This year it will be different.
That was the message from officials at a virtual public meeting Wednesday who plan to make sure that there isn’t a repeat of the unruly activity that took place along the Long Island City waterfront last summer.
The meeting, which was organized by the non-profit Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, brought together elected officials, city and state park representatives as well as local law enforcement.
Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer and State Senator Michael Gianaris spoke at the meeting, along with representatives for U.S. Congress Member Carolyn Maloney and Assembly Member Cathy Nolan.
Around 150 residents were on a Zoom call that lasted nearly two hours.
“What happened last year… was wholly unacceptable,” Gianaris said, referring to the late-night booze parties, illegal fireworks and dangerous drag racing that took place in the area.
“This is a neighborhood with a lot of families, a lot of young children and the kind of activity that was going on… cannot be allowed to happen again,” Gianaris said.
A record number of parkgoers visited the waterfront parks last year, according to the HPPC, with many discarding litter—leading to piles of trash. Food vendors also stayed open late to serve large crowds.
Police Officer Andrew Diaz, who represented the NYPD 108th Precinct at the meeting, said that the entire force was overstretched last summer – given the outbreak of COVID-19 and civil unrest across the city. He assured residents that there would be more boots on the ground to tackle any problems like those that surfaced last year.
“Last year was a perfect storm with the pandemic and protests – we didn’t have enough police officers to address these issues and we apologize,” Diaz said. “But this year will be different.”
He said that Capt. Lavonda Wise, the NYPD 108th Precinct’s new commanding officer, has made Center Boulevard a policing priority.
Diaz said that the precinct is also changing the work hours of its officers—to ensure that more cops will be available on weekends.
He said there will be a greater “uniform presence” with a lot of NYPD auxiliary officers also on patrol this summer.
Did Gianaris, Jimmy V and any of these tower people ever consider that these violators could be their tower neighbors?