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City rejects Rego Park’s plea

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The city Department of Transporta­tion’s recent decision to reject Rego Park residents’ requests to mitigate safety concerns on a stretch of roadway around a school has angered community members, including Mel Gagarin, a candidate for the 29th Council District seat.

Gagarin, a Kew Gardens resident, spearheaded a petition signed by about 100 Rego Park residents that he sent to the DOT last fall asking the city agency to implement stop signs or speed bumps along Alderton Street, particularly the stretch between Yellowstone Road and 63rd Drive that passes in front of PS 174. The DOT denied the request for stop signs in a letter to Gagarin dated April 6. It did not address the request for speed bumps.

“When we were going around collecting signatures, people were always telling us about cars hitting their houses or their cars,” Gagarin said. “There are serious concerns about the safety of the children in the area.”

Although cars are supposed to drive no faster than 20 miles per hour on Alderton Street, residents said they frequently see vehicles zipping by at 50 mph or 60 mph. Additionally, residents say speeding cars frequently damage neighbors’ property, both houses or vehicles.

“My car was totaled in front of my house in September,” said Nona Sands, who lives on Alderton. “A neighbor said they saw a car come down the street at 60 mph and run into my car. That’s what I found when I came out of the house to drive my husband to surgery.”

Pranay Bhardwaj, who also lives on Alderton Street, said his neighbors’ cars have been “trashed” after speeding vehicles slammed into them on the narrow street.

“The roads are so narrow that people don’t have time to maneuver around cars,” Bhardwaj said. “It could help if you made the street one−way.”

Sands also said making Alderton one−way could help address many of the safety concerns, and she favors installing speed bumps in the area.

In the April 6 letter sent by DOT Queens Borough Commissioner Maura McCarthy to Gagarin, she said factors such as “vehicular and pedestrian volumes, accident experience, vehicular speeds, visibility and signal spacing were all taken into consideration in making our determinat­ion.”

“Based upon our evaluation of the data collected, it is our judgment that all−way stop controls are not recommended at this time,” McCarthy continued in the letter.

NYPD officials did not return requests for information about the number of accidents in the past year along Alderton and around PS 174. Area residents said there are frequent collisions, and Gagarin said a mother of three notified him that a speeding SUV had flipped over in front of her house April 7.

There have been no pedestrian injuries or fatalities where Alderton meets Dieterie Crescent, Cromwell Crescent and 67th Road, according to DOT spokesman Monty Dean.

“We are aware of community concerns about speeding and have referred the location to the NYPD for targeted enforcement,” Dean wrote in an e−mail.

Gagarin planned to send another letter to the DOT this week asking it to implement speed bumps in the area.

He is a Democrat running for seat to be vacated by Councilwoman Melinda Katz (D−Forest Hills), who has thrown her hat into the ring for the comptroller’s slot. District 29 covers Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, Rego Park and parts of Maspeth and Elmhurst.

Also running for the seat are Queens Director of Community Boards Karen Koslowitz, former state Assemblyman Michael Cohen, Lynn Schulman, Heidi Harrison Chain and Joseph Nocerino.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 174.

Posted 6:35 pm, October 10, 2011
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