State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) was joined last Friday afternoon by concerned area residents across the street from the College Point Corporate Park, where he announced that the Department of Sanitation had issued summonses to several businesses that he said have taken over streets and sidewalks. He called on the city to take further action against them unless the situation is rectified.
Avella said he first noticed the unlawful activity during the Memorial Day Parade.
“All these businesses just decided, ‘We’re taking over this property,’” he said. “Clearly illegal.”
He said he “immediately wrote to the city. The only agency that took action was the Department of Sanitation. It’s interesting that they’re here today.”
Surveying the tons of supplies that almost completely concealed the sidewalk on one side of 124th Street, he added, “All of this has got to be cleaned up. If they don’t clean it up, the city should come and just seize it all. You cannot take over a city street. This is absurd.”
Avella also suggested that the situation posed “a health hazard, a traffic hazard, a pedestrian hazard,” and asked, “If something should happen, who’s going to get sued? The city. And the taxpayer is going to have to pay the lawsuit. This is the worst example I’ve ever seen of private businesses taking over city sidewalks.”
As far back as late 2011, Community Board 7 filed complaints with the departments of Transportation, Buildings and Sanitation as well as the 109th Precinct over materials that were being stored on the sidewalk, according to a letter provided by one area resident, Jim Singletary, acting president of the 28th Avenue Block Association.