2005-09-09 / Front Page

Parallel Plan Favored For Beach 116 St.

Steve Good, The Beach Club’s co-owner, holds up DOT street profiles that show different scenarios for Beach 116 Street. Good said he wants to see the width of the median reduced to 8-feet.
Steve Good, The Beach Club’s co-owner, holds up DOT street profiles that show different scenarios for Beach 116 Street. Good said he wants to see the width of the median reduced to 8-feet. The plan to install parallel parking and a more traditional center median on Beach 116 Street gained additional momentum Tuesday night at a special meeting held at the Beach Club.

After listening to a presentation by John Martin, Capital Planning Director for the Department of Transportation, and comments from local business owners, community leaders and others, Community Board 14’s Transportation Committee voted unanimously in favor of a reconfiguration that includes the following:

DOT Queens Commissioner Constance Moran, right, reviewed the reconfiguration plans with audience members after the meeting.DOT Queens Commissioner Constance Moran, right, reviewed the reconfiguration plans with audience members after the meeting. Parallel parking along both curbs and both sides of a 9-foot-wide median; a closer look at the issue of loading zones for delivery trucks; and a review of what kinds of plantings will be installed with the possibility of eliminating trees or reducing their numbers.

Based on the outcome of the meeting it appears the roadway – 31-feet-wide on either side of the 9-foot median – would have 7-foot-wide parking lanes demarcated by 6-inch-wide painted lines. That would leave 16 ½- foot-wide lanes for traffic.

Revising the width of the median from 12-feet, then to 10-feet and now to 9, represents a compromise between DOT and business owners who remain concerned about delivery trucks and traffic flow that includes a wide range of vehicles. Still, Steve Good, co-owner of The Beach Club, lobbied for an 8-foot-wide median.

Martin countered that there was room for several 60-foot-long loading zones with specific hours. “That’s the tweaking that should happen at the community level,” he said. Double-parked vehicles could cause a “pinch point” where drivers would have to proceed with caution, but also said giving more room to traffic encourages fast driving, said Martin.

The DOT strongly supports parallel parking and a median because, Martin said, it adds about 30 to 40 parking spots and maintains safety. Medians prevent drivers from making haphazard U-turns while giving pedestrians a walkway and safe zone in the middle of the street.

The Chamber of Commerce also came out strong in support of parallel parking with executive director Joanie Omeste citing “more spots, safety, cleanliness and beauty.” Chamber President John Lepore, an Allstate Insurance broker, said it is known industry-wide that angled parking causes accidents.

“When people pull out of the spots they have low visibility,” Lepore said, “and it creates a hostile environment for pedestrians.”

The angled parking alternative, which DOT is clearly uninterested in pursuing, would eliminate the median, add just a handful of additional spots and would have “reverse in only” parking at a 60-degree angle along the curb. Barbara Larkin, President of the Belle Harbor Property Owners Association, said the DOT’s halfhearted angled parking plan was a “slap in the face.

“No senior citizen wants that,” Larkin railed.

A handful of those in the audience of about 25 people charged DOT with moving too quickly, but their comments seemed out of touch with the reality that a combination of fast-moving projects – including Tribute Park, Ocean Grande, the Flight 587 Memorial, the construction of a new command center for NYPD Transit and the MTA/NYCT’s redesign of its subway station and storefronts – promise to radically reshape the busy street within a short time.

Others, like Browns Hardware co-owner Noni Signoretti, got behind the DOT’s project, despite her own concerns. “Not everyone is going to agree on the parking plan. Rockaway just doesn’t do that,” she said. “I don’t think we should shun change because we could lose this opportunity.”

CB14’s Transportation Committee will present the full board with its recommendation at their monthly meeting at the Knights of Columbus Tuesday, September 13, 7:30 p.m. The public will again have the opportunity to speak on the subject before the full board has the opportunity to vote.

DOT Queens Commissioner Constance Moran, who attended this week’s meeting, said the reconfiguration, originally scheduled to begin immediately after Labor Day, was on hold pending CB14’s vote.

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