Police from the 111th Precinct said they were aware of reports from residents that a number of dealers were selling drugs in Bayside’s Marie Curie Park and narcotics detectives have been conducting an investigation, according to the Times Ledger.
The park, on 211th Street between 46th Road and 46th Avenue, is situated behind the Marie Curie Middle School and one block away from the Bayside School. It is filled with young children, particularly on fair-weather afternoons.
A Bayside resident of 11 years who wished to remain anonymous contacted the TimesLedger Newspapers last week and described a group of four to five black men in their early-to-mid-20s who smoke marijuana and sell drugs to adults and children in the park.
“They’re just grown men who sit in front of the bathroom in the center of the park. They don’t belong there and they don’t have kids,” the resident said, adding that the suspects congregate at the handball courts near the southeastern section of the park as well. “There are people who come up to them every 30 minutes.”
The police said they were looking at a nearby house in connection with the alleged drug sales, but would not comment further on the specifics of the investigation.
Community Board 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece said no one had come to him directly about the current reports, but added that drug dealing has been a problem in the park, on and off, for decades.
He said police used to routinely patrol the area and make arrests.
“It’s a fact of life that there’s just not enough police to go around,” he said, and vowed to take a proactive approach to work with the police.
Bayside activist Mandingo Tshaka said the park has been a hot spot for illicit activities going back to the days when crack cocaine was sold in the 1980s and that he has been working on remedies to the problem to no avail.
Tshaka has attempted to have the park renamed from Marie Curie Park to Marie Curie Playground, reasoning that this would formally prohibit visitors from entering it without children.
CB 11 District Manager Susan Seinfeld said the city Parks Department told her that regardless of the name, the rules posted near the park’s entrance govern who can and cannot enter.
In addition to banning the use of illegal drugs, the posted rules do not allow adults in the play equipment area except when in the company of children, although Tshaka argues that the delineation between the play equipment area is not clear.
He also said he would like to see more “Drug Free School Zone” signs posted around the Marie Curie and Bayside schools.
Seinfeld said she was told the city was not producing the signs anymore.
“The police say they don’t need a sign. Drugs are illegal; it doesn’t matter if there’s a sign. Anywhere they’re doing drugs they can be arrested,” she said.