By Ben Kochman
If the landlord won’t help, the community will.
A group of local leaders took to the Allerton Coops Tuesday May 27 with a clear message to the drug dealers holding court in the Bronx Park East housing project —we’ve got our eyes on you.
“We want them to know that we are here,” said Joe Thompson, president of the 49th Precinct Community Council. “We know that they will be peeking through their windows.”
And the local precinct commander announced the addition of a new narcotics team to the area to turn the heat up.
Drug crime rampant
Residents at the 732-unit complex have long complained that drug crime is rampant there. In 2012, federal prosecutors took down dozens of gang members at the Coops and nearby Parkside Houses.
But locals say the drug trade remains a factor, with residents afraid to come out at night for risk of being caught in the middle of a deal gone wrong. The problem has been made even worse by a landlord – identified in property records as Bronx Park East LLC – who understaffs the complex and recently cut security staff.
Residents have also complained of grimy conditions, illegal apartments and rats running wild at the Coops.
‘We’ve got your back’
Thompson was among a team of community activists –and one elected official –who stormed the housing development May 27 armed with signs urging residents to share information about the drug trade to local authorities.
The team offered a tip line that they said was anonymous: 1-800-571-TIPS.
“Too many residents are living in fear. Many are afraid to go outside their own homes and walk around their own neighborhoods,” said local City Councilman Ritchie Torres, the City Councilman representing the area, who was on hand at the demonstration. “It was important to show them that we have their backs.”
Flooding flooded room
In another show of support, the 49th Precinct Community Council then held its monthly meeting in the Coops’ community room, where Four-Nine commanding officer Timothy McCormack announced that the NYPD had transferred eight new narcotics detectives to the area.
The community room opened to much fanfare in 2012, but since then the landlord has had a padlock on the door, locking residents out, said Janice Walcott, a 65-year-old resident who runs the Allerton Coops Tenants Association.
Local officials were able convince management to open the room for one night – and even then, the room was partly flooded, dank, and without enough chairs.
Tens of Coops residents packed the room anyway –many of them standing for the entirety of the 90-minute meeting- to voice their concerns.
“We haven’t been in here even once since the place opened, ”said Walcott. “ But tonight, we are here, which means a lot. We need to keep working together.”