Hamilton Beach residents look for agency responsible for graffiti cleanup

Graffiti-scarred boulders are shown adjacent to the southbound A train tracks in Hamilton Beach.
Photos courtesy of Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder

Boulders in Hamilton Beach have been plagued with graffiti for too long, and now residents want something done about it.

The tag-filled rocks are adjacent to the A line on the Jamaica Bay shoreline, thus making it visible to visitors and anyone traveling through the area. Though most everyone in the community agrees that the vandalism is an eyesore, the boulders’ location gave rise to a question of which government agency is responsible for its maintenance.

The rocks lie on the shore of Jamaica Bay, which is part of the Gateway National Recreational Area and under the purview of the National Park Service (NPS). Some have claimed, however, that the MTA shares responsibility since the boulders abut the A line, while others claim the Parks Department or the Port Authority — which operates nearby John F. Kennedy Airport — are responsible for the rocks.

Because the responsibility issue is unclear, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder recently wrote to all four and called not only for someone to clarify who owns the rocks, but also to quickly step up and remove the graffiti from them. He also met with Hamilton Beach residents and representatives of the four agencies to discuss a possible action plan.

“As a father of two young children, I would not want my children or anyone else’s children to see the kind of deplorable graffiti sprayed on these rocks,” Goldfeder said in a press release issued last week. “Families in Hamilton Beach deserve to have a park they can be proud of. It’s time these agencies come together to resolve the question of who owns this property and who is responsible for cleaning it up.”

The NPS responded to Goldfeder’s letter claiming that it did not own the rocks, providing to his office as evidence maps showing that the Gateway property line did not include the area where the boulders are located. However, a source familiar with the situation told The Courier Monday that the rocks do lie within Gateway since the boulders touch the bay.

Goldfeder and other local residents also want increased security measures at the location because trespassers are able to pass through a small space under the A train tracks to reach a vacant marsh between the tracks and Kennedy Airport.

Daphne Yun, an NPS spokesperson, maintained that the boulders are not located on NPS property, but that staff members at Gateway were aware of community concerns and looking to help address the situation.

“The United States Park Police (USPP) has increased patrols and time spent at Hamilton Beach to include vehicle, foot and boat patrols,” Yun wrote in an email to The Courier on Tuesday. “The USPP has also reached out to the MTA’s law enforcement division as well as the NYPD’s 106th Precinct to discuss mutual security concerns.”



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