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A safer Keane Square

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Keane Square is being revamped in an effort to increase safety and beautify the area.

Keane Square has been a troublesome location for the Pelham Bay Merchant Association, Community Board 10 and Councilman Jimmy Vacca for many years.

Residents often complain of the illegal activities occurring at the triangular traffic island.

New benches will be installed facing outward from the park to discourage loitering, illegal activities, and public sleeping.

“The idea was to turn them around to face the stores so no elicit drug dealing can take place,” said Ken Kearns, district manager of CB10. “In addition they have several metal segments to discourage people from laying down on them.”

The Department of Parks and Recreation has allocated $4,000 to the removed eight old concrete benches and install four new wooden World’s Fair benches facing the street.

With over $160,000 provided by Vacca for further enhancements, Parks will soon be able to clean up and green the area.

“I definitely like what they are doing to the square and the plans to improve it will make it much better,” said Sherry Scanlon, president of the PBMA. “We voted on reversing the benches. Now the criminal element can’t hide whatever they are doing there.”

Carl DeSimone, a resident of Hazel Towers, hopes that the improvements will make the intersection a safer place, especially after a handicapped resident in his building was mercilessly beaten in Keane Square.

Since the incident DeSimone has noted more of a police presence in the area.

“It’s good they switched the benches and that they also have a cops there a lot now,” said DeSimone. “I sure hope it works, but we will see the first hot day we get if they are back or not.”

CB10 has also been working with the Citizen Advice Bureau to connect any homeless loiterers at Keane Square with quality housing, medical services and homeless services.

Vacca commends the recent increase in police presence and hopes for the addition of a beat cop to patrol the commercial area.

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