Residents hope gates deter late-night racers
by Jacob Henry
Jan 20, 2021 | 414 views | 0 0 comments | 46 46 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tire marks are left in a parking lot in Ozone Park. (Photo: Kenichi Wilson)
Tire marks are left in a parking lot in Ozone Park. (Photo: Kenichi Wilson)
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Over the past two years, the Clock Tower Plaza parking lot in Ozone Park, which houses Stop & Shop, Burger King, Pizza Hut and other stores, has dealt with roving parties and dangerous car-racing events that have kept residents up late and fearing for their safety.

Sam Esposito, president of the Ozone Park Residents’ Block Association, described the scene as kids racing until the early hours of the morning, “drinking, smoking and putting people’s lives at risk.”

“Kids were burning rubber until the parking lot went dark with smoke,” Esposito said. “It was threatening to customers shopping there. Sometimes you would get 75 to 150 cars, depending on what night it was.”

He said that the complaints from neighbors included music and revving engines that could be heard up to a mile away.

Community Board 9 chair Kenichi Wilson said people were afraid to go shopping.

“There’s kids and baby carriages and they’re racing cars doing these donuts,” Wilson said.

Videos have been posted online of dozens of cars in a circle, with drivers watching each other create gray smoke clouds be revving their engines at high speeds.

But there may finally be a solution, as Esposito said gates will be installed on the parking lot to keep the cars out.

“The 102 Precinct was having to send cars there all the time, but it was tying up police resources,” Esposito said. “The gates can give control back to the police department.”

Esposito said that former assemblyman Mike Miller, property management company Regency, and the 102nd Precinct worked together on a solution.

Wilson gave an update on the gates, saying that Regency is looking into the cost.

“They’re only pricing out one gate,” Wilson said. “They’re going to close the back of the parking lot. They actually have a vendor coming this week to measure it out.”

He added that efforts to deter the racers started two years ago, but there were some problems due to ownership of the parking lot being split between different stores, as well as Fire Department regulations.

“To close even part of the parking lot was tricky,” Wilson said. “It was hard to go through the channels to insert a stipulation with the Fire Department that they are allowed to close off part of the parking lot.”

While there is not a specific timeframe on when the gate will be put up, Wilson remained confident that the community will see action on the issue.

“They’re set on doing this,” Wilson said. “It will be installed.”

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