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Dollar vans anger more residents - Coleman, Hendrickson Street homeowners sound alarm

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Illegal dollar vans are going out of their way to avoid a traffic summons – so much so that it appears they’ve moved their routes south of Flatbush Avenue. That’s the claim of incensed residents of Coleman and Hendrickson streets, who allege that dollar vans are becoming quite a problem on their quiet, tree-lined blocks. “This is just like the problem we had on East 52nd Street,” one concerned resident told cops at the 63rd Precinct Community Council Wednesday. “If nothing is done, someone is going to get killed.” City Councilmember Lew Fidler said that he has received several calls from residents of both blocks about the dollar vans that speed up and down the blocks and honk their horns at all hours. He explained that he came to the 63rd Precinct Community Council in the hopes of again addressing these problems with Deputy Inspector Frank Cangiarella, who could not attend the meeting. “It’s like déjà vu all over again,” he said, recalling a meeting a few years ago when hundreds of residents took the 63rd Precinct to task for not doing enough against dollar van drivers. “This time, the hundreds of people complaining are not coming to the meeting – they’re just calling my office.” “It’s like they [dollar van operators] got a wink from the precinct that if they do not travel down Flatbush Avenue, they can go to Hendrickson and Coleman,” Fidler said. Captain Peter Venice, the 63rd Precinct’s executive officer, said that he and his officers are using every tool at their disposal to crack down on dollar vans. “We’ve performed numerous operations with the Department of Transportation and the Taxi and Limousine Commission and they’ve been fruitful,” he said. “But we’re not saying that we got rid of all the dollar vans. We’re the precinct that has the most dollar vans in the city because no other neighborhood has something like Kings Plaza.” Fidler said that he has brought the issue of dollar vans on Coleman and Hendrickson streets to Cangiarella in the past. “He said he was going to change the situation, but there has been no real evidence of that,” he said. “Instead, more and more people are coming to my office and complaining.” When reached by this paper Thursday, Cangiarella said that he is aware that dollar vans use those two blocks. But there is no evidence that they are dropping off or picking up passengers, he said. “It’s not against the law to drive down the street,” Cangiarella said. “We understand that residents may not be happy with these vans, but Hendrickson and Coleman are city streets and dollar van drivers are entitled to use them.” Cangiarella said that his officers will continue with their van enforcement practices. “We’ve addressed the problem and will continue to address the problem,” he said, explaining that over 200 livery vans were seized in 2007. “These days we go out there and we can’t find one van,” he said. “We used to seize six vans a night, now we’re lucky if we seize six vans a month.” “The livery vans will never disappear,” he added. “We can’t eliminate them with the laws we have, but we can force them to comply with the rules we do have. The whole purpose is to keep our streets safer.”

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