Located at the intersection of Austin Street and Union Turnpike, the underpass allows people to cross over the Jackie Robinson Parkway and connect between Forest Hills and Kew Gardens without walking down Queens Boulevard.
Morgenstern has been living in Kew Gardens for nearly 20 years, and although the underpass wasn’t always in the best shape, but he said now it's worse.
“When I first got here, it wasn’t that bad,” he said. “But over the years it has gotten really filthy with garbage, and as time went on you’d want to avoid it, especially at night.”
He says many people avoid the underpass due to the conditions. The pedestrian walkway is littered with garbage, and smells of urine.
“It’s a shame,” he said. “The only people I see using it are teenagers.”
Morgenstern said his neighbors have told him that there’s a growing homeless population from the nearby shelter at the Comfort Inn hanging out in the underpass.
Morgenstern created a petition on Change.org calling on Borough President Melinda Katz and Department of Sanitation (DSNY) Commissioner Kathryn Garcia to work to clean the underpass.
In response, Brian Nolan of DSNY Community Affairs wrote an email to Morgenstern stating that local district officers were monitoring the area and would take appropriate action when warranted.
Nolan also noted that a supervisor from Queens West Sanitation District 6 inspected the location earlier in the month and removed litter from the stairway.
A representative from Queens Borough President’s office also reached out to Morgenstern about the underpass.
“It’s right down the road from the courthouse, but I’m sure no one who works at Queens Borough Hall or the courthouse have ever used the underpass,” he said. “It’s probably just residents who ever go in there.”
Morgenstern also hopes that once the underpass is cleaned up, the city can make more improvements, such more lighting and consistent security canvasses.
“There are other areas in Kew Gardens that have security, and the underpass is a place that really needs it,” he said. “As a longtime Kew Gardens resident, I just want to bring attention to the issue.”