The Queens Borough Cabinet and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards spoke with Anthony Iuliano, deputy commissioner of operations of the mayor’s Community Affairs Unit (CAU), mainly discussing the issue of illegally parked trucks throughout the borough.
According to Iuliano, the CAU intends to create a task force to assist in addressing the issue of trucks illegally parking in lots overnight. With so many community board members sharing this concern, Iuliano and fellow CAU member Ido Shargal viewed this as something for the CAU to prioritize.
“Our job is to build a relationship with other community boards, community leaders and community members,” Shargal said. “Partnering with communities is very crucial to moving things forward.”
The community board members expressed concern that trying to get the trucks towed away hasn’t been successful in preventing these illegal overnight parking. This is due in large part to the fact the NYPD only has control over seven citywide tow trucks.
Iuliano and the board discussed the possibility of having the police put boots on the vehicles rather than tow them away, as this would help allow them to address the issue in a timely manner rather than being unable to do anything until one of the trucks becomes available. Another proposal brought up by Borough President Richards was asking the NYPD to use $1 to $2 million of their budget on one or two extra tow trucks devoted exclusively to the borough of Queens.
While some board members expressed concern about thinning out the manpower of their local precincts by having them try to deal with these issues in the evenings, Iuliano pointed out that the NYPD has a traffic enforcement division that should be able to assist in this issue. The possibility of trying to expand the manpower of the overnight division, referred to as the “Nighthawks,” was brought up.
Additionally, Marco Carrión, Jessica Flores and Carl Monzo went over some of the details about the upcoming “Let’s Get FR.EE” festival at Flushing Meadows Corona Park from Aug. 19-21. Carrión is is an adviser for the festival while Flores is the director of community engagement and Monzo is the executive director.
Some of the topics covered concerning the upcoming Let’s Get FR.EE festival included some of the scheduled performers, safety and security, transportation and community engagement. Additionally, they revealed plans for a soccer tournament at one of the nearby fields at Flushing Meadows Park, with plans of bringing in professional athletes to appear at that event.
“The main mission of the festival is to accelerate diversity and bridge the equity gap for Black, brown, Asian and LGBTQ+ people across all levels of the entertainment industry,” Monzo said. “It aims to empower the advancement of the next generation of free thinkers, activists and innovators.”
Friday, Aug. 19, will be the opening ceremonies of the festival, with the expectation of a crowd of up to 2,000. The performers for that date weren’t announced. Performers for Aug. 20 will include Missy Elliot, Wizkid, Jhene Aiko, Aluna and Major Lazer. On Aug. 21, performers will include Ozuna, Anderson Paak, Kali Uchis, Jai Wolf and Bomba Estero. Attendance for each of the last two days is expected to be as high as 45,000.
There will be a command center set up at Queens Theater to help oversee the event, with 24 security cameras expected to be set up at the venue. Up to 450 security workers will be on hand at the event, courtesy of at least seven security companies. ParaDocs will be on hand to provide medical assistance. There will be one main medical area there, as well as four satellite tents and five ambulances will also be on site in case of emergencies.
While the event organizers hope to make the Citi Field parking lots available for attendees, there is a chance that Citi Field may be hosting another event at the time and force Let’s Get FR.EE festival attendees to park elsewhere. For that reason, they encourage attendees to take the Long Island Rail Road, subway or buses to the park.
The festival organizers stressed the importance of making the people and businesses of the borough of Queens feel represented. Queens residents will get big ticket discounts at access points. While the cost for the public at access points is $249, Queens residents would only need to pay $49. The organizers are also calling upon local businesses in the borough to take part in the festival. They’re bringing in local food and craft vendors as well as local artists.