Episode 18

Owl's Head Park Walking Tour

A map of the Owl's Head Walking Tour

At A Glance

  • Our first audio walking tour.
  • Subscribe to the podcast with a mobile device and listen to this episode in Owl’s Head Park
  • Start at 67th Street and Colonial Road.

Why the heck is it actually called Owl’s Head? Find out! Today we partnered with Hey Ridge editor and local historian Henry Stewart to bring you an Owl’s Head Park walking tour. In fact, we think it’s actually the first audio walking tour of Bay Ridge… ever! This 15-minute guided episode is meant to be played on-site at Owl’s Head, at the entrance on 67th Street and Colonial Road. You’ll explore the history of the park, from the pre-colonial era up until today.

We’ll separate the myth from the fact about the name “Owl’s Head”, of course. But did you know the origins of the nearby street names? Do you know who exactly Senator Street named after? Together we’ll walk past where once a grand mansion and castle-like tower once stood, as well as learn about the odd tastes of the man who occupied the grounds. There’s weapons arsenals, gangland shootings, tragic deaths, and development deals gone sour. Henry will also discuss the original designs for the park and what was lost to time. Most importantly, we’ll be out enjoying one of Bay Ridge’s most beautiful parks!

Let us know what you think about the episode, and whether we should do more of them! And in case you don’t get Radio Free Bay Ridge on your phone, be sure to check out the subscription links below.

Subscribe to Radio Free Bay Ridge: iTunes / Google Play / Stitcher / Pocket Casts / Radio Public / Podbean / Castbox

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Episode 15

The State of Bay Ridge Transit

An antique map of South Brooklyn subway stops, focusing on Bay Ride's 4th Avenue Line.

At A Glance

  • Weekday R Train ridership city-wide declined 1%, but Bay Ridge was twice as bad, at 2%.
  • Weekend R Train ridership dropped over 20%. Last year, R Train service was cancelled on weekends about 20% of the time.
  • Local bus routes that parallel the R Train increased, but not enough to offset the R train declines. Uber and Lyft picked up slack, but some neighbors may simply be staying home.
  • Good news: The B70 had major ridership increases on weekdays, suggesting more job opportunities along the Sunset Park waterfront for people living in Bay Ridge.

Bay Ridge is luckier than most outer borough neighborhoods. Residents have multiple transit options, from trains to bikes to buses to ferries. However, last year’s transit situation was so bad that it was known city-wide as the “Summer of Hell”. Bay Ridge Avenue was closed for six months as part of a new “Enhanced Station Initiative”. This upgrade was spearheaded by our local State Senator Marty Golden, who sits on the MTA Capital Review Board. However, as cosmetic upgrades were being installed, service worsened across the board with little relief. Today we dig into the numbers and analyze 2017’s transit numbers, and what they mean for Bay Ridge.

We were happy to sit down with our transportation correspondent, Brian Hedden in this episode. We focus on the subways and buses, but also cover all aspects of Bay Ridge transit, including tolls, biking, and ferries.

Continue reading “Episode 15: The State of Bay Ridge Transit”

Episode 14

A Million Dollar Question


In today’s episode, Dan and Mary discuss Bay Ridge’s first Participatory Budgeting cycle. During last year’s city council race, every single candidate vowed to bring the experimental budgeting process into our district. This year, it’s finally happening! Our district will be getting a million dollars that will be spent entirely through grassroots democratic outreach, organized by and for local residents.

Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, and parts of Bensonhurst will get a million dollars spend on ideas it’s own residents come up with. The money can be used for construction and built things only (capital projects), but beyond that, it’s a very flexible system. Our co-host Dan is actually on the fifteen-person committee of local residents that will be helping to nurture and shepherd these ideas to buildable, votable ballot items. Listen in as we discuss what Participatory Budgeting means for Bay Ridge and how to get involved.

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Episode 13

Welcome To Bay Ridge


Today on the podcast, we’re doing something a bit different. We are welcoming our newest neighbors! In what we hope to be a yearly series, we are providing an overview of the neighborhood entirely geared for the newest Bay Ridgeites. If you spent this summer unpacking and exploring your new neighborhood, our contributors Mary and Erik, both new residents themselves, will fill you in. We’ll give you our personal food favorites and good drinking spots to meet up with other local progressives. We’ll let you know our favorite little Bay Ridge moments and things to do. Plus, we’ll fill you in on local politics and help hook you up with activist groups that happen to be around!

