Teens Having Sex on Park Furniture Behind Ikea, Locals Say
RED HOOK — Ikea's hottest furniture isn't found inside the megastore's blue walls.
A row of outdoor metal chaises longues on the pier behind the Red Hook superstore have become an illicit al fresco hook-up spot for neighborhood teens, DNAinfo.com New York has learned.
"It's condom central. The lawn chairs are a bordello," a neighborhood source told DNAinfo.com New York. "I have a 5-year-old who plays hide-and-go-seek over there. Around the chaise longues, there's condoms everywhere. You always have to be careful that they don't find any squishy balloons."
Red Hook resident Tabitha, 17, said she has seen "kids getting weird back there.
The location has appeal, young residents said. The chairs are secluded and face the waterfront, and marine-themed lights help set the mood.
"There are lights that are purple and blue and change color. It's beautiful, like a wedding thing," described Monia, 16, who lives in the nearby Red Hook Houses.
"It's peaceful, away from all the noise and commotion," said Travon, 17, adding that his friends have gone there "a couple times."
Voicing an age-old frustration echoed by many teens, 21-year-old Jonathan Morris lamented, "Kids got nowhere else to go."
Parents, local health experts and some teenagers expressed concern about the outdoor sex spot.
"It doesn't surprise me — the teenage population feels invincible," said Carolyn Fortune, a nurse at the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center on Richards Street in Red Hook.
"There are the hormones. But there's risk of STDs. A lot of times they don't have safe sex.
"There are safety issues — someone going back there and hurting a child. You don't know who's around or what's around."
Kassandra Fuentes, 19, a Park Slope resident and former peer health educator at the Red Hook Initiative, a community center near the Red Hook Houses, agreed.
"If they're outside on the street, the chairs are not clean, you can catch infections," she said. "If they're going to have sex, I'd rather they be at a friend's house," said Fuentes.
"Not just any guy or any girl — someone that they trust. ...If it's not the right time, it's not the right time, and maybe you just shouldn't be doing it."
Ikea closes at 9 p.m., according to the company's website, and teenagers and parents said that security guards patrol the store's 22-acre property, which includes the 6.5-acre Erie Basin Park where the benches are located.
An Ikea representative confirmed that the park, which officially closes at dusk, is patrolled both by private security and the NYPD.
"This is the first time we've heard of it," said Lorna Montalvo, regarding the revelation of the hurly-burly on the chaise longues.
"We're going to increase sweeps in the park at night with our overnight security, and we're working with the 76th Precinct, which also sweeps the park."
She said Ikea decided on its own to build the park for the community.
"It was our decision to create this space, said Montalvo, the local market manager for Ikea Red Hook. "The decision of Ikea was to open it up to the people of Red Hook."