Municipal Government

Gateway National Park Needs Improved Security

September 25, 2016 
By Stephanie West

Howard Beach, NY –  Candidate for New York State Assembly Stacey Pheffer Amato is taking the National Park Service to task for "inadequate" safety infrastructure in the popular Gateway National Recreation Area around Jamaica Bay in Queens. Pheffer Amato's request comes just a week after new footage emerges of Howard Beach jogger Karina Vetrano's final moments before her August 2nd murder in the Spring Creek section of the park.

“As former President of the 100th Precinct Community Council, I am demanding the National Parks Service (NPS) furnish federal funds as soon as possible to pay for additional safety equipment. The installation of this safety infrastructure should be done in all of our National Parks. This must be done now order to keep all our citizens that use these parks safe.”said Danny Ruscillo, Former President of the 100th Precinct Community Council

"It's time the National Park Service recognize that Gateway is an urban park, with very different security needs than the Grand Canyon or Yosemite. Gateway is right in the middle of the largest city in the country, and having cameras and blue boxes here is simply a no-brainer," said Pheffer Amato.

"Security cameras are an essential law enforcement tool that help to deter illegal activity and aid local law enforcement in criminal investigations. It is unthinkable that this day in age, in an urban park like Gateway, we don't have cameras and other infrastructure to keep an eye on the area and aid visitors in distress," said Stacey Pheffer Amato, a local Democratic District Leader and candidate for the State Assembly's 23rd District. "I urge the National Park Service to recognize the unique needs of our urban parkland and install the infrastructure that will keep our families safe."

In a letter to Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Pheffer Amato called on the federal agency to install permanent security cameras and blue light emergency call boxes in Gateway National Recreation Area, the 26,000-acre National Park Service (NPS) land stretching across coastal New York City and New Jersey. Pheffer Amato characterized current safety infrastructure within the Jamaica Bay Unit of the park as "inadequate," given its urban location and record crowds.

The Assembly candidate also raised the concerns of many families in the community over the condition of the Spring Creek section of the park, where last August Howard Beach resident Karina Vetrano was brutally murdered during her evening jog in the park. According to Pheffer Amato, the land's "relative isolation, limited visibility due to overgrown grass, and lack of safety infrastructure" present a potential risk to unaccompanied park goers.

The request by Pheffer Amato comes just one week after video footage surfaced of Vetrano on that fateful evening. The clip, reportedly obtained from the private security cameras of a local resident living adjacent to the park, shows Vetrano jogging near the park entrance. This follows weeks of few leads in the case, despite a more than 300,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction. Police have stated that a DNA profile was obtained from evidence at the crime scene, though no suspect has been publicly announced.

“It is a necessity to have tightened security in parkland that is adjacent to our airports, and certainly with the terror threat that always exists in New York, the National Park Service (NPS) needs to step up their efforts with additional cameras and patrols. I would like to thank Stacey for keeping attention on this issue and making sure it remains a priority.” said Frank Dardani, President of the 106th Precinct Community Council

September 24, 2016

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