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Neighbors Call for Increased Police Presence at Windmuller Park

WOODSIDE — A group of Queens neighbors are asking for more legal enforcement at their local park, which they say is a hot spot for rowdy, rule-breaking teenagers during warm weather.

A group of residents who live near Woodside's Windmuller Park showed up at the 108th Precinct's community council meeting earlier this week to ask for more cops to patrol the green space, located off of Woodside Avenue between 52nd and 56th Streets.

"Before the winter set in we had problems with young kids fighting, setting fires in the band shell, just mayhem," said Susan Santangelo, who lives on 52nd Street.

"Spring is here and summer is right behind it," she said. "We want to be sure that we're not going to go through another time like we did."

Neighbors say the park is a regular hangout for raucous kids and teens bent on destruction: starting fires in gallon drums under trees and cutting holes in the park's chain link fence with hedge-clippers so they can skateboard through it.

"The kids come in with metal bats and try to break the benches," said Gloria Stamich, who lives nearby.

The Parks Department said it has no record of such incidents at Windmuller, but that the agency is working with the police to deal with the issue of people using the park after-hours.

"The Parks Department works closely with NYPD, the City’s public safety agency, to ensure its parks are safe for all users," a spokesman said.

Donald Powers, deputy inspector for the 108th Precinct, said his officers routinely visit all of the precinct's parks at night, though deferred most of the enforcement to the Parks Department.

"Park Enforcement Police are really the first defense. We try to augment and supplement that," he said, adding that he doesn't have the resources to survey parks around the clock.

"I don’t have the man power to put a cop in every park," he said.

Gennaro Massaro, who lives across the street from Windmuller, said he and his wife are frequently woken up by noisy packs of young people.

"They're noisy, they're disruptive, I've had confrontations with them. You have maniacs out there with a go-kart that looks like a lawnmower on steroids," he said.

"I've called the precinct, I've called 311, I've called 911 and I got nothing," he added. "The kids there think they can do anything with impunity. There's no thing to stop them."

Powers said his officers respond to every call, but that they often have more pressing issues to take care of immediately.

"If we're not there right away, it means we’re somewhere else with a heavy emergency," he said. "We’re not going to ignore that call. We’ll be there as soon as we can."