2004-02-06 / Front Page

‘No Parking’ Driven By Civic Groups

By Howard Schwach
‘No Parking’ Driven By Civic Groups

‘No Parking’ Driven By Civic Groups

By Howard Schwach

The plan to restrict parking along Rockaway Beach Boule vard from Beach 126 Street to Beach 129 Street in the wake of the construction of center malls in that area is nothing new, according to Jonathon Gaska, the Dist rict Manager for Community Board 14.

When [Assemblywoman] Aud rey Phef fer got the money for the project and it came before the community board three years ago or so, both the Rockaway Park civics and the Belle Harbor civics asked for no parking along that area, and it was put into the plan," Gaska told The Wave. "It was clear from that time that the regulations were going to restrict parking on that strip of Rockaway Beach Boule vard."

"This has not been a secret," Gaska said. "We talked about it at many meetings and it was put into the plan."

He added that both Ed Re, the president of the Rockaway Park Home owners and Resi dents Association and Bar bara Larkin, the president of the Belle Harbor Property Own ers Asso ciation recently endorsed the plan.

City Councilman Joseph Addabbo said that the "No Parking At Any Time" signs have already been ordered and will be put up by the Department of Traffic as soon as they are received.

"The community asked for the no parking rules," Addabbo said. "If people are against it, they have to write to me, e-mail me, or fax me at my office and let me know how they feel."

"I’m only one person," Addabbo said. "I represent 60,000 people and I have to know how they feel about this important issue."

Gaska agrees that community input is the key to making a final decision.

"If the community is against it, then their civic association has to hold a meeting and come back to the community board with a statement of that opposition. Two or three phone calls are not going to do it."
"This can be worked out," Gaska added. "These are only signs. If we try it, and it’s horrible, then we can always take them down."

There is a growing opposition to the plan in the Belle Harbor community, however.

That opposition not only comes from tenants in the area, but also from homeowners, who rent apartments.

"The first question that potential renters ask me is whether or not the apartment comes with parking," one owner of a two-family home on Beach 130 Street, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Wave. "If I tell them that they only have access to the driveway during the summer months and that the parking is restricted the rest of the time, the value of my apartment goes way down. I don’t think those who do not rent realize that."

"Should somebody who rents an apartment from me on Beach 130 Street have to walk to Beach 116 Street to park his car? That is the question the civic associations need to answer."

Belle Harbor resident Matthew Mclean, in a letter to this week’s Wave said, "This [parking] ban will create a major parking inconvenience for many Rockaway residents. More importantly, implementing this ban will create major safety issues for both pedestrians and motorists.

He argues that restricting the parking will allow motorists to use two lanes rather than the present one lane.

"Creating a two-lane road in this stretch will create more opportunities for a tragic accident if cars attempt to pass each other in these smaller lanes," Mclean wrote. "With the narrower lanes and larger SUV’s, creating two lanes is a disaster waiting to happen."

"The parking ban is going to have a mushrooming effect," says local resident Palmer Doyle. "People who live on the beach block and can’t park on the boulevard are going to park on the 200 and 300 blocks, forcing the people who live on those blocks to look for parking elsewhere."

Doyle added, "It would be refreshing for community leaders to find out what the residents want and then to do that, rather than to do what they want to do."

Kevin Boyle, local resident and author of "Braving The Waves," said, "We now have the best of both worlds – the malls look good and we have more parking."

Boyle added that he was afraid that the parking ban would "force some residents to pave over their front yards and gardens in order to provide parking for themselves and their tenants."

"I really think that people will begin to pave over their yards or park on the grass," Boyle said. "That will make the neighborhood worse than before."

Local artist and author Steve Yaegar agrees with Boyle.

"They created another problem for Rockaway by building the center malls in the first place," Yaegar said. "They’re nice to look at, but it is more important that people have a place to park nearby where they live."

Councilman Addabbo said on Tuesday that he had received a "nice amount of phone calls after the story appeared in last week’s Wave.

"I tend to agree that parking is necessary in a community like Belle Harbor," he said. "Safety and convenience are the primary issues, cosmetics are secondary."

He said that he would reach out to the DOT and tell the agency about the community’s point of view if he believes that he has a consensus that the community does, in fact, want parking on Rockaway Beach Boulevard.

Addabbo told The Wave that, although the signs had been ordered by DOT, they were "not even close to being installed."

"The community has to voice its opinion if they want to stop the signs from going up," Addabbo said. "It is as simple as that."

Barbara Larkin, the president of the Belle Harbor Property Owners Association, was contacted, but was not available for comment on this story.

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