A strip of parkland next to the Bruckner Expressway in Pelham Bay that used to be a great resource has fallen on hard times. The community wants it spruced up.
Community Board 10 passed a resolution on Thursday, March 19 to remove benches in a small park on Bruckner Boulevard and Buhre Avenue, to combat a homeless issue in the park. The park sits next to the Buhre Avenue pedestrian bridge leading to Pelham Bay Park.
There are also major concerns about the iron fence surrounding the grassy area, because over the years cars have smashed into it. However, worries about homeless in the park are the chief concern of those who live nearby.
“I spoke to homeless services and they said that there are only certain reasons people can be taken off the street,” said Mary Jane Musano, a CB 10 board member, of general homeless issues in small parks along the Bruckner Expressway. “I think they need to start to take some of the homeless off of the street. Allowing them to stay there is not helping us or the community.”
Community Board 10’s request comes on the heals of work by Councilman Jimmy Vacca who asked the Department of Parks and Recreation to look into the matter. According to a Vacca spokesman, Parks has agreed to take out the benches, which the councilman supports.
Dog walkers who do not pick up after their four-legged friends is a big issue, too.
“A lot of people walk their dogs there, and they are not picking up after them,” said Frank Tranchese, vice-president of Pelham Bay Taxpayers. “I guess maybe that is why it is not used as much. It could be a nice place just to relax and sit in the shade. When you start having the stink from dog waste, you don’t want to go there.”
Indeed, the patch of green known as Miele Park, has become a dumping ground of sorts for dog-walkers over the past few years.
After there was an uproar several years ago about dog-walkers who did not clean up after their pets, some retaliated. They hung plastic bags of animal waste on the wrought-iron fence surrounding the park in retaliation.
Despite vagrancy in the area, some feel that the bench removal will not solve the problem. A homeless person has also been observed sleeping under the pedestrian bridge next to the park.
“I don’t think that bench removal will make much of a difference,” Musano said. “We always can get the benches taken away, but getting things like benches for the neighborhood is always difficult.”