A Harlem youth football league called NY1 For You to help compete against garbage and drug paraphernalia at their home field. Susan Jhun filed the following report.
A home field advantage means something now for the nationally-ranked Harlem Jets youth football team since the condition of their field has improved.
“Since you were last here we've seen the conditions on the field improve tremendously. A lot more patrols, the garbage has been cleaned up considerably,” said Jennifer Davis, a parent of a Harlem Jet.
This is a huge improvement from a month ago when NY1 reported about the conditions at Harlem River Park, the home of the Jets.
“On any given night, there will be piles of garbage that meet us at the entrance of our field,” David said. “We've seen condom wrappers. We've seen hypodermic needles.”
“Rats everywhere, trash,” added Jessica Domenech.
Parents said the trash was generated by a large homeless population next to the field.
“We don't want to appear to be less than compassionate for the folks that are homeless, but some of the behavior that they're currently exhibiting is unacceptable in terms of the drug paraphernalia and all of that stuff that's kind of being left on the ground,” said Jamel Wright, president and founder of the Harlem Jets.
“There's drug use, soliciting. We've even had people kind of walking through our practices,” said Davis.
After repeated calls to the city and police had no effect on the field, parents contacted NY1 For You and NY1 called the Police and Parks Department.
A spokesman from Parks said the department was working with the NYPD and the Department of Homeless Services to increase outreach and enforcement related to the homeless population in the park.
A spokesman from the NYPD told NY1 a new commanding officer in the area was increasing patrols in the park.
Parents said police outreach has addressed the homeless situation.
“There seems to be a real focus on keeping this park clean and safe for our players,” said Davis.
A cleaner field is a touchdown for the Harlem Jets.