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BHRA Before Red Hook: The “DUMBO” Streetcar Project - 1985 to the Present 


In going through several "rediscovered" BHRA vintage Hard Drives, we uncovered a treasure trove of documents, images and video footage from the BHRA's DUMBO streetcar project circa 1985 - 1991.  The DUMBO project preceded the BHRA Red Hook Streetcar project that began in 1992.
 
Back in 1985, Your Humble Narrator and a small volunteer team un-covered existing street railroad trackage in DUMBO and repaired it for reuse.  The volunteer team consisted of Conrad, Harvey, Al, Billy, Mike and Ted (with the tacit approvals of then NYCDOT Commissioner Anthony Ameruso, then Mayor Ed Koch, then Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden, then Community Board 2 Chair Jerry Renzini and then District Manager Tessie Williams), together with tools and equipment provided by the Brooklyn Union Gas Company (Alan L. Smith, Asst. Vice President) and "Trolley Barn" space donated by David Walentas at 88 Water Street.

Simultaneously, BHRA's signature "#3" trolley, built in 1897, was provided to BHRA by Staten Island rail historian George Hassoldt. BHRA repaired the "#3" trolley at the 88 Water Street facility.
 
In fact, here's a streaming video of BHRA running the "#3" trolley on the very track that BHRA "uncovered" and repaired on Plymouth Street, Water Street, Main Street, Adams Street, and Anchorage Place (video shot Oct, 1987).
 
BHRA "Borrowed" veteran streetcar operator J.J. Earl from the Shoreline Trolley Museum in East Haven, CT for our street running operations.
 
Since this operation was so successful, and only cost about $20,000 in cash to implement, in 1985, BHRA applied to the City Of New York for a FRANCHISE to use the DUMBO tracks we had uncovered and repaired, and to continue this process by uncovering a pair of circa 1914 trolley tracks then still in existence under Furman Street asphalt, all the way to Atlantic Avenue, and into the Atlantic Avenue tunnel. Here you can see BHRA's Registered (note NYC Bureau Of Franchises date stamp) circa 1985 DUMBO to Atlantic Avenue Streetcar Franchise Application (PDF) to the NYC Bureau Of Franchises.
 
The buried Furman Street trolley tracks can be seen in this circa 1914 photo (PDF)
 
BHRA dubbed its new project the "Brooklyn City Railroad", in honor of Brooklyn's first 19th century streetcar company, and who's headquarters building still stands at the corner of Old Fulton Street (Cadman Plaza West) and Furman Street.
 
By 1991, BHRA was far along in the City's FRANCHISE "CEQR" and "ULURP" approval processes and Engineering Design for the DUMBO streetcar line connecting that neighborhood with Atlantic Avenue (and the 51 acre Brooklyn Bridge Park "To Be" in between), when NYCDOT suddenly "recruited" BHRA to move its entire operation to Red Hook, with the $209,000 Federal ISTEA grant offered to BHRA as "enticement"...
 
BHRA's Red Hook Streetcar project was largely personally built by Your Humble Narrator together with BHRA President Greg Castillo, assisted by Volunteers Ron, Alex, Tony, Vince, Ken, Dennis, Donald and Brian.
 
Oddly enough, once (circa 1998- 2002) certain corrupt NYCDOT "WORKERS" (still employed at the Agency to this day) "Double- Billed" the Federal Highway Administration for $97,000  on BHRA's Red Hook Streetcar project, tried to "Frame" BHRA, and then "Scuttled" and Physically Destroyed the Red Hook Streetcar project to "Cover Their (NYCDOT's) Tracks" - AND -
 
The Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation (BBPDC), a subsidiary of the Empire State Development Corporation, were simultaneously soliciting a "Private Transit Operator" to provide transportation access to Brooklyn Bridge Park by offering a ONE MILLION DOLLAR A YEAR OPERATING SUBSIDY (see the Draft circa 2001- 2002 Brooklyn Bridge Park Master Plan and the New York Post, November 17, 2003) USING BHRA's ORIGINAL DUMBO TO ATLANTIC AVENUE STREETCAR FRANCHISE APPLICATION ROUTE OF 1985 (WITHOUT BHRA's PRIOR KNOWLEDGE OR CONSENT, btw)... See this NY Post Article.   
 
A "Splinter Group" suddenly emerged, calling itself the "Brooklyn City Streetcar Company" (does the name ring a bell...), "RECRUITED" BY CERTAIN NYCDOT "WORKERS" TO "REPLACE" BHRA. The Brooklyn City Streetcar Company was formed specifically for the purpose of "applying" to BBPDC for the $1 MILLION A YEAR "PARK TRANSPORTATION ACCESS" OPERATING SUBSIDY, BY "GLOMMING" BHRA'S ORIGINAL 1985 DUMBO TO ATLANTIC AVENUE STREETCAR FRANCHISE APPLICATION ROUTE.
 
