Plagued with rowdy kids, an east Bronx library recently declined having the city install a bench outside the branch, asking instead for bike racks.
The Department of Transportation offered in April to place a bench in front of the Morris Park Library, but the branch manager requested they place the bench elsewhere, citing the crowds of kids that congregate in front of the library in the afternoon.
Branch manager Dawn Holloway said she reached out before refusing the bench, and community leaders as well as the 49th Precinct agreed that a bench would only encourage kids to loiter.
Tony Signorile, president of the Morris Park Community Association, said he felt strongly that a bench at that location was not good for the community.
“It’s already a hangout for kids who come after school,” said Signorile. “Imagine if we put a bench there. They’d never go home.”
Community Board 11 District Manager Jeremy Warneke said he’s constantly hearing complaints about the kids, who play basketball and get into fights.
“They’re rowdy, they’re loud, and they’re disrespectful,” he said.
Holloway said her concern is for the kids’ safety, since there is a lack of supervision outside her doors.
“I can make sure kids are safe inside,” said Holloway. “But I can’t police Morris Park Avenue.”
She wishes they would come inside to take advantage of the after-school programming and comfortable places to hang out, she said, adding that the lack of a recreation center in the neighborhood contributes to the problem.
Whatever the solution, 49th Precinct Community Affairs Officer Jay Sturdivant said a bench would not help the situation, and the rowdy kids congregating outside is definitely an issue.
“It’s a potential for trouble,” he said.
After turning down the DOT offer of a bench in front of her branch, Holloway said she asked for two bike racks there instead.
She said a handful of people arrive at the library on bicycles each day, and end up chaining their bikes to street signs or the fence around a tree.
“A bike rack would be better,” said Holloway, who submitted the request for a bike rack to DOT in mid-May, and was told the process to get it approved and installed would takes three to six months.
Having a secure rack would also encourage bike riders to stay longer at the branch and participate in programming, she said, as well as encourage more people to ride bikes as a transportation alternative to cars.