Queens Councilman Robert Holden met with local law enforcement April 25 imploring them to crack down on noise violations after a surge of constituent made 311 complaints about auto enthusiasts blasting music in the nearby Forest Park (Seuffert) Bandshell in two closely timed incidents.
In the lead-up to the meeting, Holden made a series of Facebook posts about the issue that raised strong emotions among residents. While many of the hundreds of commenters, expressed full-throated appreciation for Holden’s aggressive measures, members of the auto community pushed back. They were skeptical that aspects of Holden’s hardline approach would be effective.
“So far, the precincts are discussing increased patrols in the problem areas, checkpoints near the park entrances, arresting and confiscating ATVs and dirt bikes, potentially confiscating speakers and amplifiers and enforcing noise code laws,” said Holden’s spokesperson after the meeting with officers from the 102nd Precinct, the 104th Precinct, 110th Precinct and Parks Department.
The spokesperson said that Parks Department is also looking into installing bollards or other barriers to restrict vehicles from entering the parking lots after hours.
Holden released a statement, making a similar call to action against noisy ATVs in Highland Park back in March, warning that these incidents are only going to increase as the weather gets warmer.
On April 21, when his staffer Daniel Kurzyna heard amplified music blasting from the Forest Park bandshell, Holden’s office was ready. They called the 102nd Precinct and sent multiple squad cars to the parking lot, followed by Kurzyna to monitor the scene.
Two days later, on April 23, Holden made another Facebook post about stopping a group of auto enthusiasts who gather in the park to show off their cars and play loud music, this time commending the 102nd Precinct on creating a strategy to effectively stop the noise pollution.
Reaction to both posts turned contentious.
In Holden’s April 21 post, he referred to the group as “thugs,” language he later edited out. When some constituents questioned his wording, Kurzyna, who was there at the park, defended it, saying that group cursed at the police, “stuck their fingers out” and played music with gunshot sounds as they left the park.
In response to the second post, Justin Gonzalez, a former Forest Hills resident and leader of the 2 Exclusive Auto Club, stuck up for auto enthusiasts, unlike the ones at the park in Saturday, who try to use the park in accordance with the rules.
Gonzalez told QNS that he was not present at either of the incidents, but he thinks more communication between local precincts and the auto clubs would be mutually beneficial.
He said that tickets are not going to stop auto enthusiasts from showing off their audio systems, on which they can spend anywhere between $25,000 to $30,000.
“That’s just another ticket that’s going to be collected,” Gonzalez. “They’ll pay it off and they’ll be right back there the next day.”
In the ZIP codes within Council District 30, there have been 2,182 vehicle music complaints filed in the 311 system since 2010. According to Holden’s office, just 22 of those complaints — or 1 percent — have resulted in a summons. The fine for violating the noise code is $250. He is encouraging stricter enforcement.
Gonzalez said that he works with members of the 83rd Precinct in Bushwick when he organizes some of his club’s events. He suggested that when police work with established auto clubs, it provides them with in-roads to the more disorderly street teams that he believed to be responsible for the incident on Saturday. When there’s a noise violation, the officers can reach out to members of the club who can help keep other groups in line.
“Playing music at loud decibel levels at 2 a.m. is illegal. Period. When people’s homes are vibrating and you can hear the music all the way in Middle Village, there’s a problem,” wrote Holden in the comments of his Facebook post. “If they had hung out at the park playing music at a respectful level there wouldn’t be a problem.”
On this point, Gonzalez said he agreed 100 percent. He thinks music should be cut off at 9 p.m. when parks close. “I work at four o’clock in the morning so I don’t want to be up at two because of the music.”