Transportation Committee Says The Signs Stay
The vote – 6 to 1 with one abstention – came at the end of a public meeting Wednesday night at the Beach Club held specifically to address the issue. About 50 Community members turned out and had the opportunity to speak before the vote.
Handouts supporting both sides of the debate were passed around at the start of the meeting. “Safety first before parking convenience,” said one. The other was a copy of a letter from the Department of Transportation stating that a traffic study in the area was completed and that restoring parking was “feasible” if there was “community consensus for this change.”
“This is not a gated community, it’s the City of New York,” cried out one woman in the audience.
Ed Re, president of Rockaway Park Homeowner’s/Residents Inc., said the issue was “already decided years ago” during negotiations for the center mall project and that people in the affected area strongly support “No Parking Anytime.” Restoring parking now, he said, would be “kowtowing to a select few dissidents who live in the basement of a wood-framed, multi-unit dwelling.”
The potshot – aimed at Daniel and Linda Ruscillo, Beach 124 Street residents who formed the Coalition Against “No Parking Anytime” Signs (CANPAS) to fight for the restoration of seasonal parking – sparked a clap-off between people on both sides of the issue.
Quantifying the numbers of people on either side of the debate has not been easy. Both Rockaway Park Homeowners/Residents Inc. and CANPAS say they have hundreds of signatures on competing petitions, but even those sparked debate of exactly whose signature should count.
Community Board 14 Chairperson Delores Orr said the vast majority of the nearly 300 correspondences the board had received up until 5 p.m. on May 31 support “No Parking Anytime.” There were about 150 new correspondences that had not been tallied yet, she said.
In addition, Orr said, she had signed project acceptance documents from the two Rockaway Park community associations that existed in 2002 when the center mall project was approved. She would later cite those documents when she spoke with The Wave about why she voted to keep “No Parking Anytime.”
Orr said that she was “supporting the whole original design concept and the work that went into it,” by voting to keep the ban on parking in place.
The only board member who voted against the committee resolution, Al Moore, explained his decision making with a single word: elitism. He then elaborated by alleging that the elimination of the seasonal parking was aimed at keeping non-residents out of the area.
The Transportation Committee deliberated for about 25 minutes before voting and announcing the outcome, and approximately half of the audience members stuck around to hear the outcome.
“CANPAS will go out and lobby until the next Community Board 14 meeting and will not give up,” Daniel Ruscillo said in response to the vote.
Re was pleased by the outcome. “That vote fairly represents the community’s wishes,” he said. “When are we going to learn to respect our neighbors and respect the compromise that was already worked out,” he asked rhetorically.
The Transportation Committee will give the full community board a report at the next monthly meeting, which has been rescheduled for early July. An exact date had not been set at press time. The public will have the opportunity to address the board at that meeting, and a vote of the full board could happen as well.