Aug. 29, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
A private security firm began patrolling the Hunters Point waterfront Thursday night as part of a community-driven effort to clamp down on high levels of anti-social behavior in the area.
On Point Security, an Astoria-based security firm, kept watch of the walkway outside Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunters Point South Park after being hired by a group of residents.
The security firm was brought on by residents to combat illegal racing, rave parties, and other unlawful acts being carried out at the park this summer.
The residents said that police and local politicians had not done enough to help them and they were left with no choice but to hire the firm.
More than 125 donors have raised about $8,500 as part of a Go Fund Me campaign to pay for the security at the parks over the coming weeks.
The initiative has not received the unanimous support of the community. A separate group of residents launched an online petition opposing the move out of concern that minorities from outside the area might be targeted. The petition has generated nearly 400 signatures.
On Point Security is owned and operated by Urban Upbound, a non-profit organization that works with people living in low-income housing. Urban Upbound was founded by Bishop Mitchell Taylor in 2004.
The security team will work the area every Thursday through Sunday from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. The initiative is expected to last until late October. There will be four security members working at a time.
Resident and organizer of the security effort Yolanda Tristancho said that more than 20 residents met with the On Point Security team before they started their shift Thursday night. She said that three people who opposed the initiative also turned up and all parties had a productive discussion about the security team’s agenda.
The residents then toured the area with the security guards, Tristancho said.
Tristancho said the first night went off peacefully and she hopes that continues for the foreseeable future.
“Everything went well and I was very pleased,” Tristancho said.
“It was a really quiet night because of the storm threat and many restaurants were closed,” she said.
Tristancho said she was impressed with the small but positive interactions the security team had with members of the public during their first night.
For example, security witnessed a Revel scooter driver cut onto a sidewalk at around 11 p.m., according to the security team’s log reports. One of the guards managed to speak to the driver about the incursion a short time later to advise that it was not permitted.
The security team then came across a group of individuals standing outside their cars and playing loud music between 56th Avenue and 57th Avenue just before 12:30 a.m. The guard asked them to lower the music and they complied, the report states.
Security also logged several cars ignoring a stop sign at 51st Avenue and Center Boulevard. Tristancho said the stop sign is routinely flouted and they will continue to highlight the issue as a safety concern.
This weekend is expected to be much busier but Tristancho said the team is well-equipped to have a constructive influence on the area.
“I have full confidence in the team and I hope that all residents and visitors can enjoy the park respectfully.”