Clarence Barrett and the classical soldier pointing down the street

There are so many things to look at in a city like New York that some things become very familiar even though we have never taken the time to fully understand what they mean. For instance, when walking down Hyatt Street toward the bus shelter at the foot of Bay Street, there is a classical figure pointing toward the bay. Why is he doing that? I took a couple of pix there the other day, copied down the name Clarence Barrett and searched it online, and there are the facts, like magic. I still don’t know why he’s pointing, but I don’t really care so much, since I now know about Major Clarence T. Barrett.

The allegorical figure pointed vaguely at New Jersey and the continent beyond. Major Barrett rendered distinguished service during the Civil War.

The allegorical figure pointed vaguely at New Jersey and the continent beyond. Major Barrett rendered distinguished service during the Civil War.

Major Clarence T. Barrett was an important figure in Staten Island government during the post Civil War era and it is fitting that he should have such a pleasant peaceful triangle of green dedicated to his memory just above the bustle of Bay Street.

The small water fountain carved into the back of the base is still visible, but non-functioning since 1945.

The small marble water fountain affixed to the back of the base is still visible, but it is non-functioning since 1945.

The memorial was moved to this location in 1945, and it is perfect spot. However, the water fountain was disconnected at that time, and the back of the base has deteriorated so much that the writing there is quite illegible. It may be too late to restore the text there, but if that small water fountain could be restored and reattached to the city’s water supply, that would make this a welcome oasis indeed. For more detailed information about Clarence Barrett and the Major Barrett Triangle, click here for Parks Department description.


Silver Lake: a reservoir of water and a fund of fresh air

There is a cool, fresh feel to the sunny air today, as midAugust brings the first inkling of summer’s end. And with many people, like myself, just back from vacations, it does seem like the seasons are beginning to change. So this is a great time to look at our natural environment. There’s no better place to start than Staten island’s first park, Silver Lake.

The serene stillness of Silver lake

The serene stillness of Silver lake. Although Silver Lake Park is the most accessible large park on the island, it is not visited by large numbers of people.

NYC Water Supply maintenance building mid lake

NYC Water Supply maintenance building mid lake

Many people know Silver Lake as a reservoir of drinking water and as the end of the line for New York City’s Catskill water supply system. That happened in the early years of the 20th Century, as the island’s population grew. Nowadays, the story is a bit more complicated, as the city decided during the 1960s to bury the drinking water reservoir below the lake in covered storage tanks. The work was completed in 1971 and thus the present lake is not part of the island’s water supply, but merely what covers it.

One of the slightly overgrown park paths

One of the slightly overgrown park paths

                                                      Silver Lake Park was the first city park to be created on Staten Island, but it was quickly overshadowed by Clove Lakes Park just to its south, and today a walk in the park is a quiet, solitary experience.  Cleanliness is maintained in a satisfactory way, but the vegetation is in desperate need of care.

Beyond these trees is the awe inspiring panorama of the lake, but from these benches it is hardly visible

Beyond these trees is the awe inspiring panorama of the lake, but you would hardly know that from these benches

The trees around the lake have grown so thick that panoramic views have been blocked off almost entirely by lush greenery. A thorough re-landscaping of the edges of the lake could really enhance the appearance of the park. However, even without this kind of intervention, the park is a spectacular sight and is remarkably calm and quiet in the midst of the busy North Shore. It is surely a joy for the people who visit it from all over the island and from the surrounding communities, many of them filled with large, beautiful homes.

Along Haven Esplanade

Along Forest Avenue and Haven Esplanade,  homes are large and impressive.        havenEspl1

Beatles Blast at St. George Ballpark

On Friday, August 2, at 7 p.m., a free concert will take place at the St. George Ballpark, home of the Staten Island Yankees, featuring an array of Beatles cover bands. A fun thing to do on a midsummer Friday evening at a beautiful venue. If you can’t make it, there is also a summer festival is planned for the esplanade closer to the water on the next day, Saturday, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.


Lap swimming at Lyons Pool

This photo is from Steve of the lap swimmers group at Lyons Pool. The lengthwise laps have been reinstated after a year of widthwise lanes. If you are in the St. George or Tompkinsville area and are not familiar with this beautiful little known and underutilized resource, do yourself a favor and check out this pool, next to the Tompkinsville train station. There is still a full month of operation so get moving! lyonspool

For more information click here for the Parks Dept. page.

Today’s Geography Lesson: Where is Bayonne?

Two Hudson-Bergen Light Rail trains passing ea...

