Illegally Posted Signs, Noise Irk Woodhaven

Woodhaven residents are tired of being kept up at night by inconsiderate neighbors and businesses that won’t turn down the noise, and at last Saturday’s Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association (WRBA) meeting, the 102nd Precinct promised it was doing everything in its power to lower the volume.

Sergeant Joseph DeMarco said that his team of officers is investigating noise complaints as soon as possible. Unfortunately, problems with the 311 system that tracks the complaints make responding to calls difficult.

The biggest hurdle is that the sheer amount of calls received by the precinct can be overwhelming and non-emergency calls like noise complaints can get bumped down the priority list.

“Please have patience when making calls. The [patrol] cars available do the best they can to handle all calls,” DeMarco said.

He also noted that glitches with the 311 system have sometimes given him noise complaints months after they were reported. To cut down on these situations DeMarco urged the residents at the WRBA meeting to identify problem areas and let him know directly.

“It’s better personal. Give me the location and I’ll hit it,” he said. The 102nd Precinct already has a list of locations that have received chronic noise complaints, and officers check these areas and even send letters to residencies warning them about noise violations, DeMarco noted. He said he would be happy to review a list compiled by the WRBA.

For WRBA board member Maria Thomson, also the president of the 102nd Precinct Community Council, the biggest issue when solving noise complaints and other safety issues is the lack of police officers.

“We need more police officers. Send letters to [NYPD] Commissioner Ray Kelly and let him know there is a priority to bring more officers to our community,” Thomson said.

In other crime news, WRBA President Ed Wendell reported the 102nd Precinct made an arrest last week of an individual breaking into a vehicle at the corner of 98th Street and Woodhaven Boulevard.

That particular area, which houses the Forest Park Co-Ops, has seen an increase in car thefts and break-ins this year. According to police, the man they apprehended last week has been arrested at least 25 times before from various offenses.

“We have several people who keep doing it, mostly drug addicts targeting cars early in the morning or late at night,” DeMarco said at the WRBA meeting. He said a pattern the precinct has found was that drug addicts have begun breaking into the cars by the co-ops to get cash so they can buy drugs from nearby dealers. Police officers have been tracking the problem and have been making several arrests in the area, he continued.

Also on the docket for the WRBA was how to remove illegally posted signs from the neighborhood.

Board member Alex Blenkinsopp explained that while residents could simply remove the unsightly signs, it does not hold the culprits accountable.

“Unfortunately, just tearing down the sign is not enough. The Sanitation Department has to see the signs to write a summons,” Blenkinsopp said. But if the signs are not taken down immediately as residents wait for Sanitation, the sign posters accomplish their goal of having people pass by them for several days, he said.

The WRBA has been working with local elected officials, and board members hope a new law can be enacted where reporting illegal signs is similar to reporting illegal dumping.

When Sanitation enforcement officers can’t catch illegal dumpers in the act, residents who witnessed the crime can sign affidavits and testify about the crime. Blenkinsopp said a similar arrangement with illegal sign postings would help keep the neighborhood cleaner and punish those who post the signs.

The WRBA will be holding a press conference about clearing the neighborhood of illegal signs on October 29.

By Eric Yun


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