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Residents Complain Against Manhattan Park

Residents say notorious Manhattan park still neglected despite murders, drug use.

Residents Complain Against Manhattan Park

A Lower Manhattan park has been plagued with violent crime and is falling into disrepair — and some local residents say the city is failing to use promised funding and resources to fix the problems.

Sara D. Roosevelt Park covers a seven-block area spanning from Chinatown to the Lower East Side. The park’s playgrounds, gardens and sports fields were designed to be a refuge in the midst of the dense neighborhoods.

But a large section of the park near Grand Street, called the Lions Gate, has become what local landlord Brian Chin calls “no-go zones” because of open drug dealing, increased crime and fights among people living in the park.

Earlier this month, a 15-year-old homeless youth was charged with fatally stabbing a 25-year-old homeless man, Pasquale Alonso, and wounding another man in the Lions Gate section of the park, according to the NYPD.

Alonso’s murder was the second killing inside the park since 2021, when a delivery worker, Sala Miah, was stabbed in the park by a man who stole his electric bike, according to police.

Conditions in the park drew citywide attention last year, when a homeless man with mental illness who was known to hang around the Lions Gate allegedly followed Christina Yuna Lee into her apartment and stabbed her to death . Her accused killer, Assamad Nash, was found unfit for trial in June.

There have also been more than three dozen felony assaults and robberies within the park since 2019, according to NYPD data.

“You would be shocked how there is no rule of law that applies anymore,” said Chin, who was Lee’s landlord. He helped launch the Sara D. Roosevelt Park Alliance to spur improvements in the area.

The Lions Gate section is covered with litter, including needles. The sidewalks are crumbling and portions of the fencing are collapsing. The parks department has an office inside a stately brick building in the middle of the Lions Gate, next to the field where Alonso was murdered.

In 2021, the park received $15 million through the rezoning of SoHo and NoHo. The state sent $3.3 million last year to revitalize the park, and Mayor Eric Adams allocated another $1.8 million this year.

That’s more than $20 million to fix the problems in the park, yet Chin and other community advocates say they haven’t seen any efforts to address safety concerns, including basic requests for additional lighting, cleaning and police patrols. 

“You can see the state of disrepair that’s happening,” Chin said. “There’s no ground being broken, there’s not even an act of cleanup effort made by the parks department. There’s no real movement from the police as well.”

He added, “It seems like the answer is pretty simple: Enforcement within the park, cleaning within the park, and upkeep within the park.”

Parks department spokesperson Kelsey Jean-Baptiste said the city is in the design phase of renovating Sara D. Roosevelt Park. She added that the department’s staff coordinate with the Department of Homeless Services and NYPD to address problems, and that the city has added needle drop boxes at the park to reduce drug debris.

“In parks across the city, our staff engage on a daily basis with individuals experiencing drug addiction,” Jean-Baptiste said in a statement. “We work with our partners to offer resources and aid while treating people with compassion and dignity and promoting improved quality of life for all New Yorkers.”

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