Following a protest organized by 77 WABC radio host Curtis Sliwa at Floyd Bennett Field on Tuesday, August 22nd, an Emergency Rally for Southeast Brooklyn and Rockaway, Queens was held in the old Toys “R” Us parking lot, at 2875 Flatbush Avenue, on Thursday, August 24th. Elected officials, civic leaders and residents made their voices heard that they don’t want 7,000 migrant adult men housed in a tent city at Floyd Bennett Field, a federal site which is part of Gateway National Recreation Area.
Elected officials and civic associations are in agreement that Floyd Bennett Field is not a safe, viable option to house migrants. The site is in a flood zone, and hurricane season is upon us. There is no infrastructure in place to house them, and it’s in the middle of a transportation desert.
Assemblywoman Jaime Williams is vehemently opposed to the plan. “We are a caring community, and while not unsympathetic to this humanitarian crisis, the impact to our neighborhoods would be disastrous. With no real resources in place, this vast number of people cannot be accommodated in this location.”
The assemblywoman for the 59th District wants to know what type of plan is in place for the men to spend their days or will they just meander throughout the area? If asylum status is granted, Williams says the migrants will need medical care, clothing, and assistance with permanent housing, job training and placement. Then, there’s the question of transportation. The Q35 bus, which runs along Flatbush Avenue, is the only option. A bus only holds 60 people, and Williams says another 40 buses need to added to the route but will cause additional traffic along the already crowded corridor.
Civic leaders are concerned too. Bergen Beach Civic Association President Sal Calise said that Floyd Bennett Field is not a safe place to shelter migrants. “No running water, no drainage for storms, which makes it prone to flooding. Winter will be cold, which many migrants are not used to or will not be ready for.”
He brought up another issue concerning Doppler weather radar at the location. “It is specialized radar that uses the Doppler effect to produce velocity data about objects at a distance. It does this by bouncing a microwave signal off a desired target and analyzing how the object’s motion has altered the frequency of the returned signal, so basically every minute those migrants are there – they are exposed to some radiation. When they come down with cancer in five to 10 years, they will point to their time at Floyd Bennett Field and will sue everyone.”
Governor Kathy Hochul has committed $20 million to help the migrants with immediate work authorization and legal services, but Calise says that $20 million would have been better spent against congestion pricing, MTA and ConEd price hikes, and to help the homeless and our veterans. “These are things that matter to everyday working New Yorkers. It shows Kathy Hochul does not have a clue.”
“The City of New York needs to come up with a safe, viable solution for the migrants coming in to New York – not just pick any empty space, pitch a tent and say here is our solution. Our communities and the migrants deserve better!” Calise said.
Residents are outraged too. Although it rained prior to the rally, hundreds still showed up to voice their concerns.