UPPER EAST SIDE — The NYPD is using a stretch of East 66th Street as a junkyard for wrecked cars because police have nowhere else to put them — annoying neighbors sick of seeing the mangled vehicles blighting their block, police and locals said.
The NYPD's 19th Precinct regularly uses the stretch between Park and Lexington avenues to dump the totaled cars, which have to be inventoried by the precinct before getting towed, Det. Vincent Lombardi told DNAinfo New York on Tuesday.
Police use the block because its parking restrictions — no standing between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. — mean that it isn't frequented by many residents and marks one of the wider blocks in the precinct, Lombardi said.
“What’s the main complaint on the Upper East Side? It’s parking. So we’re not taking away from that,” the detective said. “Is it unsightly? Yes. But really, there’s nowhere to put them.”
Smashed yellow taxis parked on East 66th Street on Aug. 1 (Credit: Leland Englebardt)
The issue has persisted for months on the otherwise quiet, residential block, neighbors said.
“It’s way over the line,” said Leland Englebardt, one of many upset neighbors who have been calling the precinct and local politicians for at least a month about the cars. “The police say that taking the wrecks to a proper impound lot is inconvenient for them, but they are blighting the neighborhood.”
On Monday night, pedestrians walking along the block couldn’t look away from a crumpled Honda Civic parked on the block. Nearly everyone stopped to inspect or snap a photo of the vehicle, which was encircled by a swarm of flies, shattered glass and a nasty odor.
“It’s gruesome,” said Betsy Alderman, who’s lived on East 66th Street for more than a decade, noting that another derelict car sat for eight months before it was towed. “It gives me the willies every time I walk down the street.”
The Honda Civic — which police said was involved in a crash on 84th Street — had been sitting on the block for about a month, according to Englebardt and several doormen in the area.
“Recently, someone put flowers on the car like a memorial,” Englebardt added.
The Civic was towed on Wednesday morning, while a Jeep Cherokee it had been involved in a collision with was removed from the block last week, police said.
A Jeep Cherokee sat on the block for weeks, neighbors said. (Credit: Leland Englebardt)
Neighbors have expressed concerns that the car skeletons, which have also been seen stuffed with garbage, are attracting more vermin to the neighborhood.
“It was like a junkyard on the block,” said Johnny, a doorman for a club along the stretch who’s been working on the block for almost 30 years. “When one gets towed, it gets swapped out for another.”