QUEENS — Forest Hills residents are calling for the end of neighborhood massage parlors that they say are fronts for illegal activities.
Several "spas," including at least three on Metropolitan Avenue, prompted locals to complain that they’d rather see different types of businesses popping up around their neighborhood.
“If you happen to walk by any of these establishments all you will see is “open” and a phone number,” said JP Freeley, a Forest Hills resident, at a recent Community Board 6 meeting.
“But if you happen to take that phone number and stick it into Google you will get the real advertising that they are doing to all of their patrons,” he said.
Freeley also sent several emails about the issue to local elected officials and other residents who shared his concerns.
“I think that it goes without saying that as a community, we should be very wary of these establishments,” Freeley wrote. “We are in need of bookstores, Lego stores and places for kids to be creative, not papered over 'backrooms.'”
Local Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz said at the CB6 meeting that it’s a “police matter.”
Deputy Inspector Judith Harrison, the 112th Precinct’s commanding officer, noted that she was “aware of [the parlors]” and that she had passed the information about them to the department's Organized Crime Control Bureau “for a comprehensive investigation and further review.”
She also said that police have already made an arrest at one of the parlors located at 104-14 Metropolitan Ave. on Jan. 15, and "the premises has been submitted for Nuisance Abatement," a regulation that gives the city the authority to shut down businesses used for illegal purposes.
The parlor denied any wrongdoing Monday.
"Everything's legal," a representative, who did not identify herself, said before hanging up the phone.
Several such venues had also operated on Myrtle Avenue in Glendale until last year, but closed after the local police precinct stationed officers in front, according to published reports.
Assemblyman Michael Miller and state Sen. Joseph Addabbo recently introduced a package of bills meant to combat and regulate illegal parlors, including forcing landlords to verify the license of massage parlor tenants before signing a lease with them.