1. The West Brooklyn Molester
Over the summer, 20 sexual assaults—mostly gropings—were reported from Park Slope through Sunset Park; as many as four different men were suspected, though few arrests (save wrongful ones) were made. Many criticized the police for their seemingly indifferent handling of the case (at least one officer advised women to dress differently!). The attacks frightened the community but also inspired many to band together: they marched in the streets and formed groups to escort women home from the subway at night.
2. Bob Turner Wins NY-9
It was the Democrats’ to lose, and lose it they did: Anthony Weiner’s congressional district went Republican for the first time in almost a century, thanks largely to increasingly conservative sections of southern and central Brooklyn, where Turner won two-to-one.
3.Bike Lane Battle Royale
The Department of Transportation published a study in January showing the benefits of Prospect Park West’s controversial bike lane, findings disputed by longtime opponents like Borough President Marty Markowitz, former DOT commissioner Iris Weinshall and former Department of Sanitation commissioner Norman Steisel. The latter two formed a group that announced in February it would sue the city for the lane’s removal, claiming that the lane was a pilot program and was never intended to be permanent. The suit was summarily dismissed in August, but they promised “a longer war.” Happily, it’s been all quiet on the Prospect Park West front since then.
4. The Gruesome Death of Leiby Kletzky
Eight-year-old Leiby Kletzky walked home alone from camp one July day, but never made it. Three thousand volunteers searched as far as New Jersey but found nothing: Leiby had stopped to ask directions from Levi Aron, who subsequently abducted the boy and held him for days, then suffocated him and chopped up the body, dumping parts in a dumpster while keeping others in his freezer. The crime shook the city, but most directly Borough Park’s insular Jewish community, where children are supposed to be safe asking for help from strangers.
5. Pizzopera: Grimaldi’s
The ongoing dispute between Grimaldi’s owners Frank and Russell Ciolli and their landlord turned operatic this year. The Ciollis said they would move next-door after Thanksgiving, and their landlord announced that the famed coal-fired oven’s new operator would be none other than Patsy Grimaldi, the restaurant’s founder, who’ll launch a new pizzeria in March. Meanwhile the Department of Buildings stopped the Ciollis’ move over an illegally installed coal-fired oven in their new space and, on November 23, Russell Ciolli, 39, suddenly died. Who knows when they’ll serve again…
6.Hasidim and Women
In May, Brooklyn paper Der Tzitung published the now-iconic photo of the White House situation room during the raid on Osama bin Laden—but it airbrushed out the women in it, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, because Hasidic men shouldn’t see photographs of women. Then in October, a student from Columbia’s J-school broke the news that women on the B110—a privately owned bus that connects Williamsburg to Borough Park—were forced to sit in the back. Yes, the back of the bus.
7. The Fight Against Prime 6
In late February, Park Slope residents fought a proposed nightclub near the Barclay’s Center. Their concerns were about late-night noise and drunkenness, but critics of the critics said racial biases bubbled below the surface—that what residents feared was a black crowd. A petition, possibly fake, circulated thereafter. “It’s just a statistical fact that crime is more likely to occur among urban audiences than among audiences of other demographics,” it read in part. A shitstorm ensued.
8.The Disappearance of Josh Rubin
The owner of Ditmas Park’s Whisk Cafe vanished on Halloween, sparking a boroughwide postering effort. Police believe he may have just walked away from his life, while his loved ones fear that, without his insulin, high blood sugar levels have left the diabetic disoriented and possibly very sick. He has yet to be found.
9. Atlantic Yards Ascendant (Meh.)
After years of lawsuits and controversy, construction began on the Barclays Center, its shell rising up above Park Slope, Prospect Heights and Fort Greene. Jay-Z announced the basketball team would be called “The Brooklyn Nets” (whoop-dee-do), while the bar Freddy’s—an icon of the displaced—opened a new location in South Slope. Oh, and those local jobs for construction workers don’t seem to be materializing. Shocking.
10. West Indian Parade Follies
Sensational stories often emerge from the annual West Indian Day Parade, but this year there were two! First, we had police officers videotaped as they danced suggestively with scantily clad women. Then, Councilmember Jumaane Williams was arrested in a misunderstanding with police, the first of several council members (usually black) who would be arrested throughout the year. Then, police officers were found making racist comments on a Facebook page, “No More West Indian Day Detail.”
11. The Rise and Fall of Pro-Cro
In the spring, tricky real-estate agencies began calling the part of Crown Heights adjacent to Prospect Heights “Pro-Cro” in an effort to attract would-be residents (probably affluent, probably white) turned off by associations with the Crown Heights moniker. (Hey, this August was also the 20th anniversary of the riots!) Long-time Crown Heights residents were indignant; State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries even drafted legislation to make renaming neighborhoods illegal. Thankfully, “Pro-Cro” hasn’t stuck.
