A town hall hosted by the staff of state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) last week grew heated early when a man confronted a city Department of Transportation representative over the conversion of 37th Road between Broadway and 74th Street into a pedestrian plaza.
The question was one of many asked of various city agency representatives at the Dec. 7 meeting at IS 227, at 32-02 Junction Blvd. in East Elmhurst. Since Peralta could not attend the event, the event was moderated by Nancy Conde, his chief of staff.
Abdul Basher. a member of the United 32BJ property service workers union, contended that business owners on 37th Road had seen their business drop after the road was converted in October. Basher and others have said that the creation of the plaza and subsequent rerouting of the buses that used to travel down 37th Road have cost them out-of-area customers, who used to stop by after window-shopping from the buses.
Dalila Hall, deputy borough commissioner for the DOT, said the change was made based on the Jackson Heights Transportation Study, with the approval of Community Boards 3 and 4 and elected officials who requested more public space in Jackson Heights. She said the study was well-advertised through fliers and on the DOT’s website.
“It was a two-year process,” Hall said. “We didn’t do it willy-nilly.”
But she emphasized that the DOT was aware of the merchants’ concerns and eager to reach a solution with them.
Other agencies and police officers fielded questions about quality-of-life issues at the meeting. Questions ranged from procedures for dealing with unsafe buildings to motorists speeding down certain streets.
In response to a question about school overcrowding, Brian McGinn, manager of operations for the city Department of Education’s Division of School Construction Authority, said four new buildings were planned for the district and that they would be built from September 2013 to September 2015.
“That should alleviate a lot of the overcrowding,” McGinn said.
Other questions were for smaller but annoying matters.
Ignazio Terranova, deputy inspector for the city Sanitation Department, said in response to a question about whether the department was enforcing dog curbing laws that failing to do so would result in a $250 fine.
“Once we see the smoking pile, boom,” Terranova said.
Others had complaints about livery cab drivers and said the drivers sometimes park on the street and leave their trash there.
Giovanna Reid, district manager of CB 3, said that in addition to writing down the driver’s license number, those who see livery cab drivers misbehaving can reach out to the board as well as elected officials and a public hearing can be held during the driver’s regular license renewal period.
“We want to make sure operators understand [they] must be good neighbors,” Reid said.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cn
©2011 Community News Group
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