"Newkirk Plaza is overrun with rats, flanked by neglected properties, and the city still refuses to address the issue of ownership," starts the email from the Executive Director of the Flatbush Development Coalition Robin Redmond with a call to action, informing of an upcoming neighborhood demonstration and press conference this Thursday to address longstanding issues at the Newkirk Plaza.
The rats really were the last drop.
"Corner Eyesore Racks up Nearly $100,000 in Fines and Brings Rats to Newkirk Plaza," we reported back in 2019. "Newkirk Plaza is Looking to Get Private Security After a String of Robberies and a Decline in Police Presence," "Brooklyn Pols Call on Mayor to Assign Responsibility for Newkirk Plaza", we wrote just last year.
But it's been decades of neglect:
"For far too long Newkirk Plaza has been the forgotten property of NYC. And now it is overrun with rats, public urination and neglected privately owned properties. We need to see positive change for the Plaza and we need to see it now," the email from Redmond reads.
"Newkirk Plaza, a public open-air mall with benches, greenery and friendly small business owners has suffered enough during this pandemic. Nestled in the heart of Flatbush, Newkirk Plaza is one of the only public open spaces with-in a ten-block radius. And now, due to the city’s neglect, it is overrun with rats, urine and garbage. One merchant explained, “You have to shake the gates hard in the morning before you open to scare the rats away.” Shaivon, a local resident/daily commuter, told us “I don’t even jump anymore when I see the rats running around the Plaza. I just keep walking towards the train station. I am numb to them now.”
The Plaza is flanked with privately owned buildings/properties that have been neglected for years. The lack of upkeep of these properties created a breeding ground for rats, mice, bugs and more. If there was a city agency who was responsible for the Plaza, would these issues be as out of control as they are today?
In 2018 at a Flatbush Town Hall, Mayor De Blasio promised he would get to the bottom of the ownership of Newkirk Plaza once and for all. A promise he did not keep. We call on our neighbors, elected officials, small business owners, and you to join us in this call to action. It is our community and we need to hold the city accountable for allowing Newkirk Plaza conditions to get this out of control."
It was not always this bad, though Newkirk Plaza did have the nickname of Newcrack Plaza for a while, old timers tell us. (Here is a neat history of the Plaza from 1878-2019).
Newkirk Plaza is the oldest purpose-built outdoor shopping plaza in America - established in 1907. It is home to such gems as Leon's barber shop that has been carrying on the tradition in the exact spot for over 100 years, and Almac Hardware has been a staple of Victorian Flatbush since the beginning for a good reason.
The rally is set for 3pm on Thursday, June 17 at Newkirk Plaza.