They should consider taking the sign down.
Thomson was fiercely protective of Woodhaven and very proud of that intersection, which she considered Woodhaven’s “town square.”
But considering the way that problems at this intersection have been allowed to fester, the sign should be removed until it deserves to have her name attached to it again.
The intersection has been seized by a group of people whose private issues have been allowed to cover a public space with filth. Residents have witnessed public intoxication, urination, defecation and masturbation.
The bank has removed the benches and been forced to lock the doors to the lobby where the 24-hour ATM is located. The post office has erected large fencing around its property to keep them from going to the bathroom in the grass.
Many local mothers are afraid to walk past the intersection with their kids, largely due to one of the men that loiters there.
“A few weeks ago, I was passing Chase bank with my five-year-old daughter and he had his hand down his pants, with his pants all open and he was calling me over to him with his other hand and blowing kisses,” one local mom told The Woodhaven Beat.
“When I ignored him he got mad and started yelling and he upset my daughter,” she added. “Every time I see him he tries to talk to me and waves his hands and screams.”
We’ve been told that there’s nothing that can be done. The police have been involved along with Breaking Ground, an organization that specializes in dealing with people that live on the street.
At the last meeting of the Woodhaven Residents’ Block Association, we were told that family members of some of the people who hang out at the intersection were brought in to try and convince them to seek help.
These efforts were greatly appreciated but, unfortunately, they failed.
Some people have been critical of residents who have complained, attacking their lack of compassion for the homeless. For starters, most of these people are not homeless, they have mental and substance abuse issues. Some of them have homes; the others have been offered shelter.
Also, to those critics, homeless people have been living at that intersection for close to a decade without complaint. It bears repeating: what we have here is not a homeless problem.
It is a problem involving mental issues and public intoxication, which has now added sexual harassment of Woodhaven moms to its arsenal.
If speaking out against that makes us bad people in the eyes of some, I think we can live with that scorn.
The office of Assemblyman Mike Miller brought the latest wave of complaints to City Hall, who met with the NYPD to explore solutions. Right now is our best chance to see this situation resolved and get these people the help they so desperately and obviously need.
The NYPD recently introduced Neighborhood Policing, a program in which communities are divided into sectors and police officers assigned to them long term.
There will be a meeting of Sector D of the 102nd Precinct, which covers Forest Parkway and Jamaica Avenue, on Wednesday, November 14, at 7 p.m. at Oak Ridge in Forest Park. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Regardless of what sector you live in, that town square belongs to all of Woodhaven and we should all be concerned about what has become of it.
And we should speak out about it not only because of the danger it presents, but also out of compassion for the people who are also clearly harming themselves.
If we don’t, we’ll be reading about a dead body down there, and the same people who criticize us for speaking out will criticize us for not doing anything.
We hope you will come out to this meeting to help see Forest Parkway restored to something we can be proud of, and something more deserving of the name of Maria Thomson.