Those ice cream truck jingles are keeping New Yorkers up at night

By Rich Calder and Natalie O’Neill

Originally published by the NY Post on June 27, 2016

Photo: Christopher Sadowski

Photo: Christopher Sadowski

The city isn’t sweet on late-night ice cream truck jingles.

Vendors shouldn’t be allowed to blast the dizzying ditties between 9 pm and 9 am, the Department of Environmental Protection said at a hearing Monday.

New Yorkers have lodged a brain-freezing 1,013 noise complaints about the trucks so far in 2016 — and summer has only just begun.

Despite hundreds of complaints, only one jingle-blasting jerk has been ticketed for playing music too loudly this year, city officials said.

“Something is not working when you have violations at such low of a level. C’mon only one? Give me a break!” said City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Queens), who introduced a bill to mute the tinkly tunes last year.

“Ice cream jingles are among the most annoying noises assaulting New Yorkers’ ears every day.”

Micheal Hearst — who composed “Songs for Ice Cream Trucks,” used by vendors across the Big Apple — begs to differ.

“I love the sound of an ice cream truck jingle— it’s nostalgic. I would vote for ban on Harley Davidson volume before ice cream truck jingles. It’s unfair to single-out jingles,” Hearst, 43, said when asked about the bill.

Right now, it’s hard for the city to issue summonses because inspectors have to catch vendors in the act. Officials are pushing to change that.

Dromm also also wants to amend the city’s noise code to give inspectors more leeway in issuing summonses. The law now allows jingles to be played at a low decibel level.

Residents— especially ones in the Bronx and Brooklyn — have griped for years that the music keeps them awake and jangles their nerves.

Hearst, a Brooklyn resident, even admitted, “It can be annoying hearing one song over and over.”

Read more here.

StreetsBlog: Ped Plazas in Low-Income Neighborhoods Get $800,000 Boost From Chase

Under cloudy skies this morning at Corona Plaza, elected officials and community members gathered to announce an $800,000 contribution from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation to help fund the upkeep of pedestrian plazas in low-income communities. The funds are going to the Neighborhood Plaza Partnership (NPP), a program of the Horticultural Society of New York that works with merchant associations and non-profits to maintain plazas in neighborhoods including Corona, Jackson Heights, East New York, and Ridgewood.

Noting that JPMorgan Chase chairman Jamie Dimon grew up in Jackson Heights, Dromm said creating plaza space in all of the city’s neighborhoods is a social justice and economic justice issue. “Our communities deserve to have plazas just as much as the communities where there are large corporate sponsors,” he said. Dromm’s staff is already working with merchants around Diversity Plaza to raise money. ”We need to add to the $800,000 for each of the plazas,” he said. “We want people to literally get to buy in to this program.”

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Queens Gazette: Dromm Joins Jackson Heights Beautification Group For Diversity Plaza Clean UP

Councilmember Daniel Dromm joined theJackson Heights Beautification Group and many community members to clean up 74th and 73rd streets and Diversity Plaza on Saturday.

About 30 residents, students and community leaders picked up trash, planted daffodil bulbs and mums in the planters and tree wells and added mulch and compost to the tree wells.

“Keeping our streets and Diversity Plaza, which has become an essential community gathering space, clean is important for insuring a high quality of life for Jackson Heights residents,” Dromm said. “I thank the Jackson HeightsBeautification Group for organizing the event.”

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DNAinfo: Diversity Plaza to Get More Seating and Improved Lighting

Councilman Dromm and the DOT will contribute a combined $2.5 million to improve the plaza. photo: Veronica C./Foursquare

By Katie Honan

JACKSON HEIGHTS — A local pedestrian plaza will be getting more seats, better lighting and maps — and the community will have the chance to vote on even more improvements — thanks to funding from the area’s councilman and the city.

City Councilman Daniel Dromm announced plans to allocate $500,000 from his discretionary funds to pay for improvements to Diversity Plaza, which is on 37th Road between 73rd and 74th streets in Jackson Heights.

The plaza will receive additional seating, improved lighting and community maps with directions to the plaza once it becomes permanent, he said.

“These improvements will go a long way to build out an asset that our community has come to adopt as a town square,” Dromm said.

In addition to the funds from Dromm’s office, the Department of Transportation has earmarked $2 million to make even more changes to the plaza — changes which residents will be able to discuss and vote on at a meeting later this fall.

The money could go towards things like an improved street structure and a public pay toilet, the councilman said.

“Diversity Plaza is a result of tremendous community effort, from the intensive transportation planning sessions that developed it, to the efforts of the local merchants and civic groups that are now sustaining it,” said Andy Wiley-Schwartz, an assistant commissioner at the DOT.

The street was closed and turned into a pedestrian plaza in 2011. It is currently in its temporary design phase, but the additional money will help transition it into a permanent space.


Ny1: Touring Daniel Dromm’s District

NY1 VIDEO: The Road to City Hall’s Errol Louis visited City Councilman Daniel Dromm’s 25th city council district in Queens.

