Activists Fume at Excessive July 4th Partying on Mosholu Parkway
July 5, 2017
By David Cruz
Activists are demanding answers over how the local 52nd Precinct could allow illegal barbecues to go on for hours along Mosholu Parkway over the July 4th weekend, despite the presence of “No Barbecuing” signs throughout parkway. They’ve now reached out to local elected officials and are in the stages of planning a meeting to get answers.
Many residents vented frustration on Facebook, posting photos of other residents setting up tents, lounge chairs and speakers across the leafy mall. The day after July 4th, mounds of trash can be spotted around Mosholu Parkway.
Leftover trash and burnt out ashes the day after July 4th remain a recurring sight on Mosholu Parkway. For years, residents have battled outsiders crashing Mosholu Parkway and pitching their tents for the day. Loud music, accompanied with heavy drinking is the norm, according to many residents there. Barbecuing is illegal on the parkway as there are no barbecue pits to safely cook food.
The partying was just isolated to Mosholu Parkway. At Williamsbridge Oval Park, just a quarter mile from Mosholu Parkway, there were several barbecues reported at the park. Remnants of fireworks were also spotted a day after the big celebration.
Fernando Tirado, the former district manager of Community Board 7 and a local resident, immediately sent an email to the 52nd Precinct, Community Board 7 and Councilman Andrew Cohen, who’s district covers the parkway, chronicling what he saw throughout July 4th.
“It has been a disaster along both sides of the parkway, including a block away from the precinct,” Tirado wrote. “Bedford Park and Norwood are under siege by the declining quality of life, which the Five-Two routinely failed to address properly.”
Michael Medina, another resident, responded to Tirado’s email he sent out saying the lower quality of life has caused Norwood and Bedford Park to revert “back to the mid 70s and 80s when New York was at it worst.”
By nightfall on Independence Day, the inhabitants at Mosholu Parkway continued partying, with at least one fist fight reported. Sandra Pabon, a Bedford Park resident and NYPD chaplain, took to Facebook Live to record two pit fires. “They’re lighting up garbage cans, look at this,” Pabon, narrating, said. “That’s Mosholu Parkway on fire.”
Elizabeth Quaranta, president of Friends of Mosholu Parkland, described the scene as chaos with firecrackers going off and loud music that could be heard at least one terrain over. Though she sympathized with partygoers, Quaranta said rules should be enforced. But one month alerting partygoers isn’t enough, Quaranta said. She hoped the “No Barbecue” signs that are sporadically posted across the parkland should read what the fine should be.
Anthony Rivieccio, a community activist on Bedford Park, is now planning a quality of life meeting slated for next month. Jason Laidley, chief of staff for state Senator Jamaal Bailey, who represents Norwood/Bedford Park, said the office is willing to attend the meeting to hear from residents. Christina Polizzi, a spokesperson for Councilman Andrew Cohen, who also represents the neighborhoods, said his office is also willing to attend.
Polizzi said the office has worked the phones to ask the 52nd Precinct to enforce the no barbecue mandate, while also calling on the Parks Department to cleanup the parkway. Last year, Cohen had earmarked monies for a so-called “gator” smart car to help the Parks Department get around the parkway faster. Cohen also funded monies for cleanup crews from the Fedcap program. They were called in today to help clean up the parkway, Polizzi said.
It took hours before police would arrive to clear the parkway. Parks Department crews were there to clear the area. The commanding officer of the 52nd Precinct, Deputy Inspector Peter Fiorillo, was unavailable for comment.
Quaranta, meantime, is ready to talk to Emily Walker, a representative for New Yorkers for Parks. The group has been successful in convincing the de Blasio Administration to increase the New York City Parks Department’s budget.
“I think we have to go big here. We can’t put a band aid on this,” Quaranta said. “This is more than that. We have to get the different agencies at the table, not just the 52nd Precinct.”
At the Bedford Mosholu Community Association meeting in May, officers said the precinct will be taking a different approach to enforcement, issuing warnings while using discretion over who would be ticketed and who would be ordered to break up any party.