Campaign Launched in Flushing to Clean the Name of 40th Road

Council member Peter Koo, the Flushing BID and other community organizations signed a petition in an effort to restore 40th Road back to its former status as a lively commercial district. (Photo by Lei Zhu via World Journal)

In Flushing, 40th Road was once known as the “restaurant street” thanks to the numerous ones that lined the sidewalks. But in recent years, its reputation has been tarnished by the ever-growing business of illegal massage parlors that pepper the street. Council member Peter Koo’s office and a group of local organizations including the Flushing BID, Chinese Christian Herald Crusades and the James A. Bland Resident Association recently launched a petition to call on the Flushing community to work together to clean up the name of 40th Road and turn it back into the vibrant commercial hub it used to be.

Eight illegal massage parlors now call the short 40th Road home. They provide services 24/7. Scantily-clad masseuses soliciting clients have become a ubiquitous scene on the street. Dian Yu, executive director of the Flushing BID, said once upon a time, 40th Road was one of the most vibrant and busiest streets in Flushing, with more than 20 restaurants and several travel agencies. But now it is known more for the illegal massage parlors than as a food mecca.

Yu said the BID has been receiving more and more complaints regarding illegal massage parlors from businesses, residents, customers and even passengers of the LIRR which has a stop nearby. Some businesses that had been operating on the street for more than a decade had decided to close shop and escape to other locations.

Yu said the massage parlors are now a nuisance in the community. That’s why the BID reached out to the council member’s office and other community organizations to launch the “Save 40th Road, Oust the Illegal Massage Businesses from Flushing Community” campaign. The organizers called on Flushing businesses and residents to sign a petition to show their resolve, and they vowed to mobilize landlords, businesses and government agencies.

Many people who visited 40th Road have been bothered by its reputation as a red light district. Mr. Ma, who went to a restaurant on 40th Road with his wife, recently shared a horrifying experience. After the meal, he went to the bathroom and his wife went out to the street to wait for him. Suddenly, a Hispanic man pulled her into his arms and asked her, “How much?”

“The illegal massage parlors on 40th Road not only disrupt the everyday life of businesses, residents and visitors, but also give a bad name to the Flushing community,” said Koo. “Flushing doesn’t want to be known as the ‘red light district’.” Koo said people in the community extend great sympathy to the masseuses who have to do what they do to make ends meet. But they also hope these women can break free from the business and find a new job. The job market is strong in New York now and the programs offered by many service organizations, such as English classes and job training at the Chinese Christian Herald Crusades and the services provided by Garden of Hope, should be helpful.

People who would like to sign the petition can visit the Flushing BID website, call the BID at 1-718-888-1805 or visit its office at 135-20 39 Ave. 6th fl., Flushing.

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