I am writing regarding a once very beautiful and serene garden apartment complex of four, 4-story walk-up buildings on Bowne Street between 37 Avenue and 38 Avenue, right across from an extremely important American landmark, "The Bowne House". Anyone who knows of the Flushing Remonstrance knows how important this landmark is to American history as well as the world's history. We have to protect and preserve this very precious landmark and we have to promote the history and what it represents to the American public of all ages.
However, what happened to a housing complex right across from the Bowne House undermines the beauty and importance of the House. It is because the landlord, who is a rather recent immigrant and who is obviously very ignorant of American values and way of life, totally disrespected his property and practically destroyed the beautiful old garden apartment complex that sits just opposite the Bowne House.
What this landlord did and is still in the process of doing is that he uprooted all the trees and shrubs of various sizes, flowers and grasses from the gardens in the front and back and side and in between buildings. There used to be beautiful court yards with benches to sit around with/without your neighbors to enjoy the garden and listen to birds. There were even a couple of stray cats living in the gardens and it was such a pleasure for me to look at those kitty cats while sitting in those gardens on sunny days.
It is gone, gone forever. All of the small oasis for the residents of the apartment buildings as well as for the little wild lives have been completely paved with cold, inhumane concrete. The gray, cold space has become a parking lot with numbers and markings, and it has been in use for several months already. The remaining small part of the side yard, where one large old tree stands, too, will meet the same fate sooner or later, if we do nothing.
To make it worse, this evil landlord converted all his basements into apartments. They are illegal basement apartments and people seem to be living there. Now by the look of these illegal basement apartments together with concrete-paved court yard, front and side yards, this once serene historic apartment complex has become a slum and this makes this very historic block so ugly and sad, very sad. You don't want to even walk on the block because it makes you so angry and sad.
I tried to organize residents of the apartment but almost all of the residents are Asian immigrants who don't speak English and who are afraid of their landlord. This is a very frustrating situation. At least there is one man who is brave enough to stand up for his rights as a tenant. I am assisting him to file a complaint with the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal. But it will take a very long time and there is no guarantee that the gardens will be restored. It has to be a community out-cry. We need elected officials' interventions to restore the beauty of this very historic block. But they won't do anything unless we pressure them.
So, please, join me in a fight to restore and preserve this very important place in American history.
Please, send e-mails to our elected officials on this subject.
Thank you for your support.
Sunny Hahn, community activist