Elected officials and residents are ripping City Hall over what they say is inaction about continuing crime, including prostitution, at the Umbrella Hotel in Kew Gardens.
Assemblyman Daniel Rosenthal (D-Flushing) called a meeting held online last Wednesday with officials, police and a representative from the mayor’s Community Affairs Unit “an embarrassment,” saying the city showed up “with literally no answers.”
His criticism was echoed by others in the area, from residents to elected officials.
The hotel has been a point of contention in the community, with a pair of shootings over the summer and drug and noise complaints from nearby residents.
“It’s basically a criminal enterprise taking place inside the hotel,” said community leader Ethan Felder.
He also criticized the city for not being more involved.
“It’s shocking that they’re not acting decisively and cohesively to address the problem before, God forbid, something even worse happens,” Felder said, adding, “Clearly it’s fallen through the cracks and City Hall is not taking action.”
Rosenthal said a colleague was told by a top City Hall official: “We don’t have time for this.”
But Rosenthal says that’s not a valid excuse for the inaction.
“You run a city of eight million people. This is your job,” he said, adding, “It’s not like we gave you a call on Monday and wanted answers by Tuesday.”
Capt. Antonio Fidacaro, commanding officer of the 102nd Precinct, said a few arrests have been made in recent weeks, including some related to prostitution, which “appears to have an underage nexus to it” but is still under investigation.
Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), who called the online meeting a “disaster,” and wants to see the hotel closed, also criticized the city for saying there isn’t enough time to deal with the issue.
“You have to make time for this,” she told the Chronicle. “Child prostitution? You should be making time for this. Shootings? You should making time for this. Having no time is no excuse at all. It’s insulting.”
Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) told the Chronicle in an email that he too is disappointed by the mayor’s handling of the situation.
“We understand that there are pressing issues this administration is focused on,” he said. “However, multiple shootings, gang violence, the NYPD being forced to deploy officers at all hours and now reports of the human trafficking of a child at this location deserve and demand the Mayor’s attention.”
Fidacaro, who in August called the hotel “the No. 1 problem for me,” said he is surprised crime is still occurring at the site.
“I am because we have police officers stationed in front of there basically 24/7,” he said. “You’d think that with uniformed officers in front of a location that the crime would subside but it doesn’t appear that it has that much.”
Community Board 9 member Andrea Crawford told the Chronicle Monday, “This is not an inconvenience. This is a dangerous situation.”
Rosenthal said he would like to see inspectors sent to the hotel or have the city issue a nuisance abatement order.
“You can be a homeowner in the city, one 311 call you get the Department of Sanitation and [Department of Environmental Protection] come to your house and issue you a fine, but yet we have serious crimes going on at a hotel and we can’t get city agencies to act,” Rosenthal said. “It’s just mindblowing to me.”
Problems at the hotel have been documented in police reports and news stories, and elected officials are still demanding action. “The mayor is, quite frankly, disrespecting our neighborhood,” Rosenthal said.
The Mayor’s Office did not respond to a request for comment for this story.