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LIC residents raise concerns about food trucks by Gantry Plaza State Park during fiery police meeting 

Food trucks by Gantry Plaza State Park (File photo Queens Post)

June 6, 2024 By Queens Post News Team

Dozens of local residents raised concerns about food trucks by Gantry Plaza State Park in a fiery meeting with officers from the 108th Precinct at the New York Irish Center on Thursday, May 30. 

Long Island City residents complained to the Commanding Officer, Capt. Tony Wong about a litany of issues surrounding food trucks along Center Boulevard between 48th Avenue and 51st Avenue at Thursday’s meeting at the New York Irish Center at 10-40 Jackson Ave. 

Several residents claimed that it is impossible to find parking near Gantry Plaza State Park because food truck operators park “junk cars” there year-round in order to reserve spaces for the summer season. They also allege that some food truck operators store food in vans parked near the waterfront park.

Residents argued that many food trucks are operating illegally and creating a quality of life issue for local residents. They said the numerous food trucks operating in the area have caused sanitation problems, attracting rats to the park. 

They further allege that some food trucks in the area operate without licenses and that some customers have gotten sick after purchasing food. 

Meanwhile, others complained about a food cart operating in and around Gantry Plaza State Park that is allegedly operating without a license. Local residents said the food cart is blocking sidewalk access in and around the park. 

Led by local advocate James Edstrom, residents also raised concerns over the fact that many food trucks remain open into the early hours of the morning, drawing crowds to Gantry Plaza State Park long after the park is supposed to close at 10 p.m. 

Edstrom and other residents called for a “No Standing” sign prohibiting the food trucks from operating at the waterfront between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. to be installed at the park. 

Edstrom additionally called on Wong to pen a letter to the Department of Transportation offering his support for such a measure. 

He also called on State Assemblymember Juan Ardila, who attended Thursday night’s meeting, to send a letter to the DOT supporting the measure. Edstrom additionally implored Borough President Donovan Richards and Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, who sent representatives to the meeting, to support the initiative. 

State Assemblymember Juan Ardila addresses Thursday’s Community police meeting. Photo by Queens Post

“The captain needs to send a letter to the DOT requesting no standing anytime,” Edstrom said. “I need every politician that was here tonight to send a letter. If everybody did it, there’s a great chance that we’d get a no-standing sign.

“I’ve been fighting this issue for eight years. Enough is enough. It’s a disgrace that these food trucks are running the waterfront.” 

Edstrom also criticized Community Board 2 for reportedly rejecting calls for a No Standing sign at a recent meeting. 

Speaking during the meeting, Edstrom raised concerns that violence would break out near the food trucks, drawing applause from the crowd gathered at the New York Irish Center. 

“We need something done. I guarantee there’s going to be a shooting down there or that something’s going to happen. Those poor people down by Gantry – they’ve got to put up with people peeing in the bushes, they’ve got to put up with the rats and the garbage, they’ve got to put up with the music blasting as they’re trying to sleep.” 

Visibly frustrated residents said they no longer wanted to “re-hash” the same talking points and called on Wong and Ardila to provide solutions to the issue, with several residents expressing support for a No-Standing zone. 

Wong said he understands residents’ frustrations about the issue but would not commit to sending a letter to the DOT calling for a No-Standing zone, stating that the food truck issue is “sensitive.” 

“I am always willing to have open conversations with other agencies, including Community Board 2, regarding the issue,” Wong said. “I’m always more than happy to provide our analysis of the complaints and details about our enforcement of the law.” 

Commander Tony Wong listens to residents’ concerns during Thursday’s meeting.
Photo by Queens Post

Wong said the issue “goes above the Police Department” and will require multi-agency collaboration. 

“From what I’m hearing, we have issues with health, we have issues with rats, there were concerns about storage – storage is always an issue if they’re doing something wrong. It may or may not be a police issue, but it’s something that we could definitely look into with other agencies.” 

Wong said the 108th Precinct has received 26 complaints about food trucks near Gantry Plaza State Park since the beginning of March, with residents raising concerns about double parking and other traffic violations. 

He said the NYPD has enforced double parking on 17 occasions since the beginning of March, while the Department has issued 11 moving violations to cars parked next to the food trucks. 

Wong noted that the 108th Precinct has lost 13 officers over the past year due to a variety of reasons and encouraged local citizens to help officers enforce the law by reporting suspecting violations using the 311 hotline. 

Ardila said the issue of food trucks was “tricky to navigate” but said quality of life issues were a “big concern”. 

He added that the issue of a No Standing sign at the park between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. is “something that we could look into and something that we can work on.” 

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