In an effort to appease business owners on 37th Road in Jackson Heights, Community Board 3 voted to recommend the city Department of Transportation reverse 37th Road between 74th and 75th streets from one-way eastbound to westbound and create more parking spaces.
But many business owners who spoke at the meeting last Thursday said they still would rather see the pedestrian plaza that had been installed on the road last fall, between Broadway and 74th Street, done away with.
“We need to reopen that road,” attorney Mahipal Singh said. “There’s no other choice.”
The majority of CB 3 members voted in favor of reversing the road, although there were a few nay votes and some abstentions.
The plaza was installed as part of the DOT’s Neighborhood Transportation Study, which was meant to address transportation issues. Since the plaza began construction, shop owners on the road said their business has suffered due to the buses being rerouted away from the strip and cars being unable to park there.
Tom Maguire, of the DOT, said changing 37th Road from 74th to 75th streets to a westbound one-way can help alleviate the problem. The change would restore eight to nine parking spots on the south side of the road, where the bike lanes are, and five parking spots on the north side when the department gets rid of a bus layover in the process.
Maguire said this will allow drivers to travel around to 74th Street without driving on the congested Roosevelt Avenue or Broadway.
“It creates a continuous loop of traffic,” he said.
Despite the pleas of Steve Kulhanek, chairman of CB 3’s Traffic and Transit Committee, to the 100 people assembled to remember that the board was voting on the one-way change and not the plaza, many who spoke at the meeting said they wanted the plaza gone and that they did not believe the change would help.
“It will never work,” said business owner Mohammad Saleh. “We need to open this 37th Road as soon as possible.”
But the board members who spoke said they believed the change would have an effect.
“This is a sensible proposal,” Ed Westley said. “I think it will help the businesses on 74th Street.”
Member Arturo Sanchez was one of three who abstained from voting, saying he was impressed with the mobilization of the Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani communities, who he called the newest New Yorkers.
“[The vote] is disconnected from the larger discourse, which is the viability of the businesses on that street,” Sanchez said.
Queens DOT Commissioner Maura McCarthy said she understood the businesses were hurting due to the traffic changes, but said traffic accidents have gone down since the plaza was implemented.
“We want to continue to work with the businesses and help them as much as possible,” she said.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cn
©2012 Community News Group
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