City Cracks Down on NYCHA Barbecues

By Meredith Hoffman | June 22, 2012 9:13am 

BUSHWICK — The city is cracking down on summer barbecues behind one Bushwick public housing complex, where residents said outsiders were sneaking on the grounds to throw rowdy parties.

"People who live there are upset," said Community Board member Robert Camacho about the residents of Hope Gardens — a development bordered by Wilson Avenue, Linden Street and Grove Street. "People who don't live there are having barbecues on the play areas where kids are supposed to be...And the grass is kept so tall it's like Jurassic Park."

After receiving numerous complaints from Hope Gardens residents, Bushwick's Community Board Four has asked the New York City Housing Authority to post signs telling non-residents they could not enter the grounds — and NYCHA responded that it would step up efforts to combat the issue.

"Hope Gardens residents and their leaders have observed that unauthorized residents/people are cooking out in the play areas in the rear of numerous buildings," Sheila Stainback, a spokeswoman for the housing authority, wrote in an email. "These back yard sitting areas are accessible through the rear exits of the building. The development has ordered and will post signs indicating that back yard areas are for NYCHA residents’ use only."

She did not respond to the complaint about the unkempt grass.

The housing development, which includes 61 buildings spread over five sites, is so large that it can be difficult to enforce the rules, Nadine Whitted, district manager of Community Board Four, said.

"The manager told me there are so many people that live there that you can't distinguish who's a resident and who isn't," Whitted said.

Still, some residents defended the barbecues, and said the outdoor space gave the community a chance to celebrate in an urban setting with little public space.

"People have a lot of parties, always and barbecues," Hope Gardens resident Tata Jimenez, 77, said in Spanish, "but it never bothers me."