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Quality of life disputed in Bedford Park

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The frustration was palpable at Our Lady of Refuge Church, as residents of Bedford Park, Fordham, Norwood, Kingsbridge Heights and University Heights vented to 52nd Precinct Captain Philip Rivera. Daylight drug deals. Subway scams. Gratuitous graffiti. Rivera swallowed some 20 complaints on Wednesday, October 14 at an emergency public hearing arranged by Community Board 7.

“It feels like…the Wild West up here,” Norwood resident Narani O’Shaughnessy said.

CB7 chair Greg Faulkner and public safety committee chair Andrew Laiosa wanted Rivera to hear what residents had articulated to CB7 at its general board meeting in June: although 52nd Precinct felony crimes are down, there are residual concerns.

The precinct listens, Rivera reported. It has made four prostitution-related arrests in October on or near E. 192nd Street and Davidson Avenue. CB7 alerted the precinct to residents concerns in June. Rivera plans to use a plainclothes strategy on Davidson Avenue as soon as his cops are trained.

O’Shaughnessy wasn’t impressed. She reported dog feces and trash at a parking lot between E. 204th and E. 205th streets on Webster Avenue, and a shootout in the Norwood 205th Street subway station. Two of O’Shaughnessy’s neighbors sell drugs; she rarely sees cops. O’Shaughnessy described a night stalker at the Williamsbridge Oval.

“He was looking for someone to rape,” she said.

CB7 member Helene Hartman reported a “skimmer” scam at the same subway station: a man jams the MetroCard machine and sells swipes. A security camera at the north end of the station, where Hartman has seen an apparently homeless woman, is dilapidated. Rivera said he would alert transit cops. Anthony Rivieccio begged the precinct to help the Parks Department enforce a barbeque ban on Mosholu Parkway.

Assemblyman Nelson Castro reported drug sales on and near E. 183rd Street and the Grand Concourse, where the 46th and 52nd precincts meet; the 52nd Precinct has issued four search warrants on or near E. 183rd Street, three for marijuana sales, Rivera said. Castro plans to lead a march for public safety on E. 183rd Street in November.

Teens play football and sell drugs into the wee hours near Our Lady of Refuge, Monsignor John Jenik said. On Saturday, September 5, cops chased a hundred teens off Bainbridge Avenue but the cops left and the teens returned. Outraged, Jenik sent a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Rivera apologized for September 5. It is the 52nd Precinct’s policy to issue summonses to or arrest the hosts of a wild parties, he said.

“What about the dealers on E. 198th Street?” said Louis Lugo, who works at the church.

The cops are too timid, Lugo declared. 52nd Precinct Community Council president Brenda Caldwell asked Jenik and Lugo not to knock the men in blue but also reported illegal vendors on Jerome Avenue – vendors booted from Fordham Road, Caldwell said. Amy Levine and Carlos Ortiz reported tree concerns, the former disappeared trees on Bainbridge Avenue, the latter felled trees on E. 204th Street. CB7 member John Harris reminded Rivera about the concerns of Bengali homeowners on Grand Avenue, while a Norwood resident and Brooklyn Heights transplant, who asked not to be named, reported a de facto social club in a garage on Bainbridge Avenue. Rivera followed up with residents after the hearing.

“We’re doing a great job [in terms of felony crimes],” Rivera said. “We’re down 14 percent [compared to 2008]. But quality of life issues can lead to crimes, too.”

52nd Precinct Deputy Inspector James Alles has announced that he will retire soon. The cops downtown have yet to appoint a successor, Rivera said.

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