Eastchester Gardens eyes eyes

Residents at Eastchester Gardens are eyeing some security cameras in this year’s city budget.
Photo by Ben Kochman

By Ben Kochman

Residents at this crime-prone northeast Bronx housing project are eyeing some eyes – and doors that lock.

Eastchester Gardens residents are crossing their fingers that the city will fund a multi-million dollar security system they say is far overdue.

The project – where numerous people have been killed in gunfire over the last decade – is lobbying local elected officials to find city funding for security cameras and a revamped door entry system called “layered access.”

“With all of the random shootings, people are afraid to walk in and out of their homes,” said Keith Ramsey, head of the Eastchester Gardens Tenant Association.

Doors don’t lock

Any security boost will please residents who have long griped that intruders can enter any of the site’s buildngs simply by pressing hard on any of the doors.

“I think the doors came before the building. They’re no good,” said Arthur Milton, a long-time resident. “If anyone ever wants to get in, all they have to do is kick the door.”

Another resident, who asked not to be named, said she often sees “strange faces” in the hallways.

“The wrong people get in there, “ she said. “I don’t know where they are going, but someone is letting them in.”

Crime-ridden spot

The so-called “layer access” system would include electronic door locks and intercoms. Residents would be given electronic fobs instead of keys.

The site has proven deadly in the recent past. On October 5, 2013, a 22-year-old was shot and killed there.

Ramsey said that fear of crime is so bad that the tenants association has added an extra monthly meeting during the day, since senior citizens refused to attend the night meetings.

“We couldn’t convince people to leave their homes,” he said.

Budget squeeze?

Mayor de Blasio allotted $70 million for NYCHA improvements in his executive budget proposal, released Thursday, May 8.

Eastchester Gardens has some big allies as the Mayor and City Council create the final budget for 2015, due July 1.

“I have been the City’s most forceful voice for a citywide capital investment in the safety of NYCHA residents,” said Bronx Councilmember Ritchie Torres, chair of the committee on public housing. “ The outrage among the tenants of Eastchester Gardens is a reminder of why that investment is both wanted by the residents and needed for their safety.”

Ramsey said he’s been told that both Councilman Andy King, whose district covers Eastchester Gardens, and Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. are looking at ways to fund the security upgrades.

“We believe that we are going to get it,” he said, “and we believe it’s going to be successful.”

Reach Reporter Ben Kochman at (718) 742–3394. E-mail him at bkochman@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @benkochman.

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