Past Articles:

The Importance of our Quality of Life

For the past 20 years, neighborhoods all across the five boroughs of New York City have been enjoying unprecedented revivals; Downtown Brooklyn, Park Slope, Astoria, Long Island City, Bay Ridge, & others. Due to the soaring quality of life in many neighborhoods, crime has dropped to historic lows, new developments have been cropping up and businesses have been thriving in neighborhoods formerly considered uninhabitable. Places once considered hubs for crime & decay have become homes to popular sidewalk cafes, favorite bakeries, new parks, and more. Thanks to the unwavering work of the New York Police Department (NYPD), the crime rate continuesto fall to historic lows. Despite some scary headlines, which draw more attention than headlines about safe streets, the superb work by the NYPD has resulted in record low crime rates.
A 2015 report by the NYU Brennan Center for Justice, which analyzed crime in the USA’s 30 largest cities, showed that New York City had the lowest incidence of crime with rates expected to drop further in 2016. New York City has certainly come a long way since the urban decay, crack epidemics and sky-high homicide rates of the
not-so-distant past- 2,245 murders in 1990 vs. 350 in 2015.

Among the other contributors to this resurgence, community-based beautification organizations were the pivotal partners, together with the city, in catalyzing positive change. Recognizing the importance of these organizations was a central part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s post-9/11 economic development strategy, when NYC was suffering from a perception problem and potential massive loss of business. These neighborhoods improvement organizationswere led by people who paid strong attention to detail and were devoted to transforming commercial “main streets.”

The person in charge of crafting and implementing that long term vision was the commissioner of the New York City Department of Business Services, Robert Walsh. From his past experience as Director of the Union Square Partnership, where he helped transform a collection of abandoned buildings into one of NYC’s most dynamic and popular destinations, to his 12 year tenure of reinvigorating business & quality of life in New York City, Robert Walsh has been at the forefront of inspiring positive urban results.

Prior to 2006, the corridor of Kings Highway, between Ocean Parkway and McDonald Avenue, was plagued by incessant graffiti –
on buildings, storefronts, mail boxes, fire hydrants, light poles, and more. You don’t see that in neighborhoods like Park Slope, Red Bank, Flatiron, Union Square, and other rising neighborhoods – and that’s because there are community based organizations that do not tolerate it. Organizations, such as the Kings Highway Beautification Association, have taken ownership of their respective neighborhoods and have been dedicated to improving the small things, with the goal of ultimately creating a large positive difference.

In 2006, a group of passionate neighborhood residents and business owners came together to establish the Kings Highway Beautification Association, for the purposes of removing graffiti specifically on Kings Highway – and to soon go further than that to halt the negative side effects that poorly maintained neighborhoods suffer from. Filthy streets, greasy/grimy sidewalks, overflowing garbage, rodents & roaches and unsavory odors – it doesn’t take long for those ingredients to draw criminals & drug dealers who find their place in this type of environment. The writing (aka graffiti –
pun intended) was on the wall and our shopping corridors were well on their way towards urban decay – all just steps away from our homes and families.

Since dispatching recurringgraffiti removal teams in those years, KHBA has come a long way from just cleaning up graffiti. In the past 2 years, KHBA has been expanding activity to Avenue U and Avenue P,
between Ocean Parkway and McDonald Avenue, while ramping up operations as well.Thanks to increasing investment from generous district/community members and NY Councilmembers David Greenfield & Mark Treyger, KHBA initiatives such as daily street cleaning, graffiti removal, tree guard installations, flower plantings, & various capitalprojects continue to grow.

Quality of life and the appearance of our neighborhood benefit everyone. For business owners, clean & beautiful streets drive business and statistically result in higher retail sales, stronger property values, more pedestrian foot traffic, and lower vacancies. For the average shopper, taking pride in where you shop and eat is important; the ambience of a store, block, or street is a part of creating a positive experience. For the resident or family near the Kings Highway/Avenue U/Avenue P corridors that we service, improving the nearby blocks is a crucial component for a high standard of living.

On Tuesday May 17th, 2016, KHBA will hold an open community meeting in order to present exactly who we are, where we’re going, and how wewill implement the vision of a more beautiful, safe and charming neighborhood. The event will feature a presentation by Robert Walsh, our honored guest speaker. We will distribute surveys to determine what services and programs people want to see most andinvite more participation from our diverse community stakeholders. All are welcome and everyone has a voice. We look forward to seeing you.

- Joe Tricot, Director

David J. Hidary & Linda Ebani are Co-Founders & Co-Presidents of KHBA. Follow us on Instagram @khba.nyc & Twitter @khbanyc.
Check out our website: www.khba.nyc