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Astoria park plagued with drug paraphernalia and used condoms will now be locked at night

Photo courtesy of Councilman Costa Constantinides

An Astoria park long known for being a nighttime hangout spot will now be locked every night to discourage trespassers.

Councilman Costa Constantinides, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas and state Senator Michael Gianaris announced on Monday that Park Enforcement Patrol (PEP) officers would now lock the gates of Sean’s Place every night and open them every morning.

Though the park closes at 9 p.m., the gates were not locked. Parents would find everything from broken beer bottles to condoms and crack pipes in the park, located at 38th Street between 31st Avenue and Broadway.

In March, Constantinides wrote a letter to the Parks Department explaining the issue and asking Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski to lock the gates every night. Though the 114th Precinct does regular patrols, they could not be expected to stand guard at the park for 12 hours every night.

“Despite the best efforts of all involved, this problem cannot be solved only with more patrols and parks cleaning staff,” Constanidies said in the letter. “It is clear that we need a more viable solution.”

The community has experienced these problems as far back as 2012 and Constantinides said he will propose a bill requiring every gated playground to be locked by the Parks Department.

“After years of advocacy and cooperation between the Parks Department, the NYPD and the community, I am happy that we were able to come to this solution,” Constantinades said. “This policy will greatly improve the park-going experience for families and benefit our neighborhood’s vital green space.”

Local parent Jenn Schulte told CBS2 news last month that her friend’s 2-year-old daughter found a crack pipe on the floor of the park and put it in her mouth.

Schulte, a mother of a 2-year-old and member of Friends of Sean’s Place, said she is very thankful that the park will now be locked.

“Our kids deserve a safe, clean place to play,” she said. “We are so grateful and relieved to know that our Councilman Constantinides and now the Parks Department support us in this endeavor. Locking the gates at night is the first step and we are all very hopeful.”

 

Photo courtesy of Parks Department
Photo courtesy of Parks Department

 

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