April 26, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
A group of Long Island City residents who hired private guards last year to beef up security along the Hunters Point waterfront say they plan to relaunch the initiative again when the weather heats up.
Group leaders say they will bring back the security, starting on Memorial Day weekend, in order to deter illegal racing, rave parties, and other unlawful acts from making a return to the waterfront parks this summer.
The LIC Community Action group, a Facebook group that is behind the initiative, said residents were living on edge last year and they want the security team back on patrol—despite recent assurances by local officials that the chaos will not reoccur.
“We should not feel uncomfortable or even afraid to walk our dogs or walk with our children,” said Yolanda Tristancho, a resident who formed the group last year in response to last year’s quality-of-life issues. “The security helps us feel safe and that is very important.”
Last year, Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunters Point South Park were hotspots for late-night parties, piercingly-loud fireworks and speeding cars – incidents that alarmed many residents. The parks were also vandalized, with the piers tagged with graffiti and some park items destroyed.
The issues prompted the LIC Action Group to hire a private security firm to patrol the area on weekends in September and October. Group members argued that the police were not doing enough to prevent the uptick in crime and said they were left with no choice but to take action and bolster security.
The initiative – although controversial – proved effective, according to Tristancho, citing instances where the security team instructed visitors to leave the waterfront parks after closing time, de-escalated verbal altercations and told drivers of parked cars to turn down loud music.
The security team — which consisted of four guards — helped quell disruptive conduct and the group wants the security team back to carry out the same duties again this year, Tristancho said. The security team also took notes of unruly behavior in the area, logged incidents and reported findings to the 108th Precinct, Tristancho said.
She said that the group has faith in the NYPD but noted that they have limited resources. She was encouraged that officials from the 108th precinct said at a public meeting earlier this month that there would be more cops on the beat in the area this summer.
Tristancho said that plans to hire the security for this summer were being drafted over the winter—long before the public meeting took place this month—and that the security initiative is a proactive approach that aims to support the NYPD and local officials.
The group, Tristancho said, has spoken with representatives from the 108th Precinct and Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer’s office about the plans for private security. Tristancho said that the officials are willing to work with the LIC Community Action group on the matter.
“This has to be a collaborative effort… with our team being the back up as eyes and ears on the ground,” she said.
The group, Tristancho said, will re-hire On Point Security, an Astoria-based security firm, to patrol the walkway outside both parks from Thursdays through Sundays from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
There will be between four to six security officers on patrol per shift and they will have the same roles as last year, she said.
The security, Tristancho said, will again be funded by residents via a GoFundMe campaign. Tristancho set up a new GoFundMe page a week ago and the group has raised nearly $3,000 so far with the target being $20,000.
“The intention is to help secure a friendly environment so that everyone can enjoy the parks and the surrounding area in a respectful and peaceful manner.”