Woodside community says MTA repairs ‘cripple’ business and inconvenience visitors

Photo courtesy of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer's office

The co-owner of Donovan’s Pub in Woodside is arguing that the MTA’s work along the 7 line is bad for business.

Dan Connor, who runs the pub at 57-24 Roosevelt Ave., said that the agency has conducted track work along the avenue for two years now and have been using parking spots that could be used for customers.

“It’s honestly been going on for nearly two years, at least 15 weekends and scores of actual weekdays,” he said. “It just cripples us. It takes every single parking space within four or five blocks.”

Connor wrote a letter to Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer to express his frustration. The councilman, along with community organizations and Donovan’s Pub co-owner Jimmy Jacobson, held a press conference in front of the pub on Jan. 26 to demand that the MTA “cease occupying local streets.”

“We demand better train service, but we are also here to demand that the MTA give us back our streets, give us back our parking and stop harming local businesses,” Van Bramer said. “The ongoing work on the 7 line has been a nightmare for the people of Woodside, Sunnyside and Long Island City for years. We want the 7 train to be in good repair, but we also want the MTA to do their work in a way that doesn’t harm our local businesses.”

Connor said the pub relies on parking spots to attract customers, some of whom are elderly and need to drive to get to the restaurant. Donovan’s also attracts customers who once lived in the area but have moved out and can only get to Woodside by car.

The pub also hosts birthday parties, christenings, baby showers and other parties where “people are invited from out of town.”

The MTA also uses the streets to store cranes and other large machinery while they conduct track replacements.

Brenda Dominguez, a secretary at St. Sebastian’s Church at 58-02 Roosevelt Ave., said the street closures and lack of parking have been an ongoing issue.

“It affects the church with funerals during the weekends, making people late to come to mass, and it affects the school as well,” she said.

St. Sebastian’s Catholic Academy is located at 39-76 58th St.

Connor said during one week, the agency put up signs along Roosevelt Avenue advising people that they could not park on the street from Monday through Friday.

“They never showed up to work,” he said. “Five straight days of no parking and they never came.”

Connor said the agency also kept a fire hydrant running for 36 hours one day and the water turned into ice in front of his pub. He is also frustrated because the MTA has not reached out to him about the work they are conducting, he said.

The first time he heard indirectly from the agency was on Jan. 30, when a member from Community Board 2 emailed him to tell him that an MTA employee would reach out within a few days.

“I get it. Track work needs to be done. I understand,” he said. “In the amount of time they’ve spent working just out of our door I’m pretty sure the 7 train could’ve been rebuilt.”

MTA officials said the track replacement work is “critical” to “maintain safety and improve reliability and service.”

“We have been in constant contact with elected officials and the Community Board on this project and we look forward to continuing that engagement,” said MTA spokesperson Jon Weinstein. “This equipment is essential for critical state-of-good-repair work on the 7 line and we simply must do maintenance to ensure safe, reliable service for Queens.”

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