A new landmark of sorts has emerged about 100 feet from Flushing Librarys facade. Its an ordinary police booth that was dedicated recently with fanfare. City and local politicians and community leaders were invited to cut a red ribbon for the occasion.
I dont recall ever seeing such a structure in other parts of the state. It is designed to deter crime. One cannot tell at a distance if there is any soul inside, thanks to its unique glass walls.
In its May 29 issue, the TimesLedger reported that the booth will be staffed by 75 members of the 109th auxiliary force. These volunteers act as the eyes and ears for the police, informing officers when they spot crime, but they are not actually members of the Police Department.
I have walked past the new facility a few times. The only time I saw a cop inside it was when the town-wide fair was being held June 8 on Kissena Boulevard. I probably went there at the wrong time, or the precinct suffers a manpower shortage. On its door are these words: NYPD is hiring. Join the Finest!
Ironically, a portable bathroom was next to the facility during the fair. It was disrespectful.
In the meantime, I am concerned the booth may remain empty and eventually become deteriorated as the years wear on, just like some of those guarding corporate entrances or gates of apartment building complexes.
Another concern in Flushing is traffic. Its unlikely to disappear any time soon without more parking spaces. It seems we are not accepting the fact.
Many drivers have no choice but to keep moving around the town and looking for parking spots on the weekends, when hundreds of thousands of Asians from the tri-state area come to town to grocery shop and dine with families or friends, which doubtless contributes to traffic congestion.
Some of the shoppers were issued tickets for parallel parking or illegal curbside parking; obviously, they were stunned by the heavy fines. The tough measures may discourage them from coming here to shop again, and in turn, that may hurt local businesses.
The presence of a police symbol simply cannot cure the traffic woes. The root cause is a shortage of parking spaces. We must build a multistory garage or expand the existing one to meet the growing demand.
The traffic fines, which have been reported to be part of the city budget, have flabbergasted lots of drivers as well as non-drivers.
For instance, a young pregnant woman recently was fined $50 for sitting on a step in a subway stairwell. Two days earlier, a young man was fined for sitting on a milk crate near the traffic in the Bronx. Also, a Long Island City woman was issued a $25 ticket for speaking too loud with her neighbor. In such cases, a warning would be more appropriate than a fine.
Who is to blame for these laughable episodes Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the police or the budget deficit? Opinions vary, but I take exception to the fine for that pregnant woman, who needs help, not penalty.
The traffic-fine phobia is prevalent among the new immigrants who speak little English and cannot read signs restricting parking. A Chinese food delivery man told me the other day that he got three $105 tickets in a week in the city. He may have to work three to four days to earn that amount of money to pay the fines.
In fact, the new immigrants are not the only people prone to traffic violations as the NYPD intensifies its campaign to crack down on violators.
A couple of weeks ago, I too was hit with a $105 fine for parking by a meter past the regular time 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a few minutes on Parsons Avenue. For a while, I couldnt figure out why I was issued a ticket, because 35 minutes remained on the meters time panel. When I recovered from the shock, I could only blame the ticket on my laziness; I should have walked to take a closer look at the sign, which was about 75 feet from my car, before I parked. I took the meter for granted.
Beware, folks! There are a quite a few parking meters with similar signs behind tree branches between Sanford and Franklin avenues on Main Street. Dont leave your car without finding out whether there is any parking sign ahead of or behind it. You should read it carefully if there is one.
©2003 Community News Group
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