Nov. 1, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
Plans are in the works to clean up the gritty section of Roosevelt Avenue running through Woodside, several local politicians announced this morning.
The proposal comes on the heels of a plan announced by State Senator Jose Peralta in August to clean up Roosevelt Avenue in the Jackson Heights and Corona neighborhoods.
Peralta shared a proposal in August to limit liquor licenses and target crime along Roosevelt Avenue from 74th to 114th Street, specifically surrounding seedy nightclubs and bars.
Today, State Senator Michael Gianaris and Assembly Member Michael DenDekker announced an extension of the plan down in to the stretch of Roosevelt Avenue in the 50s and 60s through Woodside.
“We’re calling on Roosevelt Avenue, this part of Roosevelt Avenue in Woodside to get extra attention, “ Gianaris said, asking for increased efforts by law enforcement and city agencies to crack down on issuing fines and violations along the strip.
In his announcement in August, Peralta compared Roosevelt Avenue to the Times Square of the 90s before it was cleaned up, saying that there was an “urgent need” to clean up the area.
He pointed to major issues on Roosevelt Avenue, including drugs, gangs, prostitution, $2 dance bars, sex trafficking, fake IDs, employment agency scams, and rental scams.
“Unfortunately it’s no different on this part of Roosevelt Avenue farther west,” Gianaris said.
“This is not about denigrating Roosevelt Avenue. Roosevelt Avenue is a vibrant Avenue. Roosevelt Avenue is eclectic, I love Roosevelt Avenue,” Peralta said. “But it’s about eliminating the bad actors that try to hide in between the good actors.”
The plan outlined by the politicians is multifaceted. Peralta, DenDekker and Gianaris are working to put together a task force made up of members of many city agencies to come up with a plan to clean up Roosevelt Avenue and to encourage collaboration between agencies.
Peralta has proposed legislation to increase the penalty for cabaret license violations from $1,000 to $10,000, so it can no longer be viewed as simply a “cost of doing business,” he said.
He has also introduced legislation to ensure that any fines collected by the State Liquor Authority get reinvested back in to the SLA, ensuring there is enough funding for investigations in to establishments that violate their liquor licenses.
Peralta added that he was also calling on the City Council to increase the budget of the Department of Consumer Affairs to put together a night crew to keep watch for illegal establishments.
“This isn’t about the restaurants that are doing it correctly, this is not about those storefronts that are doing it well, this is about the $2 dance bars that exist and those establishments that are breaking the law,” Peralta said.
“We’re looking forward to trying to resurrect Roosevelt Avenue in the evening for more new businesses, new restaurants, new opportunities for the people who live here,” DenDekker said.