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Bayside neighbors upset by Bay Terrace entrance

Some residents of 212th Street in Bayside think the peaceful future of their quiet street could be short-lived after the Bay Terrace Shopping Center repositioned a nearby parking lot entrance last month to directly align it with the residential street.

Traditionally the entrances and exits to the shopping center, at the intersection of Bell Boulevard and 26th Avenue, were placed out of alignment with the surrounding residential streets to discourage drivers from using those roadways as shortcuts to the strip mall, said Bernard Haber, chairman of neighboring Community Board 11 in Bayside.

But Marilyn Bitterman, district manager of CB 7 in Flushing, which oversees the Bay Terrace Shopping Center, said the realignment of the entrance onto 26th Avenue opposite 212th Street was done at the request of the city Department of Transportation to improve safety.

Bitterman said CB 7 would hold a public hearing on the issue July 23 at 7 p.m. at the Union Plaza Nursing Home at 33-23 Union St. to give the community an opportunity to comment on the new curb cut. The Bay Terrace Shopping Center is owned by Cord Meyer Development Co. in Forest Hills.

Residents contend the new 212th Street entrance would make it too easy for drivers to avoid congestion and traffic lights along Bell Boulevard by using their street as a quick cut-through to the center, dramatically increasing area traffic.

Barbara Landers, who has lived on 212th Street for seven years, opposes the newly repositioned entrance and helped gather a petition signed by 150 residents who want it removed.

“It almost begs the issue of putting up a traffic light there,” she said.

Once a traffic light is in place, Landers said, drivers could shoot down her street and across 26th Avenue directly into the shopping center without bothering to wait for the delays on Bell Boulevard, which is often slow and crowded.

“This is not why any of us bought houses in Bayside,” she said. “We love the block the way it is.”

Haber, the longtime chairman of CB 11 and a former Bay Terrace resident, said when the area first was developed in the early 1970s, Community Boards 7 and 11 worked to keep traffic from enveloping the residential streets between Bell Boulevard, Corporal Kennedy Street, 23rd and 26th avenues.

Haber said the shopping center was designed to take cars from Bell Boulevard and Corporal Kennedy Street, two larger thoroughfares, as the main source of its incoming traffic.

“The community south of 26th Avenue has always been concerned with the shopping center and its impact,” Haber said. “It has had an impact, no question about it.”

Haber said the new 212th Street entrance would create an additional impact on the surrounding community.

“The problem is that they already have the curb cut,” Haber said.

While the boundary line between CBs 7 and 11 lies in the center of 26th Avenue, Bitterman said the Bayside community board was aware of the issue.

“It makes for safer movement within a community,” Bitterman said of the repositioning of the Bay Terrace parking lot entrances and exits. “It’s for safety that we’re doing this.”

Bitterman said the question of realigning the entrances and exits came up during meetings between CB 7, the city, and Cord Meyer Development on the expansion of the shopping center.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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