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CB5 urges driver safety after string of fatalities

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Gary Giordano, CB 5's district manager, and Juniper Park Civic Association President Robert Holden cited the recent fatal accident involving Peter Radske, 20, who apparently lost control of the 1998 Ford Mustang he was driving on Juniper Boulevard South when he swerved to avoid another car and hit a tree. Radske, a resident of Middle Village, was a recently sworn-in police cadet who had attended Queens College.

This was the fourth fatal accident in the past three months in the area of Community Board 5, which covers Middle Village, Glendale, Ridgewood and Maspeth.

At a meeting in November, Giordano made an impassioned plea to neighborhood residents to drive more carefully after an accident in Ridgewood took the life of an Elmhurst mother and injured her daughter. Another accident just hours in Middle Village later injured two young girls.

"Some action must be taken quickly to improve traffic and pedestrian safety in that area," Giordano said in an interview Tuesday.

Giordano said he favored an all-way-stop on Juniper Boulevard North and South rather than traffic lights because drivers often speed up to avoid the yellow lights.

"Too often motorists will speed to get through a signal," Giordano said. "Along that stretch of roadway vehicles don't have to stop. I wrote a letter to the Department of Transportation asking them to do another traffic study along Juniper Boulevard South. I intend to push them along."

Officials from the DOT could not be reached for comment.

In November, Giordano asked the board if anybody objected if he wrote a letter to Mayor Rudolph Giuliani requesting a public statement saying the speed limit is 30 miles per hour in the city, but he has yet to receive a reply from the city.

Holden, who called an emergency meeting with officers from the 104th Police Precinct a week after the Elmhurst mother, Nelly Trojhan, lost her life at 51-10 Metropolitan Ave., said enforcement is the real solution.

"What is missing is traffic enforcement," Holden said Tuesday. "You can try to make it as safe as possible, but if someone is driving unsafely, you really can't make the streets totally safe. That's what's missing on our streets."

He pointed out that drivers see a long straight-away and speed. "People will continue to be killed unless we make the streets safer for pedestrians and enforce the speed limits," Holden said.

In other CB 5 news, the board members said they were in talks with YMCA officials, who introduced plans to build a chapter in Maspeth.

Giordano said some residents are worried about increased traffic flow and congestion and the board has already made some provisions to build a community center in the neighborhood.

But Holden said he supports the measure because it would give residents an additional outlet for the community.

"I think the YMCA is a very, very good idea," Holden said. "Maspeth is lacking services for the elderly and youth so it would definitely be a benefit."

The community board is also continuing talks to find an alternate site for another school in the area to alleviate overcrowding at PS 71 and PS 81. Officials from the School Construction Authority and the Board of Education want to build PS 245 at the south corner of the intersection of Seneca Avenue and Stockholm Street, a school that would seat 400 pre-K through third graders.

Acting School Board 24 Superintendent Joseph Quinn has said that by the year 2002 his district will be 37 percent over capacity and as much as 68 percent beyond capacity in 2007.

The proposed school would be built on a site of about 15,000 square feet. Of that area, 10,500 square feet would be used for the school and the remaining space would be used for a playground. As many as 30 teachers and staff would work at the school, which is scheduled to be completed by 2003.

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