Thursday, December 2, 2010

Crime and Rail Issues Continue

Arturo Gejon recives a “Good Neighbor Award” for the help he provides to the community and the civic group.
Local residents discussed crime and ongoing rail issues at this month’s Citizens for a Better Ridgewood meeting on Monday.

Detective Kevin Weber of the 104th Precinct’s Community Affair’s unit relayed the crime statistics. The 104th Precinct has been fighting a seven to eight percent increase in crime through the year, but Weber was happy to report that the police have worked hard and reduced those numbers over the past month.

Responding to last month’s concerns from Ridgewood residents about traffic, particularly along Troutman Street, Weber said the department beefed up traffic and highway patrols and issued 123 summonses. He noted, however, that because of Troutman Street’s location and the stop and start nature of the traffic, it is difficult to enforce speeding, which was a concern among residents.

Another issue that has been a constant battle for Ridgewood residents is prostitution. Weber reported that police continue to address the issue, and twelve “johns” were recently arrested.

Weber warned residents to be careful during the holiday season. Leaving bags of gifts from holiday shopping in an unattended car is never a good idea. “It’s a very easy crime to just break a window and grab the bags,” Weber said. He also warned residents about the danger of identity theft and the importance of keeping wallets and other personal items safely secured.

Michael Hetzer, Vice-President of Citizens for a Better Ridgewood, said that residents should also be wary of men posing as utility companies or other cons. One scam the Forum reported last week involved a man who asked for money to buy prescription drugs for his mother. Weber reported that officers from the 108th Precinct apprehended this man.

Rail and truck traffic has plagued Queens for years, and Mary Parisen and Laura Zimmer, co-chairs of Civics United for Railroad Environmental Solutions (CURES), gave a presentation outlining how Ridgewood is impacted.

CURES is a coalition of 14 different civic groups including Citizens for a Better Ridgewood. All trains travelling into or out of Brooklyn and Long Island must pass through the Fresh Pond Rail Terminal, which severely impacts the surrounding community. The trains emit dangerous pollutants into the air, and when transporting waste, the stench of the trains is unbearable.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is currently conducting studies on the Cross Harbor Freight Program. Parisen and Zimmer gave Port Authority officials a tour of the Fresh Pond facility to illustrate the problems the community has.
“We’re not opposed to increased rail traffic,” Zimmer said. “But take a look at the environmental impacts, and take a look at the marine network.” Without closely examining these issues, CURES believes increasing rail traffic is inadvisable.

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