Bay Ridge

‘Doctor’s Row’ residents band together to fight for city services

Neighbors form block association on Bay Ridge Parkway

October 27, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan (second from left) listens as residents of the block discuss their quality of life concerns. Photo courtesy of Linda Assini
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One of the loveliest and busiest blocks in Bay Ridge is nicknamed “Doctor’s Row.”

Famous for its lineup of handsome limestone houses, many of which contain physicians’ offices in the basements, “Doctor’s Row” is located on Bay Ridge Parkway between Fourth and Fifth avenues.

Because of the large number of doctors’ offices on the block, Bay Ridge Parkway sees a great deal of foot traffic every day, according to Linda Assini, a longtime resident, who said litter has become a serious problem.

In addition, the block is part of the route of the B4 bus, which travels along Bay Ridge Parkway from Bay Ridge to Sheepshead Bay. As a result, Assini and her neighbors live with constant traffic. “Speeding cars are a problem, too,” she told the Brooklyn Eagle.

Another potentially serious issue is the state of the trees on the block. “Our trees have been neglected for a long time. Our trees are over 100 years old,” Assini said.

Empty tree pits, loose branches and other problems have cropped up.

Homeowners have called 311, but nothing has been done, Assini said.

Faced with litter, traffic and forestry problems, the block’s residents decided they weren’t going to take things lying down. They were going to do something about it.

With that in mind, residents have banded together to form the Bay Ridge Parkway 400 Block Association.

The group’s first meeting took place on Oct. 19 at the offices of Community Board 10 at 8119 Fifth Ave. A dozen residents showed up and met with U. S. Rep. Dan Donovan and Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann. And two dozen more residents have contacted Assini and indicated an interest in joining the fledgling block association.

Assini said Beckmann, Donovan and Fran Vella-Marrone, Donovan’s Brooklyn director, were instrumental in helping the block association get started. “I met Fran at a street fair and started talking to her about the issues in our block and she put us in touch with the community board, which offered us space to hold our first meeting,” she said.

Block associations are a vital component in the ongoing effort by local officials to keep Bay Ridge a strong neighborhood, according to Beckmann.

There are approximately 70 block associations in the Board 10 area (Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights), Beckmann said. “Block Associations are a great way to get to know your neighbors and work collaboratively on issues of need and importance to neighbors.  Whether it is working together to address quality of life issues, hosting block parties or creating email groups to communicate to neighbors on any issue. Block associations get results,” she told the Eagle.  

The goal of the Bay Ridge Parkway 400 Block Association is simple, Assini said. “We want to keep the block as great as it has always been,” she said. “We have beautiful homes on this block. My house was built in 1898 and the homes across the street were built in the 1920s. We don’t want things like litter and speeding cars to ruin our quality of life.”

Residents are committed to working through city agencies to improve and preserve the safety, cleanliness, and beauty of one of Bay Ridge’s oldest and most well-known streets, Assini said. “We want to work with the city,” she said.

The block association welcomes renters as well as home owners. “We feel that everyone who lives here has a stake in the block,” Assini said.

Donovan (R-C-Southwest Brooklyn-Staten Island) said he was impressed by the dedication of the block’s residents.

“I’m proud to see this activism firsthand in my district and applaud my constituents for their enthusiasm in starting their own block association. It’s inspiring to see the meaningful change that comes from grassroots, bottom-up advocacy,” he told the Eagle.

Block associations play an important role in Brooklyn life, Donovan said. “Across our borough, community organizations bring together residents ready to serve, engage and enrich our neighborhoods. Each new project and act of service enhances the strength of our community, and I thank all South Brooklyn neighborhood organizations for helping to make our borough a better place,” he said.

 


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