheepshead Bay. The floating docks rippled like a xylophone in a Tom and Jerry cartoon. The strength of the easterly winds prevented the tide from flowing out, keeping the waters high in Sheepshead Bay. This is when the mayhem started.

From 4:30 p.m. on Saturday until 3:00 a.m. Sunday morning, the winds blew steady at 48 knots and were gusting to 70. The easterly winds were so strong that they prevented the tide to flow out of the Sheepshead Bay, causing a storm surge more than 10 feet as high tide came in at 1:30 a.m. The storm caused 7 boats to come off their moorings, destroying two of them and we hear one of the Sheepshead Bay fishing fleet was sunk by mighty Ernesto (we're not sure which one). One of the local clubs had 3 main docks and around a dozen finger docks destroyed (we're not sure of the total damage in the bay) The old-timers who've sailed out of Sheepshead Bay for more that 50 years, say this is one of the worst storms on record. The rebuilding has already started.

A very calm Sheepshead Bay (we don't have any images of the storm damage yet)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Continuing Saga at 207 Wyckoff St

We are continuing to follow the activities at 207 Wyckoff Street in Boerum Hill.

As of this posting, the demo crew has taken the facade off the top floor of the crumbling tenement. They are demolishing the building brick-by-brick in order to prevent any further damage to any of the surrounding buildings. We're told that the demolition will take 10 days.

The townhouse at 209 Wyckoff, which abuts the tenement, has been declared unsafe and illegal to enter. We're not sure where the owner is residing, but we know that the renters (a recently engaged couple) of the top-floor apartment have found temporary shelter in the neighborhood.

Insurance companies have been called and we're told that the two cars that were destroyed by a partial wall collapse of 207 Wyckoff have been declared totaled.

We'd also like to note that numerous calls and e-mail messages have been made to City Council Member David Yassky, who has not returned one. We're assuming that he's too busy trying to move up the political ladder to take care of his constituents.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Wyckoff Street's Tumbling Tenement (update 2)

We've moved onshore this holiday weekend and have been covering the partial collapse of 207 Wyckoff Street in Boreum Hill.

As of this posting, the Department of Buildings has moved to tear down 207 Wyckoff Street after the eastern and western walls of the building partially collapsed onto neighboring properties. We heard that the foreman of the demolition crew made a very persuasive argument to the Department of Buildings Engineer, who returned to the site today to re-assess the building. Yesterday, the engineer was hesitant to tear the whole structure down, but ordered that the top floor must come down and a protective "shed" be built around the property. Late this afternoon, upon further inspection, he deemed the property unsafe and moved to have it torn down.

Over the next 10 days, demolition crews will work to assemble scaffolding around 207 Wyckoff Street and then carefully dismantle the old brick structure. Right now, protective scaffolding is being erected around the building. We are not aware of any specific fines that have been levied nor are we aware of any other actions that have been taken against the absentee landlord of the property.

Tumbling Tower on Wyckoff Street (Update)

While we we anticipated writing about our Brooklyn waterfront yesterday, we were distracted by some local onshore activities on Wyckoff Street, specifically, that part of the wall of 207 Wyckoff Street had collapsed onto two cars in an adjacent parking lot.

In less than 24-hours since then, lots has changed. Around 3:00 p.m. yesterday, a large section of the Western wall on 207 Wyckoff fell onto the roof of 209 Wyckoff Street. Thankfully no one was injured, but 209 Wyckoff did sustain some significant damage to its roof. At present, the owners and one rental apartment are finding other shelter until they can get their roof cleaned and repaired. The collapse onto 209 Wyckoff Street happened approximately 12 hours after the fire department and department of buildings came to the parking lot at 205 Wyckoff Street roped part of the lot off. The second collapse caused a number of "officials" to come onto the site to make some quick assessments and recommendations. Around 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 3, about six fire trucks, a few police cars, an EMT vehicle and firetruck with a crane came onto the scene to check on the situation. Officials from OEM and the Department of Buildings also were on the scene. After more than two hours of deliberation we are told that an official from the Department of Buildings made a decision to demolish the top floor of 207 Wyckoff Street. They also ordered all of the vehicles out of the parking lot at 205 Wyckoff Street and roped off a rather large area around 207 Wyckoff Street.

Around 9:00 this morning, a team of men from A. Russo demolition showed up on the scene. We were told that they were hired by the city to take down the top floor of 207 Wyckoff Street. Upon arriving at the scene, A. Russo had recommended to the city that "the whole building come down." From their point of view, the entire building is unstable and should come down. A. Russo told us that there is no roof left on the building and what is left has collapsed onto itself.

We were told that the engineer on the scene on Sunday that ordered only the top floor to come down was a representative from Queens, so he was not authorized to make the decision to order the entire building down. We were also told that on Tuesday, Sept. 5, a Department of Buildings official from Brooklyn would come onto the scene and determine how much of of the building should come down, and how to secure what is left. We understand that the only work orders from the City have been to remove the top floor and to construct a protective fence around the building.

As of this posting, the good men of A. Russo have removed all of the debris that fell onto the townhouse at 209 Wyckoff Street and are currently working from a crane to remove any loose debris. They plan to build a protective shed around the building today and, if they have time, start to demolish the top floor of 207 Wyckoff. This could all change tomorrow when more "officials" come to Wyckoff Street to evaluate what should happen with the building.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Bricks Sail off Boerum Hill Eyesore

Sorry we haven't posted in a while. We'll try to get back to a regular(ish) schedule.

At 2:30 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 3rd, a loud bang rang out from 207 Wyckoff Street in Boerum Hill, a former tenement that has been sitting abandoned for approximately 20 years. The noise resulted from a section of brick falling off the top of the West-facing wall of the building. The bricks fell into a parking lot abutting 207 Wyckoff and apparently destroyed two cars (a Mazda Myata and a Chrysler PT Cruiser). The fire department came shortly afterward and sealed off part of the parking lot because there is still a lot of loose debris that can fall from the building. Because it happened so late (or early), the parking lot was empty and thankfully nobody was injured.

The back story on this building is interesting. For as long as we've been around these parts (which is over 12 years), there has been a U.S. Realty sign on the side of the building, obviously advertising that 207 Wyckoff is for sale. However, if you call the number (516-829-1001), nobody will answer. So its a mystery as to whether or not the owner wants to sell. Sources on the block tell us that the owner of 207 Wyckoff Street is very delinquent in his taxes on the property. When the city threatens to foreclose on the property, the owner makes arrangements with the city to pay a small portion of the delinquent taxes so he doesn't have to relinquish his prized property to the city. In the meantime, this property has sat delinquent and falling apart for years.

Checking the NYC Department of Buildings Web Page you can see the property, which is visibly in very, very poor shape, has a few violations, and many many complaints. Neighbors on both sides of the building have called the DOB numerous times to complain about falling debris. Unfortunately, the DOB dismissed the complaints saying there is no evidence of falling debris or a failure to maintain the property. Does this qualify as evidence? In addition, the neighbors have been in contact with David Yassky's office (the local City Council Rep) to try to resolve this matter. Unfortunately, after more than four years of letters, site visits and phone calls, nothing has happened.

We asked the locals about what will happen next. Apparently the Fire Department closed off half of the parking lot and they have contacted the DOB, who has issued a summons to repair the building by Oct. 20th. If the building is not repaired by then, a $5,000 fine will be issued. That fine doubles each week until the work is deemed acceptable by the DOB. The unlucky owner of the Myata and PT Cruiser (its the same person), has filed claims with his insurance company and is pondering litigation against the owner of 207 Wyckoff and perhaps some other sources as well.