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Lou Lodati Park: Leave the Family at Home

Sept. 4, 2011 By Christian Murray

If you’re looking for a park to bring the family, then Lou Lodati Park is not for you.

The park, located on Skillman Ave. (between 42nd and 43rd), is littered with drunks, those who urinate under trees, and those who expose themselves in front of people. Many residents have been complaining about these issues for years—from public defecation to gambling on soccer/volleyball games.

These events occur even when the public toilets are open, which are about 100 meters from the trees.

The park is closely watched by the police, with police detective Mark Wachter stating at a police precinct 108 meeting earlier this year that it is the most closely watched park in the precinct.

The park is scheduled to be revamped, through funding provided by Jimmy Van Bramer and Queens Borough Council president Helen Marshall. A dog run will be put in and it will be repaved and upgraded. Construction is expected to begin in September 2012.

One resident, who is a member of the Sunnyside United Dog Society, said he hopes that the upgrade will help reduce the indecency. He said there will be more people who will go to the park and will speak up.

email the author: [email protected]


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Instead of complaining, why don’t we do something? Why wait for the police?
For under $20 web cams with live feeds can be put up at the hot spots.
After 3 days of footage, the police can come in and make arrests. That stick.
And why not utilize the dogs! Organized dog walks, through the park , in the “hot spots”. A group of at least 10 people with 10 dogs at different times of the day, will at least prove annoying and at best have them behave a little while you are going through the park.


You Skillman Park as we knew it growing up was a place of awesome times. Neighborhood people used that park for many great summer days and nights. Some of the best keg parties took place at that park. However, no matter how many keg parties, softball drinking parties, etc,. we enjoyed in that park, we never left it a mess and always respected everyone around us. Anyone here who grew up hanging in that park knows this. I remember when these Equadorian immigrants first began arriving to the park around ’98 or so. I knew it was going to be trouble when a little girl tripped over a steel nail that they had hammered into the ground for their nets and left there for future use. This girl smashed her face on the concrete and we had to call an ambulance. Since then, and judging from those images, its a complete disgrace what has become of that park. I hate to say it but this is what happens to neighborhoods when white people move out, and I’m Puerto Rican. I grew up in that neighborhood amongst white Irish folks who cared about the community and they are all for the most part gone, to be replaced by these nomadic immigrants who don’t know the first things about what it is to live in a decent, sanitary, community.


I agree with many of you that the activities at this park are not correct. I do have a problem with the ignorance of some of the comments. Someone posted “lets have a immigration raid.” I would love that to happen when I am there. I am a US citizen. Well educated, got my BS and MBA, live in Woodside, and you know what, I LOVE TO PLAY VOLLEYBALL. Most of the people that go there are not illegal, like we all assume. Oh and by the way they are not Mexicans!!!


You people need to mind your own business.If you have problem with the kids smoking weed i dare you to go up to then and tell them to stop.


I take my daughter to the playground all the time and I see a lot of unsupervised children there as well. Last week a young girl fell and was screaming but nobody was helping her. I went over to see if I could help but she could not speak English. The person looking after her was about 5 years old – she picked her up and carried her to the volleyball courts were she was crying and ignored. Maybe people in the playground making sure all children are supervised would be a good idea as well.


If what Rick said is true:

“What these geniuses don’t realize is that this summer is the last one they will be able to destroy the park on this grand scale.”

than I assume the park was redesigned without any input from, or discussion with, the people who have been playing volleyball and soccer there for years. Does anyone know if this is the case?


People won’t go to the park if there’s nothing for them there—for example, I have no reason to visit Lou Lodati because I don’t have a kid who needs a playground, and I don’t play soccer or volleyball. So the less there is to do, the fewer people will go, and the people who DO use the park will make it their own. As evidenced by this article.

I think the renovations will definitely help because the park will have more to offer, and then new people the park attracts will start to care more. Also, events like the Farmer’s Market bring more people to the park—perhaps the community can arrange more activities like these, such as Shakespeare in the Park, rummage sales, craft fairs, dog-obedience classes, and so forth. The more the park has to offer, the more people will go, and the more eyes and ears we’ll have reporting unscrupulous activity.

Old Timer

Oh, something like Bryant Park would be wonderful! It would draw people of all ages, not just people in their teens and twenties playing team sports. But, then, where would people play team sports? That has its place, too.

John K. Wilson

@Sunny Skies,
No, you’re not the only one. There are at least two of us who believe grass is a necessary component of a “park”. You’re suggestions are excellent; given your perspicacity, your very good ideas are not surprising.
BTW. please read my note to you, which you can access by clicking on “nobody”‘s link…which is above. And, thanks.

