One of the biggest influences on day-to-day life in Flatbush is a group of people you may never have heard of.
Nestled between Pearl River Launderette and Tienda Mexicana Karina on Newkirk Ave., the Flatbush Development Corporation's (FDC) office may be easily overlooked. But the results of their work have touched nearly every resident of central Brooklyn.
One of the highest profile projects they've been involved in, the renovation of the Newkirk Plaza, has taken many years and the contributions of many other groups, businesses and individuals. But as it nears completion FDC Executive Director Robin Redmond couldn't be more proud.
"This is my pride and joy," she said while strolling along the plaza which straddles the BMT station for the B and Q lines.
She said the project has been many years in the making, predating her time with the FDC.
"It's been in the city's back pocket...since way before me, and I've been with FDC for almost 12 years," she said.
"This is money that's been (allocated) since Howard Golden was the borough president. Some of this actually could have been left over from him."
But while the FDC's been integral to the project, they've hardly been the only contributors in the complex and long-running venture.
"There are so many different facets, and there are so many folks involved and have been involved...As far as we know, this project has probably been in the making for 15 to 20 years."
Some of the many improvements made have been the installation of the wrought iron fence over the train tracks, new park benches and new brickwork for the plaza's walkway.
But now it's nearly over and Redmond and the FDC are looking forward to a (tentative) May 19 celebration of a successful renovation.
And this is just one of many, many projects the FDC takes on all the time. From summer camps, to graffiti removal, to tours of Flatbush's many Victorian homes — not to mention their annual fund-raising dinner — FDC has a busy summer planned.
September will see the return of the Flatbush Frolic street fair. And October brings the return of "Shredzilla" — the annual free document shredding service which is a big hit with adults eager to eliminate private documents, and kids who just want to see things get shredded.
"We're trying to get the different businesses also to come out and do something. So Leon, , he'll be celebrating his 100th anniversary. And hopefully the people who are doing the planting work will come back out."
And perhaps it's fitting the money for that planting came from the people who will be enjoying them most.
"If you look at the planting project aspect of it. The monies that were left to put in the street furniture, to put the last of the amenities in, there was no money for plants. There was no money for trees."
"And at a neighborhood association's president meeting I just said, 'Okay, here's where we're at. I need to find a way to raise funds for plants and trees, and soil, and compost, and this and that. And does anybody have any idea how we can start this?' And by the end of the meeting we had a 'friends of Newkirk Plaza' group so to speak, and it's taken off from there."
Spring and Summer FDC Events
May 3: 37th Annual Benefit Dinner
May 19 (tentative): Newkirk Plaza Celebration
June 2: Neighborhood Beautification
June 10: Victorian Flatbush House Tour
July 9: Healthy Bodies, Healty Minds summer camp begins