The clocks were put ahead. The winter layers were put away. And spring arrived. March switched gears, but we drove the bus that led the pack with our exemplary news coverage — nothing new about that! Our excellent staff provided the scoops, updates, features, and follow-ups, delivering info-packed lowdowns on the latest goings-on in our headline-worthy borough. Month in Review rolls out some of the more memorable reports.
• Can-did camera: Bensonhurst frozen treat queen Maria “The Ice Cream Girl” Campanella took the heat after uploading her video on YouTube about Southern Brooklyn’s can and bottle collectors that some feared took a sour shot at the area’s predominantly Chinese community for showing a woman in yellow makeup and a conical hat emerging from a trash can. Campanella told critics to chill out, arguing that toppers didn’t define a culture and pointing out that her video — featuring a song titled “Yo Granny’s in My Garbage” — also showed a white rummager toiling through bins.
• Hinsch’s opa? Egg-cream fans shrieked, “Agita!” upon learning that Staten Island souvlaki sovereign Mike Moudatsos was taking over the iconic, 65-year-old soda shop on Fifth Avenue. Faithful patrons fretted he would radically redesign Hinsch’s, much as he did a classic A&W car-hop on the island. Moudatsos promised to keep the old flavor mostly intact, except for some new Mediterranean boosts to the menu and “Mike’s” attached to the awning.
• Blue grub: The Finest get their nosh on whenever they can — in between creaming crime. Our week-long, lip-smackin’ investigation dished on some of their favorite haunts, menu choices, and discerning palates — from roasted pork with sweet plantains in Prospect Heights, and Al Diavolo pizza topped with broccoli rabe at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, to humble bagels and cream cheese in Clinton Hill, and barbecued chicken in Bensonhurst.
• How sweet it could be! Developers of the shuttered Domino Sugar factory promised a candy-coated comeback for the ex-largest sugar maker in the world. First-peek renderings showed a sumptuous sprawl of mixed-use skyscrapers rivaling the skylines of Dubai and Shanghai, including a high-rise sculpted like a giant zero, another one featuring a donut-hole ringed by offices with apartments, a third dotted with terraced dwellings, and pair of svelte structures soaring skyward and linked by a bridge that — at 598 feet and 55 stories — could rise as the borough’s tallest edifice yet.
• Library closure: Bibliophiles and preservationists read the riot act to the Brooklyn Public Library for planning to close the chapter on its 108-year-old Pacific branch and replace it with a newfangled repository inside a future skyscraper, instead of springing for $11 million to restore its achy bones. They claimed the historic building — the borough’s first Carnegie branch — should be saved as a reminder of Brooklyn’s intellectual past.
• LICH glitch: Back-pedaling State University of New York honchos, who denied for weeks that prime real estate was behind their decision to pull the plug on ailing Long Island College Hospital, finally ‘fessed up that they met privately to jaw about the facility’s $500-million landholdings before announcing the sale publicly. Legal documents obtained by the Courier flatlined earlier SUNY claims that “zero consideration” was given to the property aspect.
• Ratty class: Enterprising crafter Divya Anantharaman showed curiosity seekers how to transform dead rodents into red-carpet worthy critterati at a mouse taxidermy class in Williamsburg, delivering tips and tricks about immortalizing varmints, and then gussying them up in trendy togs to look like wee fashionistas. The Verminizer says she’s been fascinated with preserve dead beasts since the age of 6, when she tried to stuff a lizard.
• Sink or swim: Uncle Sam issued a flood mitigation plan for federally-boosted property owners in high-risk areas, requiring them to shell out thousands of bucks raising their homes or risk paying whopping insurance rates. The Federal Emergency Management Agency reconfigured “zone A” neighborhoods like Red Hook, Gowanus, Manhattan Beach, Sea Gate, Gerritsen Beach, Bergen Beach, and Mill Island.
• Cyclone after hurricane: Thrill seekers lined up by the thousands to whoosh on the legendary Cyclone roller coaster which re-opened for the spring and summer season four months after killer ‘cane Sandy reduced the People’s Playground to a soggy pulp.
• Tall tails: Budding bards shed their leotards while spilling the beans during a pole-dancing tourney that required comely contestants to spin their bods as they tell homespun yarns at the Bell House in Gowanus. “Polesque” creators hoped to move rapt viewers by shedding a saucy spotlight on storytelling as part of the burlesque showcase.
• High-school drop out: A 55-year-old learning institution got the worst report card of its life when the city began proceedings to phase out Sheepshead Bay High School. The Panel for Education Policy voted to replace the struggling Bay fixture — whose alums include comedians Elayne Boosler and Larry David — with a pair of charter schools and a district transfer high school by 2017.
• Oh buoy! Recycled Navy ships could buffer the borough from future floods, according to Navy Yard think-tank boffins at Terreform ONE, who want to slice and dice old U.S. warships — some dating back to World War II stashed away in California, Texas, and Virginia — and then reinvent them as an artificial wetland in Buttermilk Channel.
— Shavana AbruzzoReach reporter Shavana Abruzzo at sabruzzo@c