E. 20th St. already looks different due to new bike lanes, bus islands

The construction east of First Avenue is part of the traffic safety enhancement plan. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Sabina Mollot

This week, numerous readers reached out to Town & Village, asking about all the work currently going on at East 20th Street, east of First Avenue.

As we reported last month, the Department of Transportation was in the early stages of a traffic safety enhancement project on East 20th Street along the route to the ferry. The project also unfortunately included the removal of 12 parking spots.

Work, however, began in earnest last weekend, with bike lanes being built on the north side of the street adjacent to bus boarding islands.

Council Member Keith Powers said his office has also received many calls, including some complaints, from residents, mainly over the loss of parking at a time when East 14th Street has also lost dozens of spaces due to the L train related construction work. In response, Powers said he’s asked DOT officials to walk along the street with him.

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MTA takes a tour of L hell

New lighting and air quality monitors installed, pols also hope for improvements on noise, parking

Council Member Keith Powers was one of a few local elected officials who recently went on a walkthrough of the L train construction zone on East 14th Street with Andy Byford, president of NYC Transit. (Photo courtesy of Council Member Keith Powers)

By Sabina Mollot

With the L train shutdown now six months away, constant noise and debris have already been a part of life for residents of East 14th Street on Avenue A and east for months due to the preliminary work.

Neighbors have been vocal all along of their displeasure about the work to build the Avenue A entrance to the First Avenue subway stop and an Avenue B substation, and local elected officials have managed to win a few concessions from the MTA on their behalf. But the biggest problems, like late night construction noise and the loss of 60 parking spots, have remained.

On October 15, Council Member Keith Powers hosted a walkthrough of the 14th Street worksite and surrounding areas with NYC Transit President Byford and Council Member Carlina Rivera, State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assembly Member Harvey Epstein.

It was following that scenic tour that Powers said the MTA agreed to make some changes and consider others.

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Ticketing blitz hits drivers in Stuy Town

Drivers parked in the loop roads have been slapped with tickets. (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Stuy Town drivers, beware.

A recent and ongoing ticketing blitz in the loop roads around the Oval has local motorists on edge for a couple of reasons. First, generally, parking tickets are the domain of Stuyvesant Town’s own public safety department, whose officers are deputized to issue them for infractions. Additionally, they offer a 15-minute grace period to drivers loading and unloading at times when parking isn’t permitted. This grace period was arranged by then-Assembly Member Steven Sanders and the city in 2002.

But all that has changed within the past couple of months. Residents have been complaining on the ST-PCV Tenants Association’s Facebook page, as well as to the office of Council Member Keith Powers, about an NYPD crackdown on illegal parking, that came without warning.

The infractions were for idling as well as for parking in spots where “No Parking” signs were posted. A rep for Powers noted that public safety typically lets drivers know when they can re-park after street sweeping is concluded but that tends to be before the “No Parking” signs indicate.

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Confusing parking sign changed outside Peter Cooper Village

Cailin Krogman’s car parked by the sign last November (Photo by Cailin Krogman)

By Sabina Mollot

Earlier this month, a parking regulation sign located outside Peter Cooper Village on East 20th Street that had been confusing drivers was replaced with a new one. The problem with it previously, as one Peter Cooper driver who got socked with a $115 ticket told us, was that an arrow indicating where one couldn’t park appeared to contradict what the paint lines on the street indicated.

“It’s in conflict with the sign; it doesn’t match up,” said the driver Cailin Krogman. Last November 13, Krogman had parked where she thought it would be okay to do so, over a car’s length away from the sign, only to get slapped with the ticket anyway that evening.

So, while the sign having been changed is good news for drivers (a result of Krogman complaining numerous times to Council Member Dan Garodnick’s office), naturally, Krogman said she would still like her ticket dismissed. Especially since, she pointed out, she’s been paying attention to the spot since her ticket was given and seen that others have not been ticketed. Adding insult to injury, said Krogman, her car has a visible tag indicating she’s a disabled driver.

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Letters to the Editor, Jan. 21

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Con Ed blocking Ave. C parking spots

Dear T&V,

I have a complaint about a parking situation currently happening on East 16th Street just south of Avenue C. This street is located between two properties belonging to Con Edison. The block has public parking spaces for about 15 cars as regulated by D.O.T. signage.

