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City Officials Come Together To Address Quality of Life Issues on the Long Island City Waterfront

More than a dozen mobile vendors became fixtures along Center Boulevard this summer (Photo: Queens Post)

Sep. 15, 2020 By Michael Dorgan

A number of city and state officials came together for a Zoom call Thursday to address the quality-of-life issues that have plagued the Hunters Point waterfront this summer.

The meeting, which involved more than 20 participants, included representatives from the mayor’s office, NYC Parks, New York State Parks, NYC Dept. of Health, Community Board 2, civic groups and Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer.

They came together to address a plethora of problems– from the influx of food vendors, overflowing trash, boozed park goers, late-night rave parties, fireworks, dangerous speeding and crime.

The call lasted for more than an hour and a half.

The meeting included Yolanda Tristancho, a resident who formed the LIC Community Action group, which raised funds and hired a private security firm last month to patrol the area.

The controversy surrounding the hiring of a private security firm brought to light the quality-of-life issues that had not been properly addressed for months. Officials, such as Van Bramer, finally took action after months of complaints and convened the meeting.

Empty alcohol bottles and plastic cups left over from a party (Photo provided by Hunters Point South Residents Facebook page)

Tristancho said the meeting was productive and it was a step in the right direction toward finding a solution.

The city, she said, assured participants on the call that it would dedicate more resources to enforce park rules.

Tristancho said that NYC Parks has agreed to step up the presence of its Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) at Hunters Point South Park. The PEP officers, dressed in a green uniform, can issue summonses to people who violate park rules.

The Parks Dept. confirmed this and told the Queens Post that mobile units have been conducting spot checks in response to complaints.

“Hunters Point South Park will be checked daily by PEP officers,” a spokesperson for the Parks Dept said. “Our PEP officers have also added some night patrols to monitor the park and educate patrons on Parks’ rules and regulations and hours of operation.”

The Parks Dept, according to the agency, is also developing a plan to finalize the number of PEP officers assigned to patrolling the park.

Tristancho said that NYC Parks told attendees that it aims to make sure that nobody is inside Hunters Point South Park after the 10 p.m. closing time.

She said that the PEP officers will in effect supplement the private security officers that her group has hired who are on patrol every Thursday through Sunday from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Tristancho said that state troopers have already increased their patrols at Gantry Plaza State Park after closing time.

“It was a positive call having an audience to ask questions and get some strong actionable items in place,” she said.

Rob Basch, president of the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy (HPPC) who was also on the call, said there has been a heightened police presence in the area in the past couple of weeks.

“All parties are trying to work together and fix the issues and I’m hopeful things will get better and the community will get better,” he said.

The NYPD has been more active along the waterfront in recent weekends– and has been working in concert with New York State Police and PEP officers.

Joint operations were conducted during the late night hours on Sept. 4, 5, 7 and 13 at both Hunters Point South Park and Gantry Plaza State Park, according to the NYPD.

The joint operations resulted in 44 parking violation summonses, two vehicles being towed and seven court summonses– for infractions such as people being inside the park after hours and drinking alcoholic beverages.

Participants on the call also discussed the need for clamping down on reckless drivers who speed along Center Boulevard putting the public at risk.

They called for speed bumps and cameras, and requested that the stop signs be more visual.

The Department of Transportation did not have a representative at the meeting.

However, Van Bramer, according to Tristancho, agreed that road safety is a major issue in the area and vowed to follow through on the requested changes.

Van Bramer did not respond to a request for comment pertaining to the meeting.

Other safety issues participants sought to address dealt with lighting. Many lights in both parks no longer work and advocates such as the HPPC requested that they be repaired.

Basch said there are a number of broken lights at Hunters Point South Park– by the benches in the new section (Phase 2) of the park. He said the Parks Dept. is in the process of fixing them.

There are also about a dozen lights around the oval inside Hunters Point South Park that are not working. Basch said that the DOT– which is responsible for them–is aware of the issue.

