Councilman Robert Holden’s office is claiming it has made headway in an effort to bring parking options to Middle Village motorists who have been impacted by the prolonged Penelope Avenue sewer project.
The city Department of Transportation (DOT) opened up 71st Street along Juniper Valley Park to overnight parking. Although it is not exactly what Holden has been pushing for, which is to open Juniper Boulevard South for overnight parking, a spokesman for the councilman said his office will continue the push make more parking near the park available to constituents during the project, which has cost about $22 million and stalled for months while lead remediations were made.
“Any additional parking that can be provided to residents in this area is desperately needed, but I still don’t think the DOT has done enough,” Holden said. “Temporary relief for the overnight parking restriction during the duration of this project was not too much to ask for, and I’m frustrated that the DOT is only doing the bare minimum.”
The DOT has placed bags over signs forbidding parking along 71st Street between Juniper Boulevard South and 62nd Drive, which only spans about 150 feet, and parking restrictions have only been lifted on the park side of the street.
“Due to major construction for a nearby sewer project, some overnight parking regulations have been temporarily suspended on 71st Ave. during the project’s duration following requests from the local Council Member, Community Board and local stakeholders” a DOT spokesman said. “DOT and DDC will continue to monitor conditions.”
The agency said it worked with Holden’s office to implement the change and is “open to discussing other potential locations with him and other stakeholders.”
An interruption of the Penelope Avenue sewer project concerning lead in the soil caused other problems for Middle Villagers living in the work area, as residents reported damage to stoops, foundations and sidewalks in the area. Holden and City Comptroller Scott Stringer visited the area in August 2018 and vowed to get the project moving again while also mitigating the damage that residents suffered.
But the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) restarted the project in October.
The discovery of lead at the construction site led Holden to draft legislation restricting lead contaminated soil from being stored uncovered near schools. Many local residents attributed the amount of lead in the soil to the fact many parts of the neighborhood which was formerly a swamp, are comprised of landfill.