For the last couple of weeks, Con Ed has been placing cones in the street prohibiting people from parking there. (Except perhaps their own employees or contractors.) They even employ an outside agency of some sort to have someone stand there and tell people they can’t park there. There are no work order notices or temporary suspension indication on the street parking signs. There is no digging or other signs of work taking place. They have parked a large generator on the street for some time and they recently added a second one.

Recently I sought parking there around 5:45 p.m. and the street was empty. The cones were out and I was told there was no parking allowed. Forty-five minutes later, still looking for a spot, I found several passenger cars parked there with cones placed on top. They were okay to park there, I guess? Friends of Con Ed?

I am a resident of Stuyvesant Town who uses a car for work each day. Parking is difficult enough without Con Ed taking over a public thoroughfare without any apparent permits to do so. Is Con Ed just doing as they please because they can? Have they secured the proper authority to take over public parking? Why are there no postings of temporary work permits? Do they intend to “take over” this space permanently and further diminish the availability of street parking? This would lead to a host of other quality of life issues.

Thank you for your assistance in looking into this matter.

Name withheld, ST

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First Ave. parking spots moved for Citibike station

On Monday, drivers were given no clue as to why a “No Standing” sign went up outside of Stuyvesant Town. (Photo taken by a T&V reader)

On Monday, drivers were given no clue as to why a “No Standing” sign went up outside of Stuyvesant Town. (Photo taken by a T&V reader)

By Sabina Mollot

On Monday, the Department of Transportation quietly relocated parking spots that had been on the service road on First Avenue outside Stuyvesant Town to across the street. The reason for the work, apparently, was to accommodate a Citibike station that is also being moved.

Town & Village learned about the project after being contacted by two irate readers, both of whom live in Stuy Town and were annoyed to discover, upon coming home that parking spaces that had always been on the service road on First Avenue near the Gracefully shop were gone. In their place was a new “No Standing” sign.

As one reader, Laurence Watson, observed, “Spots that have been there 25 years are now gone without notice. One guy came home Saturday and had a ticket Sunday morning! It was an available spot on Friday.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Transportation didn’t respond to a request for an explanation by press time, but Council Member Dan Garodnick had better luck in getting answers from the DOT after T&V informed him of the issue.

Garodnick, who was told that the spaces were not removed but relocated to make way for the Citibikes, said that there was a reason for the sudden switch in locations. Apparently, in the bikes’ old spot, a Con Ed steam pipe that was located underneath the ground was sending condensation upwards that was destroying the shared bikes. While the work is underway a “No Standing” sign was installed.

It was on Wednesday afternoon when workers moved the Citibike station.

Garodnick added that there had not been any community notice prior to the project.

Letters to the Editor, Nov. 27

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Cartoon by Jim Meadows

Remembering the Ave. C sanitation garage

Dear Town & Village,

I am writing about your October 9 page one article, “CB6 offers proposal: sanitation garage could go near Con Ed.”

It went on to say, “(there’s) a plan that presents the possibility of building the facility near the Con Edison plant at East 14th Street and Avenue C.” (That’s where the big gas tanks used to be; Stuyvesant Town was – out of what used to be known as “The Gashouse District” and is now a sports field for Little League baseball and soccer.) For Community Board 6 it would be an alternative to building a garage the Department of Sanitation wants to build at East 25th Street between First Avenue and the FDR.

Once upon a time, there was a sanitation garage on Avenue C between 16th and 17th Streets and it was there before STPCV was built. It was enormous, taller than ST buildings and it was large enough to hold several ST buildings with space to spare. From my parents’ window, you could see ST buildings, Playground 4, the FDR Drive, the East River and “the building.”

It was referred to as “The Sanitation Garage” or “the building” because there was nothing designating its name. That was just one of its mysteries. All anyone knew was that sanitation trucks (called “garbage trucks” then), snow plows and other snow removal equipment and other vehicles for various city uses parked there. You rarely saw a vehicle enter and never saw a vehicle leave. They made very little noise entering the building’s steep ramp. No one I knew ever saw a vehicle leave it. There was never a light on in any of its windows.

The only sign of life in it ever were yellow painted block letters on 23 of its many thousands of windows spelling out “Welcome, Colonel John Glenn.” This was in 1962, after he became the first American to orbit the earth. He was in New York for a ticker-tape parade and the FDR Drive overpass by it. My guess is he didn’t see it while playing handball in Pat’s Park.

