Bullet Points: Neighbors Outraged By CB15 Vote Approving Drug Abuse Treatment Center

“Bullet Points” is our format for Community Board 15 meeting coverage, providing takeaways we think are important. Information in Bullet Points is meant only to be a quick summary, and some issues may be more deeply explored in future articles.

Neighbors Demand Board Rescind Support For Drug Counseling Center: Residents of East 17th Street near Kings Highway rallied at last night’s Community Board 15 meeting, demanding the Board rescind a letter of support for a proposed drug treatment facility at 1670 East 17th Street.

Led by Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association President Ed Jaworski, a group of residents took to the podium, claiming that the Board failed to inform the community that the issue would be discussed and voted on in December.

“The City Charter and the Community Board bylaws say that the Community Board should serve the community, should communicate within the community, should act as a liaison agency, should review services, should develop plans for the community. None of this was done regarding the drug center being located on East 17th Street,” Jaworski said. “What took place at the November meeting was a shortcut. It was cutting the community’s input.”

The center, One World Counseling, received a letter of support from Community Board 15 in November with a 31-4 vote. Dmitri Oster, a rep for One World, told the Board then that they intended to target immigrants in the Sheepshead Bay area who have turned to drugs to cope with cultural integration. They would offer only counseling and would not distribute medication.

One of the key selling points, the Board noted at the time, was that One World was choosing a commercial area, not a residential block.

But neighbors say the Board has got the wrong idea of the area’s character, and claim it’s more residential than they think.

“There are public schools all over. The private schools go out for lunch … Kids are outside all the time. They go out shopping,” said neighbor Tsipora Borger. “I couldn’t tell you one person that knew about it, and once they knew about it, I couldn’t tell you one person that was not outraged.”

Borger said she and a local rabbi have collected hundreds of petitions to block the center.

Another neighbor said that this is the fourth drug center within an approximate half-mile radius.

“You’re going to turn Kings Highway literally into a drug alley. How many of these drug addicts can you put here? It’s crazy,” said the neighbor. “You don’t need to bring all the undesirables from all over Brooklyn right into this small area where there’s so many children. There’s nine schools here.”

Opponents also read from a Bay News article that erroneously claimed One World “will cater to probationers, parolees, and those sentenced to rehab as an alternative to prison,” though One World emphatically told the Board in November that it had no such plans. Sheepshead Bites is awaiting documentation requested under the Freedom of Information Law from the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) – which reviews applications for such facilities – to determine if One World was forthcoming with the Board.

One World previously sought a location on McDonald Avenue in Community Board 11, but the Board there voted against it before receiving a presentation from the company, claiming that they were not forthcoming in a private meeting between a rep and the Board’s chairperson and district manager.

Despite the urging of Jaworski and the opponents, Community Board 15 did not rescind their support, noting that their letter is only a recommendation and that OASAS is the approving agency.

“We are not an approving agency. Not an approving agency at all,” said Chairperson Theresa Scavo. “Your fight is not with us. Your fight is with the state OASAS. It is the issuing agency.”

Scavo told opponents to contact their state senators and assembly members, though Jaworski still insisted that the Board’s approval was “disingenuous” since they did not inform the community of the November hearing.

A representative for One World was not in attendance.

Zoning items

  • 22 Girard Street – The Board approved an application to enlarge a single-family home with a vote of 33-0. The modest enlargement will not increase the structure’s footprint or shrink the rear, side or front yards, but will only increase the amount of livable space in the home’s second floor.
  • 2713-2735 Knapp Street – The Board voted 33-1 to support a plan to cancel a restrictive declaration and allow the construction of a four-story self-storage facility called Metro Storage. Some waterfront activists bashed the plan, saying they’d rather see a park or marina, but boardmembers said that the storage facility would be better than a poorly maintained lot.
  • 2901 Emmons Avenue – The Board approved the renewal of an enclosed sidewalk cafe permit for Roll ‘N’ Roaster. There were no objections, although there was also no one from the company in attendance. The vote was 34-0.
  • 1901 Emmons Avenue – The Board voted 33-1 to submit a letter to the Department of City Planning for a Zoning change at Cherry Hill Market that will let them operate legally. According to the Board, the letter is not a recommendation, but just giving the department a green light to begin talks with Cherry Hill. The matter will return to the Board before any plans are finalized, Scavo said. Preservationists argued that any attempt to change the zoning would be rewarding illegal behavior and send the wrong message to developers around the city.

Other Board Actions and Information:

  • The Board voted overwhelmingly to oppose any plans to close Sheepshead Bay High School, and will submit a letter to the Department of Education stating such.
  • Councilman Jumaane Williams discussed the City Council – mayoral “budget dance,” in which the mayor has threatened funding to education, youth after-school programs, firehouses and more. He noted that some are already pegged for this fiscal year, as well as for the budget they will pass for the coming year. He also noted that Bloomberg could have avoided the bus driver’s strike had he chosen one of two other options on the table that would have preserved the drivers’ jobs, but he refused to consider them.
  • A representative for State Senator Marty Golden reminded residents that the FEMA Disaster Recovery Center at the Sheepshead Bay Yacht Club (3076 Emmons Avenue) is still open.
  • Applications to join Brooklyn’s community boards will be accepted until February 28, 2013. Find more information here.
  • Manhattan Beach will reopen in time for Memorial Day, according to the Parks Department.