Community Archive

Nomiki Konst, Dawn Smalls and Ben Yee at Solidarity Space

From left to right: Nomiki Konst, Ben Yee, and Dawn Smalls. Photo by Daniel Hetteix.

During the 2019 polar vortex, three Public Advocate candidates braved the cold to meet with Bay Ridge residents. Nomiki Konst, Ben Yee, and Dawn Smalls were joined by moderator Ross Barkan at Solidarity Space. The candidates outlined their platform, traded some barbs early on, and answered numerous questions from residents.

In our estimation, this was one of the most entertaining of the Public Advocate’s events hosted by Solidarity Space, and the three-person format kept things lively, if a little unweildly. The event went over-time, clocking in at an hour and twenty minutes, but covered a wide range of issues. Topics included decriminalizing sex work, climate change, congestion pricing, and Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). Have a listen, check out our analysis below, or watch Solidarity Space’s full live stream of the event!

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Community Archive

Melissa Mark-Viverito at Solidarity Space

Left to right: Ross Barkan, Melissa Mark-Viverito, and Kadia Goba. Photo courtesy Melissa Mark-Viverito for Public Advocate.

At A Glance

  • Solidarity Space and Bklyner are hosting a number of in-depth forums for the Public Advocate.
  • Former City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who represented the South Bronx and East Harlem, discussed her record and qualifications.
  • The MTA and public transit was a focal point for the candidate.
  • Questions from residents focused on affordable housing, education, climate change, and gender equality.

Continuing their successful Public Advocates series, Solidarity Space recently hosted former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. For about an hour, the Public Advocate candidate outlined her proposals and took questions from Bay Ridge residents. Solidarity Space founder Ross Barkan and Bklyner journalist Kadia Goba moderated.

There was a strong focus throughout the night on the MTA and public transit, which made sense considering that Mark-Viverito’s party line in the upcoming election is “Fix the MTA”. Residents however focused their attention to affordable housing, climate change, and education. You can check out the full livestream over at Solidarity Space’s Twitter account.

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Episode 20

The Bay Ridge 5th Avenue BID

At A Glance

  • We interviewed Amanda Zenteno, the Executive Director of the Bay Ridge 5th Avenue BID.
  • The BID provides many services, such as sanitation, security, events, networking, and marketing.
  • We dig into some of the problems merchants face, opportunities they can take advantage of, and dispel a few persistent myths about the local economy.

Bay Ridge is teeming with commercial possibilities, and is home to three major shopping avenues in close proximity. Today we’ll learn what it takes to help them flourish. We sat down with Amanda Zenteno, the Executive Director of the Bay Ridge 5th Avenue BID, or Business Improvement District.

We’ll cover what a BID does and how it’s organized, and what services it provides to the businesses it serves. We also talk about keeping commercial corridors clean and dispelling misconceptions about vacant storefronts. Support your local businesses and have a listen!

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

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Episode 19

Happy New Year, Bay Ridge!

At A Glance

  • Check out the results of our favorite episode of 2018 poll!
  • Sneak preview our upcoming episodes.”
  • Our favorite moments of 2018 and what 2019 might have in store.

Welcome to 2019 and happy New Year, Bay Ridge! While we’re busy updating our elected representatives page and nursing our hangovers, we threw together a short episode for you. Chill out with us in our newly renovated studio as we reflect back on 2018, and look forward to 2019! Plus, Rachel will reveal the results of our latest poll! What were your favorite episodes? What were ours? Find out, and get a sneak peek into the episodes we have planned for 2019!

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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 17

The Art of the Gerrymander

One artistic interpretation of State Senate District 22 (Bay Ridge is on the left) as seen at the Art of the Gerrymander art show.

At A Glance

  • Fight Back Bay Ridge’s first fundraiser brought together the local art and activist communities.
  • The art auction was filled with creative interpretations of Senate District 22’s gerrymandered boundaries.”
  • We interviewed guests and attendees to ask about the intersection of art and politics.

On October 22nd, local activist group Fight Back Bay Ridge held their first fundraiser. Unlike many other groups, which focus on three-hundred-dollar-a-plate dinners or a cheesy speech, they did something both creative and community-building. They sent out a call to the Bay Ridge arts community, including Stand 4 Gallery and many more.

They challenged local artists to create artwork they’d be willing to donate for a silent auction. The theme was to raise awareness and creatively interpret the gerrymandered boundaries of Bay Ridge’s state senate district, SD22. The resulting gallery show brought together the activist and artistic communities of Bay Ridge for one of the first times. Our co-host Rachel Brody interviewed people at the event, discussing how they felt about art, politics, and their community.

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Episode 16

Fact Check: Golden vs Gounardes


At A Glance

  • We’re bringing you Live Audio and Fact Checks.
  • Golden took credit for many things the state did as a whole.
  • Post-debate spin by the Conservative Party doesn’t hold water.
  • Gounardes kept answers short and to the point. Golden took up the majority of speaking time.
  • There were some fireworks moments near the end.

On October 3rd, 2018 we had one of the long-standing Bay Ridge debates occur under the auspices of our local Interagency Council on Aging. Held this year at the Fort Hamilton Senior Center with longtime moderator Peter Killen. The event was a whos-who of local politicians and included debates between every local candidate running in this year’s midterm elections. Today, however, we are focusing on just one: Golden vs Gounardes.

After the #BRForum debates, we asked our listeners what we should do with the audio. A majority of you said we should fact-check the debate… so we did! Today, co-host Dan will be breaking in between questions to provide context and fact-checks.

We’ll hear questions on a wide range of issues, much of it focusing on children. While this may seem jarring for a senior center debate, remember that older adults often have child safety as a top priority, especially as grandkids come along. So sit back and enjoy!

Note: We’ll also be posting the audio for the other debates that day! The include Mathylde Frontus vs Steve Saperstein, Adam Baumel vs Nicole Malliotakis, and Max Rose vs Dan Donovan. They will be available in the show notes below shortly.

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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.

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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.


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