The Mill Island Civic Association (MICA), which serves the Mill Island portion of the Mill Basin neighborhood, discussed illegally parked vehicles and scams during its last meeting of 2022 on Thursday, December 8th, at Temple Sholom, 2075 East 68th Street.
The meeting also served as the association’s holiday party, where about a dozen community members enjoyed refreshments, including bagels, cookies and coffee.
Neighborhood Coordination Officers from the 63rd Precinct David Belkin, Tricia Navarro-Caraballo and John Triano visited the meeting to touch base on some crime-related topics.
“We have a lot that we’re covering with the little resources that we have,” Belkin, who has been working in the community for around five years, said. “Sometimes there are two cop cars out there, sometimes there’s only one. In all senses, though, it’s a very safe neighborhood.”
First on the agenda was holiday-time scams, such as package pirates who steal deliveries off people’s doorsteps and phone calls that ask for gift cards in exchange for protection from a fake threat. Belkin said people shouldn’t give into demands from these phone scams and should try to make their mail deliveries “sign-for” only.
Another issue raised was recent car break-ins, which is one of the more prevalent types of crime in the area as opposed to the very low rate of violent crimes. The officers advised people to always lock their cars, even if they’re just going to run into a store quickly. Residents should also not leave any set of car keys or fobs inside the cars themselves, as this is another common way cars get broken into.
Belkin also discussed the private Fire and Security patrol that drives around Mill Island in a white SUV to deter and report crime.
This patrol was hired by members of the community who pooled money to pay for the service, but it is not at all affiliated with the association or its members, as MICA First Vice President A. Sinesi made clear.
The patrol isn’t affiliated with the precinct either. During its first month in operation about two years ago, the patrol communicated well with the precinct, but has since stopped keeping in touch and no longer reports situations to the police, Belkin said.
The officer said he will be arranging a meeting with the patrol in January to try to get on the same page.
Sinesi brought up car carriers, cargo trailers and commercial vans that he and other MICA members said are constantly parked and left around the neighborhood. They said that the vehicles make it hard for drivers to see while making turns due to their large size and that they’re an eyesore for the community.
Belkin explained that if trailers and carriers aren’t attached to a car and don’t have license plates, they’re not technically street-legal. In these cases, the vehicles can potentially be towed if the NYPD’s contracted truck towers are available — but the towers have long wait lists, as only five serve the entire city.
If the vehicles are street-legal but are parked where they shouldn’t be, they can be ticketed until their owner moves them. However, tickets often do not encourage the owners to move them and these trailers typically remain illegally parked, collecting tickets.
Michael Benjamin, representing State Senator Roxanne Persaud’s office, stopped by to remind attendees that Persaud will no longer represent the district in the New Year, as her district was shifted during redistricting. Instead, Kevin Parker will be Mill Island’s state senator.
The association is seeking more members and volunteers, according to Sinesi. He said there’s a lot that civic associations can offer residents.
“Communication to the neighborhood and camaraderie, those are the two magic words,” he said. “To get together, gives a forum for neighbors to get together and communication to let them know what’s happening.”