By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
It is no secret that Brooklyn is rapidly changing — cranes can be spotted at every corner of Downtown Brooklyn and the surrounding neighborhoods. Now, a few groups are trying to make sure that senior citizens are not left behind because of the changes.
The Myrtle Avenue Revitalization Project (MARP) and the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District have joined forces in an effort to make two of the most rapidly growing neighborhoods — Fort Greene and Clinton Hill — more age-friendly by implementing changes within their businesses to help out the older adult population.
“As much as we want to continue to see buildings going up around us, you guys are the institutions who made it possible for people like this to want to come here,” said Assemblymember Walter T. Mosley during community forum at the Ingersoll Community Center last Monday. “We need to do everything possible to make sure that you are living the life that you are accustomed to.”
Eighty-four businesses are located in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill along Myrtle Avenue, and with $70.1 billion spent annually by adults over the age of 50, according to Age-Friendly NYC, the majority of those businesses already do what they can to help Brooklyn’s older population. Fifteen of them offer senior discounts, and more than 60 are participating to help make Myrtle a more age-friendly avenue.
A few of them were on hand during Monday's meeting to pledge their support and let seniors know what services they already offer. Grace Tappin of Move With Grace yoga studio talked about classes like chair yoga and gentle yoga that are designed with seniors in mind, and Stanley Greene of Sandbox Packing and Shipping informed attendees that his business offers a mobile service that will pick up and ship their packages for them.
MARP and the New York Academy of Medicine have already spoken to more than 200 residents about their specific needs through the use of community meetings, and 30 residents have joined the Fort Greene/Clinton Hill Senior Advisory Council that will work with MARP to come up with and implement changes for the neighborhood.
“Older adults have played a pivotal role in shaping the direction of various MARP programs, particularly in our Healthy Communities Initiative,” said Meredith Phillips Almeida, executive director of MARP. “We look forward to continuing to work together to achieve an ‘Age-Friendly Myrtle Avenue’ that supports and celebrates our community of older adults.”
The groups will continue their community forums to get ideas about how they can more specifically improve the lives of the elderly.
Some actions they are looking to implement right away include advocating for a mobile post office at least once a week, organizing a forum to help address NYCHA downsizing of seniors into smaller apartments, and researching the potential for a local jitney to offer seniors free transportation to cultural events and even shopping outside the district.
To find out more about the programming, see http://www.myrtleavenue.org/age-friendly-myrtle-avenue/.