EX-CONS GET LUXURY DIGS
83rd Pct. Coun. Hears Of Halfway House
Rumors that a recently completed luxury condominium building is being transformed into a halfway house spurred community members to outrage at the 83rd Precinct Community Council meeting held last Tuesday, Jan. 19 at the precinct’s Bushwick stationhouse.
Apartments in the 8-unit building located at 979 Willoughby Ave., at the corner of Evergreen Avenue, went on the market in 2007 with listed prices as high as $668,000. But the luxury apartments—designed by Scarano Architects and constructed by Vintage Builders—have remained unsold, and rather than seek renters for the apartments, the owners have reportedly contracted to operate a halfway house at the location.
“The wonderful condominium that was built on the corner of our block was turned into a halfway house without our knowledge,” said Evette Villafane, a long time resident of Evergreen Avenue. “We have a day care center next door. We have drug spots in the area. This is the last place we should be putting this kind of facility.”
Villafane believed that the halfway house was being run by an organization called the Gelzer Foundation, which has come under fire in Bedford-Stuyvesant for opening a supportive housing unit at 332 Malcolm X Blvd. without first notifying the community.
District Manager for Community Board 4 (Brooklyn) Nadine Whitted was on hand for the meeting, and acknowledged that Board 4 was aware of the faciliy.
“It’s obvious that people need someplace to go, but there’s a right way and a wrong way,” said Whitted. “We are a community that is besieged by halfway houses. We need a holistic effort and we need to go to our elected officials with a list, not of one here and one there, but of all the places in our community.”
“This has nothing to do with ‘Not in my backyard,’” said Villafane. “This is about not telling anyone they were coming in. This is about working with the community to make sure it’s the right place for the facility.”
Deputy Inspector Stephen Capasso, commanding officer of the 83rd Precinct, reported that crime was down 7.6 percent in his command in 2009.
Contributing to that reduction was a 17 percent drop in robberies, which Deputy Inspector Capasso called “a great reduction for our area,” and 10 less shootings than in the previous year.
“That was due to the hard work of the men and women of the 83rd Precinct,” said Capasso, who singled out Lt. Elliot Colon, special operations coordinator, and his units for extra praise.
Burglaries were up 5.9 percent in 2009, the commanding officer noted, adding that he has assigned additional foot patrols to the problem areas.
Looking forward to 2010, Capasso stressed that community involvement would be the key to continued success.
“If we’re missing something, please let us know,” he said. “We aggressively address the crime where it is, so if there’s something we’re not seeing, please, everybody knows if you tell us something I will send the police officers there to address it.”
Capasso also announced a change in administration at his command. Capt. George Mifsud, who had served as executive officer in the 83rd Precinct, has been reassigned as executive officer in the 73rd Precinct in East New York.
Captain Mifsud has been replaced by Capt. Rich Avignon, who was previously assigned to the Internal Affairs Bureau.
Anita Haines, director of the Hope Gardens Community Center, presented on behalf of City Council Member Diana Reyna proclamations to Capasso and Mifsud, thanking the two officers for service to the Bushwick community.
“On New Year’s Eve, instead of being home with their families, they were out on the streets fighting crime,” said Haines.
“I’ve lived in Bushwick all my life,” she continued, “and this is the first time I can remember not hearing gunshots on New Year’s Eve. It’s really because of what these gentleman are doing.”
“Thank you for your support,” said Capasso. “I couldn’t ask for a better community and community council, and I love what I do.”
Mifsud, who was in attendance as a visitor, also expressed his appreciation for the citation.
Holiday parties a success
Smith thanked the Precinct Council, police officers and community members who helped to make the 2009 Thanksgiving and Christmas parties successful.
According to Smith, the 83rd Precinct Community Council gave away 225 turkeys for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Meanwhile, Smith called the 2009 Christmas party “the best that we’ve had in a long, long time.”
In addition to raising funds for the council’s ongoing activities, the Precinct Council collected non-periishable foods, and distributed over 325 toys through the Toys for Tots program.
Smith presented Bushwick Bushwick teenager Gabriel Morales with a certificate of appreciation for his help collecting canned goods for the Precinct Council’s food drive.
Smith honored two other area youngsters, Kendall Bryon and Princetta Thomas, in absentia.
The 83rd Precinct Community Council generally meets on the third Tuesday of the month at the precinct’s stationhouse, located at 480 Knickerbocker Ave. For more information, call the Community Affairs Unit at 1- 718-574-1697.