There are also lighting problems at Gantry Plaza State Park, with the area by Anable Basin near the Pepsi sign particularly dark– an area where people have also been congregating. These lights have been out since Hurricane Sandy struck in 2012 due to wiring issues.

Another big issue discussed on the call dealt with the influx of food vendors to the area, which operate late into the night. Residents say that up to 20 food vendors can be seen sprawled across Center Boulevard on weekends that also contribute to litter problems.

“CB2 has been concerned all along about the operation of the food the trucks down in the park and the trash being left,” said Lisa Deller, the chair of Community Board 2, who was also on the Zoom call.

The DOH, according to Deller, told attendees on the call that food vendors have no set closing time and can stay open late. They are not required to stop operating at 10 p.m. when the park closes.

They are not permitted, however, to remain on the same spot for 24 hours, Deller said, since they are required to leave at some point to get their truck cleaned and serviced each day.

The DOH told attendees, she said, that it will be checking vendors’ permits over the coming weeks and will make sure vendors have trash receptacles near their trucks and are parked correctly. DOH also told attendees on the call that it will also monitor whether trucks are leaving the area to clean their vehicles.

The issue of street vendors came up at the Community Board 2 monthly meeting earlier this month.

Patrick O’Brien, who chairs the City Services Committee for CB2, said the Health Department had not been out doing mobile food inspections in recent months due to COVID. He said that the department only has between 15 to 25 inspectors hired to deal with mobile food vendors across the city.

“They are just beginning to come round and they gave us an assurance that it [the Hunters Point waterfront] would be prioritized,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien said that the board had also been in communication with the 108 Police Precinct. “One Police Plaza is aware of the situation down there they assured us,” he said. “They are manpower constrained but they will be sending more units.”

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41 Comments

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JaimeB

What I see here is an out-of-touch comment from an anonymous “wokester” who apparently knows nothing about the area and cheers on NYC’s decline because rents will again become “affordable” like in some romanticized version of the awful and unlivable 1970s.

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Anon

There is a food truck that has been parked on Center Blvd between 48th & 49th Avenue for literally months – it has not moved once. It also blocks a stop sign, which is quite dangerous for a prominent exit from the park.

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NYCType

Months. It took months for Van Bramer to convene on these issues, and it was only when he saw an opportunity to speak against the private security. In the meantime, while he was on NYC’s dime, he’s been posting his bike rides on Twitter. I’m glad he also enjoyed his tour of PS1. Meanwhile, no work was done. What an absolute travesty.

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Anonymous

The police captain at the 108th should apologize to the community for not acting quicker. Frankly, I think he should be replaced.

And to all the cop trolls on this board: shame on all of you for not doing your job until you were forced to.

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This meeting was all show

Interesting to hear they’re finally taking action. It only took a summer of criminal behavior including two stabbings and a shooting. The same day this article was published there were about 20 motorcycles, scooters and ATV’s inside the park doing burnouts around midnight. Sounds crazy but I have the video. The increased law enforcement presence is noticeable during the day but at night, when it’s really necessary, it’s same old situation.

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Patrick

Perhaps if our idiot mayor had not cut the NYPD by 1 billion and disbanded the ant crime units we would have more protection

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stan chaz

What I see here is an pretentious bunch of wealthy condo owners & enters in their waterfront towers, who mistakenly think that these new and all-too-rare parcels of western Queens public parkland are their own private backyards, enclaves and gated communities.
It ain’t so, it just ain’t so. Most especially during an unprecented pandemic, when people are yearning to be outdoors again after months of lockdowns, deprivations & hardships. You don’t own the Queens waterfront my friends, nor the exclusive right to enjoy a bit of greenery or a refreshing river breeze on a hot & humid summer night….

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Anonymous

You are absurd. Almost no one cares who uses the park, as long as they behave like civilized and considerate humans. Sure, come and enjoy the park during normal hours it is open but leave your trash, drugs, liquor, motorized vehicles and antisocial attitudes at home.

