Cops worry over street rename vote

A long−awaited project to rename a number of streets in Douglaston will be voted on by Community Board 11 at its upcoming meeting.
By Nathan Duke

A plan to change seven numbered streets in Douglaston back to their original names will finally be put to a vote at Community Board 11’s upcoming meeting as board members and community leaders question whether the proposal would make it difficult to reach locations in the community.

The City Council voted to restore the names of six roadways in the neighborhood last fall and the Douglaston Little Neck Historical Society had proposed changing the names of seven other streets back to their original names. CB 11 had planned to decide on the measure this month, but pushed back the vote to its May 4 meeting.

CB 11 Chairman Jerry Iannece said there has been some concern from the city’s fire and police departments that emergency responders would have difficulty finding Douglaston homes if street names are changed. But he did not expect the board’s vote would stall the proposal.

“From what I’m hearing, there’s quite a bit of support in Douglas Hills,” he said. “I’m pretty confident it will go forward.”

Under the proposal, 235th Street between the north and south side of Douglaston Parkway along the Long Island Rail Road will become Main Avenue, while 240th Street between 43rd and Depew avenues will be changed to Prospect Avenue. In addition, 242nd Street between 43rd and 44th avenues will become Hamilton Avenue, 243rd Street between 44th Avenue and Depew Avenue will change to Orient Avenue, 44th Avenue between Douglaston Parkway and 244th Street will be Church Street, 43rd Avenue between the intersection of Douglaston Parkway and 240th and 243rd streets will change to Pine Street and 42nd Avenue between the LIRR’s dead end and 243rd Street will become Poplar Street.

Scott Hanover, deputy inspector of the 111th Precinct, told the board at its April meeting to make sure newly designated street names did not already exist in other borough neighborhoods. Last fall’s renamed streets included at least one that already existed in another community.

“It could be a problem for EMS and firemen, so we wish they would come up with other names,” a precinct spokesman said. “We don’t care what they name the streets. Our concern is the safety of the community.”

Julia Schoeck, president of the Douglaston Little Neck Historical Society, said she had 70 letters of support for the proposal from community members.

“In my opinion, this is a brouhaha about something that is nothing,” said Bill Sievers, vice president of the society. “There may be some things that need to be done to conform with the police and fire departments. But this has been done several times before and it’s never aroused so much interest.”

Some CB 11 members said they did not support the proposal.

“Our streets are in a grid pattern,” Frank Skala said. “The police and firemen don’t want it. If you’re an ambulance driver, is this going to make a place more difficult to find? I think it’s a move in the wrong direction.”

The city had changed the streets’ signs to numerical names in the 1920s to put them in line with the street grid, but in the 1970s returned them to their original names. A number of streets never had their names changed back, leading to confusion over addresses and occasional lost mail.

If the proposal passes, the City Council would then have to vote on changes to the city map.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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