Brooklyn, NY – Today, U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08), a member of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote to the Secretary of the Department of the Interior, asking for enhanced security patrols and other measures to protect residents who visit Spring Creek Park in Howard Beach.
On August 2, Karina Vetrano, an area resident, was brutally murdered while jogging along an expanse of underdeveloped wetlands that stretches through Spring Creek Park and the Gateway National Recreation Area. The area where Ms. Vetrano was found, near the intersection of 161st Avenue and 78th street, is a sprawling stretch of park space with mostly marshes, hemmed in by roadways and houses. It has been reported that its weeds, also known as phragmites, reach heights up to 12 feet.
The letter states:
“The fact that this vibrant, bright young woman was brutally assaulted and killed in broad daylight at the largest urban National Park in the nation shocks the conscience. Residents in Howard Beach and throughout New York City deserve a safe and secure recreational space. In this regard, there are several steps the National Park Service should take in order to enhance security and prevent a tragic incident like this from happening again.
First, the Department of the Interior (DOI) must provide the Gateway National Recreation area with the resources needed to maintain the parkland in a manner that controls growth of the shrubbery and weeds, which is a potential shelter for criminal conduct. Second, the DOI should work closely with City, State and Federal law enforcement authorities in order to increase the security presence in the area – including significantly enhanced patrols by U.S. Park Police in the interior and on the perimeter of the park. Third, the park needs improved lighting and security cameras to monitor activity and serve as a deterrent. Lastly, the DOI should expedite execution of the $69 million ecological restoration project which will greatly improve the user-friendly nature of the park.
In short, we must do everything possible to prevent another tragic murder from ever happening again.”