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Illegally-Parked and Abandoned Cars Plague Queensbridge Houses, Greenway

12:07 PM EDT on September 2, 2016

NYC Parks said it is aware that this segment of the Queensbridge Park Greenway has become a haven for illegal parking. Photo: David Meyer
The Parks Department knows the Queensbridge Park Greenway has become a haven for illegal parking, but drivers continue to park there. Photo: David Meyer

A bicycle and pedestrian greenway that connects protected bike paths on the waterfront to Queens Plaza and Queens Boulevard has become a parking lot, with private and government-placarded cars lining its southern curb for months.

The Parks Department knows about the vehicles parked in the path and “has been ticketing when they are observed,” according agency spokesperson Meghan Lalor. But that hasn't deterred people from leaving their cars on the greenway.

The greenway, which is technically part of Queensbridge Park, runs for two blocks from Vernon Boulevard at the East River waterfront to 21st Street, between NYCHA’s Queensbridge Houses and the Queensboro Bridge.

On Vernon Boulevard, motorists continue to park illegally under the bridge, blocking pedestrian access to the sidewalk on the west side of the street. Streetsblog reported last October that Con Edison employees were parking their personal cars there while making repairs to the bridge.

I visited the location twice this week and found the greenway filled with parked cars. Some of them had Parks Department placards. In others, drivers displayed orange safety vests (at least one had the word "contractor" on it). Some of the cars had out of state plates.

“[It’s] a new phenomenon. Cars were not parking there until a few months ago,” said Ray Normandeau, a longtime Queensbridge resident. “We’ve seen people park a car, then walk to the subway.”

Around the corner, on Vernon Boulevard, illegally-parked cars continue to force pedestrians into oncoming traffic. Photo: Ray Normandeau
Cars on the sidewalk force people into traffic on Vernon Boulevard. Photo: Ray Normandeau

Before drivers started parking there, Normandeau said, there were concrete Jersey barriers along the south side of the greenway. “The cars are worse,” he said. “The Jersey barriers were a bit easier to walk around.”

While Normandeau does not own a car, he said his neighbors who have cars pay to park in NYCHA-owned lots adjacent to the path.

The Vernon Boulevard sidewalk is most often obstructed at night and on weekends, Normandeau said, which he attributes to people attending events at a nearby hotel.

I found eight cars taking up most of the Vernon Boulevard sidewalk on the north side of the Queensboro Bridge. Some were apparently dumped there -- all but three had expired registrations. At least two of the vehicles with current registrations had some form of NYPD identification on display.

Vernon Boulevard, with Queensboro Bridge at right, is lined with illegally-parked cars, some of them apparently abandoned. Photo: David Meyer
Vernon Boulevard, with Queensboro Bridge at right, is lined with illegally-parked cars, some with expired regisrations. Abandoned vehicles are a problem in the area. Photo: David Meyer

Lalor said abandoned cars are an issue in the area, and Parks can't keep up with removing the ones left in areas that are under the department's jurisdiction. “They are very often replaced,” he said.

Normandeau has been trying to get illegally-parked cars ticketed for years, and keeps an online collection of photos dating from 2014. He said the 108th and 114th precincts, whose shared border runs along the bridge, refuse to take responsibility.

“I’ve given pictures to officers of the 108th," he said. "For the 114th [I gave them to officers] higher up the chain. No one has come out and said 'It’s our jurisdiction.'”

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