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CB 5 delays Maspeth truck bypass vote

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After nine years, what’s another month?

Community Board 5 postponed the vote on the Maspeth truck bypass plan until the June meeting after several business owners said the city did not do enough outreach and that the plan would be detrimental to their establishments.

“We need time to reach out to these businesses,” said Jean Tanler of the Queens Business Outreach Center. “I don’t believe that some of the industrial businesses in the neighborhood have had time to respond.”

Many of the business owners believed that a series of one-way conversions around the intersection of Maspeth and Maurice avenues — a crucial junction in the plan to reroute trucks around the neighborhood — would make it more difficult to operate and draw in customers.

Tanler spoke on behalf of Alle Processing, which sits on 59th Street. A portion of that road would become one-way, according to the plan, which would make it impossible for trucks to transport merchandise out of the area because the vehicles would have trouble making one of the turns.

“The turning radius is too small,” she said. “Their trucks cannot make a right-hand turn.”

And not only industrial businesses would be affected.

Nick Diamantas, owner of the Clinton Diner, said the city Department of Transporta­tion’s plan to make 57th Place one-way northbound would prove detrimental to his eatery, since the front facade faces that road.

“That is the face of the business,” he said. “It depends on people driving by.”

The DOT has made the street outside Diamantas’ diner one-way on previous occasions to accommodate construction. About 20 years ago, the street was converted three separate times.

“All three times it nearly shut down my business,” he said.

But Vincent Arcuri, chairman of CB 5, said he visited the diner and found that most customers came up from the south, the direction 57th Place would become under the proposed plan.

“We spend a couple of hours at the intersection, and 90 percent of the vehicles were going northbound,” he said.

Arcuri also took issue with business owners who said they were not properly informed of the plan.

“If you truly feel you did not get the information, I apologize we didn’t ringing your doorbell, hand you a set of plans and explain it to you,” he said.

John Maier, a CB 5 member who voted against postponing the implementation, said the DOT had put a lot of work and outreach into the plan.

“People don’t see their exact picture, so they become angry about it,” he said. “But it’s not like [the DOT] is going to do this and walk away.”

The implementation is not permanent and can be changed if residents are not happy with it.

Representatives from the DOT who were present at the meeting said they were not frustrated by the postponement and had no intention of harming local commerce.

“We’ve already been in contact with several of the local businesses,” said Scott Gastel, a spokesman for the DOT.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 10:49 am, October 12, 2011
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