Welcome, Bay Ridge class of 2018! Don’t be a stranger.


Continue reading “Episode 13: Welcome to Bay Ridge (2018)”

Episode 11

Interview with Mathylde Frontus

Mathylde Frontus posing with Mary

With primary petitioning underway (again) and all of our local campaigns in full swing, we’re taking one more dive into local and state elections in an interview with Mathylde Frontus, running for New York’s 46th State Assembly District. The district covers the southern portion of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, and all of Coney Island west of Brighton Beach. Mathylde is a nonprofit director, scholar, and organizer who grew up in Coney Island. She has focused her life and studies on Social Services, mental health, community organizing and education.

Mary and Dan sat down to interview Mathylde and talk about what it’s like to run a storefront community services organization in the district, as well as her history organizing and guiding local grassroots non-violence projects in the district. The most recent of these has been the Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative, which recently joined local groups for rallies in front of the infamous Knights of Columbus NRA Meeting this past April, as well as a large March For Our Lives rally on the Coney Island Boardwalk in March.

We also went over what is driving Mathylde’s candidacy: a desire to systematically reform government. This includes improving community feedback (by creating new mechanisms such as a community think-tank), encouraging residents to become more aware of their government (by creating new civic workshops to help people run for office), and by pushing for more transparency in the Albany budget process to uncover corruption and improve accountability. We also discuss specific issues, such as education and mental health services.

Finally, we take some time to go over the local news. It’s been a busy week in Bay Ridge, with the arrest by ICE of pizza deliveryman Pablo Villavicencio Calderon at the Fort Hamilton Army Base resulting in local arrests and protests. In addition, there’s been a short-notice Community Board Transportation Committee meeting on Bike Lanes that deals with the DOT 92nd street proposed lanes. Finally, there is the chaotic overlap of the NY-11 (Staten Island and South Brooklyn) federal congressional primary election on June 26th with the petiti0ning throughout June for candidates running in local elections (Including Ross Barkan, Andrew Gournardes, and Mathylde Frontus.) Get your walking shoes ready and volunteer!

Continue reading “Episode 11: Interview with Mathylde Frontus”

Episode 10

Interview with Andrew Gounardes


June is here! And that means petitioning is starting for our local and state primary elections. Petitioning is conducted by candidates to get enough signatures to earn a spot on the primary ballot this September, and if they win, they’ll be their parties nominee to continue on to the November general election. Today, we’re sitting down for an interview with Andrew Gounardes, one of the Democratic nominees for Brooklyn’s 22nd State Senate district, which represents Bay Ridge in Albany.

Rachel and Dan sat down earlier this year with Andrew to talk about his campaign and the issues that matter to him. If he wins the primary, he’ll be squaring off against Republican incumbent Martin J Golden, the lone Brooklyn Republican in the State Senate who has gerrymandered the district in his favor. We’ll talk with Andrew about his life in public service, as well as Mr. Golden’s inability to solve perennial problems in the neighborhood. We also discuss reforming New York State’s archaic voting laws, how to get engaged in civic life, improving neighborhood transportation options and street safety. We also chat about property taxes and housing reform, including giving the city control over rent laws and making it easier to own a home. Andrew also discusses his proposal for a major South Brooklyn waterfront park, connecting and expanding the green spaces along the Narrows and Gravesend Bay!

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Episode 9

Interview with Ross Barkan

Ross Barkan standing by Shore Road Park in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
Photo courtesy Ross Barkan for New York

June is almost upon us, and that means a new petitioning season for candidates running in state and local elections! To give our loyal listeners an idea of who’s running in our area, we’re continuing in the spirit of our NY-11 Congressional Contenders series and bringing you a couple of long-format interviews with progressive Democratic candidates running for office.

Today, Rachel and Dan are sitting down and talking with Ross Barkan, who’s running for the 22nd New York State Senate District, currently occupied by Republican incumbent Martin J Golden. Ross is a former journalist and was briefly a teacher at Fort Hamilton High School. He’s been a longtime political reporter, with an in-depth knowledge of Albany politics and brings a unique, insightful perspective on how to fix a corrupt and often unresponsive political system. We’ll go over exactly what a State Senator does and how Albany dysfunction affects Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. We’ll also get into the weeds on specific transportation, education and climate-change policy proposals for the neighborhood, like an exciting new commuter rail line running through the heart of the district, reducing student debt burdens, and tidal protections for the next superstorm.

