State Senator Adriano Espaillat ran an orderly “town hall” meeting on Tuesday night at P.S. 187 with representatives of various city agencies, including the NYPD, FDNY, MTA, Department of Transportation, Department of Parks and Recreation and Department of Education. The meeting focused on concerns in Hudson Heights, west of Broadway and north 179th Street. About 100 persons were in attendance and the meeting began with the agency officials providing short updates on their work in northern Manhattan and concluded with an extended Q&A with residents.
The biggest concern among residents is the continuing trickle of robberies taking place in late evening hours. According to Captain Jose Navarro from the 34th Precinct, five persons (total) were mugged on Bennett Avenue, 181st Street and Fort Washington Avenue in the past month or so. It is not clear whether this number captures all reported muggings, however, since one woman in the audience shouted that her friend was mugged at knifepoint at the 190th Street A train entrance on Fort Washington Avenue. According to Captain Navarro, the muggings are particularly disturbing given that the criminals tend to be 18 and younger. No clear message was given regarding any arrests, although the captain has directed officers to monitor the affected areas more frequently than usual.
The second biggest concern is the condition of the 181st Street entrance to the A train. Residents expressed concern that the removal of the station agent about six months ago has led to a sharp decline in safety and appearance at the entrance. According to the MTA representative, the agency is looking at re-staffing the booth or placing a police officer there—but all this appeared very preliminary. (Please see the Gazette’s prior blog entry about how to make your voice heard on the removal of the station agent at 181st Street.)
The third biggest concern was directed at Senator Espaillat—preserving rent stabilization laws in Albany. The senator expressed his strong support of the laws, which the state legislature must renew again this year.
The good news is that Senator Espaillat appeared knowledgeable and engaged on the neighborhood’s core issues. And Captain Navarro reported that of the 60 temporary “impact” officers sent to the precinct in 2010, 14 will remain.