Flores, a community organizer for Southside United, also known as Los Sures, didn’t grow up in the community. But the Venezuela native recognizes the many health problems local residents face.
“I’m finishing a master's in urban studies. When I walk around, I can feel and see the injustice,” he said. “How a highway that was built in the middle of a community can negatively impact the lives of people.”
That highway is the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE), which cuts through parts of Williamsburg. Flores believes the high volume of cars that run through the expressway has hurt residents for decades.
Los Sures, a community-based, multi-service organization, focuses on tenants rights, affordable housing and food insecurity in South Williamsburg. The group is one of the main proponents of a proposed park, called BQGreen, that would deck over the lowered roadway and connect existing parks in the area.
Advocates set up a coalition called Friends of BQGreen, made up of organizations, elected officials and community members, to support the creation of the park.
Flores said the coalition will reach out to the community and build on their support.
“We’re going to have presentations, we’re going to schools to talk about this,” he said. “We are making a documentary about why we need this.”
“We’re also going to have a lot of community events, block parties, just to promote the idea, to inform community members and to gain more support,” he added.
Flores said he believes after a decade of fighting for expanded parkland, he hopes the mayor, the governor and other officials understand the need for BQGreen.
“That’s why building the BQGreen is vital for our community, for our kids, for our seniors,” he said. “This is a priority that is overdue.”