Nieuw Amersfort community members gathered for their final meeting of the season, before recommencing in September, for an awards ceremony, catching up on unfinished business and updates, and getting together for light refreshments on June 27th at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, 3913 Avenue J.
“Tonight, we’re honoring three people for paying their dues for 10 years in a row,” Nieuw Amersfort Community Association (NACA) president Steve Yamin said. Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein presented Certificates of Merit and Daniel Heredia, representing Councilwoman Farah Louis, presented D45 All Stars Community Service Award certificates to Roxanne Nedd-Ervin and Alban and Yvonne Redhead.
Yamin shared information he learned about frauds and scams at a breakfast held by the District Attorney’s office recently, stating that people have been scammed out of as much as six figures from their savings.
“Don’t give them any numbers because once they have those numbers, you’re dead in the water,” he said, referring to scam calls asking for numbers related to healthcare, social security, bank accounts, Medicare, checking accounts or credit cards as examples.
Weinstein added that there was a serious problem with deed fraud and theft in her district. Working with Attorney General Letitia James, she was able to get legislation passed to prevent deed theft and hopes that the governor will pass it.
“The same way you don’t give someone information over the phone, when someone says, ‘I’m here to help you’ and you know that you’re behind in bills, just be very skeptical before you sign anything because it’s easy to think that they’re really helping you and you could let someone end up owning your house, and then it’s the hardest fight to get back,” she said.
Another crime problem involved the prevalence of marijuana smoking in Amersfort Park. Louis’ office was told that families are afraid to take their kids into the park and that it’s really affecting the children. Heredia said that Louis met with the president of P.S. 119’s Parent Association and the precincts to see if they can partner to solve this issue.
Residents also complained about unlicensed motorbikes cutting through the park and driving illegally, suggesting that all motorbikes should require a license. They wanted to know what was being done about that, illegal smoke shops, graffiti, a shipping container on Flatbush Avenue that has been there for months, faded banners on the Flatlands Library and other long-standing matters.
Heredia acknowledged their frustration and informed them that the governor has recently released some new enforcement guidelines on smoke shops and explained why it was difficult to address some of the other issues, which may need to be dealt with legislatively or through a resolution.
Residents were also concerned about the need for affordable housing. Heredia informed them that the councilwoman has been working on expanding affordable housing in the district. He read a report that said that this neighborhood and East Flatbush had the third highest number of new constructions of non-affordable apartments in the city.
Due to redistricting, Louis now has a bit of Ralph Avenue and she’s looking at that area with a church that is interested in creating a senior housing development near the Glenwood Houses that would be affordable.
“In Albany, we had tried working with government to come up with a package that would help with affordable housing, but the reality is that we need to build more housing that has restrictions to make some of the apartments within the building affordable,” Weinstein said.
Another major area of concern was the adult establishment that has signage indicating that it’s a sex shop located near a Catholic school on the corner of Flatbush and Flatlands Avenues, which many residents are opposed to having in the neighborhood.
Heredia said that according to the zoning law stating the distance that such an establishment has to be from a school, the business would be in violation if it could be proven to be an adult establishment as defined by law, but it is hard for inspectors to catch violations if they are removed or changed prior to their arrival.
Their office is working with Community Board 18, the school and some other organizations on this issue. They met with the CEO of the establishment and were told that he had this fight in Fort Greene and there was this whole big thing, but everyone got used to it.
“The thing is that this is a different population — We’re not Fort Greene and we’re not Clinton Hill,” Heredia said. “We don’t want to be seeing these things on our block over here so we’re going to continue fighting this and addressing issues.”