Loitering teens source of ire at recent meeting
The saying, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” came to mind when the issue of students from Sewanhaka High School hanging out at a nearby apartment building was brought up by residents at the Nov. 3 Stewart Manor Board of Trustees meeting. This problem with some of Stewart Manor’s younger neighbors dominated the evening’s discussion. High school students from the area have drawn the ire of village residents for loitering near Argyle Road before school and committing illicit acts. During the meeting’s public comments, resident Grace Palestino mentioned an ongoing problem relating to illegal drug use behind the nearby Garden Apartments complex. Sewanhaka High School students are suspected of being the main culprits.
Residents have reported seeing several teenagers, allegedly students from the nearby high school, smoking marijuana and using other illegal drugs in the alley behind the apartments at 605-625 Tulip Ave. The kids have been spotted throughout the day including early in the mornings before school. One resident reported at least one incident of public urination by one of the teens on a neighbor’s lawn. The alley faces out Argyle Road in Stewart Manor.
“I’m not trying to give the kids a hard time. I don’t care what they do, just don’t do it there,” said Stewart Manor Fire Chief Tom Skinner, who has witnessed the activity several times over the years. “There are little kids on that block and they don’t need the bad influence.”
Palestino hoped village code enforcement could push the school to take disciplinary action by photographing the kids in the act and bringing the pictures to the school.
“They can drive around the village but they can’t confront the teenagers,” explained Trustee John Egan.
Because this is an issue occurring on the private property of the apartment complex, the village is limited in what action it can take against the alleged perpetrators.
“This is a police issue,” explained Mayor Gerard Tangredi. “Whether it’s smoking or using illegal drugs, the only people that can stop it are the police.”
The board did state that it was open to reaching out to Principal Debra Lidowsky at Sewanhaka to see what further restrictions they might be able to place on the students.
This has been an ongoing issue, and Skinner says that he’s been in contact with the school administration in the past.
“The school does help, but then after a few months pass, the problem goes away, and then the kids come right back,” Skinner said.
It was also suggested that the apartment complex does not properly lock the doors to its laundry room and the teens are believed to be sneaking inside to smoke during the cold weather.
Sewanhaka Assistant Principal Paul Naraine said that the school took action against students smoking behind the apartments four or five years ago and haven’t received any complaints since then until this past week when the Stewart Manor Board of Trustees alerted them of the renewed activity. Naraine reached out to the apartments’ custodian years ago and suggested locking the laundry room door for the safety of the community at large.
“If anyone sees anything, let me know right away and either myself or a dean will go over and reprimand the students,” Naraine said. When dealing with the issue in the past, students caught smoking in the alley were suspended. The punishment seemed to work as a deterrent until now.
After the discussion of the illicit behavior, Chief Skinner once again mentioned the village’s need for young volunteers at the Fire Department. Trustee Bill Grogan echoed those sentiments.
Looking ahead, the village will be recognizing Small Business Saturday this year by lifting some of the muni-meter restrictions along Covert Ave on Nov. 29. This will also be in effect on Black Friday. The community businesses on Covert Ave. have asked the board to make these allowances to help drive-in business.
The board of trustees will be holding two public hearings on Monday, Dec. 1 before their regularly scheduled meeting. The first, at 7:30 p.m., will deal with the renewal of the village’s contract with Cablevision. The second, at 7:45 p.m., will explain two new proposed local laws relating to the purchase of outside compressors.