Community To Liquor Store Owner: ‘Find Another Place’
Taking time out from church services this past Sunday, members of the First Church of God on Beach Channel Drive in Far Rockaway came out to protest a new liquor store that would open a little more than 200 feet away from them and across the street from Redfern Houses.
More then 50 church members and other community residents assembled, along with Councilman James Sanders Jr. and his chief of staff, Donovan Richards, in front of 14-87 Beach Channel Drive to lift their voices against the new Bess Liquor and Wine establishment to be opened there. One by one locals gave reasons why the new store owner should “find another place.”
“This is one of those changes in our community that we are saying no to,” said a pastor from the First Church of God, noting it is “just steps away from our day care center, our children’s programs, our adult and senior center. We do not want this to influence our community.”
Oswaldo Bajama, a resident of Redfern Houses, spoke for tenants association president Doris Jacobs, who was still in church.
“We need programs,” said Bajama. “We need educational programs that can guide our children – the future of our community – to do better, not a liquor store that will cause a lot of problems – health problems, family problems. We don’t need it,” said Bajama, who brought his son Saddam, 11, with him. “This sign must come down.”
Saddam Bajama said about the liquor store, “[Liquor] can do stuff to the brain that makes no future for yourself and other people.”
One woman said, “A liquor store in this community is only going to bring it down a little further. Every day we’ve got crime. Every day we’re reading about young people killing each other. This is not going to help. This has to go.”
Richards explained some of the problems facing the community as new liquor stores apply for licenses.
“They [new owners] are not alerting elected officials, they’re not alerting the community board, to our knowledge, and this has to stop,” said Richards, who added that a new liquor store was recently opened in Edgemere without community notification. “What should be here is a book store. We should be speaking of putting knowledge in the community, not tearing it down.”
According the license application with the State Liquor Authority (SLA), a copy of which was furnished to The Wave under the Freedom of Information Act, the store owner is listed as Shaunette Sterling, whose background is in healthcare. Sanders said he has met with her and she assured him that “she has all the paperwork in order for her to open.” As of Wednesday of this week the status of the license application is still listed as pending on the SLA website.
Sanders would like to be able to solve the situation through dialogue with Sterling, but he is prepared to go further.
He said that Community Board 14 was not notified of the license application. Notification of the intention to open a liquor store should also have been posted on the store front in November. It was not posted until last month.
“We are asking the Liquor Authority to look at this again through the community board and do what is right,” said Sanders.
Sterling’s application shows four other liquor stores in the vicinity of where Bess Liquor would be – all less than a mile from the new store.