2012-09-14 / Columnists

It’s My Turn

Not Seeing The Whole Parking Picture
By Joan Mettler

A recent article in the “Times” aired the west end old controversy regarding summer restricted parking between Beach 116 Street and Beach 149 Street. Those who would favor lifting the ban on restricted west end parking are, selfishly, not seeing the entire picture. While the “Times” article author, Elizabeth Harris, blames our parking restrictions on our ‘elitist’ residents, which newspapers just love to do, had she dug further she would have discovered the problems with lifting the bans present a far greater problem than retaining them. Perhaps this will help:

For those unaware, there exists parking only on weekends above Beach 116 Street on one side of beach blocks until Beach 125 Street. That understood there is never parking on beach blocks above Beach 125 (not wide enough with parking to allow for fire engines to access their targets) and restricted parking on the remaining streets between Beach 116 and Beach 149 between Friday midnight and Sunday midnight. Beach 129 third block, a commercial street has commercial street rules. Parking restrictions are in effect from mid-May until the end of September.

A friend who lived on 124th Beach block where there is alternate side parking year-round would sit on her front porch summer mornings and marvel as literally hundreds of cars would go down her block looking for parking that was already taken up by residents for the weekend on Friday afternoons. Imagine repeating the same scenario multiplied by all the blocks west of Beach 125? Imagine the ban on parking lifted, the homeowners scurrying to park their cars on the street and daytrippers driving their pollution-mobiles up and down our community blocks seeking parking that is not there! Imagine our congested post parking ban blocks with medical emergencies tossed into the mix. Imagine our new medical emergency dilemma, ambulance transportation to Brooklyn now that Peninsula Hospital is closed, and imagine how much additional time it would take for ambulance transportation over the MP Bridge in the height of congestion. Imagine were there flash storms forcing folks to exit the beach and the riotous conditions that are sure to ensue. Imagine now that Riis Park is charging $10 per day, how many vehicles would be coming to the west end looking for free parking?

Now that the safety issues have been aired here (none of which Ms. Harris addressed), perhaps the parking picture is a bit less muddled. That Ms. Harris’ article portrays us as elitist denies the fact that all of our beaches are accessible by public transportation (bus or train) 24/7-365. Has Ms. Harris tried to gain parking access to Brighton Beach or Coney Island or even Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn on a summer weekend? Did she find that while Manhattan Beach has some street parking quickly filled by residents, the preponderance of visitors are being forced to pay for parking in the beach pay lot. Brighton Beach parking is impossible for extended hours as is Coney Island where private parking lots have always thrived.

Harris’ description of our west end depicted us as being ‘sandwiched’ between Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, her only reference to our geographically limited size. Not doing what a good reporter does, digging for significant factors arguing for each side of a controversy from which conclusions are drawn, Harris went right into descriptions of our homes and impressively high market values of some of them, comparing us to the affluent communities on Long Island’s beaches. Why?

Ms. Harris, here is some information for you: Rockaway is not the Hamptons; but it is our Hamptons. Why do you and your like drum away at the west end as though the residents do not deserve what we are paying for through our bridge tolls, fines, tickets and taxes. We deserve the beaches in the summer and the isolation in the winter. Our ‘sandwiched’ situation is the only fact in your reporting that does not mark us as elitist. But, it is the ‘sandwiched’ part that is the best argument for restricted parking: we simply cannot accommodate a deluge of cars as it would compromise the safety of our residents and that of our visitors. Especially now that we have no neighborhood hospital and we need open roads to transport our sick and injured, your column is disingenuous and way off base. However, even prior to losing our hospital with no parking ban, we would have been inundated with pollution and congestion from cars combing our streets for parking snapped up by our residents. Eliminating parking restrictions, then, is not the brightest of ideas. In the future, why not try to fix another community’s ‘problems’ and leave ours alone.

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