2016-05-04 / Features

Constantinides Slams Gate On Sean’s Place Vandals

BY LIZ GOFF


Councilman Costa Constantinides held a press conference outside Sean’s Place, a playground overrun at night by teenagers who leave behind broken bottles and other garbage. He was joined there by the city Department of Parks and Recreation along with State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas and CALDC Executive Director Marie Torniali. Councilman Costa Constantinides held a press conference outside Sean’s Place, a playground overrun at night by teenagers who leave behind broken bottles and other garbage. He was joined there by the city Department of Parks and Recreation along with State Senator Michael Gianaris, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas and CALDC Executive Director Marie Torniali. An Astoria lawmaker took matters into his own hands recently to secure a local children’s playground that was being overrun at night by teenagers who left broken wine, liquor and beer bottles, used condoms and other items strewn among the swings and slides.

Local residents called on Councilman Costa Constantinides for help when the city Department of Parks failed to lock the playground at the city’s mandated 9 p.m. curfew. Parents of young children told the Councilman they were greeted each morning by trash and other items the teens leave behind.

Officials at the 114th Precinct ramped up enforcement each night in an effort to keep the teens from using the playground as a hangout. Officers at the Astoria Boulevard stationhouse handed out numerous summonses to violators and ordered the teens out of the park after the 9 p.m. curfew, neighbors said.

At a May 2 press conference outside the playground named ‘Sean’s Place,’ Constantinides announced that the city Department of Parks and Recreation has agreed to lock the gates at the playground at 9 p.m. each night to keep out trespassers.

He was joined by state Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas.

“The Parks Department will begin locking and unlocking the playground gates daily,” Constantinides said. “And officers at the 114th Precinct will continue to patrol outside the playground overnight.”

Sean’s Place is dedicated to the memory of Police Officer Sean McDonald, who was shot and killed in the line of duty in March 1994.

McDonald, who was raised in Astoria, was assigned to the 44th Precinct in the Bronx in March 1994 when he was called on to intervene in a holdup at a local bodega. McDonald, the married father of two infant children, was shot point blank when he interrupted the holdup. McDonald’s death sent shockwaves throughout the close-knit neighborhood where his father still lived.

More than 10,000 cops and dozens of neighbors filled the streets outside the Most Precious Blood Church for a heart-wrenching goodbye to the young cop who attended the parish elementary school and played on the MPB softball team.

“Locking the gates at Sean’s Place will alleviate many of the safety concerns,” Constantinides said. “After years of advocacy and cooperation between the Parks Department, the NYPD and the community, I am happy that we were able to come to this solution. This policy will greatly improve the park-going experience for families and benefit our neighborhood’s vital greenspace.”

“I thank all of the concerned parents and activists who advocated on behalf of the park and look forward to working with the DOP to ensure a smooth and consistent implementation.”

Patrick Lynch, President of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association said, “Sean’s Place, named in honor of our fallen brother Police Officer Sean McDonald, holds an important place in the hearts of all police officers and of the community that enjoys the playground.

“It’s a place where children, who are the future of our city and country, learn to interact with children of other cultures. It is always sad to see a beloved local park abused and vandalized,” Lynch said. “It is our hope that having the Parks Department lock those gates, along with the vigilance of the good police officers at the 114th Precinct, that Sean’s Place will remain a warm and welcoming place for the children of the community to play and grow together.”

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