Homeowner Wins Grant For Benson Avenue Block

Front yard with vegetables by Violette 79 via Flickr

A Bath Beach homeowner has been awarded a grant from the city in order to help make her beautiful block look even better.

Sonia Valentin and her husband have been residents of their stretch of Benson Avenue, between Bay 11th Street and 16th Avenue, for 27 years. Recently, she began to notice and increasingly appreciate the well-kept front yards on her street, many of which are filled with flower gardens – the type that seem to bring the block to life with bursts of bright colors every spring.

After forming a block association, she began to think of ways to improve things even more, writes the Brooklyn Eagle.

From the Eagle:

First, she formed a block association, the Benson Avenue Block Association. Next, Valentin applied for a “Love Your Block” grant from the Citizens Committee for New York City to beautify the street even more.
“We want to make our block shine!” Valentin said. Both sides of the street are lined with lovely one- and two-family brick homes, most with small gardens in the front yard.
Valentin’s application dazzled the grant panel at Citizens Committee and the block association was awarded $1,000 in funds to replant gardens, paint gates, prune bushes and tidy up the block.
Peter H. Kostmayer, the chief executive officer of Citizens Committee, came to Valentin’s house on Jan. 31 to personally deliver the check. He was greeted by more than a dozen of the block’s residents, who gathered for an impromptu party to celebrate the recognition they were receiving.

CB 11 District Manager Marnee Elias-Pavia was there to compliment the block association on their achievement, as well as marvel at the block’s charm.

“This is wonderful. Blocks like this are why we have such a strong community,” she said.

Valentin, for all of her community-organizing acumen, remained humble as the check was handed over.

“We feel honored that we actually got the grant,” Valentin told reporters.

As he presented the check, Kostmayer said that groups like the Benson Avenue Block Association are an important part of why New York maintains a vitality that can ebb in other places during tough economic times, when people often stop maintaining their property.

“The key to solving those problems is to get people to take an interest in their property,” he said.

To find out how you and your neighbors can win a grant of $500 to $1,000 to help beautify the neighborhood, please visit CitizensNYC.org.