Ny1: Local Leaders Dedicate New Public Park To Queens Boy Who Died Last Year

NY1 VIDEO: Several leaders gathered on Monday to dedicate a new public park in Jackson Heights to 12-year old Rory Staunton, a Queens boy who passed away last year from septic shock.

NY1: MTA Considers Reopening Elmhurst LIRR Station

NY1 VIDEO: Working with Congressman Crowley and City Council Member Dromm, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is considering reopening a shuttered Long Island Rail Road station in Elmhurst, and is seeking residents’ feedback before making a decision via Elmhurst Travel Surveys.

See more at:–seeks-residents–input/#sthash.Mq0IKyT8.dpuf

NY Daily News: Ice cream truck ‘turf wars’ hit sour note

From NY Daily News: By Joe Stepansky

Jackson Heights residents aren’t sweet on playground-invading ice cream trucks or their late-night rounds.

Increasingly aggressive vendors are encroaching on play places and blasting jingles deep into the night, residents said.

But the drivers say that unpermitted push-cart vendors are eating into their sales, prompting them to adopt hard-sell tactics to make ends meet.

“These ice cream truck turf wars have had a negative impact on the community because we have to deal with their negative behavior,” said City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), who asked the police to crack down on the aggressive behavior at a recent meeting with officials at the 115th Precinct.

The Parks Department forbids ice cream trucks from operating near playgrounds unless they have a permit, which is issued through a competitive bid, an agency official said.

But trucks are blatantly flouting the rule, including at Travers Park, polluting the air with emissions, residents said.

In July, a Mr. Softee truck pulled into the 78th St. play street next to Travers Park after moving a barricade, said Kabir Ahmed, 22, a play street supervisor hired by a local civic group.

“I was so frustrated,” said Ahmed, who called the cops after the truck driver refused to leave for three hours. “It’s annoying to smell all that gas. … That’s a health hazard.”

The Parks Department granted only one vending permit for Travers Park, to Mr. Softee, but it was limited to 34th Ave., an agency spokesman said.

Pushcarts often roll up into the play street, said Ahmed, prompting ice cream trucks to follow.

Increased competition is pushing drivers to the limit, said Soft Ice Cream truck driver, Marco Neira, 52, who has made the Jackson Heights rounds for 23 years.

In other years, Neira said, an average day would yield up to $800 after expenses. This summer, he has averaged $300.

“The illegal vendors plus the [Health Department] inspectors — they’re killing our business,” said Neira. “We work till 10 or 11 o’clock at night to make some money.”

But the post-dusk jingles have neighbors up in arms, said resident Dudley Stewart, 40.

“It’s woken up my kids,” he said.

Ice cream trucks are permitted to play their jingles at any time while in motion, but residents can complain to 311, a spokesman for the city Department of Environmental Protection said.

Dromm urged drivers to use more discretion.

“The competitiveness doesn’t mean people should be rude,” he said.

NY Daily News: Jackson Heights set to get new park space and a new pedestrian plaza

From NY Daily News: By Clare Trapasso

Creating new open space in the borough’s more congested communities is no easy feat.

But in Jackson Heights, local leaders successfully lobbied the city to purchase a school yard for park land.

And an under-utilized street will soon be transformed into a permanent pedestrian plaza.

City Department of Transportation officials are to present a proposal for the plaza on Monday at a Community Board 3 transportation committee meeting.

“We’re opening up new space where it didn’t exist before,” said City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights). “It’s a reclaiming of the land.”

This is the fifth summer that 78th St., between 34th Ave. and Northern Blvd., was closed to traffic and opened as a play street.

The city has approved turning the block into a pedestrian plaza. Details are being ironed out.

“It’s a great no-cost solution to the problem of not enough open space,” said Will Sweeney, one of the founders of the Jackson Heights Green Alliance, which advocated for turning the street into a permanent pedestrian plaza.

“There’s really nowhere else in the community for kids to ride their bikes or run around as on 78th St.,” he said.

The street runs between the existing Travers Park, which has a playground and basketball courts, and an open field at the Garden School that the city agreed to purchase for park land.

“Seventy-eighth Street will be a natural bridge between the existing park and the new park space,” said Alliance member Donovan Finn.

The Garden School yard will be open to the community when the private school is not in session. The property must first undergo an environmental review, which is expected to take six to eight months, Dromm said.

Arthur Gruen, president of the Garden School’s Board of Trustees, said he’s pleased by the sale.

“It allows us to continue to use the field when we need it,” he said. And “the community has it at times when they can benefit the most.”

Gruen is also a fan of the pedestrian plaza, he said, provided school children can still be picked up and dropped off safely.

The Garden School is still working out design details with the city, he said.

James Yolles, a spokesman for New Yorkers for Parks, a citywide advocacy group, said Jackson Heights was “really devoid of quality green space.”

But with the addition of the play street and the yard, “this is a really great example of local groups creating open space in an area that badly needed it,” he said.