The local community board in East Flatbush is moving its operations to a new office location on Clarkson Avenue, years after being forced to vacate due to constant flooding, destruction of board materials, and the wafting odor of raw sewage.
Community Board 17, covering East Flatbush and part of Brownsville, has leased 1,724 square feet of real estate to house a new district office in a recently-constructed building at 350 Clarkson Ave., between Nostrand and New York avenues, hoping to escape the Board’s current office space on Farragut Road which they say is the subject of constant sewer backups, leaks, and foul odors.
“Water leaks, sewer backup, and sewage odor has disrupted daily work of staff services provided by the community board,” said District Manager Sherif Fraser in a presentation to the City Planning Commission last month. “The office has flooded multiple times, causing severe damage to our files and other office equipment. Despite efforts to remediate leaks, flooding still occurs.”
Substantial amounts of important Board paperwork and other items were damaged or destroyed by the flooding, and attempts to repair the situation failed. The Board has not been based in its own office since September 2019, when the flooding, mold, and grotesque aroma became untenable for CB17’s employees, including Fraser and Board Chair Joan Alexander-Bakiriddin. Employees worked out of other Boards’ offices until all CBs went virtual at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
East Flatbush is on the road to recovery from the devastating pandemic, and in need of a fully-functioning in-person community board, something that wasn’t possible with the old office space. The new space, into which the Board will soon move, has audiovisual capabilities in a “top-of-the-line” conference room, facilities that the old office lacked.
The new office, on the ground floor of a new residential building, is also just a block west of SUNY Downstate Medical Center, which the Board says is convenient since it often hosts larger, generously-attended meetings at the hospital. It’s also a block west of Kings County Hospital.
“I’d like to amplify the need of the community above all else,” Alexander-Bakiriddin testified to the City Planning Commission. “Making sure that we recreate the opportunity for engagement with our constituents.”