Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Vernon Bramble Killed in Hit and Run

Vernon Bramble, a longtime doorman at 340 West 55th (The Sherwood), was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver last Friday night in Brooklyn. Police are looking for the driver of a black car that was traveling south on Flatbush Avenue. 

Vernon had
worked at the Sherwood for 19 years and watched many of the young children who lived there grow to become adults. He had an infectious smile and was always willing to help. Jack H. remembers that during emergencies, Vernon would run up 11 flights of stairs to make sure the building elders were okay and he would check on all the apartments. He was, Jack says, "A trusted, stand up man I will never forget." 

The funeral will be on Thursday, Dec 5, 2013 at
Bethany United Methodist Church
1208 St. Johns Place
Brooklyn, NY 11213

Funeral reception from 10 am to 11 am
Following the funeral, Vernon will be laid to rest at Cypress Hills Cemetary at 1 pm. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Manhole Fire, Elevators Out on West 55

Burned out car after manhole fire on W55

Here's what we know about the manhole fire on West 55th.

Apparently a transformer or something blew under the manhole in front of 310 West 55th at about 10 pm tonight (July 17,2012). FDNY was on the scene right away and brought the fire quickly under control. There were no injuries but one parked car did catch fire.

Holly T in the white buildings said she heard two big booms. Frank R in 345 said he felt the building shake then saw flames leap up to the second story level of 310.

Christine G and Lisa P were trapped in an elevator with their dog Zeke for about half an hour. Firefighters from the station on 38th street were able to rescue them. Other than being hot, Lisa and Christine have no complaints. Zeke took it all in stride.

Elevator service is out in several buildings.

Send an email to west55ba[at]gmail[dot]com if you have more up-to-date information. 

Christine, Lisa and Zeke trapped in elevator

Hooray! FDNY is here! All is well.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

CB4 Votes Against Bus Garage at Intrepid Pier

Dear Neighbors,

Thank you for supporting our efforts to abate bus idling and its assorted health impacts in our neighborhood.
Many of you came all the way to Fulton Center to testify last night in favor of adding bus garage spaces to the Intrepid museum. Your strong voices showed the Community Board that Clean Air, Bus Idling and creating a Charter Bus Garage are very high priorities for our neighborhood. MMCC distributed to each board member a copy of your letter.

In spite of your speaking up and the whole neighborhood being close to 100% unified on this issue (8 block associations and two schools) the Community Board members voted against the wishes of its residents and rejected - by a slim margin (4 votes) - asking for a mere 20 bus spaces to be included in the museum expansion.

A few members of the board argued loudly that there is no idling problem (!) that a museum is so valuable we should feel lucky to welcome it (there is already a museum) and not encumber the project with any health considerations, and that the plan is to regroup all buses at the Port Authority bus garage, although we know that there is no funding, the Port Authority is not planning any space for charter buses and multiple small garages are technically preferable.

But in the end, as a result of your advocacy, the Intrepid Museum volunteered to study and build garage space for 14 additional buses as part of their project, bringing up the total number of bus spaces to 28 at this location.
It is not clear whether theses spaces will be open to all or just reserved for Museum space, but in any case, at least the neighborhood will not have to suffer additional idling due to the Museum.

Thank You again. We will keep you posted on new developments.
Best Regards

Christine Berthet

Friday, September 30, 2011

Notes from W55BA Meeting, September 13

West 55th Street Block Association
Notes from General Meeting, September 13, 2011
340 West 55th Social Room
14 attendees

The meeting began at 7:05 PM and ended at 7:50 PM.
? Idling tour buses: Christine Berthet from Chekpeds ( presented their group’s proposal for more parking for tour buses. Currently the buses idle on the streets of our neighborhood, adding to the pollution. This group has identified three sites for parking that would take those buses off the street. They asked us to sign a letter in support of their initiative, and individuals did so.
? Flags at the Vitamin Shoppe: We will find out the regulations regarding this, email an update to the BA, and alert residents if there is action to take.
? Falling tree branches: The Parks Department promised they would take care of it. [Note: they have since come and cleaned up dead limbs from several trees.] Gale Brewer got in touch with them when she saw that it was an item on our agenda—thank her if you see her!
? New tree guards: Obtained three at a good discount. One advantage is that they are modular—if one side breaks, it can be replaced. We’re asking some buildings and businesses for donations, and applying for a grant.
? Fall cleanup: Oct 15 for W 56 and Oct 22 for W 55. We’ll take out plants, clean the beds, and plant more bulbs.
? Fundraising: Our goal again is $20,000, and the fall fundraising campaign has begun. We have been approved to receive a $2000 grant from the Lily Auchincloss Foundation (, and are applying for other grants as well.
? Bulletin board: We’d like a block bulletin board where we can post information. Possible sites are outside walls of new CitiBank or Hale & Hearty. Seeking grants for this too.
? Charley K and Sandra D. presented us with a banner with the Block Association’s name that was created in a town in Tanzania.
? Tee shirt designs and photos for postcards are invited. A calendar might be a nice possibility at some point as well.
? Shortage of litter baskets since hurricane, especially between the Westerly and Daily Soup. Christine or Carl will contact the Sanitation Dept.
? We’d like someone to take responsibility for the Halloween Pet Parade. Could keep it simpler, with no contest—just parade around.
? Complaint that the B&B can be noisy in the middle of the night. The manager, Katrina, will address it with visitors.

