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Panhandlers plague Emmons

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"There's a different sense when I walk now," Ford Street resident Laura Laplant concurred.

The longtime resident of Sheepshead Bay said she was parking her car in the neighborhood following a recent Community Board 15 meeting when she was approached by a lone male asking for money.

By Joe Maniscalco

"It seems like the prostitution has moved out and the panhandling has moved in."

Sheepshead Bay/Plumb Beach Civic Association President Kathy Flynn delivered that sad assessment of Emmons Avenue this week at her group's April meeting held at the Baron DeKalb Knights of Columbus on Nostrand Avenue.

"There's a different sense when I walk now," Ford Street resident Laura Laplant concurred.

The longtime resident of Sheepshead Bay said she was parking her car in the neighborhood following a recent Community Board 15 meeting when she was approached by a lone male asking for money.

The man continued on his way after a brief "dialogue," but the incident left Laplant very concerned.

Local residents said that they are especially concerned about the aggressive panhandling after a 53-year-old woman was accosted and robbed of her purse on Coyle Street on March 21.

According to police, the incident happened in front of 2724 Coyle Street shortly past 9 p.m. when the suspect - later identified as Joseph Gonzalez, 30 - allegedly snuck up on the woman, grabbed her purse and pulled her down to the pavement.

The victim suffered injuries to her hand and foot in the assault, police said.

Community Affairs officer Aisha Grant told members of the Sheepshead Bay/Plumb Beach Civic Association that a patrolman riding a scooter is assigned to Emmons Avenue during the evening hours.

Panhandlers aren't the only ones giving residents headaches, however. Members of the Sheepshead Bay/Plumb Beach Civic Association also complained that too many restaurants on Emmons Avenue are valet parking customer cars in front of other people's driveways, in front of fire hydrants, in addition to illegally blocking off available spaces with cones.

According Flynn, the only establishments on Emmons Avenue with their own parking lots are Il Fornetto, Roll & Roaster and the Baron DeKalb Knights of Columbus.

"We were losing spots to condos, now we're losing them to valets," Flynn said.

Clogged Emmons Avenue has also had its share of speeding.

According to police, 20 speeding violations along the thoroughfare were issued in the last month.

- Tom Tracy contributed to this story

Updated 6:57 pm, October 10, 2011
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