Last Friday, March 8, the afternoon was biting cold, but Dayton Beach Park (DBP) shareholders were beyond heated as they came out full force on the steps of the boardwalk in front of 8800 Shore Front Parkway to announce that they are suing HPD (NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development) for its lack of oversight in regulating the DBP’s board of directors, which shareholders largely accuse of nepotism and negligence for years. With the support of local pols, Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato, Senator Joseph Addabbo and District Leader Lew Simon—attorney, Mike Scala, announced that he was representing the shareholders and filing an Article 78 motion against HPD in a Queens Supreme Court on Monday, March 11.
In addition to the lawsuit, the shareholders are also requesting that HPD remove the Board of Directors in its entirety.
In December of 2017, The Rockaway Times reported a story on shareholders accusing the board of illegally renting apartments. Then in January 2018, we reported on when the board was under further scrutiny after two residents died in an apartment fire, which shareholders accused the board of not doing annual inspections, and HPD for overlooking the board’s negligence.
At the rally last Friday, folks were holding signs shouting, “HPD. Where Are You? Shareholders Have Rights,” “Shareholders Unite Against Corruption” and “Put An End To Voter Suppression.” Pheffer Amato, Addabbo and Simon were also joined by Assemblyman Michael Blake from the Bronx and a representative from the Cooperators United for Mitchell-Lama (CU4 ML), who shared their own upward battles with HPD to regulate Mitchell-Lama boards.
At the rally, Pheffer Amato, also a DBP resident said, “City agencies need to recognize that their actions, or lack thereof, have a real impact on people’s lives. Since being elected, my office has been inundated with thousands of complaints and concerns relating to the mismanagement of Dayton Beach Park. HPD needs to ensure that all regulations are enforced, both in Rockaway and across the city, in order to protect quality and safety of life. I intend on submitting legislation this upcoming session to protect co-op owners, and to create transparency. When the people speak, it is our job as elected officials to listen. I am proud of the shareholders coming forward today to make their voices heard.”
Assemblyman Blake said, “This is a collaboration that we all have to have as legislators, and to reassure that we are here standing with you. This is not about us, just being here today. This is about us as elected officials being consistently here for you. That’s the reason you elected us. I’m just coming from a convening we had in Brooklyn, where we were standing with Mitchell-Lama shareholders like you, who are also very frustrated, asking questions such as: Why HPD is not being transparent when it comes to information? Why are board meetings consistently closed? People are sick and tired of games where we see these games being played repeatedly. That’s why we are grateful to you for stepping out, and when you have good lawyers that step in, then good things can happen. Your block won’t block your blessing, your zip code won’t deny your destiny, and this Article 78 will be the first step in demonstrating that your destiny is going to be with you.”
According to Scala, HPD tried to fight against the location of the case when he filed on Monday, but ultimately, he overcame the hurdle. “At a hearing before a Queens Supreme Court justice on Monday, HPD contended the matter should be filed in Manhattan, since there is a related action in that county regarding voter eligibility of shareholders,” Scala said. “I argued that the shareholders have not had a voice in the process and their case belonged in Queens. The judge signed an order granting a return date in Queens. We cleared the first hurdle. The board hasn’t yet been removed or even suspended, so we have a ways to go. But the shareholders are getting what they deserve, and that is a chance to make their case.”
The Rockaway Times reached out to HPD for a statement regarding the lawsuit and the status of the shareholder list audit, to which they said, “We don’t comment on things in active litigation, and will not comment while this case is pending. We are currently being sued by the board of directors regarding the election, in addition to the current lawsuit brought by Michael Scala. HPD takes its supervisory role seriously and wants to ensure Dayton Beach Park remains in a strong physical and financial condition.”
After the rally, folks were shouting, “Get them out,” and “Lock them up!” One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “I’m encouraged by what I heard today. I’ve been a resident of Dayton for almost 40 years. The conditions here have increasingly gotten worse under this board. We do need someone to step in and help us. It used to be a real family community, where everybody knew and looked out for each other. Now, there are all these subletters. It’s a shame. I hope Dayton comes back to the way I knew it.”
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