By Howard Koplowitz
The president of a Queens Village civic association said a wooded area between the Grand Central Parkway and Stronghurst Avenue is being treated like a garbage dump — and the trash has sat there for five years.
Kathi Papa, president of the Bell Park Manor Terrace Community Council, said she was told recently that the city Parks Department, not the city Department of Transportation, is responsible for clearing the garbage. But the agency has not removed it.
“It’s been here for five years,” Papa said Friday as a reporter toured the area littered with dozens of garbage bags.
“They bagged everything, left it here,” she said, referring to the DOT workers. “The pattern is they come in with one group of guys, bag it and then a second group of guys takes it away.”
But she said it has been five years since a crew disposed of the most recent trash.
“That’s a lot of garbage to forget about,” Papa said.
The civic president said she called City Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) about the problem last week and that he told her the Parks Department is responsible for the garbage removal.
“I’ve never seen the Parks Department over here,” Papa said.
About a month ago, Papa said, a homeless man settled in the area, ripping up some of the trash bags and living off its contents, including making a canopy for himself.
“He took it apart and made himself quite comfortable over here. He gets up in the morning and takes his walk,” Papa said, noting a 105th Precinct patrol car watched the man one day. “He was just kind of walking around in the area.”
Papa said aï»¿ 311 operator told her it the city was ï»¿“aware” of the homeless man — a middle-aged man who wears a black leather jacket and a black hooded sweatshirt and wakes up at 7:30 a.m for his daily walk.
“He can look in everybody’s windows. He can see what’s going on,” Papa said. “It’s just weird.”
Papa said she was also concerned about a branch jutting out of a fence on Stronghurst Avenue that cars can hit if they are not careful getting off the Grand Central Parkway.
“That could be a scary thing,” she said.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4573.