A Manhattan-based group that promotes fair housing practices filed a federal lawsuit against a long-established Throggs Neck realtor and the Silver Beach and Edgewater Park co-op boards alleging racial discrimination. Residents of both waterfront communities have refuted the charges.
The suit, filed in the Untied States District Court on Thursday, February 2, claims that Throggs Neck realtor Amelia Lewis steered an African-American couple away from both Silver Beach and Edgewater Park communities. The couple approached the realtor in September and October 2009 as part of a Fair Housing Justice Center undercover operation.
Both Edgewater Park and Silver Beach are waterfront cooperative communities that started out as tent colonies and becoming permanent residences in the 1930s. They have evolved into desirable waterfront communities for families seeking a high quality-of-life at affordable prices. Edgewater Park is located off the Throgs Neck Expressway service road at Weir Creek. Silver Beach abuts Pennyfield Avenue.
The lawsuit names both the Edgewater Park and Silver Beach Gardens co-op board as plaintiffs, but the couple that was allegedly discriminated against did not meet directly with either of the boards, only with Lewis, according to the lawsuit.
“Edgewater Park Owners Cooperative is confident that we have not discriminated against anyone and we stand behind our rules and admission policy,” Edgewater Park Owners Cooperative president Keith Freder said. “Edgewater Park Owners Cooperative is incensed that we are included in the lawsuit, which on its face only talks about alleged wrongdoing by other parties in the case. We look forward to our day in court to prove Edgewater Park Owners Cooperative’s [innocence].”
Edgewater Park adheres to an ironclad set of rules and regulations. Potential homebuyers need letters of recommendation from current Edgewater Park residents to purchase a h ome.
Bob Connelly, an Edgewater Park resident, said Edgewater Park is a tight-knit community with minority families.
“There is no racial discrimination to my knowledge in Edgewater,” Connelly said. “If someone can afford to buy a house, I would much rather have them live next door to me than someone who couldn’t. It is not a question of skin-color.”
Silver Beach Gardens resident Ann Costa said that she does not believe the co-op would discriminate against African-Americans. She has lived in Silver Beach for 11 years, and also lived previously in Edgewater Park.
“I think that it is a ridiculous and frivolous [lawsuit],” Costa said. “I am sure that the board does not discriminate. I don’t think they would turn someone down based on color.”
In Silver Beach, letters of recommendations from current residents are also required. The co-op board of Silver Beach Gardens did not respond to a request for comment as of press time.
Lewis did not respond to the paper’s phone calls.
Reach reporter Patrick Rocchio at 718 742-3393 or procchio@c
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