By: Ariella Haviv
For over 50 years, the Jewish neighborhood in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn has always prided itself on the fact that the residents of this pristine community have joined forces to collectively work on maintaining the safety, security and impressive appearance of the cherished place that they call home.
Recently, the Jewish Voice learned that this sense of community security has been flagrantly violated by the presence of surreptitious vehicles that are arbitrarily parked on the streets.
On Monday, December 13th, it was reported that a community in Brooklyn is on high alert after a man wearing a ski mask tried to lure a 9-year-old girl into a van last Thursday in the Sheepshead Bay section of the borough. Police released surveillance images of the man and vehicle they’re searching for.
Back in 2019, the Jewish Voice reported on this issue, but now at the end of 2021, it appears that these trucks, trailers and recreational vehicles have resurfaced. According to sources in the Gravesend neighborhood, these vehicles not only represent a loathsome eyesore in an aesthetic sense but they occupy not just one parking space but sometimes five or six parking spaces, depending in the length of the vehicle. Because parking spaces are difficult enough to find without these vehicles taking up the streets, it is making it even more challenging for local residents to find a parking spot. To add to the problem, these vehicles remain on the streets for weeks and months on end in the same parking spots.
The investigative team of reporters that were dispatched by the Jewish Voice in 2019 to meticulously research this jarring situation revealed that such vehicles include clothing drop off vans, dilapidated late model recreational vehicles, a variety of trucks, trailers, and non-commercial vehicles that are intentionally decorated as commercial vehicles.
David Ben Hooren, the publisher of the Jewish Voice has noted that, “in a neighborhood that is so densely populated as ours, having these vehicles in the area that are clearly not owned by residents makes the parking situation even more difficult than it already is.” He queried: “How can people come to synagogue every day, if they cannot find parking? And why are these vehicles parked in areas that are in such close proximity to synagogues, schools and homes? That should be a cause of paramount concern for every person living in this neighborhood.”
Theresa Scavo, the chairwoman of Community Board 15 told the Jewish Voice in 2019 that this has been an ongoing dilemma and one that demands immediate action. Concerning the clothing drop off vehicles that attract people who attempt to crawl into the vehicle to steal clothing, she mentioned that in the areas in which these vehicles are parked they inevitably attract putrid filth that can lead to a significant increase in vermin.
“I can tell you that I witnessed the disgusting mess outside the home of someone I know. This mess was caused by those congregating around the clothing drop off vehicle. I called the police about one vehicle in particular that was located on Avenue X and they responded quite quickly. The next day, however, these clothing vans were right back on the streets, so the problem has not been resolved” Ms. Scavo said.
She added that she attempted to call the phone number listed on the vehicle but her calls were never returned. Others interviewed by the Jewish Voice reiterated her comments about being unable to reach the person or organizers behind this clothing drop off appeal.
Ms. Scavo said that she believes that these vehicles are merely a “front” for a larger scam in which the clothes that are donated do not end up in the possession of the needy or indigent but are actually sold, in order to make a profit.
Concerning the proliferation of the recreational vehicles that dot the landscape of the neighborhood, Ms. Scavo said she had contacted the police about a particular RV that was parked for a lengthy duration of time on East 1st Street, after being contacted by concerned residents. When the police arrived and knocked on the door of the RV a man answered who identified himself as an out of state employee of a local contractor who was working on a luxury home on that block. Ms. Scavo told the Jewish Voice that the police asked the man to move the RV as it was located near a school and represented a danger. She said that the man moved the vehicle to a spot on McDonald Avenue.
“The people who park these recreational vehicles and sometimes take up two or more parking spots are essentially migrant workers who are employed by contractors. They need a place to live while they are working on the construction project and I would imagine that the contractors are allowing them to bring these vehicles in for groups of men to live. Many of these vehicles have out of state license plates and some do not have any license plates at all. The bottom line is that this presents not only a parking problem for residents, but the issues of safety and cleanliness are very important as well,” Ms. Scavo said.
Her sentiments were echoed by Mr. Heskiel who said that vehicles with advertising splashed all over the exterior and appeared as commercial vehicles were able to circumvent parking laws by maintaining non-commercial license plates. He said that these vehicles as well as commercial trucks are parked in the same spots for weeks and even months in some cases.
Longtime neighborhood resident and community leader Danny Bergman told the Jewish Voice that the police have problems ticketing some trailers or trucks as they do not have license plates. He added, “Instead of obtaining commercial plates on their trucks, some of these owners get regular plates so they can park overnight, without placing themselves at risk of getting a ticket.” Speaking of the safety concerns of the neighborhood, Mr. Bergman said, “Each day we must be vigilant about who is in our neighborhood and what they are doing here. Our communal obligation is to protect our families, our children and our stable way of life.”