Last Wednesday was the 2014 meeting of the Flatbush Avenue BID. It was the first meeting since longtime Flatbush Avenue shoe store owner and former BID Executive Director Jack Katz passed away in late 2012, but the event was a celebratory — not somber — one.
- Jack’s wife Rita collected dedications and flowers as Jack’s unwavering love of the area was honored by Ed Powell and Assemblywoman Rhoda Jacobs, Councilmember Mathieu Eugene, a representative for Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, the 70th Precinct‘s Deputy Inspector Richard DiBlasio, and others–even former Community Board 14 District Manager Doris Ortíz sent a letter from Florida. “We got to Flatbush on December 12, 1968,” Rita told the assembled crowd. “All of our kids were raised in the store. Jack loved everyone on Flatbush Avenue; my husband loved his job, and he loved all of you.” She concluded with something Jack used to say in his days on Flatbush — “I’ll never be poor again, and I’ll always take care of people who don’t have.”
- Reverend Dan Ramm of the Flatbush Reformed Church was also honored for his quarter century of dedication to the area, although he put up a bit more of a fight about it. “It’s like being at your own funeral,” he told the crowd between speeches by his Assistant Pastor Reverend Cheri Kroon (“I now know how to cook for 100 people with $35, and that plumbing is a big part of ministry”), Councilmember Eugene, Ed Powell (“Every single time I have approached him for anything, he has always said yes enthusiastically; he doesn’t know how to say no”) and others. Reverend Ramm eventually conceded, “It’s been a pleasure, it’s been a joy… most of the time.”
- New Flatbush BID Executive Director Lauren Elvers Collins talked about what neighbors can look forward to and other exciting news on the Avenue. The BID is partnering with CAMBA and has a guaranteed annual budget of over $340,000, along with reserve funds of over $100,000 that will be put back into the area soon.
- For merchants: the BID is working to try and curb unnecessary ticketing of small businesses, and will be working with local realtors to fill vacancies along the strip. They are also trying to get sanitation seven days per week, and will be applying for the same Main Street Grants that have helped several storeowners transform their shops in the Church Avenue BID.
- They’re also hoping to promote shopping on Flatbush Avenue with some forthcoming branding efforts (including a website relaunch, hopefully, at the end of this month), and will be surveying shoppers and tenants in the near future about what’s working best for them on the Avenue, as well as asking for suggestions on how to better it. Results will be revealed at a public presentation in December.
- Transportation-wise, the BID has met with the DOT, and new traffic markings will be painted on the street soon. Lauren says eight to 10 changes will be made to the intersection of Church and Flatbush Avenues as well. They will also be seeking improvements like benches, more lighting, public bathrooms, and zoning changes to facilitate outdoor sales.
Want to know more of what the Flatbush BID is up to? Keep an eye out for their revamped website, and save the date for their Annual Street Fair on Sunday, June 29. We’ll keep you updated on the details.