By Bill Parry
Hunters Point community members and children from area schools rallied with City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) March 9 on Center Boulevard as he renewed his call for the city’s Department of Transportation to implement comprehensive traffic calming measures along the stretch of road on Long Island City’s waterfront.
Van Bramer had previously urged the DOT to address unsafe conditions on the street and has again demanded that the agency take action after the devastating crash in Park Slope, Brooklyn, last week where a 1-year-old boy and 4-year-old girl were killed.
“It is clear to everyone here today that this street is not safe for the children and families who cross this street every day,” Van Bramer said. “We can’t wait for a tragedy to happen to make this street safe. DOT must act now, before someone is injured or, God forbid, killed. The safety of our children is at stake and comprehensive safety measures must be implemented immediately.”
The area lacks traffic signals and cars speed through an area with three schools and Gantry Plaza State Park.
DOT sent representatives to the Hunters Point Civic Association’s monthly meeting Tuesday night and listened to members’ complaints and proposals and promised to conduct a traffic study on Center Boulevard in the next few months, according to Hunters Point Civic Association President Brent O’Leary.
“DOT will collect additional data and counts this spring, and we will review the Hunters Point Civic Association’s suggestions as we evaluate the area for additional treatments,” a DOT spokesman said.
O’Leary said the dangers of Center Boulevard have been a major topic of conversation with his group for years and they met with a DOT team several weeks ago and presented them with a detailed 13-page proposal. While many of the proposals could be easily implemented, a few would not work with the large cobblestone sections. O’Leary was told painting of crosswalks was not possible because paint will not stick to cobblestones.
The civic association conducted a survey which indicated the cobblestones were an important part of the neighborhood and needed to be preserved, so that calming measures need to be done without interfering with them.
“If nothing is done, the question is not if there will be a fatality here but when,” O’Leary said. “There are three schools on this street and hundreds of families bring their children to the park on the other side. With no traffic lights and hard to see signage and stop signs, this street turns into a drag strip. We are imploring the city to act now before there is an incident.”
The DOT also announced it has rescheduled a town hall meeting in Sunnyside to present its updated proposal for corridor-wide safety improvements on Skillman and 43rd avenues. The area’s small businesses pushed back against the original proposal, fearing the loss of 158 parking spots , to make way for protected bike lanes, would devastate the neighborhood’s economy.
The town hall will be held March 26 at PS 150, located at 40-01 43rd Ave., beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr