From the Times Ledger:
New City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) is about to wade into the dispute between neighbors, day laborers and a Catholic charity food pantry at Woodside’s Hart Playground.
The signs placed at the entrance to the city-owned park reiterating in several languages that adults without children are not allowed in the playground have not kept the workers out of the children’s area, neighbors complained last week at a public meeting held by Van Bramer at the Woodside Library.
A mobile soup kitchen run by the Brooklyn-based St. John’s Bread & Life stops at the park between 61st and 69th streets and 37th Avenue every Tuesday. The park is a magnet for immigrant workers because it is right next to an off-ramp from the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway that allows trucks to pick them up with ease.
Neighbors said their gripe was not that Bread & Life was feeding the men, just that they did not want the weekly practice to occur at the playground, which is preferred by the charity because of its restroom facilities.
“I’m Irish Catholic, I think it’s a wonderful thing to feed the poor, feed the hungry,” said Woodside resident Ken Cullen. “I’m also a social worker. I know how it’s done. It is not done in a playground in a residential neighborhood.”
He warned that he had seen between five and 10 men he had assessed as sex offenders while working as a forensic social worker in Manhattan congregating around the park.