There’s Nowhere to Park

L.I.C. Residents Slam Alternate Side Plan

Claiming that it would exacerbate an already existing parking crunch, several residents came out in opposition to a plan to introduce alternate-side parking in Hunters Point at Community Board 2′s Thursday, Feb. 7 meeting at Sunnyside Community Services.

Thehe Department of City Planning’s Penny Lee (speaking at microphone) addressed members of Community Board 2 at their Feb. 7 meeting at Sunnyside Community Services.

The plan was unveiled at a January meeting at MoMA P.S. 1 following pleas and a petition from members of the community. But other homeowners came armed with a petition of their own.

“We do not have enough parking in Long Island City,” local resident Diane Hendry claimed. “I should not have to give up 16 hours of my month being a senseless car mover. I should not have to cough up $160 a month and park my car in the garages if that becomes my only option.”

She added that with the residential boom in the area, “we are now trying to fit 5,000 cars into 800 spaces.”

“What I’ve noticed is a lack of respect for the neighborhood and the property of others,” stated fellow neighbor Anna Finn. “Moving my car twice a week is not going to get the street any cleaner, nor is it going to make the sidewalk any cleaner.”

“Does traditional New York street cleaning really work?” asked Janet Belden, another Long Island City resident. “The stress put on the residents is clearly an issue.”

Some residents proposed a residential permit parking system. Board 2’s Dorothy Moorehead stated that such a program is unlikely.

Belden suggested a monthly, instead of weekly, street-cleaning plan; Board 2 member Moitri Savard, who had spearheaded the push for alternate side parking in Hunters Point, later stated that this idea could be feasible.

Savard later explained that the push for alternate-side parking stemmed from a push to get residents to use area garages instead of streets, However, after Hurricane Sandy hit the area, Savard and other residents noticed that dirty, clogged catch basins prevented water from being drained from local streets.

“We just have to see if there’s a way the Department of Sanitation can work with us and see a way it could be done, but it doesn’t have to be done every week,” she stated.

City Services Committee Chairperson Patrick O’Brien assured the crowd that “this issue is going to be fully vetted. There are valid points on both sides.”

“You really don’t want to have the cure be worse than the disease,” he added. “There are a lot of countervailing interests; we need to find a balance.”

Sidewalk cafes get Board 2 OK

Board 2 unanimously approved a proposal to change zoning texts to allow unenclosed sidewalk cafés in the Long Island City and Sunnyside Gardens mixed-use special districts. While cafés have been allowed in those areas, this would formally legalize them.

Cafés would be allowed on Crescent and Second streets, Borden, 43rd, 48th and Jackson avenues, Vernon Boulevard, 44th Drive, Court Square and Queens Plaza (although the Queens Plaza cafes would be smaller due to the narrower sidewalks). Any cafes must leave eight feet of sidewalk space for pedestrians.

The area of Skillman Avenue that falls within the Sunnyside Gardens mixed-use district (between 46th and 47th streets) would also have sidewalk cafes legalized.

Enclosed sidewalk cafes would not be allowed, according to the Department of City Planning’s (DCP) Penny Lee.

“It wasn’t something we felt was appropriate,” she stated.

However, Long Island City’s Waterfront Crabhouse, which contains an outdoor cafe, would be grandfathered in. Board 2 Chairperson Joseph Conley would later note that the restaurant, an area institution, would reopen Feb. 12 after repairing damage due to Hurricane Sandy.

A separate DCP proposal approved by Board 2 modifies the zoning for two Long Island City buildings bounded by Davis Street, Jackson Avenue, Crane Street and Sunnyside Yards-which includes 5 Pointz, the outdoor street art space- to require a 60- to 100-foot base height for any new construction. This change makes those lots conform to the zoning dimensions of the remainder of Long Island City.

Lee noted that the building’s current owner has a plan to redevelop the lot as residential housing.

Chairperson’s report

Conley told the crowd during his report that the advisory body has asked the Parks Department to examine the sidewalks on Woodside Avenue between 56th and 58th streets; he claimed that trees along the street are uprooting the sidewalk.

He also spoke in remembrance of former mayor Ed Koch, who died on Feb. 1, noting that he was instrumental in making the Queens West development and Gantry Plaza State Park what it is today. Notably, Koch backed Board 2’s efforts to save the actual gantries which are the park’s most visible feature.

“He was a character and a true New Yorker,” he noted.

Conley also noted that Koch listened to Board 2’s concerns when the city proposed an 800-bed homeless shelter on Skillman and 48th avenues. Members of the body, including Conley, lobbied hard against the proposal, proposing a veterans’ shelter instead.

“Koch, in his own way, he stood there and said, ‘I like it,'” said Conley. “And we got it.”

Other news

The Department of Transportation’s Hilary Gietz briefly unveiled a proposal to convert Fifth Street between 46th and 50th avenues into a one-way going southbound, and the construction of two speed humps along the road. The change is being considered due to the area’s change in character from industrial to residential, according to Conley.

After some confusion on the location of the speed humps, Board 2 tabled the proposal to its March meeting.

Nancy Copperman of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System told Board 2 about ways the tobacco industry attempts to lure young residents to buy cigarettes.

“In order to target youth, which are their future customers they do a lot of point of sale advertising,” Copperman said, including advertisements at eye level for youngsters to see as well as display boards located right by the cash registers.

She also spoke of the effects of second-hand smoke, noting that since the city passed laws banning smoking in parks and beaches, many residents have reported cleaner spaces. However, she noted that second-hand smoke is an issue inside homes, as they can cause smoke damage and fires, as well as health issues.

Private facilities can also implement “smoke-free outdoor air policies” that would create special locations away from building entrances where residents may smoke, Copperman noted, adding that legislation in the City Council proposes that landlords state smoking policies up front.

The next Community Board 2 meeting is scheduled to take place on Thursday night, Mar. 7, at 7 p.m. at Sunnyside Community Services, located at 43-31 39th St. For more information, call Board 2’s Woodside office at 1-718-533-8773.

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