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somedude

you are misinformed. the majority of the waterfront is rentals. also, lots of affordable housing by gantry plaza (by definition, not wealthy). you obviously do not live in the area.

this anti-social behavior is happening well after law abiding folks go to sleep. did you forget there was also a murder one block away from the park?

where do you live? we’ll divert these outdoor yearning masses to your front stoop.

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Anonymous

An unresolved murder. I doubt that dude is gonna get caught. Killing someone over a parking spot is definitely one not seen before in the history books. Money, power, turf, love, revenge….I get those. A parking spot? Can’t even wrap my head around that one yet…trying to though.

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Anonymous

Sup Stan. Hope all is well. You and all non residents are welcome to enjoy the area, as long as the golden rules are followed. Otherwise, nah.

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Frank

The issue is people staying in the park after it is closed (parts of it do close), shooting off fireworks (illegal), doing drugs in the park (illegal), fights and assaults (illegal), shootings (illegal), and being general slobs with trash and behavior.

Being opposed to these types of behavior is treating the park as a valued public place. The people treating it like their backyard are the one who are engaging in the antisocial behavior residents are complying about.

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JaimeB

What I see here is an out-of-touch comment from an anonymous “wokester” who knows nothing about the area and cheers on NYC’s decline because rents will again become “affordable” like in some romanticized version of the 1970s.

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JaimeB

“stan chaz” sounds about right because the parks have essentially become a lawless “autonomous zone” at night. The notion that thousands of local residents and dozens of businesses are concerned with people wanting “fresh air” by the river at night is a willful and preposterous description of the situation.

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It was all talk

Not seeing a difference at all. There was a group of 15-20 motorcycle and scooter riders driving INSIDE the park at midnight. They were riding around the oval on their horns and doing burnouts.

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Want my neighborhood back

Yes!! 50th avenue and center boulevard are 2 vendors who DONT LEAVE. EVER. Empanada vendor and Halal vendor. How are they sanitizing????

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somedude

a zoom call? my word. stop the presses.

jvb got that short man syndrome. throwing a twitter hissy fit instead of representing his constituents and getting things done. taking a play from db’s book? dude needs to be canned.

licpost, keep hammering that social climber with requests for comment. he def aint worth a quarter of that 150k/yr salary us taxpayers are paying. trash is on the dole. louse.

https://www.seethroughny.net/payrolls/162222307

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Why are you criticizing the NYPD?

I agree, the NYPD haven’t been defunded at all yet, but they aren’t doing anything about this problem. They just need another $1 billion and they can fix it!

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Anonymous

Please remove all those unsanitary food vendors who parks overnight. They only bring trash and rodents to the community.

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Anonymous

“Manpower constrained” huh, interesting. And also a complete fabrication, we all walk by that precinct everyday, and ALL of us have to walk into an active street because they mysteriously have twice as many police cars illegally parked on the sidewalk since they got called on their behavior and started hiding like cowards. But I’m sure all the elderly folks and people with strollers appreciate being forced into traffic because you don’t want to follow the law or do their job. Great job guys.

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Anon

Just in time for colder weather when no one will be in the park anyway… always late to the party. Glad the private security got their attention though.

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Merman

Great, some progress is happening. I still have my concerns about jim van brainless having anything to do with fixing something as he’s proven for years to be great at breaking, not fixing. Also, I’ll be interested to see how things play out when cops try to stop a group of black and/or latino people who are breaking multiple laws as this tends to be the norm. They can just cry “racism” and all the work that’s being done to fix the problem goes out the window. Time will tell

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Anonymous

This is barely veiled racism sir, simply by virtue of the fact that you assume black or latinx people are guilty of more mischief than white people here, which has been proven by NO ONE. I direct you to the latest Harvard study (not exactly a bastion of Liberalism) titled “Racial Disparities in the Massachusetts Criminal Justice System” Which provides well documented evidence that this perception is completely false.

Basing this assumption on what you personally see when walking the park is the definition of anecdotal evidence, which is entirely misleading and meaningless. I see plenty of white jerks out there with stupid cars they can’t afford causing just as much trouble.

