BY KELLY MARIE MANCUSO
Civic leaders, elected officials and local law enforcement were on hand to discuss quality-of-life issues plaguing the area during last week’s Juniper Park Civic Association (JPCA) meeting held on Thursday, Sept. 17, at Our Lady of Hope School in Middle Village.
One of the larger concerns involved the presence of derelict or non-working vehicles on the streets of Middle Village and Maspeth. Capt. Mark Wachter, commanding officer of the 104th Precinct, explained that he and his team recently carried out a “major blitz” against American Auto Body and Recovery, located at 60-05 Flushing Ave., near 59th Street, in Maspeth.
According to Wachter, 15 vehicles were towed from the surrounding streets on May 29. Wachter then partnered with Capt. Gregory Mackie, the precinct’s executive officer, in Operation Clean Sweep to tow an additional 22 vehicles within an hour from the auto shop on Aug. 26.
In addition to the massive towing operation, Wachter explained that the Department of Consumer Affairs revoked the repair shop’s tow license.
“We’ve received numerous community complaints,” Wachter explained. “We went in with full force and cleaned up the area.”
In an open Q&A session, many residents expressed similar concerns about the loss of street parking to derelict automobiles. One resident observed such conditions on 61st Road in Middle Village between 67th and 68th streets, while another pointed to 69th Road as a problematic area.
Wachter said that 17 derelict vehicles have been towed throughout Middle Village in recent months. He indicated the process begins with the placing of letters or notices on vehicles, as well as chalk marks on tires, by the NYPD. If the vehicle has not moved within the next seven days, the NYPD will then return to tow it away.
Residents also voiced concerns over the abundance of massage parlors and suspected prostitution within many of the establishments. The captain assured residents that the precinct is tracking and arresting violators.
“We’re tackling it,” Wachter explained. “We definitely have our eyes on the problem.”
Drug use is another major issue plaguing the area. According to Wachter, a total of about 16 narcotics arrests were made in and around Middle Village in recent months. The captain credits tips from the community with being able to make these busts.
“We still have active investigations going on in the Middle Village area for drug sales,” he explained.
JPCA President Robert Holden joined members and the precinct in honoring three officers and two Middle Village residents for their brave efforts in apprehending four suspected car thieves back on Aug. 19.
According to Wachter, four underage teens on bicycles attempted to break into cars along 77th Street in Middle Village. Residents observed this and called 911.
A foot pursuit ensued, and Officer Onur Cumur, with help from Officer Jonathan Ku and Officer Radoslaw Zbikowski, apprehended two of the four teens. Residents Brian McGoldrick and Andrew Crimmins were able to detain the other two suspects on the ground until police were able to take them into custody.
“They took action,” Wachter said. “This is a great example of ‘If you see something, say something.’ They were instrumental in helping us and we appreciate this.”