After more than 40 years of activism, anger, pleading and organizing, Bess DeBetham celebrated a hard fought victory this week.
The Laurelton resident’s persistence in pushing for the creation of the 116th Precinct, splitting the overworked 105th Precinct in half, should not be overlooked. For decades, she has been told “no” or “not right now” by city leaders—and yet she persisted, dedicating her life to fighting to make her community safer.
The new 116th Precinct will improve response times and allow for the city’s Police Department to better meet the unique needs of Laurelton, Rosedale and Springfield Gardens.
In addition to the $70 million in funds committed by the city to help develop the new precinct, City Councilman Donovan Richards is also working with the city’s Department of Transportation to push for the creation of an 800-square-foot community space and pedestrian plaza, which will be ideally connected to the precinct’s new headquarters, thereby establishing a center for residents.
We live in a time when things are fast paced. People often bounce around between careers, move to new places every few years and tend to give up if they are met with resistance in an endeavor. Less and less people stay in their communities and fight to make things better, often to the detriment of the quality of life in their neighborhood.
It is clear that Southeast Queens is a better place today because of Bess DeBetham’s efforts. If the proposed community center becomes a reality, she’d be a worthy namesake.