Below is Prospect Heights Patch's live blog of the Feb. 14, 2013 Community Board 8 meeting at Calvary Community Church, 1575 St. John's Place.
7:15 p.m.: At the start of this Valentine's Day meeting there wasn't a quorum, so the meeting started with public comments. A representative of the Brower Park Library let people know that contrary to rumor, the library is not planning to sell any of the buildings built by Carnegie.
“The library has assured us that we’re not abandoning neighborhoods,” he said.
In response to a question, he said that sadly, the library is not able to bring back Saturday hours anytime soon. He also let people know about the new Shelby White and Leon Levy Information Commons, which has space for 70 people to work on their own laptops. There are outlets and a dedicated wifi router for the area. Patch tried it Wednesday and it’s awesome.
7:34 p.m.: Mr. Kelly from the Barclays Center gave a report on their hiring. They say they’ve hired 2,000 workers, 1,900 of which are part time. Almost 80 percent of the employees are from Brooklyn. About 35 percent of all employees are from Community Boards 2,3,6 and 8, which are the boards closest to the arena. Over 30 percent of the employees are NYCHA public housing residents. Over 120 employees were referred from BUILD, a neighborhood organization.
After he gave the figures, board members expressed concern that so many of the positions are part time. In answer to a series of questions we’ve learned the following information: The workers are union members. Most of the positions are part time. The part-time positions get union benefits, but not any benefits from Barclays.
The board requested that the next report breaks down exactly how many workers come from each community board.
8:10 p.m.: The board voted not to support a request by 297 Prospect Place to install new doors and a rear balcony. This building is in the Prospect Heights Historic District and therefore needs a “certificate of appropriateness” from the Landmarks Preservation Commission to make changes to the exterior. They want to replace the rear windows on the top floor with sliding aluminum and glass doors and add a rear balcony.
The residents of the two adjacent buildings had no objections, but at the housing committee meeting decided not to support the recommendation because of concerns that the balcony was too big and might set a precedent for more balcony and rear extensions.
8:15 p.m.: The community board also voted not to support a request to convert a storefront at 188 Underhill Ave. to an apartment and sound artist studio. They also want to add a two-story 30-foot L-shaped extension in the back. The applicants say the building, which is also located in the Prospect Heights Historic District, has been vacant for the past 18 months.
The landlords of 190 Underhill said they thought the extension was too big. The long side of the extension would run next to their building. They also said it was unfair that they could not add a similar extension to their building. The owner of 186 had no objection to the plans.
The committee recommended that the board not support the application because the addition was too big and because once the building was changed from commercial to residential, it must stay residential because the commercial space does not comply with the Landmark District rules but had been grandfathered in. They also noted a need to use permeable materials for the concrete pad and that the owner should collaborate with the neighbors on the aesthetics and materials that will be used for the exterior wall. The board agreed.
9:00 p.m. The board voted to support the request of a full liquor license for a new California/Mexican restaurant coming to 267 Flatbush Avenue at the corner of St. Marks Avenue.
Called Cooper Square, the restaurant will seat 62 people at 20 tables and 11 seats at the bar. There will also be a takeout window on St. Marks. The restaurant is within 500 feet of three other restaurants with full liquor licenses and therefore needs a statement of why adding another full bar would be “in the public interest.”
To that question the owners argued that it wouldn’t just be a restaurant/bar, there would also be “creative” cocktails. They also said it will also offer a “much-needed” late-night dining option near the Barclays Center. They promised to be good neighbors to area residents.
The owners also want to have seating on St. Marks Avenue but the board separated that request from the liquor license application and hasn’t voted on it yet.
The board voted to support the full liquor license with the following stipulations: the hours be 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. (instead of 4 a.m.), the take-out window close at 10 p.m., and all deliveries, garbage and smoking take place only on Flatbush Avenue.
9:16 p.m. The board voted to support a full liquor license for The Butterfly Lounge, 826 St John’s Place between Rogers and Nostrand. The bar, which seats 30, is open 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Sunday through Tuesday and 11 a.m. to 4 a.m. Wednesday to Saturday.
9:20 p.m. The Board voted to support the renewal of liquor licenses at the following restaurants:
Chuko, 552 Vanderbilt at Dean (beer and wine)
Cataldo’s, 554 Vanderbilt bet. Dean and Bergen (beer and wine)
Palace Hall, 713 Nostrand at Sterling (full)
Eve’s Lounge, 769 Washington at St. John’s (full)
Inaka, 597 Vanderbilt Avenue bet. Dean and Bergen (beer/wine)
Basil, 268 Kingston Ave. at Lincoln (beer and wine)
9:40 p.m. During committee reports the Great Franklin Avenue Bike Corral Debate of 2013 was revived. The owner of Lily and Fig, came out against it, saying she wasn't consulted, even though her business is right nearby. Since she's a bakery and cafe, many of her customers need the parking space to load wedding cakes and other large orders.
Longtime Franklin Avenue-area resident Diana Foster said she was offended by the lack of outreach to longtime residents and community institutions.
“This is bigger than a bike corral. The church is right across from the bike corral. No one went to the church to tell them about the bike corral,” she said, adding, “It appears that the board looks at what they want to look at and other things just go past.”
Board Chairwoman Nizjoni Granville acknowledged the concern and said in the future there will be more outreach. "We will work doubly hard to make sure that the next time something like this comes up, everybody knows about it," she said.
Kate Blumm, owner of Little Zelda, which organized the drive to bring in the corral, and which is in charge of keeping the planters green and the corral litter-free, also spoke at the meeting (with the first Little Zelda in tow).
“I really regret not being a better neighbor to some people on our block. We’re very sensitive to that now,” she said. She and husband Michael De Zayas are now in touch with the churches on the block and will make more of an effort to reach out to everyone in the community going forward, she said.
She also defended the corral. “We see this as something that could be a potential benefit to the community and we promise to take good care of it,” she said.