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Football Games Turn Queens Block into Parking Lot, Residents Say

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | November 3, 2014 7:42am
 Locals say drivers dropping off their children at a nearby park block their driveways and access to a fire hydrant.
Double-Parked Cars in Ridgewood
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QUEENS — Residents of a Ridgewood block say their safety is being jeopardized by drivers who double park along their street, blocking driveways and access to a fire hydrant.

The dead end block on 65th Place at 68th Avenue becomes a virtual parking lot several times a week, when kids from a youth football league play at Mafera Park, locals say.

According to the 311 online map, residents of the block have placed more than a dozen calls regarding the situation in the past two months, including complaints about blocked sidewalks and a hydrant and double parking.

In two cases, the police took action, but it was not clear what was done. In one instance, the people responsible were gone and in another no action was necessary. The results in other cases were not clear.

“You can have 20 cars parked illegally here,” said Karen Cummings, 58, who has lived on the block for about 30 years. “Sometimes they triple park.”

Cummings, who has an autistic son, said that the drivers block the street at least four times a week, including on weekends.

Residents said that the situation, which has been occurring for years, has gotten worse in recent months as a growing number of children have come to play in the park on a regular basis. Baseball and soccer teams also play there.

Cummings said that among the people who live on the block are about seven children, including toddlers, as well as several elderly and handicapped residents.

“We are worried about the safety of our families on this block,” Cummings said.

A mother of three young children, who moved to the block last year and did not want her name to be used, said that often she is not able to move her car from her driveway for hours.

“Sometimes they park around 5 o’clock and they don’t leave until 8:30,” she said.

Angela Grayson, 67, who has lived on the block for about four decades, said that over the course of several months she witnessed two incidents in which children playing sports were injured and ambulances were not able to get near the park, forcing medical personnel to walk along the block with a stretcher.

“It’s a small block and it’s the dead end," she said. "There is no other way to get out.”

Residents said they have placed numerous 311 calls, but nothing has changed.

“By the time they [police] come, sometimes the people are gone because it takes them so long to get here,” Grayson said.

The NYPD did nor immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

FDNY spokeswoman Elisheva Zakheim said in an email that "our units in the area are aware of potential difficulties in access as a result of sporting events held at the location and adjust accordingly."

Neil O'Donnell, president of the Queens Falcons Football League, which plays in the park several times a week, said that he was going to address the problem.

“Parents have been told many times [not to block the street]," he said. "But some parents don’t want to hear it.

“I really feel for these people,” he said, referring to local residents.

O'Donnell also said he was planning to alternate the days during which football  teams practice.

Currently, he said, all teams practice on Tuesdays and Thursdays. He said he was planning to ask some of the teams to practice on Mondays and Wednesdays instead, to reduce the number of cars parking in the area.