Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Jackson Heights plaza attracts litter and homeless
From the NY Times:
Without car traffic or the Q47 and Q49 buses that used to stop on the block, many merchants claim business has fallen by at least half. Park advocates say the recession is more to blame. But even during the economy’s darkest days, says Raj Bhalla, who sells cellphones, Jackson Heights was largely spared, because of the bustling business of East Asian people drawn here for products from their homelands.
Mr. Dashti says he has been fined by the Sanitation Department for picnickers’ litter. On a recent Thursday, piles of garbage spilled from trash bags on the tables and lumped in the street, next to boxes and a broken television. Cigarette butts eddied in the gutters. Workers from the Doe Fund now clean multiple times a day, says Mr. Dromm, who spent $42,500 from his discretionary fund on sanitation there.
On a sunny morning in early March, the street was nearly empty. A few men slept at the blue picnic tables, more than one emitting a scent that made sharing a table impossible. The lounging men have become a fixture since the street closed, people who live nearby said.
One man, who gave his name only as Derek, said he began hanging out on the block as soon as the street was closed. “Rather than be on an avenue that is all active and engines flowing here and going there,” said Derek, as he paced back and forth unsteadily, “it’s calm and tranquil.”
Perhaps too calm and tranquil, says Mr. Chaudhry, the phone-card salesman. “Either this park is going to be here,” he says, “or we’re going to be here.”
And what's with the bike lane that abruptly ends?