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Episode 8

Brooklyn, Inshallah

Last year, Bay Ridge experienced an unprecedented and vibrant Democratic Primary for City Council. One of the candidates was Rev. Khader El-Yateem, who ran on a message of representation for an often overlooked population of Arab-Americans in the district. There was a great deal of news coverage of the race, and most of the stories centered on Rev. El-Yateem as a candidate. Today, however, we shift the focus and bring you the story of a storyteller.

Ahmed Mansour, through a series of chance encounters and circumstances, wound up journeying from his home on the Gaza Strip to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. With a video camera in hand, he found the El-Yateem campaign in its infancy, and documented everything along the way, amassing hundreds of hours of footage. As he followed “Team El-Yateem”, he ended up exploring a much more important character: the neighborhood of Bay Ridge itself and the Arab-American community that calls it home.

Today Radio Free Bay Ridge is happy to bring you our interview with Ahmed exploring the story behind his upcoming documentary “Brooklyn, Inshallah”. We also discuss what’s next for Ahmed as an artist, and how he perceives Bay Ridge from the point of view of being a simultaneous outsider and insider.

You can check out Ahmed’s fundraiser for his documentary on LaunchGood if you’d like to contribute to expanding it to feature length, or contact him if you’d like to assist in the project!

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Congressional Contenders Finale

NY-11 Activist Roundtable

Our NY11 round-table guests in the studio chatting.
Our progressive activist round-table in the studio! Your guests today are Brian Hedden, Alex Pellitteri, Mallory McMahon, and Rachel Posner.

Get ready for our final NY-11 wrapup episode! We’ve heard from all eight Democratic candidates for New York’s 11th Congressional District on the podcast. We’ve given each candidate unrestricted time to discuss themselves and educate us on any issue of their choice. Boyd Melson, Michael DeVito Jr., Mike DeCillis, Zach Emig, Max Rose, Paul Sperling, Omar Vaid and Radhakrishna Mohan have lent their voices to the podcast. But to wrap up, we’re turning the mic over to you! 

Today, we have a powerhouse of progressives in the studio to talk about issues we care about. Join in with a five-person cross-section of neighborhood activists as we educate the candidates about the things we wanted to hear about, such as transit, the environment, Brooklyn/Staten Island unity, the (possible) myth of the moderate voter, women’s health issues and paid family leave, foreign policy and immigration, refugees, the inequalities inherent in the fundraising process during primaries, and much more.

If you want to get involved and make friends with the guests on the panel, feel free to check out our list of progressive neighborhood organizations! And don’t forget to check out Fight Back Bay Ridge’s massive NY11 candidate questionnaire for even more info about the candidates!

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Episode 7

John Papanier on Staten Island's Town Hall For Our Lives

Neighbors gathering in the foyer before the Staten Island Town Hall For Our Lives

On March 31st, across the country, students orchestrated town hall meetings with their elected officials, asking them to join them for a dialogue about gun violence in American schools. The #TownHallForOurLives is a movement spearheaded by the students of Majorie Stoneman Douglas school in Parkland, Florida – but like a true grassroots movement, it involved students from around the country taking ownership and agency, and Staten Island and New York’s 11th Congressional District was no exception.

The #NY11TownHall that took place that night was an opportunity for the community to come together and was attended by local elected officials such as Councilwoman Debi Rose and State Senator Diane Savino. After learning that no local GOP would be in attendance (still hiding in that phone booth, Dan Donovan?), the students invited all the NY11 Congressional Contenders still left in our race, instead.

Radio Free Bay Ridge attended and live-tweeted the two-and-a-half-hour event. We’ll be uploading the full audio this weekend.

Today, in anticipation of more March for Our Lives Events centered on our neighborhood (including one this Saturday organized by local teens in Bay Ridge) we spoke to one of the organizers of the Staten Island Town Hall, John Papanier. We talked about how the local students are leading the way on this incredibly important issue.

Continue reading “Episode 7: John Papanier on Staten Island’s Town Hall For Our Lives”