One-way street OK’d by CB 7 near PS 209

Kim Ohanian (c.), a Community Board 7 member, speaks at Monday's meeting. Photo by Joe Anuta
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Community Board 7 voted Monday night in favor of a one-way street conversion in Whitestone that would alleviate traffic congestion around an elementary school but also curb in appropriate behavior on the part of parents.

The proposal, which would be implemented by the city Department of Transportation, would convert 16th Road between Utopia Parkway and 166th Street into a one-way, westbound road.

The idea is that by eliminating east-bound traffic, cars will more easily flow past PS 209, at 16-10 Utopia Parkway, which is on the eastern half of the road.

Residents like Wanda Young, who lives on the street, are in support of the plan. In fact, seven out of nine households on the block gave their support to the conversion, with the remaining two households not responding to a survey.

Each morning chaos ensues on the street outside PS 209, she said, speaking before the board.

School buses, parents and commuters converge on the street, she said, providing all the ingredients for a traffic nightmare.

“When there are no more legal parking spots, then parents will start to double park, block the driveways of the houses and even park in front of hydrants,” she said, urging the board to pass the measure.

Frustrated motorists, faced with the impasse of parents and buses, even pull U-turns by hopping the curb and driving on the sidewalk, she said. Young captured the mayhem in a video she posted on the Internet to prove her point.

The situation can be a dangerous one for children trying to cross the street, but it can also be a perilous one for educators and parents, according to Jacqueline Diaz-Fernandez, who works at the school.

“Our principal has been spit on, our assistant principal has been cursed at and parents have gotten into fights,” she said of the temporary turf war that breaks out as parents vie for parking spaces, park each other in and try and maneuver their cars and kids around the road.

The board overwhelmingly voted in favor of the proposal, which does not currently have a timeline for implementation, but some board members groused that making a street one way does nothing to change the bad behavior of parents.

Warren Schreiber voted in favor of the proposal because it only affected one block and the majority of the houses asked for it, but said he did not believe the conversion would completely alleviate the frustrating and possibly dangerous situation outside the school.

Another member foresaw double-, tripe- and even quadruple-parking by parents, who if given more space to flaunt traffic laws will expand into the unused portions of the road.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 1:23 pm, November 17, 2011
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Reader feedback

Carmine from Whitestone says:
Yet, 5th avenue with 107 cars per hour and 33% speeding, cant get a one way conversion. Over 20 kids on one block alone under the age of 15, with cars taking the turn at a high rate of speed and turning into the oncoming lane.

Very nice, while I applaud the change in front of 209, what about the other residents who need help?

Shame on all those who are putting 5th avenue residents in danger by not making the change.
Nov. 17, 2011, 12:08 pm

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