2009-02-18 / Features

DOT Commissioner McCarthy Addresses Sunnyside Chamber

BY THOMAS COGAN

(L. to r.): Bruce Bendell, Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce board member, Roel van der Kooi, representing Assemblymember Catherine Nolan, Queens Chamber of Commerce Chief of Operations Sophia Ganosis, city Department of Transportation Commissioner Maura McCarthy and Jerry Thornton, Queens Chamber of Commerce treasurer. (L. to r.): Bruce Bendell, Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce board member, Roel van der Kooi, representing Assemblymember Catherine Nolan, Queens Chamber of Commerce Chief of Operations Sophia Ganosis, city Department of Transportation Commissioner Maura McCarthy and Jerry Thornton, Queens Chamber of Commerce treasurer. Maura McCarthy, Queens commissioner of the Department of Transportation, was the speaker at the February luncheon meeting of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce. One of the other attendees at the luncheon greeted her by saying she deserved a Bronze Medal or a Purple Heart for the battering she had to take, one meeting after another, from indignant questioners such as he—which was, of course, a set-up for his latest inquiries. One thing evident from the questions and the answers she supplied was that sometimes there is confusion about who's in charge of what functions. She had to tell some inquirers that a particular complaint must be addressed to some city or state agency other than hers, which suggested only that confusion is built into the city's bureaucratic system.

McCarthy has been with the DOT for eight years. Before that she was with the Parking Violations Bureau and for 20 years was with the Police Department, where she began as a 911 operator in 1979. She began her address to the luncheon gathering by talking about streets— referring first to two books DOT has put out, called World Class Streets and Sustainable Streets (contents available on the DOT Web site), then to street surfaces. The department is acquiring the Grace Asphalt plant at 30-01 Harper St. in Corona to maintain a supply of the roadgrading material. This entails recycling, source of a third of DOT's asphalt. Much of it is being used in such places as the base of the Pulaski Bridge on Jackson Avenue, which is to be resurfaced. She mentioned sidewalk installations, for which DOT is also responsible, that are expected to be installed on Barnett Avenue between 48th Street and Woodside Avenue. Still another responsibility is street lighting, and she said that the "cobra-head" lights familiar on the highways would soon have their wattage reduced from 225 to 125, thus saving electricity, yet without reducing illumination, owing to current technological innovations. "We're trying to become more sustainable," she said. She added that though the city is certainly going through a hazardous economic period, for her and DOT, "It's a pretty exciting time."

Several persons raised questions that showed they knew a lot about some local situations. Art Weiner, treasurer of the Sunnyside Business Improvement District (BID) extensively reviewed the history of traffic patterns in Sunnyside and Woodside, while Al Volpe of Woodside on the Move, the man who told McCarthy she deserved medals, pointed out how the restaurant business is hurt by parking restrictions and how parents of school children risk "no standing" tickets when delivering or picking up their kids at such schools as St. Sebastian's on Roosevelt Avenue. Attorney Marc Levitt pointed to a no-standing area at Greenpoint Avenue and 47th Street where trucks stand without regard to local ordinances, blocking bus drivers' attempts to make a turn there. He said the spot should be designated with paint, and she said that is generally futile; he said a sign should be mounted that says, "No Standing Because the Bus Can't Turn". To the parents and restaurant-seekers unable to park, McCarthy could only suggest they consider mass transit to get to their destinations, since there's just too much vehicular traffic.

To SCC Executive Director Luke Adams' complaint about bus stop removals and relocations on Queens Boulevard she had first to point out that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is making those decisions, though she said she would convey everyone's concerns to the MTA. A complaint about traffic control at Skillman Avenue and Queens Boulevard during rush hours, entailing much ticketing, prompted her to point out that such control is a police matter. When the chamber's Gerry Lederman suggested that cameras and spotlights be mounted on streetlamps to shine on the Sunnyside Arch, she said that would involve both the Design Commission and the Police Department; the latter maintains the cameras and allows no other body even to think about mounting its own devices. A question about a construction eyesore at 39th Street and Queens Boulevard, on the No. 7 viaduct is part of an MTA switching project on the tracks, and the MTA isn't listening to any complaints about it.

Angus Grieve-Smith, a Skillman Avenue traffic activist, asked McCarthy if she knew about Park Smart, a DOT-merchants program in Greenwich Village that involves raising parking rates at critical times of the day and night to discourage meter-feeders. She said she did know, adding that BIDs on Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn and Steinway Street in Astoria might see Park Smart pilot programs initiated there, with other neighborhoods to follow.

Other items were announced at the luncheon. Alyssa Bonilla, director of the Sunnyside BID, known as Sunnyside Shines, said the BID would have a logo soon, one that had been picked as the winner in a logo contest that drew 206 entries. The BID's new office, not yet opened, is at 45-56 43rd St., near 47th Avenue. Sophia Ganosis of the Queens Chamber of Commerce said she had been at a borough president's breakfast that morning and heard Helen Marshall decry the several hospital closings in Queens. The latest is St. John's on Queens Boulevard, which might be taken over by North Shore-Long Island Jewish. For those who had not yet heard, Art Weiner conveyed the information that Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills is also closed.

Ganosis announced that the Queens Chamber's annual St. Patrick's Day luncheon at Terrace on the Park would be held this year exactly on St. Patrick's Day, Tuesday, March 17.

Return to top

Copyright 1999-2018 The Service Advertising Group, Inc. All rights reserved.