By Juan Soto
Some College Point neighbors have had it with several commercial businesses that took over a street by using the sidewalk to pile up construction materials and debris.
Neighbors said the situation had become dangerous and complained that parts of the sidewalk were now off-limits to them because of all the heavy material, including metal beams and pallets, lined up on the street.
“I’ve lived here for over 40 years,” said Jim Singletary, leader of the 28th Avenue Block Association. “We have a right to use the sidewalks and the streets in our neighborhood. These businesses have taken that away from us.”
Singletary was referring to some commercial companies located along 124th Street and 28th Avenue.
Their complaints reached state Sen. Tony Avellas’s (D-Bayside) office.
The senator said he also noticed the illegal activity during this year’s Memorial Day Parade. Avella wants the city to take action against the businesses.
Avella pointed out that only the Department of Sanitation “had bothered to investigate and issue summons.”
But residents and the senator want more to be done.
“While I appreciate the Department of Sanitation’s response, clearly a few summons is not enough to resolve this problem,” Avella said. “Whatever sidewalk was here was completely destroyed and construction material and trash have taken over, leaving dangerous, unsanitary and unsightly conditions.”
Avella said he contacted more city agencies, but only the Department of Sanitation took action.
While residents and Avella were on the scene, Department of Sanitation agents issued additional summonses to some of the commercial businesses.
“That’s great that they are taking affirmative action,” Avella said. “But the businesses representatives acknowledged that for these owners, fines are just the cost of doing business.”
The Democratic senator asked other city agencies “to take a real next step and seize materials and debris that these businesses have deposited here,” referring to the construction materials piled up on the sidewalk in College Point.
“We had three near-accidents here in the last year,” Singletary said. “We’ve been fighting this since 2011.”
Avella pointed out, “it’s the residents that are forced to suffer. They have to see this every day, their children play in this area.”
In response to the situation, the senator added, “they only thing that will make these businesses see the light of day is for the agencies to take action.”
Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.