26th Precinct NYPD, be a good neighbor!

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Recently D.I. Veras, Commanding Officer of the 26th Precinct, working with the Department of Transportation, has informed St. Mary’s Church that we are “not entitled to reserved parking or any parking without a DOT parking permit.”  This was the response to a request that officers from the 26th Precinct respect previously granted three spaces for church business (including food pantry deliveries, Access-a-Ride drop off, staff or church members with mobility issues as well as a clergy vehicle), including not leaving cars impounded from a crime scene in front of the church for days or weeks. Since 1969, when the Precinct moved to this block it has acted more like an occupying force than a neighbor. Police personnel park in the designated space in front of St. Mary’s Center, a nursing home and health clinic preventing doctors, ambulances and other personnel from easy access. The private cars of employees of the precinct, Manhattan North Task Force, and Emergency Services as well as city vehicles are often parked on the sidewalk or in the crosswalks at Old Broadway and 126th Street such that pedestrians (especially people with walkers, strollers, wheelchairs or grocery carts) are forced to walk in the street. St. Mary’s has always been flexible, understanding the limited parking, and allowing our neighbors to park in the “No Parking Zone” in front of the church (a benefit accorded to over 1000 churches, 800 synagogues, and at least 400 mosques in NYC that includes approximately six spaces). We have asked neighbors to respect only 3 spaces be reserved for church members, staff and business, except for funerals when more are needed; and we repeatedly have drawn attention to the dangerous situation for pedestrians. We are supportive of the effort to find more parking for the precinct and Emergency Services with DOT, Community Board, and other government entities. This un-neighborly and punitive response by the Precinct simply worsens an already difficult situation. It exacerbates relations between the police and the community, and it will compound traffic issues as drop off’s to church, nursing home or clinics will result in even more delayed traffic along 126th Street, and it will not solve the parking issue.

This is a street where people live and work, children and their grown-ups walk to school and to the park, people who are sick and disabled come to receive care, people who are hungry get food, people who are homeless find housing. St. Mary’s asks the community to join us in demanding that police officers and other personnel acknowledge and respect our neighborhood.

 Our demands:

1.    That St. Mary’s Church continue to hold three designated spots for church business.

2.    That St. Mary’s Center receive a designated spot for nursing home/clinic use.

3.    That the sidewalk next to Sheltering Arms Park be passable for pedestrians, including those in wheelchairs, at all times.

4.    That no vehicles be permitted to park in crosswalks or sidewalk cutaways.



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