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Briarwood fights back at car vandals

Loida Cotto's sign calls for a traffic agent during morning hours.
TimesLedger Newspapers

About 30 Briarwood residents rallied on Main Street between Queens Boulevard and Manton Street Saturday to demand a greater police presence and better sanitation for the stretch of the street, which they say is a popular site for car break-ins.

“This garbage and broken cars are damaging the image that we have of Briarwood,” said Andrea Veras, who has lived in the neighborhood for six years.

The section of Main Street the residents are concerned about runs parallel to an exit off the Van Wyck Expressway and has two bus stops. It is also a block away from the Briarwood Library.

But despite its location near prominent thoroughfares, Veras said the area is not well lit and becomes dark after 8 p.m., making it a perfect spot for young vandals to wreak havoc.

Residents said sometimes garbage accumulates in the area and the stretch of road is not shovelled or de-iced during the winter.

Veras said she had been planning the rally for two weeks because the problems in the area are constant despite multiple complaints to Community Board 8, the NYPD and the city Sanitation Department. She said she would like the area to have more lighting and security cameras.

“I refuse to think that this isn’t going to be resolved,” Veras said.

Marie Adam-Ovide, district manager of CB 8, said the board is aware of the issues with break-ins but had not heard of any happening recently. She said she spoke to Veras before the rally and has worked with her before, but she was informed of the rally at the last minute.

“I’ll look into the precinct to find out what’s going on,” Adam-Ovide said.

The city Police and Sanitation departments did not respond to requests for comment.

Residents at the rally ranged from young children to seniors. Some were members of either the Briarwood Association or the Briarwood Association Network civics. Many held up signs reading “We need more police presence” and “Keep Briarwood safe and clean.”

Holly Egan, who has lived in Briarwood for five years, said sometimes 10 cars in a row have been vandalized on the street. She said the city agencies have not been effective in curbing the problem.

“They said a couple of times in the past they would do things and nothing’s ever happened,” Egan said.

Eugene Leon, of the Briarwood Action Network, said car break-ins happen weekly and that these acts will increase the car insurance premiums of residents in the neighborhood.

Francine D’Aguilar-Holmes, who has lived in the neighborhood for 18 years, said when her 28-year-old daughter moved back, her car was broken into on the first night she arrived.

“I would like to see more police presence in the neighborhood,” D’Aguilar-Holmes said, “maybe in the nighttime.”

Veras said she believed the protest would have an effect.

“I think this community is so strong,” she said. “We are united and we can make change happen.”

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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