Hudson-Bergen Light Rail trains near Exchange Place, Jersey City. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Uh, it’s on the other side of the Bayonne Bridge. Simple, but sometimes New Yorkers can be so myopic about that vast mass of industrialization on the western edges of the harbor. Ask a typical New Yorker what is the name of this or that town visible along that shoreline, and they will usually shrug and say ‘It’s New Jersey.” Even the skyscrapers of Jersey City, the state’s second largest city, will leave many New Yorkers perplexed.  The fact is that there are a dozen different townships, counties and other municipal entities over there, all trying to deal with the same environmental, economic and social problems that we deal with here, especially on Staten Island just across the Kills. It would make a lot of sense to work with them on some of these problems. Yes, that’s Bayonne over there, but do you also know that the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail has its terminus just a mile or so away from this Bridge? And has anyone calculated the economic benefits that could be gotten if they were to extend that light rail system to Staten Island? I know the Port Authority of NY and NJ has not…. I asked them that question at the public meeting about the Bayonne Bridge roadway project and they deftly avoided answering. “We looked at some studies that were made a few years ago for a different project,” was the non-answer. So shouldn’t they be working on this? “We are waiting for Staten Island to get back to us on their intentions, what they are willing to invest in terms of infrastructure.” I’m paraphrasing, but I doubt that anyone will be able to pin them down anymore than that.

Where is the new Bayonne Bridge roadway going? Take a look.

The Port Authority’s visualization of the process, to be accomplished without closing the bridge to traffic. The video is narrated by a man with a decidedly non-New York accent… so as not to scare the out-of-towners who might come upon this?

What? You want to know whatever happened to the proposal to extend the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail from its terminus in Bayonne across the bridge to Port Richmond? Well, while we were all doing other things and not paying attention, the proposal was conveniently buried. Staten Island and New Jersey may be connected by three bridges, but apparently getting the civic groups and citizenry on each side of the Kills to connect for action is still nearly impossible. However, if you really want to talk about it, why not attend the public meeting to take place next Monday. The following is a message from Beryl Thurman posting on the “St. George Neighborhood by the Ferry” Facebook page. After giving the meeting information she comments on another important issue, the cleanup of pollutants at the foot of the bridge.

Bayonne Bridge
Raise the Roadway
Public Meeting, Borough of Staten Island
Please RSVP to Christopher Lee at:
212-435-6929 or
… We encourage you to review the project at:
Monday, July 15, 2013 • 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
A Public Meeting will be held at the Port Richmond High School Auditorium, 85 St Joseph’s Avenue, Staten Island, NY. The Port Authority will begin the meeting with a presentation explaining the Bayonne Bridge “Raise the Roadway” project. The meeting will also include graphics displaying the project and the opportunity for members of the public to ask questions.

Word to the Unions you need to support the residents of the communities near the Bayonne Bridge on Staten Island. As the Enivronmental Assessment uncovered some really nasty contaminants under the bridge, PCB’s Lead, Arsenic and right next door the Radioactive, Manhattan Project Storage site. The people of these communities have always supported the Unions whether they were Union or not. Now its your turn to help them. These contaminated sites must be remediated first.

NYC Digital Roadmap leads to Staten Island

NYC Digital, which is a creation of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, seeks to initiate activities that further the goals of a modern digital city. They are hosting listening sessions in all five boroughs this summer to get the input from local citizens on the needs of their communities. Staten Island’s turn comes on July 23rd, and will take place at the Noble Maritime Collection at Snug Harbor at 7 p.m. If you would like to attend this meeting, you must sign up at Meetup.  Click here:

NYC Digital Roadmap.

If this all sounds very vague, you can get more info at the NYC Digital website (linked on the next line). Here is an excerpt from their website explaining the goals of these sessions.

July 1, 2013– NYC Digital invites New Yorkers to a series of listening sessions throughout the City this summer with the aim of encouraging feedback on New York City’s innovation progress and contributing to the upcoming version of the City’s Digital Roadmap. Today the City’s Digital Roadmap is over 90% complete, and in order to build on these achievements, NYC Digital will once again reach out to add new goals and objectives to the City’s innovation strategy. New Yorkers are invited to attend the sessions to share their thoughts about how to realize New York City’s potential as the world’s leading digital city, across the areas of Internet access, education, open data, engagement and industry.

The feedback that NYC Digital receives during these meetups will help to inform the next annual update to New York City’s Digital Roadmap, which outlines the strides the City has made to date, in its plans to increase Internet access for New Yorkers, invest in STEM education, release more open data, engage New Yorkers digitally and further develop the local tech industry. NYC Digital is a part of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.

“New York City has much to celebrate in digital progress since the 2011 launch of theRoadmap, but as New Yorkers, we never rest on our laurels,” said Rachel Haot, Chief Digital Officer. “Through these meetups, we aim to continue our approach of deep public engagement in the planning process and add new goals that build on the Mayor Bloomberg’s foundation of digital achievement. I look forward to fresh ideas and diverse perspectives from New Yorkers across the City and to continue to work together towards our shared digital future.”