Aug. 21, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
Enough is enough, according to a number of Long Island City residents.
A group of residents are so fed up with the high levels of anti-social behavior along the Hunters Point waterfront that they are hiring a private security firm to patrol the area.
The group says that crowds of young men and women have been descending on Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunters Point South Park all summer and taking part in drug and booze-fueled rave parties that last throughout the night.
Meanwhile, other delinquents, they say, race quad bikes and motorcycles inside the parks, through the streets and along sidewalks.
Last week a group of around 45 residents came together and made the decision to hire a security firm to tackle the problem. The group wants the security officers to deter crowds from congregating.
The security officers will patrol the walkway outside both parks in September and October, according to resident and organizer Yolanda Tristancho. The group hopes that their presence will be enough to stop rabble-rousers from coming to the parks when they close at 10 p.m.
“Things have gotten so bad that people have moved out of the area,” Tristancho said. “We feel we have no other action but to take this into our own hands.”
Tristancho said that the quality of life for residents living in the neighborhood has deteriorated and the area has become dangerous.
“Before you could go for a nice walk along the waterfront in the late evening but it’s just not safe anymore,” she said.
She said that the local police precinct doesn’t have the resources to constantly patrol the area.
Tristancho said that her group is hiring two security officers who will work from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. Thursday through Sunday.
They will be unarmed and will carry flashlights. They have no real authority– other than to call the police if things get out of hand.
The cost for the security will be around $1,500 per week and the group is asking residents to pitch in via a Go Fund Me page which was set up Wednesday. The page has raised over $1,100 so far.
The group has also approached the big real estate companies that own adjacent buildings to see if they would contribute.
Mark Christie, a 23-year resident and the vice president of the Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, said the current situation is unacceptable and residents have been let down by the police and local politicians.
“We have been calling the police for four months about this carry-on and they only started coming down in the last few weeks,” Christie said. “We haven’t seen any politicians.”
Christie said that organized rave parties have been taking place on the streets at the southern end of Hunters Point South and people have been consuming alcohol and taking drugs.
“There were hundreds of people there last Friday night and it was the loudest music you ever heard,” Christie said.
He said that the streets and parks are left covered with empty alcohol bottles, plastic cups, and food waste. He said that illegal fireworks – which plagued residents earlier this summer– have been going off again in the area.
Christie, who attended last week’s meeting, thinks the security personnel will help the situation and hopes they will co-ordinate with the police.
He said that restaurants — which are already struggling with COVID-19 restrictions – are also being impacted by the turmoil and need help.
The trash and unruly behavior is putting customers off going to nearby restaurants at night time, he said.
“How can you have outdoor dining with all this going on in our streets?” he said. “Parents are afraid to come with their kids and seniors are being scared off too.”
The HPPC volunteer said there has also been an increase in the number of homeless people flocking to the area and parts of the boardwalk have also been vandalized with graffiti.
“It’s just one thing after another,” Christie said.
“Something has to be done.”