As 2014 draws to a close, it’s hard to believe how much has happened in the county of Kings since the year began. A Park Sloper took the big office at City Hall, then, after some procrastinating, left our fair borough. The Ebola scare hit Williamsburg. Coney Island got a brand-new roller coaster. A mistletoe drone attacked our photographer. The Macy’s fireworks returned to the East River. And a whole lot more. Take a look back at the biggest stories of 2014 with our Year in Review.
Atlantic Yards ups and downs: Barclays Center quietly axes the 2,000 $15 tickets per game it promised in 2012, saying scalpers were snapping up the discount ducats. Meanwhile, work on the neighboring modular high-rise B2 remains stalled weeks after Atlantic Yards developers Greenland and Forest City Ratner hailed the start of construction.
Pier pressure: The India Street Pier in Greenpoint collapses during a snowstorm. Our reporting exclusively reveals that the publicly subsidized private ferry operator never inspected the dock below the waterline.
Park Slope at the Oscars: Park Slope couple Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Bobby Lopez win big at the Oscars, bagging Best Song honors for their smash hit “Let it Go,” from the movie “Frozen.” The talented duo came up with the song during a stroll in Prospect Park.
Slow ride: The city lowers the speed limits on McGuinness Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue to 25 miles-per-hour. The moves follow weeks of protests calling on Mayor DeBlasio to make good on his Vision Zero campaign pledge, the goal of which is to reduce city traffic deaths to zero in the next decade.
A citywide reduction would come in November.
Operation Dumbo drop: Jason Stevens, owner of Rebar on Front Street in Dumbo, suddenly shutters his gastropub and takes off, stiffing employees and couples planning their wedding receptions. He surrenders to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office after angry couples hit the streets and the phones. Stevens is slapped with grand larceny and several fraud counts linked to nearly $1 million in unpaid taxes. He would plead guilty to tax fraud and be sentenced to 3 years and 4 months in prison.
LICH dead: Long Island College Hospital closes amid a year-long legal battle over its fate. The closure ends 156 years of service and marks the beginning of the medical campus’s new life as a luxury housing compound with a medical component. It would be five months before Fortis Property Group and New York University finally clinch the redevelopment deal.
Domino rises: The Domino Sugar Factory mega-development gets the Council’s okay, clearing the way for it to rise at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge after years of acrimony. Mayor DeBlasio squeezed 11th-hour affordable-housing concessions out of developer Two Trees by threatening to block the project.
Wheels in the sky: The Thunderbolt rumbles into the People’s Playground, becoming the neighborhood’s first new roller coaster since the Cyclone. The new Thunderbolt — a rebooted version of its iconic namesake, which croaked in 2000 — is faster, steeper, and more twisted than the Cyclone, which opened in 1927.
Joe’s woes: Former District Attorney Charles “Joe” Hynes experiences a role-reversal as a scathing city report accused him of allegedly looting the public piggybank and violating election laws in his failed re-election bid last year. The borough’s ex-top lawman may have paid a political hack more than $1.1 million in public funds between 2003 and 2013, including almost $220,000 in cash seized from criminals, to boost his campaign, while improperly seeking political advice from a sitting judge, the authorities claim. Hynes was the borough’s top lawman for 23 years before current District Attorney Ken Thompson unseated him in the 2013 November elections.
End of term: Windsor Terrace’s Bishop Ford High School closes after 52 years, citing financial woes. The Brooklyn Diocese ceded control of the school to a board of directors in 1976 and says it doesn’t have the money to bail out the floundering institution.
DeBlasio decamps: The DeBlasio-McCray clan moves to Gracie Mansion in Manhattan, leaving us with one fewer mayoral family to write about.
Kentile Floors sign comes down: The iconic Kentile Floors sign comes down from its perch on a Gowanus roof, but outcry from locals and pols convinces its owner to take the letters down gingerly and donate them to a business-booster group for preservation.
Sweet surrender: Two white flags mysteriously replace the Stars and Stripes atop the Brooklyn Bridge towers. The flags wave over the city for several hours before cops scale the cables and remove them. German artists later take credit from the safety of their home country.
Road warrior: Deputy Inspector Michael Ameri, commanding officer of Park Slope’s 78th Precinct, leaves his post to take the top road-enforcement job in the city. The promotion comes after months of high-profile traffic-safety campaigns, including a failure-to-yield sting operation involving undercover police posing as pedestrians.
Macy’s blast from the past: The Macy’s fireworks return to the East River, and to the Brooklyn Bridge towers.
Atlantic Yards name change: Greenland and Forest City Ratner ask the world to start referring to their contentious Prospect Heights mega-development as “Pacific Park.” Few will heed the call.
Parole paranoia: Gowanus residents blast the state for secretly centralizing the borough’s parole offices into one command post in their backyard, claiming the influx of ex-jailbirds will bring crime to the area. The project is a year in the making and on track for completion in early 2015.
Lehman leaving: Longtime Brooklyn Museum director Arnold Lehman announces he’s retiring after 17 years.
NYPD blues: A Clinton Hill teen suffered brain damage after a cop knocked him out with one punch for smoking a cigarette he mistook for a joint, his family claims. The story comes days after we break news of the Police Department’s tactic of shooing teens who gather anywhere from Dumbo to Park Slope.
Ebola scare: Brooklyn is on red alert after a doctor recently returned from treating Ebola patients pays a visit to a Williamsburg bowling alley and comes down with the deadly virus a day later. After two scrub-downs, managers at the Gutter reopen the place, and Borough President Adams bowls a few frames to show it is safe. The doctor recovers.
Police-brutality protests: Protester, including moms with young children, crisscross the East River bridges on foot night after night, decrying grand juries’ decisions not to indict the cops who killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Gowanus native Eric Garner in Staten Island.
Police murdered: A deranged gunman murders NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in cold blood, calling it revenge for the deaths of Garner and Brown. Police unions blame Mayor DeBlasio.