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Extraordinary security in store for 4th of July fireworks in Hunters Point

Long Island City residents are happy to have the Fourth of July fireworks back, but increased security measures proposed this year are raising some concerns.
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Hunters Point residents in Long Island City will be subjected to heavy security July 4 when more than 50,000 spectators are expected to watch the Macy’s fireworks along the waterfront. Hunters Point South Park will be closed to the public so that NBC can use it as the base for its national broadcast while Gantry Plaza State Park remains open,

All vehicles must be removed from all streets between 44th Drive to 54th Avenue from Vernon Boulevard to the East River, prior to 12:01 a.m. July 4, according to Capt. John Travaglia, the commander of the 108th Precinct. Any vehicles that remain on those streets will be towed and the restriction will not be lifted until 12:01 a.m. July 5.

“Our goal on July 4, 2015 is not to inconvenience LIC residents but to ensure safety in our community,” he said.

Travaglia added that residents within the area who are expecting guests July 4 should encourage them to arrive before 3 p.m. and it is “highly suggested” that these guests carry invitations with the address and contact phone number of the person hosting the party.

All visitors are encouraged to arrive no later than 3 p.m. and enter viewing points at Gantry Plaza State Park and Center Boulevard from 48th Avenue to 46th Avenue from Vernon Boulevard. There will be no access from 49th Avenue to Borden Avenue on Vernon Boulevard.

The New York State Park Police will be monitoring the volume of people on the piers in Gantry Plaza State Park and when maximum occupancy is reached, the piers will be closed. The same will be done for the remaining areas of the park by the NYPD and State Park Police.

Travaglia added that residents and visitors entering the LIC area from 44th Drive to 49th Avenue and Vernon Boulevard to the East River should expect to have their bags and personal items checked by members of the NYPD Counterterrorism unit. All methods of mass transit should be used to arrive and depart the LIC area. Latecomers and last minute arrivals should avoid anything west of 11th Street. Travaglia expects to reach capacity at 6 p.m. at all points west of 11th Street. “Being center-stage for this event is a huge honor for Long Island City,” Travaglia said. “But with this honor comes monstrous responsibility and concerns.”

State Sen. Michael Gianaris (D-Astoria), who advocated for the national event’s return to the East River after nine years on the Hudson River, said, “We didn’t imagine creating such hardship for the residents of Long Island City, we only wanted to make it easier for them to see the fireworks,” he said.

Community Board 2 member Sheila Lewandowski, the co-founder and executive director of The Chocolate Factory theater, thinks the security measures are a bit excessive.

“It’s going to be hard on the residents,” she said. “But I’m excited for some of our businesses even though some will close down for the 4th of July.”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

Updated 3:58 pm, June 25, 2015
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