September 25


Contentious Discussion About Floyd Bennett Migrant Camp Disrupts Community Board Meeting 

September 25, 2023

Vol. 103 No. 39

The September 20th meeting of Community Board 18 (CB 18) was taken over by a discussion of the asylum seekers and the migrant camp that is in the works at the National Parks Service’s Floyd Bennett Field.

The board, located at 1097 Bergen Avenue, represents Canarsie, Bergen Beach, Flatlands, Flatbush, Georgetown, Marine Park and Mill Basin and acts as the link between residents and the city government.

This month, emotions soared high when CB 18 Chairperson Michael Ien allowed attendees to question Councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse about her thoughts on the incoming migrant camp. The questions came as a response to her absence at a community meeting the previous night, where the topic was also discussed.

One attendee asked Narcisse if she’s in favor of the migrant shelter or if she’s in support of the lawsuit to block the camp.

Narcisse noted several times that the migrant shelter is a state and federal initiative and is thus out of her hands as a member of the New York City Council. She also attempted to avoid giving her personal thoughts on the situation in favor of satiating both sides. Many attendees appeared to be unsatisfied by this response.

“The minute I heard about it, I said, ‘Damn, we don’t want to have that facility to be used because it’s not suitable,’” she said. “We need to make sure that it’s suitable for folks to come in, if they have to come in.”

The Floyd Bennett Field camp is a contentious topic. Some residents fear that the migrants could bring crime to the community, while others don’t want to see their taxes going to house and educate undocumented immigrants. Other residents just don’t want access to the national park to be altered. A different group of residents don’t want the camp because they feel the park, which is in a flood zone and has no existing housing structures, is unsuitable to house people.

The heated conversation resulted in a change to the scheduled agenda. A public hearing with a representative of the NYC Department of Environmental Protection about flooding in Bergen Beach last April was postponed until the board’s October meeting because of the migrant talk.

Assemblywoman Jaime Williams, who is one of the officials who brought the lawsuit against the camp, spoke. “Our governor — plain talk, bad manners — made a deal in the night with the Biden Administration with no consciousness whatsoever to reach out to the local electeds who represent you here in the 59th,” she said. “That’s an issue. Guess what, I’m your assembly member. When I took my oath, it was to represent you, not to represent the governor or the mayor.”

The migrant discussion also brought other politicians out of the woodwork.  State Senator Kevin Parker, whose visits to the district are infrequent, also addressed the matter, having to speak over cries of, “Where have you been?” from the attendees.

“Let me just be clear where I am on this: I represent you,” he said. “If this community is saying to me that they don’t want anyone improperly housed at Floyd Bennett Field, then that’s my position.”

Beyond the migrant conversation, the meeting included a conversation about curbside composting. Department of Sanitation Senior Program Manager of Organics Outreach Andrew Hoyles spoke about the rules around the city’s new mandatory composting program.

Beginning October 2nd, Brooklynites will have to start setting out their lawn clippings and leaves in a separate bin designated specifically for compost. While it’s only mandatory to compost yard waste, as opposed to throwing it in the trash, it’s also highly encouraged to put food waste and food-soiled paper into the compost bins as well. This reduces the amount of organic waste going into landfills and will, hopefully, aid the city’s rat eradication efforts, as well. Compost will be collected on recycling days.

Councilwoman Mercedes Narcisse responding to a constituent question.

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