12. The Tribulations of Markowitz
Our borough president was fined $20,000 in July by the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board for accepting airfare for his wife for international trips. Back in March, it was reported that the bike-lane nemesis keeps three drivers on call 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, in staggered shifts at a cost to taxpayers of at least $175,000 a year. Fuhgeddaboutit!
13. The Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Slow Rebirth
In January, Steiner Studios began construction to double its size and add a Brooklyn College film school. In April, the developer picked to raze Admiral’s Row—except two buildings marked for preservation, which are crumbling in bureaucratic limbo—and build a supermarket was dropped for their implication in the Carl Kruger bribery scandal. On November 11th, the new historical center, Building 92, opened its gates, offering the public a glimpse of the Navy Yard’s rich past and high-tech future.
14. Our Lovely State Legislator Scandals
In March, State Senators Carl Kruger and William Boyland, Jr. were indicted on federal bribery charges. In November, Boyland was acquitted, only to be indicted two weeks later on new federal bribery charges—for crimes said to have occurred while he awaited the outcome of his original bribery case! Talk about hardworking…
15. Brooklyn College Fires “Anti-Israel” Adjunct
In January, adjunct professor Kristofer Petersen-Overton was dismissed from his position after conservative Orthodox Assemblyman Dov Hikind pressured the school to do so—the teacher had insufficiently pro-Israel points of view. After a week of embarrassing national coverage, Petersen-Overton was rehired, but not before the college’s craven and ineffective president Karen Gould had sullied the school’s reputation.
16. Here Comes the Ferry!
In June, the first East River Ferry took off, connecting Wall Street and 34th Street with Atlantic Avenue, DUMBO, Williamsburgs north and south, Greenpoint, and Long Island City. (Finally, we could get from the office to Lucky Dog without a 40-minute train trip!) By October, weekday ridership was double what had been expected; weekend ridership was sextuple. Sextuple, people.
17. Boom Times for Brooklyn Bridge Park
In January, the Justice Department fumed over a since-abandoned plan to remove the historic Tobacco Warehouse from Brooklyn Bridge Park, facilitating its redevelopment. In February, local groups began searching for alternatives to planned condo and hotel buildings inside the park to pay for its hefty annual operations budget. Adjoining cyclist and pedestrian links were improved, Jane’s Carousel moved into its Jean Nouvel-designed pavilion, and in November, seven developers unveiled plans for the inevitable hotel and condos.
18. Bushwick Inlet Park FAIL
In exchange for zoning variances to build waterfront condos, Williamsburg residents were promised 28 acres of new green space. So far they’ve gotten a soccer field; in July, it was revealed that the Bloomberg administration had no money—and no plans—to finish the project. Chalk up more empty developer promises.
19. F(ucked Up) Train
Brooklyn F train riders got the shaft this year when construction closed entire platforms in Windsor Terrace. Hit hardest, though, were Red Hook residents, whose nearest subway station—Smith and Ninth Street—was shuttered for repair until 2012.
20. Jelly Bellyflops
After a falling out with the Open Space Alliance, concert promoter Jelly moved their popular Williamsburg waterfront concert series to a new venue—Floyd Bennett Field, where it drew next to no visitors.
21. Boardwalk Empires
After years of evictions and last-minute invitations to return, some of the Coney boardwalk businesses, like Ruby’s and Paul’s Daughter, signed 8-year leases in December with evil landlord Zamperla. Meanwhile, the city is pushing to replace most of Riegelmann’s length with concrete, turning the iconic boardwalk into a sidewalk.
22. Free Pablo Airaldi!
Popular Greenpoint bicyclist Pablo Airaldi was arrested and threatened with deportation in a bizarre bureaucratic imbroglio. But in January, following extensive media coverage and the tireless work of his family and friends, he was released, and deportation proceedings were called off. For once, justice prevailed.
23. Boathouse, Fuck Yeah!!!
In 2010, the city pledged $7 million for projects in Greenpoint as settlement for pollutants spilled into the creek while upgrading the adjacent sewage treatment plant. Almost everyone agreed that building a boathouse at the end of Manhattan Avenue was the best use for the funds, but without state support the project seemed dead in the water (HAHAHA). Until October when, miraculously, the state finally got behind the project and set aside $3 million for a 40-kayak boathouse and nautical education center. Ahoy!
24. A Williamsburg Divided on Itself
Thanks to a population explosion following all that waterfront development, Williamsburg got split into two zip codes in July: 11249 for those between Bedford and the East River; the ol’ 11211 for those east. (Is the 2-4-9 the new hotness? No.)
25. Cafe Closures
Park Slope’s Seventh Avenue Ozzie’s closed in the fall. More seriously, Prospect Lefferts-Gardens’ K-Dog and Dunebuggy, which basically invented modern-day PLG, shuttered in September. And so we wept.