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PARKING MADNESS 2021: Two Precincts Battle for Western Queens Ignominy

12:01 AM EST on March 10, 2021

A battle for the ages.

This is the latest first-round battle in our March (Parking) Madness series (tomorrow, we'll run our Lower Manhattan slugfest). And please remember that voting remains open (until Thursday at 2 p.m.) on Tuesday's first-round battles, one in Upper Manhattan and the other in Central Brooklyn. So without any more ado, here today's reporting — and your ballot below (polls close on Friday at 2 p.m.)!

Let's get ready to grummmmmblllllllleeeee!

The 42nd and the 110th have moved onto their respective borough finals.

Two notorious Queens precincts — the 108th in Long Island City and the 114th in Astoria — battle it out in a quarterfinal matchup that fans have been itching to see for years.

At the 108th, new Captain Lavonda Wise has her troops ready for battle — allowing them to commandeer virtually every last inch of Vernon Boulevard, from Borden up to 50th Avenue!

But don't count out the 114 — where Captain Ray Jenkins, also new to the top job — has done nothing to keep his officers from blocking sidewalks, fire hydrants and curb cuts.

It's a battle for the ages, so let's get to it:

The 108th (Long Island City)

You gotta hand it to the cops at the 50th Avenue station house: There is not a nook, cranny, sidewalk or illegal parking space that they won't repurpose for the storage of their squad cars or their personal vehicles.

The result is a car-filled disaster zone in what could otherwise be a cute, business-friendly, walkable downtown for the old section of Long Island City. Here's what their occupied territory looks like:

The main plaza in Long Island City could be so ... nice. Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

And placard-bearing cars also fill no-parking zones along Jackson Avenue at 51st Avenue, plus both sides of the Vernon Mall. Here's a slideshow of that.

On the day of this Western Queens contest, the precinct block itself was surprisingly quiet, and NYPD-placarded cars even left enough room on the sidewalk for a kid and his dad to walk side-by-side, so perhaps Captain Wise, who took over the 114 in December, 2020, is not the Parking Madness gamer we thought she was.

The 114th (Astoria)

Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to a commanding officer with the guts to not rock the boat! And that commander is Captain Ray Jenkins not cracking down on his officers at all.

In fact, he's made the 114th an odds-on favorite to win the entire Queens bracket.

Where previous visits to the Astoria Boulevard station house revealed plenty of egregious scofflaw behavior, Wise has upped the precinct's game! Sure, the cops park orderly on both 34th and 35th streets on either side of their post, but they  stick it to the elderly, the handicapped and new parents by never leaving enough room for a stroller or wheelchair to pass! Here's a slideshow of what that looks like:

Jenkins's handling of the precinct's greatest parking madness triumph — the 35th Street bridge over the Grand Central Parkway — is where he earns the chef's kiss.

A no-standing zone on both sides — and a shared-route bike lane on the west side, to boot! — Jenkins nonetheless lets his cops park on the sidewalk and into the roadway with no concern at all for safety! That's a real leader who knows how to motivate his officers. Here's a slideshow of what that looks like:

And believe it or not, Wise has inspired her officers by making even more illegal parking available to them. Check out how some officers even deployed a big orange plastic barrel to give the appearance of legality to their commandeering of three illegal spaces beyond the corner:

That cone! Photo: Gersh Kuntzman

And you gotta love the moxie and gumption of officers who double-park against the perpendicularly parked cop cars to force cyclists into speeding traffic. This squad's got all five tools!

Make that six!

There's a fire hydrant behind the mailbox.

They even illegally park junked cars (presumably for "investigation") in front of the station house and in front of a hydrant. It's bad enough that taxpaying neighbors have to deal with the precinct's trash, but imagine if your son or daughter had been struck by the driver of one of those cars — and then you have to see that every day as you walk home? These cops are incredible!

Update: An original version of this story swapped the indentities of the COs after the correct first reference. It has been corrected throughout. Thanks.

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