New civic group creates hope for Riverside

02/11/2011 5:02 PM |

TIM GANNON PHOTO| The newly-formed Riverside Revitalization Committee elected is first board of directors last week. From left are treasurer Charles Bennett, president Joan Barrow, secretary Lorraine Collins, vice president Andrew Malone and John Parker, a non-board member who has been pushing the effort to revive the area.

Meet the leadership of the newly formed Riverside Revitalization Committee.

At its meeting last Monday, the group’s dozen or so members elected Joan Barrow as president and Andrew Malone as vice president. Lorraine Collins was chosen as secretary and Charles Bennett as treasurer.

Ms. Barrow, a lifelong Riverside resident, was involved several years ago in the formation of the Flanders Riverside and Northampton Community Association and has been involved in many planning studies of the area.

“We hope this is the start of good things coming to our community,” she said.
Mr. Malone is a real estate associate with an office in Riverside. He’s a former chairman of the East Hampton Town Democratic Committee and is still on the state Democratic committee.
The nonprofit neighborhood group has been organized by John Parker of Port Jefferson, who owns property on Old Quogue Road in Riverside where he plans to build a house for himself.

Mr. Parker has a background as a community organizer and builder and was involved in numerous neighborhood revitalization projects in Brooklyn from the 1960s through the 1980s, including programs that renovated housing and trained the unemployed to do various construction jobs.

He hopes to do likewise for Riverside, in part by obtaining grants or donations to help revive that corner of otherwise wealthy Southampton Town.

“When I first came here, I saw blight in this community like I haven’t seen in many communities in a long time,” Mr. Parker said. “And I come out of Bed-Stuy. I come out of East New York. I come out of Brownsville.”

He said improvements were made in those neighborhoods, and that can happen here as well.

“Movement was made in these communities because the establishment, which was not black, treated us very poorly,” said Mr. Parker, who is black. “It wasn’t until we organized and got ourselves together that we were able to get notice and make things happen.”

Mr. Parker acknowledged some work has been done in Riverside in recent years, but added that “we need to do more. We need to push and push until some of this blight is eradicated and youngsters can get jobs.”

Mr. Parker’s family-owned construction business is 100 years old this year. He said he first discovered Riverside about three years ago when he was called to help a friend in the area. He later bought a piece of property there, where he planned to build a house and retire. He has yet to build the house.

In November 2010, he told the News-Review, “The more I went out there, the more I saw deterioration and neglect, and then, that old community activism in me just started to come alive.”

At a meeting last month, members of the Riverside Revitalization Committee decided that the top needs in their community were housing upgrades, affordable housing, a community center for youth and seniors, street lighting upgrades and a grocery store and other businesses.

The election of officers was necessary to establish the committee as a nonprofit organization that can obtain grants, Mr. Parker said.

He chose not to be one of the elected officers, saying, “I’m an outsider. The residents here will take charge of their own situation. I only came here to help.”

tgannon@timesreview.com

6 Comment

  • Mr. Parker, being that he has the background of a community organizer, has the same qualifications as President Obama has. I encourage Mr. Parker to become a candidate for President of the United States

  • What a great story! This is just what Riverside needs – support for the existing community to improve the area with assistance from someone with leadership experience and a track record of success with similar projects. Riverhead Native – you should get out more and try to educate yourself – you might still be able to improve yourself and maybe even your community. Yes what Mr. Parker and your President have in common are records of accomplishment that are rarely seen – Mr. Parker with 100 years old family business and your President with a record of great honors – just look what he achieved by the age of 24 attending some of the best schools in the country – have you heard of Columbia University? Harvard Law School? Obama was president of the Harvard Law Review – these are “ivy league” schools – check Wikipedia and see what type of accomplishments you need to even get to those schools – free your mind and the rest will follow

  • Vote for The FISCAL CONSERVATIVE !!!!! YAH !!!!

  • Anker supports Education Fairness!!!

  • Well…seems like folks would rather have a shiny retread than an old worn out one

  • (This Letter to the Editor is in response to Kery Murakami’s Newsday’s March 31 article, entitled: “Vote Tally Continues,” regarding the Suffolk County Legislature’s 6th District‘s Special Election held on March 29, between Democrat Sarah Anker and Republican Martin Haley.) (Updated 4/9/2011-RSM)

    While I don’t expect Suffolk County Republican Leader, John Jay LaValle to congratulate the winner, (Suffolk County Legistator-Elect) Ms. Anker, I do suggest that he apologize to the 6,712 voters, plus the (259) absentee ballot voters, for suggesting that the “Democrats stole the election.” (Not to mention the hundreds of campaign volunteers and the even more Election Inspectors and Poll Watchers who diligently and honestly performed their respective duties!) Stealing (to take or get something secretly, surreptitiously, or through trickery – Encarta ® World English Dictionary) or implies that somebody got something that they did not deserve or did not work long and hard to achieve it.

    In that recently held election, both political parties (not to exclude the minor political parties) presented their best candidates to the people, who make the final choice. Perhaps, the Democrats worked harder, walked more, knocked on more doors, and presented their candidate’s positions better, thereby proving that Sarah Anker was best suited for the position. That’s called Democracy. “Stealing,” that’s called Tyranny.

    Perhaps Mr. LaValle forgets that it was not to long ago, that the NY State Senate Republicans tried to, as he so blatantly intones, “steal” the majority from the duly elected Democrats last summer. An old adage suggests, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

    Further, as reported in the article, Mr. LaValle said, “it was unfair to tie Haley to (Suffolk County Executive Steve) Levy based on party affiliation, noting that Levy had been a Democrat before switching parties about a year ago.” Mr. LaValle conveniently fails to remember, that Mr. Levy advised his former party that he “was always a Republican in his heart.” Even the New York State Republican Chair, Mr. Edward F. Cox, said of Mr. Levy, (May 30, 2010- NY Times) “He talks like a Republican; he’s acted like a Republican for years. He is now registering as a Republican. Are you going to say to him we’re not going to treat you like a Republican?”

    Which calls to mind another old adage, “To thine ownself, be true.” (Shakespeare-Hamlet.) Register and Vote. Thank you.

    Richard S. Macellaro