By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A medical group is looking to open a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center somewhere in Bensonhurst, according to Community Board 11 officials, who said they were blindsided by the news.
Board 11 Chairman Bill Guarinello said representatives of the group One World, contacted Board District Manager Marnee Ealias-Pavia out of the blue and invited both to a meeting to discuss the plans.
The One World reps aren’t revealing any information, Guarinello said. “We don’t have a location,” he told board members at their meeting on Sept. 12.
“Me and Marnee will certainly entertain the idea of a meeting. We want to see where they’re going,” Guarinello said.
Both Guarinello and Elias-Pavia said they would reserve judgment until they heard more about the proposal. Among the details they are seeking: the location of the proposed center, the number of patients the center would treat, and whether the patients would be living at the center or receiving treatment on an out-patient basis.
It’s not clear if the community board could stop a drug rehab center from opening, according to Elias-Pavia, who said the board’s right to pursue action would depend on the city zoning that governs the site where the facility would be located. “I don’t know of we have a legal right to fight it,” she told board members.
Guarinello agreed. “As of right means as of right. If it has the zoning, I don’t know what we could do,” he said.
In an interview after the board meeting, Guarinello said he didn’t think Bensonhurst residents would be willing to accept a drug rehab facility in their community. “People are probably going to go crazy,” he said.
He vowed to keep the board, and community residents, fully informed of any developments.
Quality of life issues dominated the meeting, which took place at the Bensonhurst Health and Rehabilitation Center at 1740 84th St. Litter and graffiti are getting out of hand in the community, Elias-Pavia said. “Throughout the neighborhood, litter is a problem,” she said.
Both Assemblyman William Colton and Councilman Vincent Gentile are planning cleanup campaigns in the community, representatives of the two lawmakers told board members.
The 18th Avenue shopping corridor, which contains dozens of shops and restaurants between 60th and 75th Streets and is visited by thousands of shoppers a day, is a particular problem area, she said. The board is considering asking the Department of Sanitation to bring its “Adopt A Basket” program to the avenue, she said. Under “Adopt A Basket,” a business owner or a resident agrees to assume responsibility for cleaning out a litter basket. In exchange, the Dept. of Sanitation gives the volunteer with a fresh supply of large basket bags with which to line the baskets.
Part of the problem might be that the avenue does not have a merchant group to represent it, Elias-Pavia said. “On 18th Avenue, there is no merchant association or B.I.D.,” she said, referring to a business improvement district. A business improvement district, funded by the property owners, would give the avenue additional funds to hire a private cleaner, she said. “With a little investment, they’d make more in business,” she said.
Graffiti is also on the rise, the district manager said. Elias-Pavia attended a graffiti cleanup led by state Sen. Marty Golden on 18th Avenue and 67th Street on Sept. 7. While praising the effort, the district manager said more needed to be done law enforcement officials.
“It’s a blight on this community. If there are arrests, these people will come back,” she said.