Also, a lot of people just don’t seem to understand that the police saying they can’t do their job because they will get called out for racism is absurd, and it is actually an argument AGAINST THEMSELVES. If the police cannot go to the park and simply issue citations and instruct people to leave without actually assaulting people of color at the drop of a hat, then they have no business being police. It is NOT the job of police to show up, assault everyone and throw them in the back of their car. It IS their job to show up as the authoritative voice of reason who can project authority without violence and is knowledgable enough to de-escalate potentially violent situations.

In my experience the only humans that assume black and latinx people are criminals, are people that don’t actually have many people of color as friends. If you had any idea what the various ethnicities of this city are like, you would know that they have crazy criminal people just like white people do, but the grand majority of them simply want to be left alone to live, and want the same things that we do. Yeah, their social tendencies are different because we all come from a different place, but that doesn’t change the fact that they have families, loved ones, careers and problems just like. They should be able to walk down the street without you just assuming that they’re the problem.

If you want to know what’s really going on in this city, start making some new friends. As a white guy that grew up around only white people, I found it eye opening personally.

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somedude

tldr. dont care.

that demog statement was directed to the area where this is happening. which is the truth. you instead extrapolated into outer space so you could sound self-important referencing an educational institution that has biased admission policies, trending racist.

bruh, you totally missed the point. it isn’t racist if it is the truth. ask an officer from the 108th off the record what the demogs are of the miscreants ruining the waterfront…

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Anonymous

I would explain how imbecilic your statement is, but I don’t think you would understand most of the words. Suffice to say, calling out an educational institution for racism in order to discredit a well documented study proving the inherent racism of the system is beyond absurd.

and uh… “bruh”, sorry but you just don’t have much going on upstairs if you think anyone would believe “demog” (I guess complete words are tough for you) statistics from the very precinct that is responsible for abandoning and misleading our community. Hope we meet in person though, it would be fun, mostly for me. 😉

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JaimeB

This comment is an insane rant from someone with no knowledge of what is going on. Absolutely nothing about this has to do with racism in the slightest, and that’s a lazy take that excuses antisocial behavior. The people abusing the park and neighborhood at night come in all races, as do the mixed-income residents opposing this nonsense. And implying that minorities have “tendencies” to blast music, commit noise violations, drag race, do drugs, use weapons, etc. is about as racist as it gets.

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JaimeB

Wow — this meeting sounds productive. Sad that everyone ignored hundreds or thousands of residents complaining for months on end about these obvious, ongoing safety and quality of life problems on the lawless waterfront… until the community hired private security. That sure got everyone’s attention! Still, better late than never to take some action to fix these issues.

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JaimeB

Wow — this meeting sounds productive. Sad that everyone ignored hundreds or thousands of residents complaining for months on end about these obvious, ongoing safety and quality of life problems on the lawless waterfront… until the community hired private security. That sure got everyone’s attention! Still, better late than never to take some action to fix these issues.

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LIC Person

Cool, I was actually thinking to myself in the middle of the night (3am) how degraded LIC has become over the summer, hearing the revving engines. I’ve lived all over the world, and been to half the states in the US. LIC, before this summer, having lived here for over 10 years, WAS the safest of all those places.

A 25 year old kid was shot in the stomach and bled out on the pavement by most likely an outsider who isn’t going to be punished appropriately for breaking the law, almost two weeks ago. Don’t care the reasons or the ‘dispute’ guns are illegal for everyone here so nobody should get to use them especially not people who have brain damage and kill people over ‘disputes.’

I’ve been paying closer attention to when these instances occur in the middle of the night. At first, I thought I was the only one bothered by these people but apparently that’s not the case.

With just a little more police presence will probably keep these societal parasites out, and hopefully LIC can go back to the quiet and peaceful neighborhood I remember it as.

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Paul

So moral of the story. For the progressive government to take any action for things that were ACTUALLY illegal at one point such as the “overflowing trash, boozed park goers, late-night rave parties, fireworks, dangerous speeding and crime”, the citizens must take their own action. Electeds want to prevent law enforcement? Then hire your own until the progressives starts crying and scream “all whites are rich”.

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