We at New Yorkers for Parks were saddened to read your recent article on the murder of Ruben Angel Vargas in Astoria Park (“Homeless pair charged with murder in park,” Astoria Times, July 15-21). The park is heavily used and greatly loved by residents and visitors to the neighborhood with a dedicated stewardship group, the Astoria Park Alliance, and numerous year-round events. Unfortunately, this tragic incident highlights the urgent need to collect and publish data on crime in all of our parks so park users are educated about safety.
Unfortunately, crime is tracked in only 30 of the 1,700 parks in the city. Crime in Astoria Park is not tracked — rather, it is reported along statistics for the precinct as a whole. Astoria residents cannot access information regarding the safety of their park. In 2005, Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed Local Law 114 mandating the tracking of crime in city parks following advocacy efforts by New Yorkers for Parks, City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) and others. After five years, the city is still tracking only the six largest parks in each borough, totaling 30 parks in the city.
We urge the city to expand this program to track crime in every park greater than 1 acre, as mandated in the legislation. Crime in parks is a serious issue and with greater awareness and education, future tragedies such as the death of Vargas may be avoided.
New Yorkers for Parks
©2010 Community News Group
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