At the same time (2003), certain CORRUPT NYCDOT "Workers" led by current NYCDOT Senior Legal Counsel FRANCO ESPOSITO, ORDERED THE THEFT OF ALL BHRA's EQUIPMENT BY NYCDOT - $616,000 WORTH (not counting the 12 PCC streetcars then stored at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which will be the subject of a future Episode entitled "Stolen Streetcar Parts Laundering In New Jersey and Baltimore"...).

Franco Esposito is the same person, who together with NYCDOT's Anne Koenig, ordered the illegal closure of BHRA's Atlantic Avenue Tunnel Tours in 2010) :(
 
Read the Brooklyn Heights Courier (June 2, 2003 article) on the THEFT of BHRA's Equipment by NYCDOT, and the background of the "Splinter Group" (PDF)
 
Read the July 3, 2003 BHRA letter to NYCDOT regarding Franco Esposito and the THEFT of BHRA's equipment
(PDF)
 
See the "Brooklyn City Streetcar Company" (circa 2003) Certificate Of Incorporation (PDF) for its "Corporate Purpose" And GLOMMED "Streetcar Route" .
 
Any organization, no matter how large or small, is really nothing more than an aggregate reflection or "Persona" of the actual, individual people who comprise it. In this context, what was/is the "Persona" of the so- called "Splinter Group" set into motion at the behest of NYCDOT?  Read about the founder of the BCSC directly from these 1982  articles published in the New York Post (when it had 5 Borough Editions, and each Edition printed 5 times every day):

Teacher Kicked Boy in Groin – Say Pupils
By Jeff Wells
NY Post (Brooklyn Edition)
January 26, 1982
 
A Brooklyn school teacher accused of viciously kicking an 11 year old boy student in the groin has been pulled out of his classroom and placed on disciplinary charges.

But angry parents from IS 320 on 46 McKeever Pl. are demanding to know why social studies teacher Arthur Melnick 31, was not arrested on assault charges.
 
The boy’s father, George Murden told a community meeting at the Ebbets Field Houses last night that Melnick had a dispute with Yousef Murden over a textbook question on Jan. 13, then kicked the boy in the groin causing "terrible pains," and internal bleeding.
 
A sixth-grade classmate, Christina Edwards, 12, confirmed the story, broke down and wept as she told The Post, "He twisted Yousef’s arm way up behind his back and made him cry."
 
"Then he bent Yousef’s finger way, way back. Then he just stepped back and kicked Yousef in the private parts."
 
"It was so horrible I wanted to punch Mr. Melnick. The whole class jumped out of their seats in anger, but they were afraid," she said.
 
Melnick could not be reached for comment yesterday.
 
One parent said her son, who had confirmed the story to principle Adele Charyn, was locked out of Melnick’s class the next day.
 
Teacher Gets Boot On Kicking Charge
By Jeff Wells
NY Post (Brooklyn Edition)
January 28, 1982
 
A Brooklyn teacher accused of kicking an 11 year old boy in the groin was publicly fired last night – but he may be back in city classrooms. Community School Board 17 in Crown Heights voted unanimously to sack Arthur Melnick, 31, a social studies teacher, only 5 days before he was due to gain tenure.

But Board President Sylvester Leaks said that there was no guarantee that another school would not pick up Melnick.
 
"We have no authority to deprive him of his license," Leaks told a large group of parents at the board meeting. Superintendent Carl Sewell explained that if the board had waited until Feb. 1 – 3 years from the date Melnick was hired – the teacher would have completed his probation.
 
Then, as a tenured teacher Melnick would have been entitled to a hearing by an impartial hearing panel with a union lawyer defending him.

The procedure is notorious for dragging on – even for years – with very few teachers losing their licenses.
 
Meanwhile, Dr. Sewell said, Melnick is free to move on "unless they know who they are hiring."
 
Teachers who are recycled in this way have become a sore point with many parents groups in the city.
 
Melnick was accused of kicking Yousef Murden in the groin on Jan. 13.
 
Melnick has refused to comment on the charges and did not appear at the meeting to defend himself.
 
The parents told the Post of shocking conditions at the school, including fights outside the office of the principal Adele Charyn.
 
Parents told of principal Charyn’s refusal to pursue the complaints and cited laxity of the guards in keeping discipline.
 
Sewell Described a "sick climate" at the school on McKeever Place, but asked parents not to get too emotional about it.

The actual published NY Post version of these are available here:  "Teacher Kicked Boy in Groin (PDF)" and "Teacher Gets Boot On Kicking Charge (PDF)"
 

In the personal opinion of Your Humble Narrator, BHRA's lawsuit against NYCDOT and FDNY promises to be one of the most "UNUSUAL" TRIALS to ever grace the doors of the Kings County Supreme Court :-)





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