Maspeth, Elmhurst, Woodside Quiet: Cops
Low crime figures for areas of Elmhurst, Maspeth and Woodside were reported by police officials from the 104th, 108th and 110th precincts during a meeting of the Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET) last Monday night, Oct. 1.
The first to report to the crowd at the Bethzatha Church of God in Elmhurst was Capt. Gregory Santana, executive officer of the 110th Precinct, who informed attendees that two robberies, eight burglaries and four grand larcenies had occurred over the previous 28-day period in Elmhurst sectors within the area dubbed by some as “COMET-land.”
Burglaries have been the most problematic crime for the 110th Precinct, Santana said. Even so, he noted that police recently made an arrest of a suspect who was caught trying to break into several homes around Elmhurst.
As previously reported in last week’s Times Newsweekly, the perpetrator- identified as Woodside’s Juan Cuervo-was collared on Sept. 28 in the vicinity of 84th Street and 57th Avenue by members of the NYPD Patrol Borough Queens North Burglary Larceny Apprehension Suppression Team (BLAST). He was booked on multiple counts of seconddegree burglary.
“We hope that will stop the pattern there,” added P.O. David Saponeri of the 110th Precinct Community Affairs Unit.
A resident living close to where the Sept. 28 burglary arrest was made informed the captain that numerous individuals have been observed smoking marijuana there on a regular basis. As proof, the resident brought forth several small, empty plastic bags-which purportedly contained pot previously-that were left behind on the block.
“These are the guys that are doing the break-ins,” the neighbor told police. Santana said that the precinct would investigate the situation.
The same resident also claimed that graffiti has spiked around Elmhurst, with tags painted on locations all around the neighborhood. The homeowner charged that there are more instances of vandalism in the neighborhood than in the South Bronx.
Santana stated that the 110th Precinct regularly pursues and arrests graffiti vandals and has participated in community cleanups. Capt. John Travaglia, executive officer of the 104th Precinct, supported Santana by stating that both commands work closely together on anti-graffiti operations.
COMET President Rosemarie Daraio suggested that the civic group and police, along with the Young Governors of the New Life Community Development Corporation, organize a graffiti cleanup in Elmhurst.
Turning to areas of Maspeth and Woodside patrolled by the 108th Precinct, Capt. Donald Powers-the force’s commanding officer-reported that just two burglaries and two robberies took place in the area during the previous four weeks.
“We’re going in the right direction,” Powers said of the recent crime drop around the precinct.
He added that the command, along with numerous city agencies, recently conducted a MARCH (Multi-Agency Response to Community Hotspots) operation at a livery cab base located in the vicinity of 48th Avenue and 70th Street, near St. Mary’s Church. Over $100,000 in summonses were issued to the operator for violations found at the location, he added.
Travaglia followed with a crime report for the Maspeth area patrolled by the 104th Precinct in which no burglaries were tallied over the last 28 days. A total of five crimes occurred in the sector (three grand larcenies, two auto thefts) since Sept. 10.
Daraio remarked that it was the first time she could recall a period in which there were no break-ins reported within that area.
The executive officer added that the command is continuing truck enforcement around Maspeth, issuing tickets to and, in some instances, towing away rigs which are found operating illegally on or off truck routes.
Year-to-date, the 104th Precinct has issued 282 truck route violations, but Travaglia stated that “it’s a monumental task.” He observed that many truckers, realizing the increased enforcement in the 104th Precinct area, have changed their routes and travel hours in order to avoid encountering police officers.
COMET has provided testimony to the city in opposition to the use of land at Flushing Meadows Corona Park to develop a new soccer stadium, an expanded Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and a shopping center adjacent to Citi Field, Daraio informed attendees.
She stated that Christina Wilkinson delivered remarks on behalf of the civic organization at a public hearing regarding the three proposed projects. The organization believes that the ideas go “beyond the scope” of previous development recommendations by the Downtown Flushing Task Force, according to Daraio, and that the community cannot afford the loss of any park land.
“Community Board 4 is way underutilized for parkland,” she added. “We don’t have enough parkland to compensate for the people already living here.”
Traffic issues near the newlyopened Maspeth High School were raised by COMET members during a recent meeting with the school’s principal, the civic president noted. Among those who attended were Daraio, Michael Harte and Joann Berger, the group’s new Education Committee chairperson.
Berger stated that the city needs to better accommodate small school buses which drop of special education students at the school’s District 75 program along 57th Avenue. Daraio pointed out that many of these students are autistic “runners” who have a tendency to run spontaneously.
However, buses are dropping off the District 75 students away from the curb on many days, Daraio noted. The organization is pressing the city to institute rules allowing for the buses to pull up to the school and allow the students to exit on the sidewalk.
“If they have to be bussed in, they should be let off at the curb and not in the middle of the street,” she said.
The next COMET meeting is scheduled to take place on Monday night, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. at Bethzatha Church of God, located at 85-24 57th Ave. in Elmhurst. For more information, visit www.cometcivic.com.