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The BRC is a good neighbor worth welcoming

The BRC is a good neighbor worth welcoming

Chelsea now 11/30/2011

Some neighbors greet new arrivals with best wishes and hands extended in friendship. Others reserve judgment until a newcomer’s accumulated deeds prove their worth. A vocal few, however, steadfastly refuse to acknowledge the established presence of a worthy addition — and in doing so, erode the integrity of the very community they purport to defend.

The Bowery Residents’ Committee has been operating programs out of their 127 West 25th Street location since the last Friday in July. For over a year, a succession of court decisions have consistently validated their right to be here. We’re glad they are — because the BRC’s ambitious new vertical campus is providing an invaluable service not only to Chelsea, but to the entire city of New York.

Although this new facility accommodates a significantly larger number of clients than were served at their Lafayette Street and Bowery locations, the BRC has answered concerns raised by neighbors in a timely, efficient and effective manner — dispatching mobile response teams within minutes of receiving quality of life complaints, and removing troublesome clients from the premises. Since the day they opened, we’ve made a point to walk the block often, and at all hours — and have found little if any evidence to support claims of disheveled, inebriated, sexually menacing panhandlers out of proportion to what one regularly finds elsewhere in the surrounding area. More often, we’ve found minor quality of life infractions, such as sidewalk congestion and smoking, being committed by those who work on the block or passersby whose upscale aesthetics suggest they are not affiliated with the BRC.

After a long, necessary and very public vetting process, we now have an obligation (rooted as much in morality as good citizenship) to acknowledge the reality of the BRC’s presence — while working with them in order to ensure that the neighborhood’s quality of life remains intact.

Although the size of the shelter was a source of legitimate dispute, few who’ve made even a cursory effort to examine the BRC’s track record can discredit their effectiveness. It is disheartening to see some of our neighbors using their public position and considerable financial resources to mount ongoing legal actions while dismissing and challenging every court decision favorable to the BRC.

Such actions are made even less palatable given the fact that the Chelsea Flatiron Coalition has yet to accept an open offer from BRC Executive Director Muzzy Rosenblatt to tour the facility — or join other individuals and local organizations in attending the BRC’s Community Advisory Committee meetings (held at 5:30pm on the first Tuesday of the month). We encourage all concerned individuals to attend these meetings, where Rosenblatt himself will address your concerns.

To see the BRC facility and speak with its clients (as we have) is to respect and admire the difficult work of achieving and maintaining sobriety. Even a brief amount of time spent on their website (brc.org) will serve as an effective primer to understanding the integrity and dedication the BRC brings to their mission of taking addicts off the street, facilitating their sobriety and placing them in stable living situations.

For years, they’ve offered long-term stability to any individual willing to make a sincere commitment — all while having no discernable impact on the surrounding area’s public safety or property values.

Unprecedented and ambitious as it is in size, we’re nevertheless proud to welcome the BRC to Chelsea — and confident that it will become a model for the city, state and country. Like the clients whose lives they help turn around, it’s time for the BRC’s opponents to come in from the cold.