2004-04-30 / Front Page

CANPAS Takes Aim At No Parking Signs

By Howard Schwach

CANPAS Takes Aim At No Parking Signs

By Howard Schwach

Hundreds of Rockaway residents are angry and are forming together to fight the city and their own civic associations on the question of the new "No Parking Any Time" signs on the west end.

A new group, called Coalition Against No Parking Signs, or CANPAS, has quietly been recruiting members from both Belle Harbor and Rockaway Park, those who are disaffected by the loss of hundreds of parking spots just before the busy summer season, when parking is at a premium at the best of times.

Coalition leaders met on Tuesday with Jonathon Gaska, the District Manager for Community Board 14 and presented him with petitions with more than 450 signatures asking that the signs be removed.

"We had a good meeting with Gaska," says coalition leader Linda Ruscillo. "We presented him with the petitions and assured him that the coalition would continue to work to get the signs removed."

Also involved with the meeting by phone was Ginger Smith, the former president of the Rockaway Park group that reportedly approved the plan to place the malls and restrict the parking.

Smith told The Wave earlier that her organization, in fact, voted against the plan.

Ruscillo and her husband, Daniel are the moving force behind the new coalition.

And, while the Ruscillo’s and others are skeptical that the signs will ever come down, City Councilman Joseph Addabbo says that the signs will be reviewed after the summer.

"I am confident that the DOT will come back to Rockaway in three or four months to reevaluate the signs," Addabbo said. "Safety is the main issue and if the summer shows that the no parking plan is unsafe, then they will be taken down."

Addabbo said that the proponents of the no parking plan did not foresee a safety problem with having two lanes of traffic in each direction, but that such a problem may be developing.

A Wave editor, traveling west on Rockaway Beach Boulevard last week was "blown away" by an SUV traveling in the right lane at a high rate of speed, passing the cars that were in the left lane as if they were standing still.

Addabbo admitted that is a problem with the plan.

"We may have to take the signs down and "give daylight," meaning that there would be no parking just at the corners so that drivers moving north and south would have a site line at the boulevard.

The coalition plans to ask the Belle Harbor Property Owners Association for permission to speak about the parking ban at a future meeting.

They don’t expect much success because they do not own a home in the community and they feel that the leadership of the civic groups has traditionally been hostile to renters.

Linda Ruscillo, however, is hopeful.

"I sincerely hope they give us the opportunity to make our case in front of their members," she says. "I believe that many of them would want to join our coalition."

Those who are interested in joining the coalition are urged to call the Ruscillo’s at 718-474-6144.

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