Down in the dumps: Homeless living in Ridge park restroom

Down in the dumps: Homeless living in Ridge park restroom
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

Nervous Bay Ridgites are demanding the city step up homeless-outreach efforts now that the destitute are making their home in a public park rest area on Shore Road. The city clears the building in response to locals’ complaints, but the homeless just return the next day, so officials need to come up with a more permanent solution, one neighbor said.

“I complain and complain to the city, but as soon as they convince people to leave, other homeless show up,” said Jesus Ayala, a superintendant for an apartment complex across the street. “They just keep coming. The city gated and locked it up, but they just climb over. I’ve given up.”

The two-story “comfort station” between Third and Fourth avenues is supposed to be a rest area and restroom for park-goers, but transients have overtaken it, furnishing the pavilion with couch cushions, tables, and piles of clothes.

It is usually only a problem in the summer, according to the district manager of Community Board 10. But people are reporting more homeless in the park building as the number of down-on-their-luck rises in Bay Ridge.

And the squatters are being bad neighbors — some aggressively beg, and others openly urinate in the park, despite the building being a toilet, one local said.

“I take walks in the park, and I’ve heard people shouting at each other and seen people urinating up there, which makes no sense because there’s a public bathroom like 10 feet away,” said Bay Ridgite Diane O’Rourke, who lives on nearby Marine Avenue. “I get a little anxious coming by here alone sometimes because of that.”

The Parks Department maintains the building, and workers gated and padlocked the pavilion, an agency spokeswoman said.

But that actually backfired and made the homeless feel more safe in shacking up there, according to Ayala.

The department continues to check on the area and is in contact with agencies that aid the destitute, a parks rep said.

“NYC Parks works closely with the Department of Homeless Services to engage homeless New Yorkers and offer them services and support,” said spokeswoman Maeri Ferguson.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at cspiv[email protected]nglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2517. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Haven for the homeless: Despite the Parks Department’s efforts to keep this Shore Road building clear of homeless, the building fills up night after night.
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

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