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Woodside Residents Want to Reclaim their Park

Many Woodside residents claimed at Tuesday night’s 108 police precinct meeting that immigrants and day labors are illegally entering Hart Playground (65th and 37th Ave.), frightening local children and leaving the bathroom in a state of disorder.

The problem is particularly acute every Tuesday when a mobile food service truck from St John’s Bread of Life dispenses food outside of the park, residents said. Police were told that 250 people show up for a meal and then disperse all over the playground. They said half naked men could be found in the bathroom– bathing and washing their clothes. The plumbing is often backed up, resulting in a urine-soaked floor.

“There is no way I would take my grandchild into the playground while all those men are there,” said one woman who didn’t want to be identified last night. “There are not many parks in this area…and why do the kids in Woodside have to suffer from this.”

The residents said that they have no problem with the food service. However, they argue that the day labors should not be allowed to enter the playground. They claim that under the Parks Department rules, an adult is not allowed to enter the playground without a child. This fact was confirmed by another news outlet.

But even when the mobile food unit isn’t there, residents argue that the same problems occur–just to a lesser degree.

The police have been called to the park on many occasions, to follow up on complaints.  One officer said that 25 arrests and 200 summonses have been issued in the past year– many stemming from alcohol and public urination charges.

But the police department said at the precinct meeting that it was an issue that the Parks Dept. is in the best position to solve. Residents have already taken up the issue with Community Board 2 and the mayor’s office has gotten involved.

Unfortunately, recent developments have not pleased residents. The Parks Department, according to residents, said it would allow the immigrants to use the public bathroom and to allow them to congregate in a small designated section of the playground.

“So much for the sign that says ‘no adult can go into the park without a child’,” said a distraught resident.

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