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.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Armory Activists Out In Force

At the Crown Gardens meeting space on Nostrand Avenue last night you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting an anti-deal activist. Now this wouldn't be the Q if the Q didn't take a swipe at the irony in the room. White gentrifiers decrying market rate housing. Socialist protesters from NYCC not really knowing anything about the project, just showing up for yet another cause (some, not all of course). Alicia Boyd shouted down by fellow protesters for being too crass (she seemed out of her element not being the center of attention). And don't miss the PRO signs in the back of the room, held by young people obviously there because they were brought by the Clarence Norman/Geoffrey Davis forces that were, not at all ironically, paid by the developers to produce support from the community for the project. That's Norman's white shirt and hair just to the right of the woman in the horizontally striped dress on the left side of the picture.

The screaming, the chanting, the bluster...all on display. Ultimately there's not really any support at CB9 for the current BFC Partners project to create a beautiful recreation center and community group space out of the Bedford-Union Armory - leastways not if there are going to be any market-rate "luxury" rentals or condos in the mix.

The fact is, this particular parcel belongs to us all, and it probably SHOULD go to house the poorest among us. Yep. Public Housing. The kind that gets such a bad rap, even though public housing has been a lifeline for millions of Americans through the last 100 years. Look it up. Heck, even Eastern Bloc countries saw fit to follow suit!

But you gotta ask yourself...will such a "better deal" ever materialize? As it is, a perfectly good GIANT community resource is actually nearly happening, and the funding is all set. It's been more than a decade in the making. Are we really going to walk away in hopes of a better bargain? And more to the point, will the community REALLY come out in support of Public Housing (cause dammit, that's what it is)? Or is this just a bunch of posturing? For some, like the Crown Heights Tenants Union, I think it's a very REAL issue. They're understandably fed up with the rent hikes and displacement and blatant racism and ageism, and they resent the very notion of market-rate anything going on public land. As to the not-so-few carpet-baggers, I can appreciate a good protest, but a lot of folks seemed to know absolutely nothing about this particular project. I suspect if NY Communities for Change issued a call to protest Mr. Softy for running a non-union truck, the orange-shirts would be out in a jiffy, with signs reading "No Justice, No Sprinkles!" The fact is, this process is a lot more nuanced than "kill the deal" can possibly explain. But we don't really DO discourse at CB9, so there it is, no 'splain, no gain.

I guess you could say the Q's a realist. Or, cynic. Depends on whose talking. But really I to assume that everyone who lives near this potentially giant housing project is going to welcome his low-income brothers and sisters with loving arms? I certainly hope so. We'd be showing the City that we actually care about those least able to pay their bills.

But wait...isn't this the same community that wants nothing to do with a well-maintained and secure homeless shelter for families just down the block?

For those keeping score at home, here's what "the Community" seems to be saying. Give us a bunch of City subsidized housing (and it don't come cheap) for people making less than the actual median income ($38K for a family of 4 in Crown Heights). BUT, if those same people suddenly can't afford the roughly $800 - $900 month and become homeless, well, we sure as hell don't want them HERE.

To her credit, councilperson Laurie Cumbo was parked in the front row, and remained quiet as the battle raged. My considerable gut tells me she understands the nuances, and understands too that to favor this project is political death. She's come out against it and will likely win reelection as a result, and now she claims to want NO market rate housing. (When you want to emphasize the point, just call 'em "luxury condos.") But there's no hint of where the money will come from to build all this subsidized housing AND giant community center. Just a lot of hyperbole and bullying.

Lastly I'd just like to add what I always want to add to those who decry Developers out of hand. I'll bet Dollars to Donuts that the very home you're living in now was built by those nasty, greedy humans otherwise known as Developers.  Yep. Even your fancy townhouses were the once much-derided tract housing of its day. Developers are builders. And even if they make a profit, you don't get housing without them. The City got out of that business a long time ago, and for good reason. The corruption alone cost a fortune. Sure you can hire a non-profit developer. And you're just as likely to get reamed, too, by a bunch of crooks and shysters and volunteer board members.

Maybe it's time to park those dollars in the Carver for a minute, eat a few of those donuts, and reconsider whether there IS some compromise to be made before we end up with a 500,000 square foot vacant lot til the next recession ends in, oh, 2030 or so.


Anonymous said...

Objecting to any kind of redevelopment that's not 100% affordable housing is ridiculous. So ridiculous. Just tell me when it's time to vote Eugene out, and I'll be out there to vote.

Cea Weaver said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cea Weaver said...

hi tim,

FWIW, and I obviously really love the CHTU, but the implications of what you are saying here about NYCC are upsetting, offensive, and really distorted.

NYCC (and before that, ACORN) have been organizing in Crown Heights since like 1982 -- well before you or I moved to Brooklyn! And well before many of the CHTU members were born or moved to Crown Heights. The CHTU started in 2014, and I know that because I was there. I am obviously really devoted to the Crown Heights Tenant Union and love and respect their work, so it's not a critique of the CHTU there - its just a fact that NYCC members have been fighting for housing in Central Brooklyn for over thirty years. Some of them have actually participated in some really historic wins for permanently affordable housing, and some of them are still fighting for their lives. This is simply not true for any of the other groups in this fight, and its actually grotesque to erase their work.

Do NYCC members somehow matter less because they are members of Citywide organization? I'm confused about that logical twist.

You really should not use this blog to silence the voices and the collective power of long time people of color who are under increasingly and escalating pressure thanks to gentrification in their neighborhood. They are fighting this fight because THEY NEED TO FIGHT THIS FIGHT TO STAY IN THEIR HOMES. I don't know how you assume that their experience is any different from that of the CHTU members who are also here to fight this project.

I'm happy to talk more about this offline but respectfully with regard to NYCC this whole post is just like woefully inaccurate. I'm around!

- cea

Clarkson FlatBed said...

I think you're great Cea. Your work is unparalleled. But maybe you're too close to the action. I think you'll see that we've come to the same conclusion, even if I'm not crazy about some of the actors at NYCC.

Everything I said was true. Some of the activists did not know the specifics of what they were protesting. That's fine. But I call it like I see it. That they were shutting down conversation only adds to my, and others, frustration. But of course the 1st Amendment allows it. I'm not asking that they be removed.

As to offensive - I hardly see criticism as necessarily offensive. That's what I've been hearing from a lot of people when you dare have a difference of opinion. I think it would be great if people could step back from the brink and remember that there's is not the only opinion with airing. I don't claim to be the NY Times. I claim the opinions for myself only. That's why I insist it's a blog, not a journalistic enterprise.

As to my post, I stand by it. You may disagree, but there is nothing "inaccurate" about it. Read it again when you're less agitated.