Queens councilman calls for Astoria Park enforcement patrol after weekend footage reveals lack of social distancing

Courtesy of Constantinides’ office

Councilman Costa Constantinides is calling on the Parks Department to boost up the Parks Enforcement Patrol (PEP) around the Astoria Park running track this weekend, after constituents sent him footage of dozens of people gathered there last weekend.

“We saw far too many clusters of people at the Astoria Park running track last weekend when we should be exercising a safe distance from one another,” Constantinides said. “As we head into another weekend, we need Parks to ensure too many people aren’t using our exercise facilities at once.”

Constantinides, who represents Council District 22 which includes his native Astoria and parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights, is also asking the Department of Transportation (DOT) to assess whether it can close off Shore Boulevard — the western border of Astoria Park — to allow for more space to keep pedestrians even further apart.

He added that any study would need to assess the needs of emergency vehicles who might need the street to get to Mount Sinai Queens, located on 25-10 30th Ave.

“The DOT must assess whether it can close Shore Boulevard off to non-emergency vehicles to promote social distancing,” Constantinides said.

The city recently announced that the NYPD and PEP officers would increase enforcement on social distancing in public spaces. In a press conference on March 25, Mayor Bill de Blasio said they will be removing 80 basketball hoops in Brooklyn because people were still gathering to play the team sport.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also urged park-goes to avoid all contact sports and crowds.

Health officials have asked New Yorkers to stay at home as much as possible, but if they must go outside to keep a safe six feet distance from others. For those who need to exercise outside, they should do so alone.

Constantinides is now arguing that Astoria Park’s running track, which was recently renovated, should be a top priority to curb the spread of COVID-19 in western Queens.

As of March 25, Queens has the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 of any borough, with 6,420 positive cases.

This weekend, the city will begin a pilot to ban cars from some New York City streets to give pedestrians more walking space, according to New York Daily News. In Queens, 34th Avenue from 73rd Street to 80th Street in Jackson Heights will be closed to cars and other vehicles, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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