‘It was like a firing squad’: Marine Park Community Board shoots down small business owner’s expansion plans

‘It was like a firing squad’: Marine Park Community Board shoots down small business owner’s expansion plans
Denied: Local leaders denied Khadidra Muhammad’s application to sell liquor at an event space she had planned to open in June.
Priceless Event Planning, LLC

A disgraced state Senator threatened a small business owner following a testy civic meeting on April 17, during which she was denied permission to expand her business to Flatbush Avenue, she claims.

“After the meeting, Carl Kruger told us it was never going to happen, and not to waste my time. He was kind of threatening us,” said Khadidra Muhammad.

Kruger, who was recently released from a seven-year prison sentence for federal corruption charges and is not an official member of the board, made the ominous demand following a Community Board 18 meeting, according to Muhammad.

Muhammad, the head of Priceless Event Planning, was seeking permission from the board to sell liquor at an event space located at 2047 Flatbush Ave. that she planned to open in June.

The board unanimously rejected the request, after various civic leaders panned the proposal as “destructive to the community.”

“I felt like I was getting attacked,” said Muhammad. “It was like a firing squad. It was attack, attack, attack.”

Local leaders claimed that the venue would lead to disorderly conduct, rampant alcohol use, and late night loud music. Muhammad said her promises to hire security to keep patrons restrained and insulate the walls to limit noise fell on deaf ears.

“Other businesses also padded their walls, numerous times. They’re no longer in business,” said Marine Park Civic Association President Bob Tracey. “We fought them. We’ve gotten them numerous tickets. We’ve gotten [them] numerous violations.”

Muhammad could appeal the Board’s decision to the State Liquor Authority, but worries about retribution from community leaders.

“I don’t have the finances to play the long game, if they were to try and run me out of the neighborhood. So we’re trying to figure out what to do,” she said. “All the excuses they gave were not valid, but they can make my life a living hell.”

The board could exploit various means to disturb Muhammed’s business if she were to win her appeal with the state and set up shop in the neighborhood, according to one community leader who is counseling Muhammed through the process.

“They could go to the establishment with a decibal reader, and report the venue to the 63rd Precinct if it goes over the allowed level, which isn’t really loud at all. They could raise a big issue about cars parking on the street. There’s a whole host of things they could do to cause problems,” said Floyd Jarvis.

Jarvis, who heads advocacy group the Canarsie Neighborhood Alliance, speculated whether race played a role in the board’s decision to deny the license to Muhammad, who is African American.

“Everyone else gets a liquor licence, but only African Americans have to go through what you saw at that meeting,” he said.

Following the Board’s rejection, Muhammad, who started the event planning business two years ago, doubted wether she had any recourse to change what she called a “predetermined decision.”

“I broke down and started crying,” she said. “I just wanted to explain who I am, and what I do, but there was no voice of reason. Their mind was made up before I showed up.”

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577. Follow her at twitter.com/aidangraham95.

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