No Parking signs should stay: Fire Department

The street has been at the center of a controversy over parking…

By Daniel Arimborgo

A Hollis Fire Department officer said he will not recommend removing No Parking signs on the Grand Central Parkway service road in front of buildings in a Holliswood apartment complex.

The street has been at the center of a controversy over parking restrictions, which residents say were not part of the Fire Department’s original parking ban recommendation.

Correspondence among Engine Company 301, the complex management, Councilman Sheldon Leffler (D-Hollis), Community Board 8, and the Department of Transportation — obtained by the Times-Ledger — led to the new parking prohibitions, which originally pertained only to an area on Cunningham Apartments-owned property in front of buildings on 208th street. Residents had no objections to parking restrictions there.

The Fire Department officer — Lt. John Dell of Engine Company 301 in Hollis, made an original recommendation to restrict parking at the 208th Street area.

In a phone interview, Dell said he had made no recommendations or even references to parking bans or restrictions on the service road.

Edward Weiss, the building manager of the Cunningham Heights apartment complex, sent a letter requesting that the community board secure parking restrictions on the Grand Central Parkway service road as well as 208th Street.

“ . . . we also show the dead-end circle on Grand Central Parkway Service Road that should also have a ‘No Standing-No Parking’ fire zone,” Weiss wrote to Community Board 8.

Residents believe this suggestion was a ploy by management to force them to use and pay for the complex’s garage.

Weiss has declined to comment to the Times-Ledger.

“I honestly see nothing wrong with what they [the DOT] did,” Dell said. The parking ban “doesn’t extend anywhere past the circle. I am not going to make any recommendation to change anything,” he added, referring to the traffic circle at the east end of the service road.

A No Parking sign was seen some distance from that circle two weeks ago, however. All parking between the sign and the dead end is now banned.

Maureen Ragland, a tenant at 210-40 Grand Central Parkway inside the complex whose building overlooks the service road, said she valued being able to use the street for parking. She said Weiss “piggybacked” Dell’s letter, taking it upon himself to add the recommendation to ban parking on the east leg of the Grand Central Parkway service road.

Because the service road is city property, Community Board 8 passed the recommendation onto Leffler for further action with the city DOT.

Both CB 8 and Leffler’s office apparently lumped together Dell’s and Weiss’s recommendations. Ragland said she planned to meet with Leffler in the near future.

“I am going to request a one-on-one with him,” she said.

Mark Lefkoff, a Community Board 8 member who chairs the board’s safety committee, told Cunningham Heights residents at a recent board meeting that there was a letter written by a Battalion Chief Walter Murphy, who recommended that No Parking signs be placed on the Grand Central Parkway service road as well. Murphy was not available for comment by press time.

A copy of Murphy’s memo to CB 8 dated March 3, 1999 — a year and a half earlier than Dell’s memo— does not refer to a specific location at the complex other than “the circle.”

Murphy, however, told the Times-Ledger he was talking about the circle at the end of the Grand Central Parkway service road, which was the subject of an earlier meeting referred to in his memo.

Reach reporter Daniel Arimborgo by e-mail at [email protected] or call 229-0300 Ext. 141.