Note taker: Lisa P.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Watering I Did Go

By Michele Reisch

After weeks of receiving cheerful email reminders from the block association that the flower beds on West 55 Street were being mulched, then bulbed, or planted, I finally set my alarm for 6PM to remember to join the watering crew.

Gathered in front of 345, was Paul, the majordomo of the H2O brigade, surrounded by a small band of volunteers. They happily chatted as the oversized green cans were being filled. Today we would be feeding the plants with Miracle-Gro and each bed would get a full 2 gallons of fluid. My extra pair of hands was welcomed.

Paul explained that I should take my time as I work, so the water could begin to soak into the soil. During the heat wave, the beds get really baked. If you pour too quickly the water runs into the street, defeating the whole purpose. "Think of the soil as a sponge," he added, "when you wet it a second time it absorbs more."

Growing up in Florida, I had often set out the sprinklers in the afternoon, and regularly hosed the plants on the side of our house. Eagerly I grabbed a full watering can. "This should be a doddle," I thought. Nope. Scratch that. It was a waddle. Turns out a watering can filled with 2 gallons of liquid weighs close to 20 pounds. Slowly, with an awkward 2-handed carrying style, I shuffled toward my assigned bed. Praying not to trip.

Arriving safely I began the task at hand, gently splashing the blue tinted elixir onto flora and soil. I was joyously in my own little world, humming to the plants, encouraging them to grow. I am goddess. I am a fairy. I am Mother Nature incarnate, dancing among the trees!

Okay, so I got a little carried away.

As the agua trickled around the tree roots, I began to notice so many things. The variety of the plants as they stretched towards the sun. The treasure trove of trash hidden under the blossoms. Saddest of all was a withering impatiens, where a dog had been allowed to pee on it. I gave that plant an extra drink hoping it would bring her back from the brink. It often does.

Before I knew it we had traveled round the block, feeding 37 different flower beds. Along the way I made many observations and heard of different adventures in ye olde watering game. All of these episodes I'm keen to share on a regular basis with you. A Weekly Sprinkle, if you will.

Monday, August 8, 2011

New Plants in Two Tree Beds

You may have noticed something a little different about our tree beds. Lorraine planted some hardy purple potato vines in front of Hale and Hearty. Michele and Christine planted some hosta and periwinkle perennials in front of 327. The watering brigade still meets most evenings at 6 PM, starting at 345. With your help the flowers are looking better every year.

Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4 Block Party

July 4 is today! Weather will be great. 200+ people are expected.

Bring food for yourself and some to share.

Setup starts at 9:45 AM. Party is from noon to 4 PM. Cleanup from 4 PM to 5 PM.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

July 4 Block Party

The July 4 Block Party is less than two weeks away! Last year over 150 people came to celebrate. It's a low-tech way to have lots of fun on Independence Day in the City.

The Block Party starts at noon and goes until 4 PM--rain or shine.

West 55th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues will be closed to traffic. Bring your own food, blankets, chairs or tables to eat on. We'll provide the grills and grill chefs. There will be chalk drawing, hula hooping, wading pools and more.

Tell your friends and neighbors. Come join the fun.

Water Pipe Project Affects W48th-W51 Neighborhood

The West 55th Street Block Association has just learned about a construction project that will have a significant impact on our neighbors a few blocks south of us.

The NYC Department of Design and Construction (DCC) is laying pipes at street level to meet up with the Third Water Tunnel Shaft at 48th and Tenth. The 48th Street Project (see flyer below) will primarily affect West 48th Street between Broadway and Tenth, West 49th between Ninth and Tenth, West 51st between Broadway and Ninth Avenue between West 48th and West 51st.

Construction is expected to take at least five and a half years.

Here is an official handout about the project from the DCC.