From the Daily News:
LOCALS WHO have been grappling with an influx this summer of homeless people to Astoria's largest park are hanging their hopes on the autumn chill to accomplish what city agencies found a tough problem to crack.
Astoria Park has been a homeless hot spot, residents said, despite the addition of a police squad car to patrol the area and more outreach by the city Department of Homeless Services, both of which began in August.
Homeless men and women sleep in the park nightly, defecating and urinating in public, dismayed residents said.
"It really is one of the jewels of Queens," said City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria). "But this problem shows that even safe neighborhoods are not immune to a bad economy and less police."
Vallone's office began getting complaints from the start of the summer. The cries for help grew louder after the murder and when another man was shot and killed nearby on 28th St.
"We met with the Department of Homeless Services and Deputy Inspector Stephan Ciribasi of the 114th Precinct," Vallone said. "The precinct responded and provided an extra squad car to patrol the area."
Queens has the lowest homeless population of the five boroughs, according to the Department of Homeless Services, but after agency officials met with Vallone, it upped the presence of outreach teams there.
Hey, it's not just Astoria Park!
Check this out from the Daily News:
Vehicle thefts are up 11.9% boroughwide in the first nine months of this year compared with the same period in 2009, new NYPD crime statistics show.
The number of major crimes in Queens has fallen about 1% overall, but the surge in auto thefts was just one of the surprising stats in the NYPD's latest CompStat figures.
In usually peaceful Astoria, violent crime spiked. Murders were up from two in 2009 to seven in 2010, and the number of shooting victims jumped from nine in 2009 to 19 in 2010.
One Astoria mom, who did not want to be named, described a recent scene at Astoria Heights Playground, on 45th St. near 31st Ave.
"There were a number of us there with small children," she said. "Then there was a gunshot and everyone ran. This was in the middle of the afternoon, in this neighborhood. I can't believe what is happening."
City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) said what is happening in Astoria is "a microcosm of what is happening all over the city."
"When you have less cops on the street, violent crime is going to go up," said Vallone, who heads the Council's Public Safety Committee. "We don't have a single beat or bicycle cop and sometimes you only have two or three patrol cars in an entire district."