From the Times Ledger:
It was hardly a dramatic uprooting, but police and city Department of Transportation staff cleaned out a pair of homeless encampments alongside the Long Island Expressway in Maspeth Tuesday morning, easing the worries of some neighbors.
The removal was delayed by some weeks because the steep, overgrown slope overlooking the expressway is state land, requiring law enforcement officials to obtain permission to deal with the encampment, civic leaders said.
DOT workers piled a dump truck high with the debris from the makeshift shelters Tuesday morning, but the NYPD’s Homeless Outreach Unit was unable to locate the occupants.
A neighbor who asked not to be named said the four or five men have been living under the tarp behind the LIE retaining wall near Hamilton Avenue for about three months, ever since they were kicked out of the playground on the south side of the expressway.
Locals said the group of men who scour the neighborhood for bottles and cans to recycle at the facility behind the Pioneer Supermarket probably lived in the encampment, but the four men at the site Tuesday morning denied it.
“I’m drinking, it’s OK, but I’m not over here,” said one man who declined to give his name.