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Queens greenway used as parking lot for cars, sparking outrage. Here's what's being done about it

Parked cars take over a greenway in Queensbridge
Parked cars take over a greenway in Queensbridge 02:20

NEW YORK -- Some Queens residents are fuming over a beloved greenway that has turned into a car parking lot.

For mobility researcher John Surico, the paths are a ticket to the city. But he says one of his favorites in the western part of the borough is under a direct threat.

"To see it like this now is so dramatically different," he said.

The once-lush Queensbridge "Baby" Park Greenway, whose bike lane connects to the waterfront, has been taken over by cars.

"Once it happened with one person, it became accepted, normalized behavior," Surico said.

Alongside the bike path, vehicles crowd daily onto tire-torn dirt, forming craters that collect rainwater.

"This landscape is not built for two-ton vehicles," Surico said.

Attempts to stop parking on path easily thwarted

The stretch of land straddles NYCHA, the Parks Department, and the Department of Transportation. Each agency declined to address specific future plans to protect the greenway.

The NYPD did not respond to CBS New York's request for comment on enforcement, but NYCHA did.

"NYCHA is working in close coordination with our partners at NYC Parks and the Department of Transportation, as well as with Queensbridge resident leadership, to address concerns related to illegal and unauthorized parking along the greenway," the housing authority said in a statement.

"No Parking" signs were taped to tree trunks and then ripped down. The Parks Department added barriers at either end of the bike path to block cars, which now come in through a side entrance.

"We got a lot of people from other places coming to park here, and they go to the subway. That's the big issue," resident Michael Butler said.

"Our greenways connect New Yorkers to our city's greater park system so park goers can walk, jog, bike, and take in the great outdoors, safe from the distraction of car traffic," the Parks Department said. "With safety being our top priority, we have increased preventative measures to prevent cars from parking along this stretch of the greenway."  

Council Member Julie Won says barricading all entrances would limit NYCHA resident access to adjacent parking lots, which predate the greenway.

"The safety is going to be first, and illegal activity of illegal parking on the greenway has to stop," Won said.

Community advocate wants NYC to invest in the area

Queensbridge advocate Lashawn "Suga Ray" Marston said his vision for a garden on the land fell apart due to lack of funding.

"We talk about environmental sustainability. We talk about green space, parks, open space, it's a whole thing. But we got space back here that is flooding," he said. "It's a slap in the face, blatant disrespect."

He is asking the city to invest in the area.

"If there's not enough parking spaces, I don't know, figure it out. Fix the parking lots," he said. "But you can't do this. This is not okay."

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