2001-08-22 / Front Page

Traffic Problems Threaten Bayside Quality Of Life

by stefanie weisman

Many expressed their concern that the shopping center’s (Bay Terrace above), expansion would significantly increase the amount of traffic on residential streets.Many expressed their concern that the shopping center’s (Bay Terrace above), expansion would significantly increase the amount of traffic on residential streets.

The East Bayside Home-owners Association met in the common room of the All Saints Church on Tuesday, Aug. 14 to discuss and vote on traffic problems created by the expansion of the Bay Terrace Shopping Center. The meeting was attended by concerned homeowners, officials from Community Boards 7 and 11, and several City Council candidates. Many expressed their concern that the shopping center’s expansion would significantly increase the amount of traffic on residential streets.

Frank Skala, president of the East Bayside Homeowners Association, went over the plans for the development of the shopping center, which is located on Bell Boulevard between 23rd and 26th Avenues. The exits and entrances to the Bay Terrace parking lot on 26th Avenue face an R2 zone, which is a residential area made up of single-family homes. Cord Meyer, the company that owns the shopping center, plans to add stores to the shopping complex and enlarge some of the existing businesses. These changes would remove dozens of parking spaces, Skala said, and push people onto the residential streets. Cord Meyer also intends to widen two of the entrance curb cuts on 26th Avenue, which might increase the volume of traffic in the area. One of the exits on 26th Avenue has already been moved from a location between two residential streets to a spot directly facing 212th Street without the permission or notification of the homeowners. Although this move was intended to ease traffic problems in the area, it has dramatically increased the number of cars that use this narrow residential street. Barbara Landers, a resident of 212th Street, recently organized a petition to get the shopping center driveway moved back to where it was. "We feel we are now going to be used as an artery for the shopping center," she said. "Just four additional cars an hour on our street will result in over 35,000 additional cars over the year."

The Bay Terrace Community Alliance, whose members are residents of co-ops and other multiple family dwellings in the area, was also represented at the meeting. The organization is very concerned about the proximity of one of the shopping center’s driveways to the blind parking exit of a nearby housing complex, and wants the driveway moved to another location. It is also fighting to remove the yellow reflective posts that were recently set up in a section of 26th Avenue, claiming that they are an eyesore and do not help in directing traffic.

The homeowners also discussed the practicality of putting a traffic light on 212th Street. Many E.B.H.A. members were concerned that a light would encourage more drivers to use the residential street. But Bernard Haber, chairman of Community Board 11, suggested that a traffic light might help to limit the number of cars on 212th Street. A study is currently being conducted to determine if there is enough traffic to necessitate installing a light. Several homeowners commented that the traffic lights on Bell Boulevard are poorly timed, and that many drivers use the residential streets to avoid waiting at the lights.

Chuck Apelian, member of Community Board 7, said that the Cord Meyer Company will try to increase the number of spaces in Bay Terrace to prevent shoppers and employees from parking on residential streets. He and the community board are working with the developers to ease traffic congestion by improving the flow within the shopping center.

At the end of the meeting, members of the East Bayside Homeowners Association voted on several proposals. They decided to oppose a traffic light on 26th Avenue and 212th Street, as well as on 210th, 211th, and 213th Streets, and to oppose any widening of the exit near 210th Place. The association officially took the position that the driveway at 212th Street should be moved back to where it was. In addition, members voted to request the removal of parking spots on the west side of Bell Boulevard to create a new traffic lane. The E.B.H.A. will meet with local officials and try to win public support for its positions. "We have a quiet way of life here," Skala said after the meeting, noting that the association is trying to keep it that way.

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