Community members at the standing-room-only meeting were vocal in their opposition to the plan, contending that it could pose dangers to residents as buses try to navigate down narrow streets as well as creating more traffic and noise. "This makes me think that [the shopping center] does not care about our well-being," said Brian Dooley, president of the Glendale Property Owners Association. "Some of the proposed turns are ridiculous."Residents also criticized MTA Chairman H. Dale Hemmerdinger's involvement in the project since his Atco Properties & Management developed Atlas Park and his son, Damon Hemmerdinger, acts as director of development for the center.The bus currently stops at the Roosevelt Avenue bus depot in Jackson Heights, goes into Maspeth and Middle Village and then heads back to the depot. Under the new plan, the bus would turn onto Cooper Avenue, where the Shops are located, before heading back to its original route. But Glendale residents have questioned how the MTA plans to turn the buses around to get back on their routes without clogging up residential streets in the community.Damon Hemmerdinger, director of development for the Shops, said he believed that the rerouting of the bus would benefit the neighborhood. The Shops previously supported a plan to reroute the Q54 bus to the center from Metropolitan Avenue, which has since been put into place. Atlas Park had also asked for the Q23 bus to turn from Metropolitan Avenue onto Cooper Avenue, but that plan would not likely be approved, Hemmerdinger said.He said the Q45 plan probably would be the most beneficial of the three routes to the community over the long term."Currently employers and residents don't have a way to access express subway lines," he said. "Making that connection is important to the property values for homeowners and the viability of businesses. I know there is disagreement on the best way to turn the bus around. We want the plan that is best for the community and the MTA."Under the plan, the Q45 would take Atlas Park shoppers to the Roosevelt depot, where they can catch the 7, E, F, G, R and V subway lines.But CB 5 member Tom Rossi said he found it disconcerting that H. Dale Hemmerdinger, who became the MTA's chairman last fall, has been pushing the Q45 plan. "This smacks of a public official using his power for his own personal gain at the expense of the community," he said. "The people in the neighborhood are not against Mr. Hemmerdinger or Atlas Park, but we've sacrificed enough in terms of parking and traffic."Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@time
©2008 Community News Group
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