Kew Gardens residents fighting for 116th Street speed bump

116th Street residents are asking Community Board 9 to vote to install a speed bump.
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By Gina Martinez

Residents who live on 116th Street in Kew Gardens are calling out Community Board 9 for ignoring a traffic survey that emphasized the necessity of speed bumps to calm traffic on the street.

Mk Moore, a CB 9 member and resident of 116th Street, was among those who pressed the community board in February 2016 to submit a petition to request a traffic survey from the city Department of Transportation. Members argued that they needed a resolution to ease the dangerous traffic and parking conditions on 116th Street caused by a major project on Park Lane South that moved even more traffic onto the street.

By February 2018, the DOT had completed multiple traffic surveys on the street that determined vehicles were traveling at 40 mph on a 25 mph residential street and recommended safety changes that included speed humps, redirection of traffic to one way and return of over 25 parking spaces from no standing zones to legal parking.

Despite the DOT’s suggestions, and despite initially agreeing to any and all of their safety recommendations, CB 9 voted to oppose the speed bumps based on single-family homeowners on the block complaining that brake squealing would disrupt their peace.

Now Moore and over 50 other community members are fighting back, saying CB 9 places safety second and is prioritizing the interests of homeowners over renters and condo owners. Moore said everyone deserves an equal vote and representation in matters of importance.

The petition “116th Street Safety First” was posted on gopetition.com April 13, and had garnered more than 50 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon. Directed at Borough President Melinda Katz and CB 9, the petition asks that the board implement all of the DOT’s recommended safety measures for 116th Street and restore all available parking spaces to the community.

“For the first time ever, a public body voted to oppose speed humps on a street at Community Board 9,” the petition read. “Why would anyone oppose a speed hump? What could possibly cause a community board to vote down a speed hump that the DOT determined was necessary to protect the public? How can a community board even have the right to overrule the DOT on a matter of public safety?”

Moore and other residents plan to present their case at the May CB 9 meeting. He said if the board does not overturn its decision, they plan to take their case to Superior Court under an article 78 proceeding, which is used to appeal the decision of a New York state or local agency to the New York courts.

CB 9 1st Vice Chair Kenichi Wilson said DOT originally suggested 4 speed bumps, two close to the co-ops where Moore lives by and two more further down by the individual homes. Wilson said the speed bumps by the co-ops were too close to a slight turn where cars could lose control in slippery conditions. Wilson said in the end he respects Moore and other community members desire for a speed bump but majority rules.

“There’s a lot more people who didn’t want the speed bumps so you have to go with the majority,” he said. “I always try to do what’s best for the community. There are a lot of good reasons for speed bumps but also drawbacks, we took it all into consideration and had a discussion and came to a decision.”

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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