The far side of the Basin

Good Friday was good, indeed – a perfect day for a walk around a new section of Brooklyn. I took the Q to Courtelyou Rd, then waited in Ditmas Park for 20 minutes for the B103. After a quick trip down Flatbush, we were on Avenue H. I got off at E 80 St and Glenwood Rd.

Paerdegat is in pink.

My first stop was to check out the old sewage-facility a few blocks away. It’s off-limits now, with “armed guards” patrolling the premises. (I saw none, but maybe they emerge from the water like Navy SEALs.) I got a good glimpse of the head of the basin through an open gate.

There used to be a “Bureau of Sewers”, apparently.

Then I took a quick look at the new facility. Between new and old is a flower-shop – a bizarre intermediary, I thought. Workers there were preparing for the weekend’s holy days.

I doubled back on to Flatlands Av and turned south at E 76 St (which becomes Paerdegat Avenue North). Between the road and the water is a NYC DOT facility. There wasn’t much afoot this Good Friday.

The gate was open, and there was no guard, so I considered poking my head in; however, I had gotten the sense that Paerdegat Basin is not a friendly place for trespassers. (Cue Navy SEALs.)

As I mentioned in my initial post on the neighborhood, Paerdegat Avenue North is a notoriously deadly corridor. It has two lanes of southbound traffic with an absurd amount of space down the right for parking. (Perhaps in the summer there is enough demand for all of that space?) There are two stop-signs, but they are very hard to see from the road, particularly from the right lane. Cars flew by in waves determined by the traffic light at Paerdegat 1 St.

A few members of the Sebago Canoe Club had graciously offered to show me around the grounds and to talk to me about the club’s history. Located on the water across from Paerdegat 13 St since 1960, it was founded on Lake Sebago in New York’s Harriman State Park nearly eighty years ago. (The club still owns the original site.) Approaching the rustic cabin, I felt like a little bit of the Adirondacks had been dropped on the shores of Paerdegat Basin.

Two of the club’s leaders, John and Walter, gave me the tour. In addition to canoeing, Sebago offers sea-kayaking, rowing, and sailing to its members, who hail from all over the New York area. The club is very active in the community, hosting free sessions on summer Wednesdays and Saturdays, and working with local schools. A group of student-engineers from NYU-Poly had been there that morning in preparation for a competition in which they have to build a canoe out of concrete(!). (No, they didn’t have the canoe with them.)

Walter pointed out that the local seagulls were smart: they had figured out that the new dock was a good place to drop their shells to crack them open.

Both John and Walter were happy about the new CSO facility; the area had been very smelly before it became functional. Even with the tide low, my nose was pleased. Walter was heading out to paddle on Jamaica Bay, while John had just returned from cycling around the Bay. What a great day for both!

This landlubber headed farther south to Canarsie Park. The Parks Department is installing a new skating area, slated for completion this spring. I also came across something I had never before seen in Brooklyn: a cricket pitch! This makes sense, since the area is largely Carib. I might have to come back to see a match. (Really, I want an excuse to wear all white.)

I found an unusual sight on E 80 St between Paerdegat 12 and 13 Streets: a partially uprooted tree-stump.

The owner (she’s at left in the photo) told me that the tree was felled during a storm a few years ago. The area around it has always been a garden; now, she hacks away at the trunk whenever she desires a little extra space. She grows several edibles in the plot, including beans, corn, tomatoes, carrots, even cantaloupes, and has fig trees around the corner. She freezes the extra food for the winter, and said she couldn’t remember the last time she had to buy vegetables at the grocery store. Now that’s ingenuity!

She also told me tales of her native Trinidad, particularly the friendliness of the people – something I am familiar with. If I don’t go to Trinidad for its pre-Lenten carnival, perhaps I should at least (finally) check out Sugarcane.

The architecture was predictably uninteresting – mostly row-houses with a few detached two-unit colonials – but there were some amusing quirks. The “shiny marble” look is very popular.

Hungry, I grabbed a slice at Frank’s Pizza (Flatlands and E 81 St, technically out of the neighborhood) on Walter’s recommendation. A slice, four garlic knots, and a drink for $3.50 – a guy could get used to this.  To get home, I took the B6 to Brooklyn College, where I caught the 2 train. I got one last glimpse of the old sewer-facility on the way out.

Here’s a general plot of my walking. (I went down some of the individual Paerdegat X Streets, obviously.) Sebago is in yellow – special thanks to Tony, Walter, John, and Andy for the tour and the conversation. Perhaps you’ll see me at one of the Wednesday or Saturday sessions this summer!

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4 Responses to The far side of the Basin

  1. chickenunderwear says:

    I have spent money in that flower shop. There used to be more of them. They were replaced by the uninteresting houses.

  2. Matt says:

    Fascinating. I saw some cricket being played somewhere in/near Kensington today. I went for a (second) run and bit off WAY more than I could chew, so I tried to make the most of the (very long) walk home through neighborhoods I’m usually only running or cycling past.

  3. susie says:

    Highly educational! I’ve bookmarked the Sebago Canoe Club for potential future adventures this summer. Thanks!

    Also. Have you considered running a parallel blog devoted to Brooklyn pizza? Just a thought. I feel the two could go hand in hand.

    • Keith says:

      Somehow pizza worms its way into my trips (except for the one to Clinton Hill) – maybe I’ll have a retrospective some day

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