Residents of a Chelsea Housing Project Celebrate Their Security and Diversity at National Night Out
By Tara Kyle
CHELSEA — For the residents of one housing project in Chelsea, the sight of NYPD officers serving up burgers for National Night Out helped reinforce a level of trust and security that is a source of community pride.
“It makes me feel like there’s peace," said resident James Gill, 18, who has lived at the Robert S. Fulton Houses since he was six. "It’s great to see that there’s a lot of giving."
The Fulton Houses, located between 9th and 10th Avenues from West 16th to 19th streets, are home to nearly 3,000 New Yorkers of Hispanic, African-American, Irish, Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern heritage, according to Tenant Association President Miguel Acevedo.
Across the 10th precinct, which runs along the west side from 14th Street to Times Square, one murder and six rapes have occurred in 2010 to date, according to CompStat reports.
But Acevedo, who was raised here along with 10 siblings, said that most of the crimes in the Fulton Houses are petty, saying that a recent string of chain snatchings was the most significant crime in the area in the past few months.
Nonetheless, residents do have concerns, which representatives from the 10th precinct, District Attorney’s Office and City Council addressed during Tuesday’s National Night Out. They handed out fliers covering topics from crime prevention to domestic violence and elderly abuse.
Petty larcenies targeted at senior citizens, who comprise 30 percent of the Fulton Houses’ population, are a major concern. Five new surveillance cameras were installed last month, thanks to funding from City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s office.
“They are able to monitor a lot of areas that they never were before,” said resident Lenny Rosado, a 44-year-old security manager.
Another problem stems from the tendency of young residents to hang out late at night, on corners and under the projects’ entrances.
“They just need to have more things to do for the teenagers,” said resident Kathy Creer, 47, who said she often notices kids smoking marijuana.
Two fights broke out over this past weekend. One, that occurred near the entrances on the north side of 17th Street late Saturday night, resulted in a young resident receiving a minor slashing wound, according to Acevedo.
The second “big brawl” occurred by the Houses on the south side of 17th Street and involved non-residents spilling over from Chelsea's clubs, Gill said.
When Acevedo was growing up here, fights were usually a one-on-one matter. These days, he notices it’s often four-on-one, and that’s part of the reason he runs a youth group that provides alternative activities.
“We need to educate our kids is that if you jump each other, you can do more harm,” Acevedo said.
Nonetheless, residents here said that for the most part, they saw National Night Out, which has been hosted here for each of the past four years, as an occasion to socialize and celebrate community.
“Everybody watches everybody else’s kids over here,” said resident and former auxiliary police officer Robert Torres, 45. “These projects are much better than any other projects in Manhattan.”