Aug. 26, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan is calling on Mayor de Blasio and city and state agencies to create a task force to combat crime and anti-social behavior along the Hunters Point waterfront.
The lawmaker said that people have been flouting the law at Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunters Point South Park this summer and the area has become hazardous for residents and visitors.
Nolan wants the city to convene a task force to address residents’ concerns, adding that action on the problem is long overdue. She is opposed to a plan by a group of residents to hire a private security firm to combat the problem– saying these quality-of-life issues are best left in the hands of city and state agencies.
“I have been in communication with the Mayor’s office over the summer and I am calling on Mayor de Blasio, City and State Parks departments, Community Board 2, the 108th precinct, and the Patrol Borough leadership of Queens North to immediately convene a task force that will ensure coordinated efforts to keep residents and visitors safe and secure,” Nolan said in a statement.
Nolan called on the Hunters Point Park Conservancy, a local volunteer group that oversees the parks, to lead the task force.
Nolan said she has witnessed some of the vandalism first-hand and said she shares residents’ concerns.
“Loud noise at night, along with illegal fireworks is happening far too often,” Nolan said.
“There are many food trucks with no social distancing, all-terrain vehicles riding within the park and on public sidewalks, and broken glass and drug paraphernalia from illegal parties and pop-up after-hours ‘clubs,’” she added.
The call for the task force comes as tension among residents in the area mount.
Some residents have formed a group and hired a private security firm to start patrolling the walkway outside both parks. The security firm will starting patrolling the area Thursday.
The group said that the security will act as a deterrent to crowds gathering at the parks when they close at 10 p.m. They said they have been left with little choice but to hire a security firm because the NYPD isn’t policing the area enough and they feel unsafe.
However, a separate group of residents slammed the move and launched an online petition opposing the private security initiative.The opponents say that the initiative is racist arguing that minorities who come from outside of the area will be targeted.
Nolan said the creation of a task force is a better way to address the problem.
“I recommend this approach before any efforts to secure private security, which I personally would not recommend at this time,” Nolan said.
Advocates of the security initiative have welcomed Nolan’s call for a task force but said it would take time to set up and they are continuing with their plans to bring on a security team Thursday.
“As a community, we are proceeding with security efforts and again, it’s going to be added support to the community to help deter the disruption, encourage constructive activity and encourage the well-being for all,” Yolanda Tristancho, a resident and organizer of the security initiative said.
Tristancho said the security firm’s approach will not be aggressive and her group wants a peaceful solution to the problem.
“We want a safe waterfront for residents and visitors alike,” Tristancho said.
The Hunters Point Park Conservancy said that it is also concerned about crime at the parks and said that it is committed to working with all stakeholders to rectify the current problems.
“The Conservancy is extremely upset when we see the parks littered with empty liquor bottles, fireworks residue, and the results of fires that have damaged park infrastructure,” the HPPC said in a statement.
“Additionally, we, like many people living in the Hunters Point South neighborhood, have been woken up repeatedly throughout the night by loud music, fireworks and drag racing on Center Boulevard.”
The organization says that it has been in contact with the NYPD 108th Precinct and various agencies throughout the summer looking to address the problem.
“We believe more effective enforcement of park polices are required, especially during the night and on weekends to stem these disruptive problems,” the HPPC said.
“The Conservancy is committed to working with all concerned stakeholders to solve the problems we collectively face.”