Tag Archives: charles park

Howard Beach COP starts patrol


| slicata@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Joe Thompson

Howard Beach and its surrounding neighborhoods have added another set of eyes on the street as the Civilian Observation Patrol officially started their watch on Aug. 19.

“In a short amount of time we have been able to accomplish a lot,”  said Joe Thompson, founder of the Howard Beach Civilian Observation Patrol (HBCOP), a nonprofit organization. “Things are going really well.”

The patrol team has been going out through the neighborhoods of Lindenwood, Howard Beach, Old Howard Beach and Hamilton Beach for the past week. Thompson, joined by two to three members of the team each night, patrols the neighborhoods in the organization’s newly donated watch vehicle, which they are hoping will have an amber patrol light on top of it in the near future if approved by Deputy Inspector Jeffrey Schiff of the 106th Precinct.

HBCOP has about 15 members at this point and is doing its patrol strictly as a not-for-profit organization with no affiliation to the NYPD yet. To be fully recognized by the NYPD all members must first complete the Citizens’ Police Academy program, according to Thompson. Until then, he will be putting all of his members through security training programs that will properly prepare them to patrol.

Even though Thompson started the patrol in hopes of deterring crime from happening, he says he and his patrol team are looking to help the community in many different ways.

“We want to be able to assist the community with all types of quality of life issues,” Thompson said.

Along with assisting the 106th Precinct in “The Loop,” HBCOP will be helping out Hamilton Beach in its annual baby parade and are looking for ways to help out in the Columbus Day Parade in October. Thompson said they will also try to assist in graffiti removal programs as well as helping to clean up Charles Park.

“We want to be embraced by the community and let them know we are here to help out,” he added.

To find out more about HBCOP, visit their new website at hbcop.com.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Rotting fruit washes up in Charles Park


| editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Salvatore Licata

 SALVATORE LICATA

The shoreline of Jamaica Bay, bordering Charles Park, is home to shellfish, seagulls, seaweed, submerged shopping carts, abandoned baby strollers and now, rotting fruit.

A cluster of putrefying fruit was found in the water on Thursday on the northwest portion of Charles Park, where clean-up has been a long-standing issue.

“We need to protect and clean up the shore line,” said state Sen. Joe Addabbo. “We appreciate the advocacy for the clean-up of Charles Park and do not want to see this great volunteerism go to the wayside.”

The fruit mound washed over from the Broad Channel part of the bay where Hindu worshipers sacrifice items in the water to the goddess Ganges of their religion.

It is unclear how such a large amount of fruit was able to pile up in one specific area about a half mile away from where it was sacrificed leaving the devotees puzzled.

“We honestly had no idea the items we sacrificed washed up there,” said Amar Hardeosingh, who takes part in the Hindu religious ceremony at the bay. “We try to do good for the environment and we want to keep it as beautiful as it is.”

The religious group has been taken to task before for not cleaning up after they finished their rituals, according to a 2011 article in the New York Times, but lately have been keeping up with the guidelines of the National Parks Service (NPS), which owns the land.

To practice their rituals, the religious group must get a permit from the NPS, which is a long process, according to Hardeosingh. But they have continually received the permit because of their avid clean-up once the ceremonies are over, he said.

“We sacrifice the fruit hoping that the fish will eat it but if it is piling up elsewhere it is not going toward the right cause,” said Hardeosingh, who operates a Hindu radio station and promised to announce this problem over the air waves to gather a clean-up group. “If they are rotting away in this area, it’s [the same as using] non-perishable items, which means we should clean it up.”

Unlike non-perishable items, which litter the waters of Jamaica Bay and its surrounding shorelines, this fruit usually never makes its way to the shoreline. Throwing the fruit in Jamaica Bay is technically illegal but is less detrimental to the ecosystem than the usual non-perishable garbage items and wastewater from four sewage nearby plants that end up in the bay, said Veronica Scorcia, a marine biologist.

“The whole pieces of fruit take time to break down, which makes their particulate matter insignificant compared to the sewage runoff,” Scorcia said.

The NPS is responsible for the upkeep of the park and its shoreline and Addabbo said he is getting in touch with the NPS to make sure they are notified about the fruit pile-up.

He added that NPS has made an effort to clean up the park and that residents must keep being the service’s eyes and ears to notify the NPS about any problems going on in the park.

