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Whitestone blasts meters

TimesLedger Newspapers

Nearly half the Muni-Meters in downtown Whitestone are broken on any given day, a neighborhood civic leader said, and shoppers and small business owners are fed up with the problem.

The portion of the neighborhood known as Whitestone Village is filled with essential shopping outlets — a hardware store, a Laundromat, a cobbler, a grocery store and numerous restaurants for example.

But Devon O’Connor, president of the Welcome to Whitestone civic, said patrons are having trouble running errands without running afoul of the law.

“We’ve got a problem,” said Devon O’Connor, president of Welcome to Whitestone civic group. “People are going to stop coming to the village.”

TimesLedger Newspapers took a stroll around the village with O’Connor Tuesday afternoon and tested 13 Muni-Meters along 150th Street and 12th and 14th avenues. About 40 percent, or seven of the meters, would not accept coins. Several were completely out of order and would also not accept credit cards.

“I hate these stupid things!” Rose Narducci said as she tried repeatedly to jam a fistful of quarters into a machine on 14th Avenue.

Narducci said she was trying to run into the Whitestone Diner for lunch.

The city Department of Transportation said it would inspect the area in question, but added that 99 percent of the meters are functioning at any given time, and urged residents to call 311 when faced with a malfunction.

But that was no consolation to Maria Bartellino, who was pulling her 4-year-old daughter along 150th Street to hurriedly find a meter before she got a ticket.

“We pay taxes!” she said, first trying to pay with quarters at one meter and then walking to another non-functioning machine before simply getting in her car and driving away. “I don’t have a card, but if you get a ticket, it’s $45.”

Lucy Zhang had even worse luck.

She had driven into town from her nearby Whitestone home to do laundry and had a small jar of quarters in her hand.

Just like Bartellino, she first tried a meter on the west side of 150th Street. Then she tried one on the east. Zhang then walked around the southeast corner of 150th Street and 12th Avenue. The third time was not a charm.

Across the street she found a meter that would take quarters, but O’Connor said he tried the same machine Friday afternoon and was denied.

“You’re talking about a lot of walking for senior citizens,” O’Connor said, noting a new doctor’s office recently opened on the corner of 14th Avenue and 150th Street.

And business owners are getting earfuls about the machines as well.

“People won’t stay here because they go to meters to get the ticket. It’s broken, so they just leave,” said Michael Bowles, manager at Freddy’s, a pizzeria on 150th Street.

Several 311 complaints have been called in about the meters. One from March 20 shows that a Muni-Meter had been repaired near the corner of 14th Avenue and the Cross Island Parkway, near the site where Narducci attempted to park for lunch Monday.

Another complaint on 14th Avenue has been open since late January, according to the city’s 311 database. In total, the database showed eight meter complaints dating back from Jan. 11 to Tuesday, although several were listed as being resolved.

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

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Reader Feedback

Polly from Whitestone says:
IF more people actually called 311 and complained then this would make them come out and fix the problem. 8 calls? that is nothing. If every time someone tried a meter they called it in then there would be accountability. You cannot complain if you don't follow up. The tickets people are getting won't be dismissed if there are not phone calls to 311. Bottom line...come across a broken meter call it in...they will start to pay attention
April 14, 2013, 10:18 am
Eleni says:
Who has the time to call 311 every time? You're running errands or getting lunch on your lunch break- that's measured time. Yes, if there is enough noise made about it to the city then they would come fix it faster. But the easier solution- people just won't go to that area.
I work in the area and park in the parking lot. But if we didn't have that, we'd have a huge issue. I don't know anyone who would take the time to call and say, "hey, we have a problem here." When the more simple and easy solution is double park and run or find another store.
April 14, 2013, 10:57 am
Linda from All over Queens says:
These meters are a mistake. Senior citizens who have difficulty walking just in and out of their cars are having to hike all over to find a working meter to get a ticket. Handicapped individuals have problems. What is a Mom with young children and babies to do when she wants to park? Does she leave the kids in the car to search for a working meter for a ticket, or does she have to drag the kids out with her on a wild goose chase?

Amazing how the City keeps trying to hurt the small businessperson. Anyone with the means to do so, will frequent an establishment that has free parking available. I know the City wants/needs the revenue these meters generate....but there has to be a better, more efficient, and KINDER way to collect it.

One other question: if you're trying to park a motorcycle...where would one place the little paper receipt? Doesn't it get blown away or couldn't someone be nasty and pull it off the vehicle?
April 15, 2013, 11:28 am
Fed Up In Flushing from Flushing says:
Meters all around the area of 163rd Street and Station Road were all inoperable around the post office a week ago. I tried 3 different meters and NONE of them would accept payments of any kind. DOT was ticketing every car on the block and I approached the DOT officer and explained the situation and that the machines weren't accepting quarters. She asked if I had a credit card. I explained that I didn't have one on me so she tried her own and realized that it wasn't accepting any type of payment. She did give me a orange mailing envelope and told me to place it under my windshield so that I don't get ticketed. THIS IS THEIR SOLUTION? What about all the other vehicles parked on that street that received tickets unnecessarily because they too couldn't locate a working muni meter anywhere along a two block perimeter? Other readers have brought up an excellent point. What do you do if you are handicapped or have small children in your vehicle? RESTORE THE PARKING METERS!!!
April 15, 2013, 11:44 am
Shut the —— from UP says:
Shut up Devon. I'm tired of you two - too
April 15, 2013, 6:55 pm
Phil from Bay Terrace says:
It's all about the money!

NYC does not care about the inconvenience caused by inoperable muni-meters or meters that don't accept new quarters (I just heard about this).

They don't care about the hardship created for a parent having to search for a working meter while holding one or two children or for someone with a disability.

They also are not cognizant of the dangerous situation that motorists put themselves in by attempting to cross heavily travelled streets to find an operable meter on the opposite side of the street.

All that is considered are that muni-meters have resulted in greater revenue by squeezing in more cars on a street than were possible with conventional meters and by preventing vacant spots with unexpired time on a meter from being utilized for free by the next arriving car.

Calling 3-1-1 to report a meter problem can take a long time to complete. But perhaps DOT can accept text messages with the location of the broken meter and/or a picture of the suspect meter?
April 26, 2013, 6 pm

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