Friday, October 23, 2009

Residents Upset With Late-Night Trysts In Forest Park by Ruschell Boone - NY1

A group of Richmond Hill residents is fighting back against what they say is becoming the common use of Forest Park for late-night trysts. NY1’s Ruschell Boone filed the following report.

Jorge Martinez says that while taking his six-year-old daughter for a walk through Forest Park it is normal to come across condom wrappers amongst the flowers and trees. He says over the years, this kind of trash has become part of the landscape.

“It's absolutely outrageous,” Martinez said.

For years, Martinez, like many other residents here, has been angry about the illegal sexual activities. But when his daughter began asking questions, he decided to fight back. He started a letter writing campaign, sending 200 of them to residents and local leaders calling for a bigger crackdown on the offenders.

“On any given night, you can see 10, 12, 15 people randomly going around the park and doing, you know, this type of activity,” said Martinez. “You can identify them. You can definitely tell.”

One of those letters was sent to the district manager of the local community board.

“He has a right to complain because it's been a problem. And it's been a problem for the 20 years that I have been here,” said Community Board 9 District Manager Mary Ann Carey. “And we have people who come to the park from all over. He told us from as far as New Jersey.”

Some say the police need more manpower to patrol the 538-acre park because its size and terrain makes it hard to spot offenders.

“Four hundred and eleven acres of the park is wooded area. It's very difficult to patrol in a wooded area,” said Carey.

The New York City Police Department says the local precinct has been addressing the problems saying quote, “They have made 100 arrests and handed out 286 summonses for quality-of-life violations and park violations [this year alone.]”

But the community board says most of the patrols happen during the day and they would like to see more enforcement at night.

“The park closes at dusk and the police do their one trip through the park and don't go there unless somebody calls with some sort of an issue,” said Carey.

As for the litter, the Parks Department says it cleans Forest Park on a regular basis and workers address any litter issues as quickly as possible. But, Martinez says a lot more needs to be done.