Community group calls ‘Van Next’

This town better be big enough for the both of them. The newly formed Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance has joined the Van Nest Community Association as an avenue for grassroots participation.

The Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance was born when several residents noted an increase in crime in Van Nest and brought concerns to Community Board 11 and 49th Precinct. The residents began to meet regularly to discuss the battle against crime.

“The meetings were successful in helping get most of the drug dealers off of the streets,” CB11 district manager John Fratta said. “Being that they were now organized, [the residents] decided to form a community group.”

Discussions about the group’s agenda continue but interests include crime, sanitation, road problems and the renovation of Van Nest Park. The Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance will rely on a team of leaders, CB11 member and vice president of the new group Bernadette Ferrara said.

“We need everyone in the community to jump on Board,” Ferrara explained. “We want to do things for the children, organize block parties and raise money for seniors.”

The new group boasts more than 30 members. Its executive board consists of president Shradhanand Pirtam, Ferarra, secretary Joann Terrelonge, treasurer John Messenger and trustee Joe Bombace.

“All the people in the group are people who want to put Van Nest back on the map,” Bombace said. “When they reached out for help, the community board, the 49th Precinct, NIDC {Neighborhood Initiatives Development Corporation} and Senator Jeff Klein showed them how to get it done.”

The Van Nest Community Association declined comment on the new group.

Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance meetings will be held at St. Dominic’s School every first Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. All are welcome.

“We feel we can be a voice for neighborhood,” Pirtam said. “I’m here 13 years. {Van Nest has been] neglected. We want to put it back on map and get whatever is necessary for our kids to have quiet and peaceful life.”

Reach reporter Amanda Marinaccio at 718 742-3394 or amarinaccio@cnglocal.com

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