2017-11-29 / Editorials

Letters to the Editor

Bike Lane Pipe Dreams

To The Editor:

I write this letter in strong protest of the bike lanes installed on Queens Boulevard in Rego Park.

If the role of government is to allocate resources benefitting the greatest number of people, these bike lanes fall woefully short. The math: 200 parking spots generating revenue from 8:00 a.m. through 10:00 p.m. (14 hours) at $1.00 per hour amounts to $2,800 per day in potential parking revenue. Six days a week $16,800, and yearly, $873,600. Add to that fines for overtime parking, and the number rises. Please add to these numbers an additional 17 parking spaces representing their removal and replacement with a Loading Zone which has just now occurred.

In the 72 years we have been in Rego Park, I cannot recall a more adverse government policy foisted upon us. Business is suffering, speaking only for myself, although other merchants are complaining bitterly. My receipts are down in the double digits, and this is my busy season. It is common to have a party of three seated, after 10 or 15 minutes a cell phone rings, they explain as they get up to leave they “can’t find parking.” Sales tax revenues are falling. “To what extent?” remains an open question, but it would come as no surprise if it exceeds $10,000 annually. Declining corporate profits will result in lower corporate tax revenue. Correct sizing of staff for the lower sales volume will mean layoffs, which will be subsidized by the city in the form of government assistance. Not taking into account the mental suffering and distress accompanying layoffs, and lower salaries, would be remiss. And that is just from my business. Multiply this by all affected businesses, and I think you will agree, this will be an expensive program.

“Diners, Drive-ins and Dives;” “The Deli Man,” a full-length feature documentary; “The Comedian” starring Robert De Niro and Danny DeVito featuring Ben’s Best; Food Paradise and Andrew Zimmern’s “Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations” of the Travel Channel; a Zagat rating of 4.3 (excellent) – this publicity makes us a destination restaurant. Parking was a serious problem before the bike lanes, now it is impossible.

November, December, January, February, and into March are climate conditions not conducive to bike riding equals precious real estate going unused and not revenue-producing.

Now the real question: “Are bike lanes addressing the needs of the Rego Park community?” Twenty-eight hundred people per day parking, or one or two people using bike lanes – is this the best use of Rego Park resources?

To think bike lanes in Rego Park will enhance and improve living conditions is a pipe dream.

Jay Parker
Ben’s Best Delicatessen

Greatful For...

To The Editor:

If the Pilgrims had been Italian, we’d have dined much better on Thanksgiving...homemade pasta with pesto, mozzarella-in-carrozza, lasagna, cannoli, affogato. Yes, I risk offending devotees of Anglo-Saxon/New England cuisine, although I suspect they are few as evidenced by the lack of Queens restaurants specializing in green bean casseroles with limp onion topping. The point is that any cuisine is probably tastier than what we have inherited from those early settlers to Cape Cod. (Cod, another bland fish. Couldn’t they have taken the lobsters from the bay and done them in a spicy fra diavolo sauce?)

Despite their food choices, we honor those refugees from England (and they were in fact refugees) not for their cooking abilities, but their forbearance under less than desirable conditions. They certainly were not perfect – and this country’s record toward natives to our land leaves a great deal to be desired – but showing gratitude is noble. It’s great to reflect on as we commence the holiday season.

It’s hard these days to scan the headlines or peruse network feeds. Politically, there’s a lot to be frightened of – disenfranchisement of so many; meanness and bullying emanating from the highest levels of government; and a disintegration of social norms. So what can we be thankful for? Let’s consider significant, life-affirming events that don’t make the headlines and people who may not be considered “important.”

A few weeks ago, JetBlue announced that an Entrepreneur Space client, Luv Michael, had become a partner in the BlueBud mentoring program. This will enable the organic, gluten-free granola makers to grow their business, but Luv Michael does not just make granola. The company trains, educates, and employs adults on the autism spectrum. Those who work for Luv Michael might not be considered “important,” but in my mind, they are invaluable to our society.

I’m also thankful for my niece, Marla, who in fact cooks a terrific turkey with all the classic side dishes. Her green bean casserole has crispy onion topping! It will be enjoyed by our ever-growing brood, though I suspect we’ll end up somewhere in Queens over the weekend to enjoy some more great food that has a little more spice!

Seth Bornstein
Executive Director
Queens Economic
Development Corporation

Residential Parking Permits

To The Editor:

The Old Astoria Neighborhood Assn. has been a strong advocate for the establishment for residential parking permits. Our local parking issues have a strong effect on our quality of life, from the extra pollution, waste of time, and the psychological frustrations we all face from cruising the neighborhood looking for parking.

While we agree that it will be a long journey to accomplish this, we view with interest a bill establishing a pilot program to test the feasibility of residential parking permits in the LaGuardia Airport area. Indeed, if possible, we would like this extended to the Old Astoria neighborhood.

Residential parking permits would allow only residents to park on their blocks overnight. This system would ensure residents a parking space near their homes and save them from having to drive around searching for one.

It is a way for residents to make sure they have a place to park every night. The time that each permit goes into effect could be varied, block by block. If a block has a lot of commercial shops it could start later, perhaps at 9 p.m.

