In the last two weeks, residents have called for overnight parking to be returned to the streets surrounding the park to alleviate the overcrowding on side streets.
But Ernie Chirichella, the former president of the Juniper Park Civic Association, recalled fighting to remove parking from Juniper Boulevard South and Juniper Boulevard North years ago after numerous complaints were sent to the civic and community board.
“You had thousands of young people coming from all over the city in their cars, hanging out there, riding around, playing loud music, drinking until all hours of the night,” Chirichella remembered. “They would have to sweep up used condoms and beer bottles the next day. It was really something you had to see.”
According to Chirichella, police officers did their best to reign in the overcrowding around the park. Eventually, overnight parking was made illegal in a majority of the area surrounding the park.
He added that residents were looking to sell their houses and move because of the commotion, and it was the parking ban that brought sanity back to the neighborhood.
“It was a joint effort from the civic, the community board, police and the people that lived around the park,” he said. “In my opinion, this saved the whole community.”
A resident from the neighborhood testified before Community Board 5 in Queens last week suggesting the reinstatement of parking around the park to help address a lack of street parking.
As per the current situation, 104th Precinct Community Affairs Officer Thomas Bell said they still get some complaints about speeding and parking in the area.
“We get complaints all the time around the park in regards to individuals staying in the park after hours and drinking in the park,” Bell said. “They usually have their cars parked illegally around the park.”
While Bell could not comment on whether he felt there would be any more crime if parking was brought back to the park, he noted that their officers would continue to patrol the area to the best of their ability.
“When we get a complaint, we are out there,” he said.
Chirichella worries that the same problems would once again resurface if parking was brought back to the Juniper Valley Park.
“If you take those signs down, in my opinion you’ll get the same crowd of people back,” Chirichella said. “If they could come up with a plan that would alleviate the inevitable problem then that’s fine.” Although Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley said allowing parking on the street might solve the matter, she recognized there are concerns with residents who lived through the problems of the past.
"Removing the no standing signs around Juniper Valley Park could help the neighborhood's parking troubles, but I understand there are serious concerns about abandoned vehicles and loitering,” Crowley said. “I look forward to working with the community to find a solution that benefits the entire community."