@Rick Duro…
@Ty Sullivan…

Great ideas; I enjoyed reading your posts; hope to meet you some time. Let me know if I can lend a hand.


Melting pot, schmelting pot: people who are breaking the law need to be arrested or at least fined. It is too bad because I remember when it was a decent park. The people who live nearby must feel terrorized. Are the miscreants locals or from other neighborhoods?

Sunny Skies

Hey Rick,
I agree that we the citizens of Sunnyside need to take back our only neighborhood park for the use of ALL taxpayers (young and old alike) to enjoy. Suggest we organize a “Take Back our Park Day” with a huge outdoor picnic / rummage sale on weekends. By the looks of it – appears there’s mainly one segment hogging it up all day long day after day and that’s just not right. That space has so much more potential than primarily benefiting soccer/volleyball players and I respectfully suggest it be redesigned to replicate a small variation of Bryant Park with green grass in the center with folding tables and chairs with access to wifi and perhaps even invite a trendy legitimate mobile cafe that serves light fare in the corner where the community can truly come together and watch movie screenings, poetry readings or performing arts as dogs play nearby.

IMAGINE! You might say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one


Also Rick I agree with you, how about a Sunnyside Post day at the playground? Open to anyone willing to keep their pants on!

nobody, also correct, money no public money should go to private park. if they want private playground for gardens yuppies, fine, but not tax dollars doled out by christine quinn and jimmy van bramer.

How about a taxpayer’s sit-in at the private park while we’re at it?


funny, I was sitting on the bench after the street fair I was thinking about just how unwelcoming this playground is.

Ty Sullivan

Great article and piece about what has been going on in the park but I do want to put one positive spin on it.

From where it was 18 years ago when I moved out here to what it is now, is a far cry. Granted it’s not perfect and as a parent I am rather skeeved out by the park with the volleyball players and the bums pissing. But when it was a hovel for gangs and rowdies it was a lot worse.

What they need to focus on there is repairing the sewerage drain that backs up and cause children to get sick as well as maintain safety with the gates so children don’t run out into the streets.

What does blow my mind is the level of ignorance of the parents who just waltz right in and leave the gates open. can we not get proper signage in several languages that says “PLEASE CLOSE GATES BEHIND YOU” so the clue phone can go off in the heads of those who ignore it’s ring? Also, how about speed bumps between 43rd and 41st streets where children and families are more apt to get nailed by unthinking speedsters whose only focus is to keep speed with throbbing beat of the music they are blasting?

I’m so grateful for the Rick’s of the neighborhood who wish to make Sunnyside the great area it deserve to be. If we all did a little bit to help, it would equal a great deal of good.

– Ty Sullivan


Also, the little darlings of the neighborhood go to that park to buy drugs and publicly use them. Sometimes the police make arrests – they need to make more and they need to have the undercover police go into there to grab them. It is truly revolting what is going on. The little park on 52nd Street is also a problem: bums sleep there, drink alcohol and do all kinds of nasty things. That is a small useless rat infested park. Close it down!!!! And women have been assaulted nearby. You have to know when something is a losing battle.


I say lets clean up all parks and have rules in all languages so everyone will know what is expected of them then have a park watches group started with a walkie talkie to the polilce and start soving this issue now. who wants to join me.


It makes me sad to see a place were my son learned to ride a bike, scoop ground balls and spinned a nicely tight snow ball become the heaven for savages like them. Our congressman should step in and get involved, perhaps we should collect signatures and removed the garbage from our tax supported parks…taxes that I’m sure most of these savages don’t even pay. Hey Rick Duro I agreed 100% with you.

Neighborhood Observer

It often cheered me to drive by the park and see crowds of men playing volleyball, but obviously a drive by misses a lot of disturbing details. While they appear to be members of cultures attracted to Sunnyside in the last few decades, it isn’t obvious they are illegal and everyone should be careful before accusing others. Calumny is a serious social abrasive.

In the Seventies and Eighties that park was the site of loads of softball games by all kinds of local teams. Those crowds drank lots of beer and many bought and consumed their favorite illegal substances during the games, pot was certainly there.

My father told me his uncle had a house across the street in the 40s, 50s and 60s, and always complained about the noisy games played until late in the night. It seems to be the park’s character.

But body waste, gambling and passing out were not common there, as far as I knew. But, then, Rabbit Island was still intact, then. Now it is a car lot.

Rick Duro

Construction begins Spring 2012.

This has absolutely nothing to do w/ checking anyone’s papers, someone being here legally, or what neighborhood they are from. It has to do with RESPECT & common decency. It doesn’t matter if it was Amish people, tea partiers or martians, you shouldnt be openly urinating in a park.