Also, non-residents will often park on blocks that do not have alternate side parking and leave their cars for days or weeks, even months in some cases.

“People dump their cars and go on vacation for a month at a time,” one Old Astoria resident said. “When you call the cops they come and say they aren’t going to give them a ticket.”

Residential parking permit systems have been set up in other cities, where residents pay an annual fee. San Francisco charges $111 annually. (Most expensive according to the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority.) Others pay no fee at all. OANA believes that residents would agree to pay a fee in order to obtain a permit. “Time is money,” and plenty is wasted looking to find parking. It has been said that one of every two miles automobiles are driven in NYC is spent finding parking.

Most major cities in the United States run residential parking permit programs successfully. Parking is at such a premium in NYC that creative thinking is a must. Since this is a pilot program, not permanent, a lot of questions can be resolved. But to do nothing should not be an option. We do not have to accept the status quo. We hope that this can be the first step in solving what today is one of the major quality of life issues all New Yorkers face.

Richard Khuzami
President, Old Astoria
Neighborhood Assn.

Parcels F&G

A copy of this letter was received at the office
of the Queens Gazette.
November 20, 2017
Honorable Bill de Blasio
Mayor, City of New York
City Hall
New York, NY 10007
Re: Parcels F & G – Hunters Point South
Long Island City, NY
Dear Mayor de Blasio:

I am extremely concerned about the selection of the developers for parcel F&G in Hunter’s Point South. More specifically, one of the organizations has a long history of audits and has been the subject of several investigations from both the NYC Department of Investigation and the federal government.

In addition, these organizations have no track record in Queens, no community partners in western Queens, no record of work done in Long Island City, and to my knowledge, no record of being able to develop and build waterfront property of this height and magnitude in Queens county. In an area with a number of existing strong community service organizations, it is troubling that the selection process would award a company like this with such a large government contract.

I am requesting an immediate briefing from HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer on how this selection was made. I look forward to your response.

Catherine Nolan

Safety Upgrades Needed

A copy of this letter was received at the office
of the Queens Gazette.
October 13, 2017
Nicole Garcia
Borough Commissioner
Department of Transportation
120-55 Queens Blvd., Rm. 285
Kew Gardens, NY 11424
Dear Borough Commissioner Garcia:

I am writing to you about complaints my office has received from constituents regarding pedestrian safety in Maspeth. Constituents would like to see safety upgrades near Maspeth Town Hall which operates after school programs for local schools. Please consider adding stop signs and speed bumps on 72nd Street (DOT-352803-S3P1, DOT-350126-Q5G2). Additionally, a constituent has requested that an all-way stop be installed at the three-way intersection of 66th Street and 53rd Ave (DOT-352806-Q8S0, DOT-350126-Q5G2).

Please take all necessary steps to fully investigate this matter and notify me of your results via my community office at 71-19 80th St., Suite 8- 303; Glendale, NY 11385. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to call my office at (718) 366-3900.

Elizabeth S. Crowley
NYC Council Member, 30th District

• • •

November 9, 2017
The Honorable Elizabeth Crowley
Council Member, 30th District
Atlas Park Mall
71-19 80th Street
Suite 8-303
Glendale, New York 11385

Dear Council Member Crowley:

This is in response to your request for the installation of a speed bump on 72nd Street, between 53rd Road and Grand Avenue.

I am pleased to inform you that Community Board 5 has approved the installation of two speed humps at this location. A speed bump will be installed when resources become available.

Thank you for your interest in this matter. Sincerely,

Nicole Garcia
Queens Borough Commissioner

Wizard Of Oz Reverie

To The Editor:

As a Schwinn Cruiser Deluxe biker, I have been biking along Queens Boulevard in the new green bike lanes, while serenading myself with some songs from “The Wizard of Oz” (Harold Arlen, E.Y. Harburg, 1939). “Follow the green brick road, follow the green brick road…” (to parody “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”), as I dodge vehicular traffic from all sides in the green bike lane. Think? Ground Rule No. 1: Bicyclists “must stay near the RIGHT curb or edge of the road, or on a usable RIGHT shoulder of the road, to avoid undue interference with other traffic. The rule of staying to the RIGHT…” (Driver’s Manual, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles). Yet, the cited bike lanes have been designed and constructed near the LEFT edge of the service roads, in violation of the bicycle rule of the right. Further, motor vehicular traffic may cross diagonally at some points from the main road, through the bicycle lane, onto the service road, and oncoming cars, buses and trucks traverse the bike lane to pass slow or backed up traffic in the single service road. There are no provisions for law enforcement of illegal motor traffic within the bike lanes only demarcated with yellow and white painted lines. Ironically, despite the hazards of these bike lanes, a bicyclist “must ride in a bicycle lane, if a usable one is available” (ibid.).

We need new safety, environmental, and business impact studies of these nascent bike lanes. So, we’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of the NYC Department of Transportation. To me, this Kafkaesque nightmare is another failed experiment in de Blasio’s progressive social conditioning.

Joseph N. Manago

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