2004-06-04 / Front Page

‘No Parking’ Opponents Claim Community Never OK’d Plan

By Howard Schwach

‘No Parking’ Opponents Claim Community Never OK’d Plan

By Howard Schwach

Opponents of the "No Parking Any Time" ban on Rockaway Beach Boulevard have challenged official sources that say that both the Rockaway Park and Belle Harbor community organizations approved the plan prior to the affirmative vote of Community Board 14.

As recently as last month, Jonathon Gaska, the District Manager for Community Board 14, told The Wave that the malls were built and the no parking plan brought to fruition because "the community requested them."

Opponents say that is not true.

"At no time did the Rockaway Park Association ever agree to the plan," says Dan Ruscillo, a spokesperson for The Coalition Against No Parking Signs (CANPAS). "On the contrary, former association president John McLaughlin told us that the community was told that it would lose only a handful of parking spots."

In support of its contention, CANPAS provided The Wave with a letter from the Rockaway Park Homeowners and Residents to Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer, dated January 31, 2001, that they received from the community board only after filing a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request.

"It is the consensus of this organization of 335 members that we do not, under any circumstances, support the Center Median Contract HWQ331C proposed for the construction on Rockaway Beach Boulevard between Beach 130 Street and Beach 126 Street," the organization’s Board of Directors wrote. "That we demand the medians stop at Beach 130 Street is not a new stance [for the organization]."

"For your information, more that 18 months ago," the letter continues, "[the contract] was voted down at our general meeting by our membership in the presence of Assemblywoman Pheffer."

The organization board told Pheffer that they objected to losing at least 50 or more parking spaces to the new malls.

"Many of the two-family and three-family and multiple family houses on the beach blocks of the streets in question demand off-site parking. The loss of those spaces would constitute hardship and potential loss of income for a number of these homeowners," the letter says.

CANPAS held a meeting of its own at Pier 92 last week to discuss the parking situation.

A decision was made to attempt to bring dozens of people to the Community Board meeting on June 8 to alert board members to their opposition and their demand that the signs be removed until a further study is done and the needs of all community members, not just homeowners, are addressed.

The group appealed to Gaska for an agenda spot for the meeting, but was turned down because only the local community group could put the issue back on the agenda.

They hope that their vocal presence will force the board to rethink the plan.

The meeting will be held at 7:45 p.m. on June 8 at the American Legion Hall on Beach 92 Street.

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