Paradise Or Parking Lot: Civics Discuss Parking Signs
By Beverly Baxter
Special to The Wave
The Rockaway Park Homeowners and Residents Association recently held its general monthly meeting at The Beach Club to discuss several serious issues which will have an enormous impact on our quality of life on the west end. The meeting was well-attended by nearly a third of its six hundred and eleven members; as well as by our elected officials, including Councilman Joe Addabbo, Assembly woman Audrey Pheffer, and a representative of Congressman Anthony Weiner.
Of the many agenda items ranging from the proposed implementation of the Doe Fund for Beach 116 Street, affordable ferry service, SROs and zoning matters, it was the increasingly incendiary issue of the Parking Ban on Rockaway Beach Boulevard between Beach 126 through Beach 139 Street that dominated much of the meeting.
Although there are viable arguments for both sides, with many residents still undecided and jockeying about their positions, Councilman Addabbo announced that he took the earlier recommendations presented by both the Belle Harbor Property Owners and Rock away Park Homeowners and Resi dents Associations when it initially voted four years ago in favor of chang ing the current No Parking during the Memorial to Labor Day season and holiday rules to No Parking Anytime. The new signs have been ordered by the D.O.T and will be up and in effect in the near future. Once in place, D.O.T. Commissioner Iris Weinshall will revisit the issue after three or four months and then make a final determination.
The contentious battle over the the no parking issue began nearly a decade ago when, at the Belle Harbor Property Owners Association’s re quest, a survey was conducted by the D.O.T to determine whether a change in the current parking regulations would be warranted in order to accomodate construction of the malls.A0 Based on several criteria including ped estrian, vehicular, accidents, and traffic pattern studies, the Boro Eng ineer rendered a decision that was agreeable with the civic association’s request. The contract for the mall’s construction included the No Parking Anytime clause.
The Rockaway Park Homeowners and Residents Association signed off on the issue as well when it joined its sister association and voted overwhelmingly for the new No Parking Anytime rule. However, four years later, there are many who are now re-thinking their position.
Citing safety concerns, proponents state that the No Parking Anytime rule will more enable the passage of emergency vehicles, lessen accidents occuring from cars entering onto the boulevard from side streets by increasing visibility, and add to a more unified aesthetic.
Opponents of No Parking Anytime state that the aesthetic component trumps safety and that those in favor of the new rule are merely guising their motivation for increased property values behind the safety issue. Those in favor of the current parking rules argue that the safety concerns can be addressed and visibility increased by reducing the number of cars parked to the curb.
Another consequence of the No Parking Anytime rule will be its devestating impact on an already limited commodity: parking spots. Unlike neighboring Neponsit where there are only one-family homes, Belle Harbor and Rockaway Park are zoned for multiple dwellings. Many of these structures were built nearly a century ago when the notion of an automobile was the gleam in an inventor’s eye. It has only been during the past several decades that it has become commonplace for a family to have two, three, or even four cars. In Rockaway Park, there are approximately eight seven-story apartment buildings that were each built to accommodate parking for between twelve and fifteen cars. Homeowners, including those who own Coops and Condos, as well as Renters argue that the parking ban will exhaust the limited available parking that exists.
Another consequence of the ban is that the shortage of parking will necessitate and prompt many homeowners to turn their lawns into unsightly parking lots. The demand will send the cost of renting private off-street parking soaring to exhorbitant rates. Currently, the average price for private parking is approximately one hundred dollars a month.
Rockaway Park Homeowners and Residents Association President Edward Re, an Architect, Professor at Pratt and N.Y.U., and expert in the field of Building Codes and Zoning Rules and Regulations, stated that although the contract for the malls’ construction included the parking ban, he respectfully encouraged further dialogue and assured that association members would receive a postcard in the mail requesting their imput. A strong advocate for the reduction of SROs, Mr. Re publicly offered to render his services free of charge to any multiple-dwelling owner of four families or more who wishes to convert their structure to a two or three family home. Mr. Re read to the audience the many letters he has received from those who are for and against the ban. Among them was a proposal for a designated jogging path and bicycle lane.
A0A0As we enter into the summer season, the issue of No Parking Anytime will undoubtedly heat up. Time will tell what’s at stake. In opting for the parking ban, residents can only hope they haven’t driven onto a low-road treacle.