By Joe Anuta
Smashed cars that were taken from accident scenes around the borough used to end up on the roads in Maspeth — until the NYPD stepped in.
Over March and April, officers from the 104th Precinct wrote a total of 86 tickets to American Collision, a towing company at 60-05 Flushing Ave., according to police.
“American Collision has been a problem on Flushing for a long time,” said a triumphant Robert Holden at a Community Board 5 meeting earlier this month. “They didn’t have enough space.”
The company would store crashed cars, many without license plates, along the streets near its property, which meant less parking spaces for residents who lived nearby.
But neighbors will have an easier time finding a spot now.
In addition to writing the tickets, the NYPD towed away five vehicles from near the property, including one of American Collision’s tow trucks that was parked without a license plate, police said.
“I’m pro-business, but you also have to go by what’s good for the residents,” said activist Tony Nunziato, who campaigned for the crackdown. “If that is the way to teach them to be a good neighbor, then I’m happy. But I’d be happier if they just ran a good company.”
But the tickets will not exclude the city from doing business with American Collision. The company is part of the Rotation Towing Program, run by the city Department of Consumer Affairs.
Whenever a car is in an accident and cannot leave the scene because it is damaged, the city consults a list of towing companies that participate in the program and picks the next in line.
And according to Holden, the company should be kicked off the lists if it continutes using city streets as storage space.
“They’re utilizing a very lucrative city program,” Holden said. “They should not be putting these wrecked cars on our streets. It should not be used as their personal junkyard.”
The slew of tickets came years after the first complaints from Maspeth residents.
Last month, the city Sanitation Department, which is responsible for issuing summonses for cars parked without license plates, went out to inspect the property at the request of Holden and other members of the community.
According to Matthew Lipani, a spokesman for the department, no illegally parked cars were found.
But days afterward, Holden revisited the site and documented several instances of the illegally parked cars.
The NYPD apparently also noticed some malfeasance.
The victory for the residents of Maspeth — where parking spaces are a treasured commodity and traffic issues are paramount — came at roughly the same time the state and city cracked down on trucks travelling down Grand and Flushing avenues.
The avenues were recently redesignated for local traffic only, and the 104th Precinct, NYPD Traffic Enforcement, Highway Patrol and the state Department of Transportation set up a traffic stop for oversize trucks that travel down Grand and Flushing avenues.
The agencies weighed, measured and checked brakes and recorded where the trucks were going. In total, they issued 70 summonses and towed away five vehicles for various offenses, including driving along the local-only avenues and operating a tractor trailer that is longer than the 55-foot limit.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.