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183rd Street merchants plan to retake street

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There is a street where two precincts stop, where drug dealers deal and prostitutes stalk, a street so unfriendly to business that McDonald’s closed up shop.

On Tuesday, October 13, at W. 183rd Street and Grand Avenue, someone used a silenced gun to commit murder; it was the latest in a series of vicious crimes on W. 183rd Street, Assemblyman Nelson Castro said. He and members of the new 183rd Street Merchants Association are determined to better the neighborhood. The police department hadn’t confirmed the October 13 murder as of deadline.

“This neighborhood has been disenfranchised and disconnect­ed,” Castro said. “We want that to end. We want to clean up the street.”

The assemblyman has appropriated $8,000 for new garbage bins on W. 183rd and plans to obtain new or repaired street lamps; W. 183rd averages only one operable street lamp per block between Jerome and University avenues, Castro said.

The 46th Precinct is responsible for the south side of W. 183rd Street, the 52nd Precinct for the north side.

Jose Frias, 38, owns Bravo Supermarket on W. 183rd at Aqueduct Avenue and belongs to the new merchants association. He spends 12 hours a day in the neighborhood and has worked on W. 183rd Street for 16 years.

The merchants association hopes to push for sidewalk repairs and will appeal to the Department of Sanitation for more attention; there is litter everywhere, Frias said. The deterioration of W. 183rd Street has hurt Frias’ business.

“We need the city to know that we’re here,” he said. “We pay taxes. We a want working people to be able to walk down the street.”

Aside from Bravo Supermarket, W. 183rd Street is home to delis, clothes stores, discount stores, Laundromats and barbers. Castro describes it as a “vibrant street that has potential to do better.”

The assemblyman, elected in 2008 amid charges of voter fraud, met with Deputy Inspector Kevin Harrington of the 46th Precinct and reached out to but failed to gain an audience with 52nd Precinct Deputy Inspector James Alles, who retired this month.

Castro wants to keep tabs on crime and has requested security cameras for W. 183rd Street. A camera installed at E. 183rd Street and Walton Avenue in 2008 helped, Castro said. The assemblyman plans to lead a march down W. 183rd in November, he added.

“I want to claim the streets,” Castro said.

The assemblyman hopes to involve Senator Pedro Espada, 14th Council District Democrat candidate Fernando Cabrera and Community Board 5. Frias has seen more police officers on Fordham Road than on W. 183rd Street, he said. The 52nd Precinct had an impact squad of additional police officers on Fordham Road until the summer, when the squad shifted to the south Bronx. Frias thanked Castro and 46th Precinct.

The 52nd Precinct has issued a number of drug-related search warrants thanks to renewed focus on W. 183rd Street, temporary Deputy Inspector Philip Rivera said.

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