DYKER HEIGHTS — It looked like a convoy … as the 68th Precinct along with the NYPD Traffic Enforcement Division came to ticket, boot and tow trucks illegally parked alongside Ben Vitale Field, across from Poly Prep Country Day School and in front of the Brooklyn VA Hospital, on Wednesday, Jan. 29 in the dark of the night.
On Thursday, Capt. Robert Conwell, commanding officer of the 68th Precinct, told this paper about the initiative. “Last night, 68th Precinct officers and traffic agents issued numerous summonses for overnight commercial parking by Poly Place. Large trucks and trailers were targeted in response to community complaints. We also towed a truck and booted others. NCO officers were involved in the operation,” said Conwell.
With illegally parked 18-wheelers and RVs — left overnight and sometimes for days or weeks at a time — making it nearly impossible to find parking spots in the area, residents who live nearby or who have a child who participates with the 68th Precinct sports league have been fuming for decades about the difficulty of trying to find parking along the corridor.
In October, City Councilmember Justin Brannan told this paper that he was determined to solve the problem. He said that he had been actively working with the 68th Precinct to find a way to prevent the trucks from violating the law.
“We continue to work closely with the 68th Precinct and the NYPD Chief of Transportation and his team,” he said following the tow operation. “These are not legal truck routes and trucks shouldn’t even be driving on these particular streets, much less parking here for days and weeks at a time! We are doing everything we can to rectify this issue and that includes random and recurring sweeps with tow trucks in partnership with the NYPD. It’s going to take some time to get it done once and for all, but we are dedicated to getting it done.”
In addition, he said in October that he was working with the Department of Transportation to change the signage along this corridor and implement back-in angle parking for residents that would also prevent trucks from using this area as their parking lot.
The Department of Transportation confirmed to this paper that the idea of angled parking is on the table.
“This is encouraging,” said Harry D’Onofrio, president of the 68th Precinct Youth Council, after the trucks were towed. “I can only hope that it deters the future parking of vehicles that are not allowed to be there. This has been a safety and traffic issue for some time, and now that action is taking place, it’s good for the community to have parking available at the fields,” he added.
Chris Athineos, a long-time coach with 68th Precinct soccer league, told this paper that he was glad to hear about the action taken on Wednesday night.
“We should not have commercial trucks clogging our residential streets,” Athineos told this paper. “We are a city of laws and that applies to us all us. The parking spots along Seventh Avenue near the VA Hospital should be for those visiting the hospital and those who use the adjacent sports fields.
“As a soccer coach and parent, I hope enforcement continues so that when the sports seasons begin again we can have our parking spots back,” Athineos added.