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The Civic Scene: Fresh Meadows takes charge of its parking

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On Election Day morning several election workers, as they have for years, came to work about 6 a.m. Apparently, the Fresh Meadows development had decided to pave 186th Lane, which is the development's internal street opposite the nursery school on 188th Street. The workers parked their cars in the dark. When they returned at the end of the day, their cars were towed.Jack Friedman, chief of staff for Councilman David Weprin, investigated the matter. The officials in the Fresh Meadows development said that they had put up signs which said no parking that day due to paving. The six poll workers couldn't see the signs in the dark. They had to pay $120 to get their cars back.It was ascertained that Fresh Meadows has to pave its own streets, plow the snow, fix the light poles and even fix the fire hydrants. The city provides fire and sanitation services. The development claims that it was just paving. However, poll workers were never notified of the paving and they could not see any signs in the early morning darkness. The development would not give them their money back.To clarify the whole issue, Jack Friedman and Ruth Wimptheimer, chief of staff for Assemblyman Mark Weprin, had a meeting with the development officials. The meeting clarified the ownership of and the maintenance of the streets. It was claimed that the towing just happened because of the paving. The development intends to assert control over the streets which are 186th Lane, 71st Crescent and 65th Crescent.If one looks carefully one can see white sign with red lettering at the enhances to 186th Lane, 71st Crescent and 65th Crescent. These three streets weave through the development. This does not include city streets like 188th Street or 73rd Avenue or 199th Street or 69th Avenue.The development had found that people who take the express buses park on development streets. Some residents even store extra cars on these lanes and crescents, limiting parking for residents. The civic associations surrounding the development often find people parking their cars on their streets late at night when there is no parking in the development.Friedman and Wimptheimer learned that the Fresh Meadows development will put up clearly colored signs explaining that the streets are private. City signs inside the development will be removed and information about the towing company will be clearly provided.Oh yes, the towing. Well, development management will provide stickers for each owners' car. People can get extra stickers. The nursery school on 188th Street will receive 50 stickers. Visitors will probably be able to receive temporary stickers from the people on duty in the 6700 Street building. This sticker thing will not start until February or March 2007. Eventually, there will be some kind of public notification. The community is watching.At some point, the management will finalize their plans. If they talk to the tenant organization, I can think of several questions: What should the patrons do if all the parking lots are filled on very busy day? What will happen if patrons of the stores decide to park on the development streets and their cars are towed? Where will staff at PS 26 park? Will people using the library be able to park on the development streets next to the library?As people find out about the plan, then other plans may develop because originally it seems that the development was going to charge for the parking stickers. It doesn't seem that this will now happen. At some point, the management will put out some formal written plan and people will react. We will see how it all turns out. It could relieve parking pressure on the streets around the development or make it worse. We will see what happens! GOOD AND BAD NEWS OF THE WEEK: Years ago, during the Giuliani administration, the city created the idea of professional or self certification of construction plans and results by builders and engineers. There were so few city Department of Buildings inspectors that there were about 17,000 uncertified buildings, mostly in Queens. Builders had to wait weeks to get plans certified before they could start construction. Now they can start immediately.Civic associations have long complained that builders say one thing and do something else. They have the right to certify that what they did was correct. Inspectors are supposed to inspect 20 percent of the results but they rarely do. The end product sometimes is not what the plans say or are what is permitted by the actual zoning. The Glendale Civic Association is suing the city about the self certification. The first hearing was scheduled for Jan. 10.

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