By Madina Toure
The Bowne House Flushing is calling on the city Parks Department and other city agencies to address the growing homeless population and the drinking and drug activities in the adjacent Weeping Beech Park.
An officer on the board of directors of the Bowne House Historical Society said the homelessness and accompanying problems at night have been occurring during the last year in the park, located 143-20 37th Ave.
This has had an adverse effect on the Bowne House, whose property has been littered with liquor bottles thrown over the fence and debris, she said.
She has been reaching out to social service agencies to assist the homeless people and has notified the police of the criminal activities.
“They (Parks) said they come twice a day, but it’s not adequate,” she said. “You’re dealing with essentially a very small space that’s heavily utilized by people in the neighborhood and other groups.”
South Korean native Linda Kwon, 50, has been living in the park for the past month with her husband, her 30-year-old daughter and their dog since they lost their home nearby. She moved to the park because people kept stealing her bags when she stayed across the street.
She said that someone from the Bowne House was spraying water on the benches to send homeless people away, taking pictures of her against her will and even calling the police.
She said there are many homeless people like her who stay in the park because they have no other place to go.
“Now I don’t have money for apartment,” Kwon said. “So I want people to help me. I need a house.”
The Bowne House officer said she has spoken with Kwon, whom she described as a nice woman, and said the water spraying on the bench was meant for the plants.
The city Department of Homeless Services said it has identified Kwon’s family and that an outreach team is working to get them to accept services. The agency is trying to get the family to come into the Adult Family Intake Center and is working with faith leaders to keep the members together.
A Parks spokeswoman said Common Ground, a nonprofit that helps homeless people move into supportive housing, has been providing outreach and helping to assist the homeless people in the park. The agency has also been coordinating efforts with the NYPD and has hosted a number of volunteer cleanup days at the park.
The agency’s Park Enforcement Patrol and maintenance divisions have also been monitoring and maintaining the park regularly, she said.
Anyone found drinking or doing drugs in the park at any time can be given a summons, removed from the park or arrested, the Parks spokeswoman said. Anyone within the park after hours would be removed from the space.
The Bowne House officer said she suggested moving the benches away from the fence and putting them on the central path, while the agency recommended putting lights along that fence to deter criminal activity.
State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) said she has not received complaints, but she plans to speak with the community affairs people in the 109th Precinct.
“They (Homeless) must prefer it to a shelter, which tells us something about the shelter system,” she said.
A spokesman for City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) said his office is working with DHS and nonprofits, such as the Jesus Love House Mission in Flushing. He also said the 109th Precinct has been cracking down on some of the drug activity in the park.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour