After hearing about problems in the Upper West Side park on West 73rd Street from numerous constituents, City Council Member (and Manhattan Borough President-elect) Gale Brewer sent the following letter to Parks Department Commissioner Veronica White:
Dear Commissioner White,
As I recently discussed with you on the telephone, I write on behalf of Bruce Teitelbaum and other residents who contacted my office regarding what they believe is a worsening quality of life environment at Verdi Square Park, located at West 73 Street and Broadway.
Mr. Teitelbaum reports that on October 9 park-goers discovered a homeless individual deceased in the park. Residents report that it took more than an hour for city services to come and remove the body. Residents report that there has been an increase in homeless and apparently mentally disturbed people in the park, and that the trash and rats continue to be a problem.
As you know, I have brought my concerns, along with the need for better park sanitation, to your office's attention in the past. In 2009, I worked with Manhattan Borough Commissioner Bill Castro to have the Department of Parks and Recreation coordinate with the Department of Homeless Services regarding the homeless population in the park. Earlier this year I advocated for interagency coordination of pest
management, and I am pleased that the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has been actively baiting the area. Most recently, I funded solar powered trash compacting waste baskets to be placed in Verdi Square Park and have begun initial conversations with Manhattan Borough parks staff to work on remediating the park's problems. The accompanying re-design must move quickly so that the baskets can be installed and the landscaping re-done to be less attractive to rats.
Furthermore, the recent incident in Riverside Park where a mentally disturbed homeless man slashed innocent bystanders has understandably greatly upset many of my constituents. We need to ensure that a similar situation does not happen at Verdi Square Park. I request that Parks Enforcement provide increased surveillance in Verdi Square Park, and that my office receive an update on the Department's efforts to deal
with the homelessness and sanitation problems. I have also copied the local precinct, the NYPD Homeless Unit, and Project Outreach at Goddard Riverside Community Center.
Thank you for your attention to this issue. It needs your immediate attention.
Gale A. Brewer