People pouring out of a bar drunk, getting into fights, throwing up on our steps, yea, that’s wrong to!

I can only fight one battle @ a time.

Try sitting there and watching for a few hours, yes, they are indeed playing games and having lots of fun, but they are consuming booze ALL DAY, urinating behind the trees ALL DAY, amongst countless other violations.

It needs to stop. Someone needs to do something.

I am ready to walk that park anyday and do most days. I’m always ready. [email protected]


Ill Eagle

There are many drunk people, usually men, stumbling around the streets when I leave for work at 6 a.m., nowhere near the park. I’ve never asked to check their papers, I usually am walking fast to get away from them.

The improvements in the park will begin in Sept. 2012, according to the article so there is one more summer before any changes will be made. I wonder if our fearless leaders could try to unite people and identify what the community needs/wants. I applaud groups who are trying to improve the park, that’s fabulous. Most of the people I see at that park are playing soccer or other games, enjoying the outdoors and talking with friends. Plus the kids at the other end at the playground. People obviously need somewhere to go.

All of this talk about the immigration status of people who use the park is so typical of this website, it’s so discouraging in the ‘melting pot’ of NYC.
God Bless America


Rick Duro I agree with you. We need to have to parks protected. we are about the spend our tax dollars on redoing this park and when it is finsihed we are going to let the peope that messed it up kill it forus again. what are they going to do to protect our investment. why are they not dong it now.

what about the word respect? we try teach our kids to respect others and their property what happens to the park?

they should all be arrested if they are commiting crimes. why are they not being arrested. lets take pictrues and put them up for the woirld
tosee like in the herald or on this site. lets embrarass them.

Rick Duro

This problem has been going on for years. The soccer/volleyball players urninate all over the park, so much that they make huge ‘piss puddles’ behind the trees, leave lots of trash/broken glass/food, get completely wasted, gamble, deal drugs, sell food/booze, sleep in the park and bully people to move so that they can set up their nets (in the summer they will often set up nets early in the am, go to work, leaving it there ALL day, in order to ‘claim’ their spot for later in the evening. They also, often, dump gallons of bleach on these piss puddles to try and hide the odor, real rocket scientists….poison the trees, and kids/dogs that run in the dirt, just completely uneducated & disgusting.

There is a bathroom just up the ramp in the upper part of the park, but they refuse to walk to it, pure laziness.

What these geniuses don’t realize is that this summer is the last one they will be able to destroy the park on this grand scale. With the redesign of the park they will no longer be able to set up as many volleyball nets. The main area they are using, near the giant light pole, will be a basketball court, they won’t be allowed to attach their nets to the dog run fences, and the trees will be fenced off (so they will have to do their ‘business’ more out in the open w/ nothing to hide behind.)

The park will improve, but not until people do as SUDS has done, let the people in power know, take pictures, speak up, don’t just sit there and take it. if you think THIS is bad, you should have seen what they were doing to that park through 2004….SUDS took photos, went to the community board/108th and it got much better. There used to be LINES to pee behind the trees w/ lakes of urine behind them, several cars parked outside the park illegally selling food, tons of broken glass, chicken bones, condoms, and other trash everywhere, empty garbage cans (they would just throw it on the ground), people passed out drunk everywhere, gambling of all kinds, soccer games with hundreds of people in attendance w/ a loud announcer/music. We brought lots of evidence to the community board and they and the 108th dealt with the problem.

This park belongs to everyone, and I am happy to see people exercising by playing volleyball, soccer, baseball, basketball, etc, but, the key word is EVERYONE. You have a responsibility to take care of the park when you use it, not to leave it a disaster area. The people of Sunnyside are being forced out of their own park by people who really don’t even live in our neighborhood, if they took care of the park, there’d be no complaints.

I am not shy about calling people out when they do something wrong, more people need to speak up.

Maybe we should organize a ‘take back the park’ day?

Rick Duro


What about all the illegals who stumble out of the irish bars and puke and piss all over the streets of Sunnyside?


This is disgusting. Are these the same slobs who urinate and litter the area near bottle redemption areas.
I rarely see patrol cars in Sunnyside. Why are we getting ignored this much?

Peggy G

The same problem exists in the L/Cpl. Thomas P. Noonan playground on 43rd Street and Greenpoint Avenue. Is 108th Pct going to do something about the vagrants and bums that hang around there? Some of them basically live inside and on the benches outside the park.Decent people no longer are able to sit and enjoy the park and its benches because these bums and vagrants are constantly bothering people and asking for money, It’s too bad that the people of this neighborhood cannot enjoy the simple joy of being outside and enjoying our neighborhood parks!


Hopefully with homeowners liike you and your partner, improvements will begin continue. It can be done!


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