BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) and Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) are asking new Police Commissioner Bill Bratton to make Roosevelt Avenue a priority, by creating a Task Force that would help alleviate the bustling corridor’s crime and violence rate.
In a letter sent to Bratton on Jan. 14, the officials asked him for a strong level of commitment to rescue the economic heart of the community from the pimps, counterfeiters and assorted dangerous characters who for far too long have kept Roosevelt Avenue from realizing what they consider to be untapped potential.
They reminded him of the original Roosevelt Avenue Task Force, convened in 1991, which drew from police, fire, and buildings departments and other agencies.
“To overcome the extent, depth and magnitude of the violence and criminal activity plaguing Roosevelt Avenue today, we would like to suggest that you consider working to launch a similarly comprehensive, targeted, interagency operation,” the letter read. “The Task Force was so successful in closing down brothels and fighting crime, it was allowed to lapse after just four years in action.”
Ferreras said some of the most common and consistent issues her constituents talk to her about consist of crime, litter, poor lighting and safety along Roosevelt Avenue, between the 74th Street and 103rd Street stops of the No. 7 line.
“The problems on Roosevelt Avenue hurt our working and immigrant community, our small businesses, and they negatively affect our quality of life,” she said.
Peralta said cleaning up Roosevelt Avenue once and for all is not an easy job, but the template for getting it done is the effort that went into rehabilitating Times Square in the 1980s.
“Commissioner Bratton was a part of that Times Square effort, as well as the success of the Roosevelt Avenue Task Force that operated in the early 1990s,” he said. “We need him to bring that experience to bear for Roosevelt Avenue to realize its untapped potential as an economic engine and source of jobs.”
Seth Talyor, executive director of the 82nd Street Partnership, which is working to expand to a Business Improvement District, said the Task Force that Peralta and Ferreras is calling for will work towards addressing the larger crime issues in the neighborhood that have long plagued Roosevelt Avenue.
“The Business Improvement District will focus more on quality of life, cleanliness, working with the business communities to enhance the public places and overall, make the corridor a more inviting place,” he said. “Economic development is a big puzzle, so the initiative that our elected officials are calling for is an important one that will work well with the BID.”
Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Tsakhuja13.