A Briarwood church has grown frustrated with an ongoing problem facing the property.
For seven years, the Victoria Congregational Church at 144-64 87 Ave. has been having issues with inebriated individuals at all times of day and night sleeping and consuming alcohol on a ramp that acts as one of the main entrances to the church and in front of the parsonage’s primary entrance door located next to the church.
The Rev. Mark Marsh, pastor of the Victoria Congregational Church, has reached out to Capt. Frederick Grover, the commanding officer of the 107th Precinct in Flushing, in an effort to solve the issue, but little to no action has been taken.
“We need patrols but not only that, we need the officers to get out of the car and walk onto the property,” Marsh said. “Normally they just drive through.”
The times when Marsh had called 911, police officers did not show up at all or almost 45 minutes after the initial call was made.
One time, Marsh had to wait over an hour to go home because the exit was blocked. He called 911 but the police did not respond even though the operator knew an inebriated individual had a brick in his hand and threatened to throw it at Marsh.
Though the individuals have become a nuisance, Marsh said he is not looking to harm anyone.
“What we noticed is that the same people that were here in 2006 are still using the ramp today,” he said. “We’ve talked to the precinct about maybe having some program that the police could put them through to help them.”
According to Marsh, the church is not allowed to contact a social agency to remove the drunken individuals.
“The police are the only ones allowed to contact them and request their help,” he said. “The only way we would be able to get a social agency involved is if we go up to the individuals and ask if they would like us to take them to a facility but if they say no, there is nothing we can do to force them.”
Marsh said that the church has had to call three ambulances in the past month and has found old carpets, trash and even feces at the top of the ramp.
The reverend has been speaking with Councilman Jim Gennaro’s (D-Fresh Meadows) office to find a solution. The councilman has also reached out to Grover.
According to the 107th Precinct, police officers had been making rounds in the area a few months ago but the ramp, which is set back from the curb, is hard to see at night. Officers have reportedly suggested the church install cameras or motion-sensor lights that would shoo away loiterers, but the church has yet to do so.
“If it was just a matter of being homeless, the congregation would not be saying anything about someone sleeping over one night, but we share the space with two other congregations, one of which has seen a decline in attendance because of these individuals approaching them and scaring them away,” Marsh said.
The 107th Precinct said that they would look into working with Marsh and Victoria Congregational Church officials to make the area safer.