The Charles Park Conservation Society, which has played a major role in the clean-up effort of the area, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The NPS did not immediately return a call for comment.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Six months after Sandy, Charles Park gets clean-up


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/File phoot

Frank M. Charles Memorial Park is getting spruced up.

With Sandy debris lingering nearly six months after the storm, Councilmember Eric Ulrich has partnered with the Doe Fund to help clean up the community park, which is run under the auspices of by Gateway National Recreation Area.

Nine “men in blue” from the Doe Fund, which finds work for homeless men and women, will help remove debris in what is considered a neighborhood park, although it’s under the National Park Service (NPS) umbrella.

Ulrich said he reached out to George McDonald, president and founder of the Doe Fund, after coverage of the park’s worsened condition following the storm.

“This was a reaction to the published newspaper reports about the terrible conditions in Charles Park,” Ulrich said.

The councilmember said further pressure had to be put on NPS to secure that Charles Park and other parts of Gateway get the same attention that parks across the country do.

“It’s an absolute disgrace,” Ulrich said of the delayed clean up, adding it should not have taken a storm like Sandy to bring the park’s conditions to the public eye. “The federal government has to live up to their obligation.”

McDonald, who partnered with Ulrich to bring workers to Broad Channel after the storm, said the program won’t only clean up the park, but give the crew a second chance.

“For the past 25 years, New Yorkers have been so generous to The Doe Fund and to the ‘men in blue’—helping their fellow New Yorkers to re-establish their careers and become fathers to their children,” McDonald said. “We are grateful for the opportunity to give back. I thank Councilmember Ulrich for thinking of us.”

Community Board 10 recently voiced opposition to a proposal from Gateway and NYC Parks Department that listed Charles Park as a possible site for concession stands, bike terminals or kayak launching bays. Board members first want the park to be cleaned up, and get more outreach from Gateway, before anything else comes in.

“It’s my understanding that Doe fund is volunteering labor to do it, which is certainly commendable,” said board chair Elizabeth Braton. “However, it does not remove the obligation of the Parks Service to provide continuous, ongoing maintenance at the facilities they are responsible for.”

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Pols push for improvements to Charles Park


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Mike DiBartolomeo

Piles of trash in tall grass are just yards away from baseball fields where the pitcher’s mounds have nearly leveled with home plate. Behind home plate, there are cracks in the sidewalks that are overgrown with grass and weeds. Not much further from this scene is a picnic table, worn from years of use.

These are just some of the images of Frank M. Charles Memorial Park in Howard Beach, which officials and residents say has been neglected for years by the National Park Service (NPS).

Assemblymember Philip Goldfeder and Senator Charles Schumer recently sent a letter to NPS with concerns about upkeep of the park that residents claim has been inconsistent and underfunded for years.

“Frank M. Charles Memorial Park, a treasured resource for the residents of Howard Beach, has long been a popular location for youth sports games and family outings. But the park has seen better days,” Schumer said. “The level of deterioration at the park is unacceptable, and that’s why I’m urging the National Park Service to step up to the plate and clean it up so local residents get the park they deserve.”

Goldfeder said he and Schumer decided to urge for better maintenance now as summer heats up and pollution in the park has increased.

“I think it was time we sort of formalize our request that we’re serious about it and we’re not going to stop until we see some improvement,” Goldfeder said.

The assemblymember said NPS typically focuses its spending on West Coast parks and will sometimes forget about eastern areas.

He added that “Howard Beach is a beautiful community and we deserve a beautiful park.”

In the past, Goldfeder said he’s led cleanup efforts throughout the greenspace, but it needs consistent maintenance and not quick fixes.

Dorothy McCluskey, who heads the Friends of Charles Park group, has worked for nearly two decades to ensure the park is clean.

The Parks Service, she said, had not been allocating funds to, or regularly caring for, what she calls “the jewel of Jamaica Bay.” She cited poorly repaired tennis courts and baseball fields as some of the problems reported to the NPS.

John Warren, an NPS spokesperson for the area, said the agency was working the city to improve all parks near Jamaica Bay. Warren said plans with the city were “still in the early stages, but it’s going to help us pool our resources together…to provide better services to people at all of our parks in the Jamaica Bay area.”

Garbage, he said, is a problem endemic to all greenspaces, and NPS is continuing to clean the park.

“Trash is an issue at any park,” he said, “and it’s something we’re working on further improving.”