The Q at Parkside

(for those for whom the Parkside Q is their hometrain)

News and Nonsense from the Brooklyn neighborhood of Lefferts and environs, or more specifically a neighborhood once known as Melrose Park. Sometimes called Lefferts Gardens. Or Prospect-Lefferts Gardens. Or PLG. Or North Flatbush. Or Caledonia (west of Ocean). Or West Pigtown. Across From Park Slope. Under Crown Heights. Near Drummer's Grove. The Side of the Park With the McDonalds. Jackie Robinson Town. Home of Lefferts Manor. West Wingate. Near Kings County Hospital. Or if you're coming from the airport in taxi, maybe just Flatbush is best.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Delroy Wright Responds

Here's a response from DelroyWright, executive director of FEPMA that I thought deserved it's own post, in reference to my recent piece on his and Wilfrid Compere's re-emerging Flatbush Avenue merchants group...
Hi Tim, thanks for the interview and the exposure it grants the Avenue. I see you have stimulated some potent discussions pertaining the shopping corridor. I felt the energy and it’s all good. It’s much different from when we got involved to re-organize the merchants’ association. We were seen then as rabble rousers—talking about organizing community. I must say things have changed dramatically since then. For one, when we started out the community was overwhelmingly labeled “the hood”. It was a task trying to convince outsiders as well as local residents to give it its appendage: neighbor. Today, the appendage is very much attached. Very rarely do I now hear the community referred to as “the hood”. It’s either referred to as the neighborhood or the community. And that I believe is a great accomplishment.
Flatbush Ave. Street fair, not unlike street fairs in business districts across the city, possesses and intrinsic value to merchants and the community at large. Idealistically, this exposition of vendors and patrons, provides an opportunity for merchants to showcase their businesses to thousands of spectators in a relaxed and enjoyable setting. The objective of a street fair is deeply entrenched in FEPMA’s mission of promoting a commercial involvement that is profitable to merchants and responsive to the community. As business owner, community building plays a pivotal role in our success and as an organization FEPMA is committed to this engagement.
On a personal note, as an organizer of this event for many years, I have seen progress in the community coming together around this event. Positive interactions has not only been limited to merchants organizing, but it has given me personal joy to see youths of Westbury Court engaging in conversations with police and proudly rallying around taking ownership of this event. I must note that Flatbush Ave. Street Fair, in its 17 years of existence can boast of a crime free record.
In addition, successful street fairs possess the potential to become and economic engine for merchants currently facing economic challenges. The Board of Directors of FEPMA, unlike BIDS, do not have salaried staff. From its inception, board members have worked on a strictly volunteer basis, (a different feat of struggling business owners). With members becoming difficult to acquire in this present economy, sustainability as an organization is key. It is my belief that as an organization, FEPMA must utilize all tools available to become economically viable. All these factors remain assets to the promotion of our ultimate goal: formation of a Business Improved District (BID).
I just want to say at this point that the comments I read in the Q are encouraging, if it is only for the fact that people are showing great interest in what’s happening in the community. It is much advance from when we started out; and Mr. Compere, Ms Sandra Marshall-Haye and I are looking forward to entertaining more dialogue and effort towards the well being of the entire community.
Thanks Tim and give yourself a pat on the back; I hope at some point in time I can lend my take on why the abundance of beauty salons and barbershops could be an asset more so than a liability.



Ceelledee said...

Thank you, Delroy and Wilfred. The work you do,and have been doing, with FEPMA to try and improve the Flatbush Avenue business corridor in our community is well noted and appreciated by many.

Gary of PLG said...

With all due respect to the work FEPMA is doing, why not work towards extending the BID from further south on Flatbush up to Empire?

Anonymous said...

@Gary, agreed.

There also has to be a more concerted effort to get landlords to respond to neighborhood needs and attract businesses from other parts of Brooklyn. Local, small chains with proven records are the way to go. I now understand the benefits of the street fair, but I don't actually see it as a true engine for economic growth on Flatbush.

I would recommend that Delroy and co start reaching out to local chains instead of placing effort on events. Song, the Thai place, or Zaytoons would go gangbusters in the old Mike's space - both are quality, known names with proven business acumen, and they are inexpensive and consistent with their products.

All that said - Delroy, thank you for your efforts! There are not many people stepping up to the plate - don't take my criticism as being to harsh. I encourage you to think outside the box. A business with a proven records MIGHT be instrumental in getting the landlords along Flatbush to charge market rents - the argument of, "I pay $$ at my other location, where I've been successful for XX years..." might encourage landlords to open their minds.

Anonymous said...

This all makes sense to me except Delroy's last statement. The excess supply of nail salons and hair salons is not an asset. I've heard for years about Flatbush becoming a "destination" for nails and hair... not going to happen. Ever.

Anonymous said...

I know everyone loves to complain about the salons but I don't know that the problem is there's too many nail and hair salons; if Flatbush is known as a destination for that in NYC then okay. There are plenty storefronts available or potentially available to bring in a greater variety of businesses and fill some gaping needs so I suggest let's focus on bringing more in rather than driving folks out. For what it's worth, my own ideal commercial strip would be a mix of 99 cent stores with cute boutiques, affordable corner markets with gourmet food stores, fancy restaurants next door to classic places for getting our jerk chicken and meat pies we've come to love. Thank you for the response, Delroy. You should reach out to the broader PLG community because several people I know of are experienced with grant writing and if you welcome their help you could get more funding for FEPMA.