Standing cattycorner to local watering hole called Dutch Kills Centraal, Dutch Kills Civic Association leader George Stamatiades praised the installation of a stop sign that has been in the works for three civic association presidencies. “At least 15 years,” Stamatiades said.
The local community leader gathered with Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, Department of Transportation (DOT) representatives and local business owners to officially inaugurate a new all-way stop at the intersection of 39th Avenue and 29th Street.
Gianaris, who began advocating on the change in 2013, said that regulations slowed the process down, but DOT made clear that over the years they did install some traffic calming measures including some bike parking.
“Dutch Kills has been changing rapidly and our infrastructure has not kept up. Improving pedestrian safety will keep our neighbors safe in this growing community and I am glad DOT heard our pleas,” said Gianaris.
DOT Borough Commissioner Nicole Garcia said that after continued advocacy on the part of the politicians and local organizers like Stamatiades and Dominic Stiller, who owns the gastropub on the corner, they performed the traffic study and re-evaluated the intersection
“We actually had our engineers out here and both the Senator and Council Member are very familiar–they really took us task about like, ‘Make sure you’re inspectors are out there see what every day constituents are experiencing,” said Garcia.
In the background of the event, a familiar dynamic between local transit activists and business advocates played out. While both Stiller and Stamatiades encouraged the DOT to continue looking at traffic measures, for the neighborhood, their ideas were in complete opposition.
Advocating for increased parking for local businesses, Stamatiades urged the DOT to get rid of the bike racks, which he blames for a recent collision at the intersection.
Stiller, an outspoken opponent of free street parking, wants to continue increasing pedestrian safety measures by installing curb extensions in the intersection. He actually gives bikers who are members of prominent bike and transit advocacy group Transportation Alternatives in front of his restaurant and discount.
“It’s so cheap and easy to put in,” said Stiller, speaking of the curb extensions. “This is a progressive change. It really would help.”