The sign stayed on its windows until the building was town down in the 1980s.

I remember thinking, “they shouldn’t tear this building down because they don’t build them like this anymore and they’ll need it sometime in the future.” It would have solved the problem of building a new one on East 14th and Avenue C (and eliminating the sports field there now) or building a new one on East 25th Street.

If a new sanitation garage is built on East 15th and Avenue C, it might outlive STPCV. In 2065, there may not be an STPCV. Who knows what the future holds?

STPCV might be bought up, leveled and replaced by higher-priced high rises. Its tenants may find the sanitation garage not “befitting” their neighborhood and pressure the powers that be into building one some place else (possibly East 25th Street). Then they would have a lovely field at East 15th and Avenue C worthy of their children’s need for a large sports field.

A cautionary tale,

Richard Luksin
Minneapolis, MN

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Opinion: Quality of life issues need to be addressed

Bus stop construction site on First Avenue and 14th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

Bus stop construction site on First Avenue and 14th Street (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By William Oddo
I know we are supposed to feel grateful for only a $50 a month rent increase for “maintenance improvements.” Some might suggest common sense and that these maintenance items should be paid from our monthly rent. In any case, there are some significant day-to-day issues that most residents would like improved but few seem to have addressed.
One is unsafe, substandard and hazardous pedestrian intersection ramp condition at intersections and crosswalks. The other is the loss of significant resident parking due to constant “temporary construction” of one sort or another and lack of government attention and repairs.

Sidewalk pedestrian ramp conditions
Throughout our community at sidewalk intersection ramps poorly designed, unsafe physical conditions, and steep ramp angles create conditions for large water “ponding” to form (think ice skating in winter).
This both blocks passage in warm weather rain and creates slipping conditions after practically every cold rain event. The “ponding” condition is worsened by the placement of Citi Bike stations that block drainage along street curbs.

Worse yet, the steep pedestrian ramp angles lack adequate level and safe sidewalk refuge areas (particularly all along the 1st Ave. west sidewalk area – 15th to 22nd St.), and tripping hazards at pavement and curb intersection.
Even in dry weather the most able of us have to be aware of these and other obstacles like phone/billboard obstructions, newspaper stanchions, and other street furniture that block and impede the 13 access nodes/locations surrounding our community.

Fourteen intersection improvements for 25,000+ people shouldn’t be too difficult for our electeds. Here’s the list if they need: 14th St. at Ave. A, B and C; 1st Ave. at 14th, 16th, 18th, 20th and 23rd St.; 20th St. at Ave. A, B and C, and Ave. C at 23rd, 18th and 16th St.
The fact is these pedestrian street crossing ramps do not assure disabled and aging community residents of a safe crossing let alone meet current engineering design standards (plus substandard federal, state, NYC DOT requirements).

Street crosswalk conditions
Once entering the street crosswalk one is presented with more dangerous crossing conditions; don’t even think of tripping here. The worst conditions exist at 1st Ave. at 14th and 20th Streets. Here it’s due to poor pavement conditions, utility manhole location hazards, the abrupt change in crosswalk elevations (urban hill and dale tripping hazards) and constant construction (destroying just finished improvements).
These conditions are of course beyond the usual post winter pothole repairs.

Bus stop construction
The forever bus stop construction project (over a year in the works) surrounding the busiest transit intersection at 14th St. and 1st. Ave has created more pedestrian safety issues and obstacles and further loss of resident parking.This particular project begins along 14th Street (in front of our closest and one of busiest MTA community bus stops) and extends along First Ave to 16th Street.
So if you need to transfer from a 14th St. bus to 1st Ave. bus or from 14th St. “L” train stop, just hike on over to 16th Street. It’s comical if not a pathetic situation.

Neighborhood parking search
Apparently, pedestrian walking hazards and residents driving in circles after work (yes there are jobs that are not near public transit or require private vehicles) in search for a parking space have escaped the attention of our local elected officials.
Recently, we have lost significant parking along the entire First Ave. Loop road and created pedestrian obstacles with little or no mitigation. We have lost almost 200 parking spaces all 14th and 15th Street due to Con Ed. They said this was a terrorist hazard but only at this power pant.

If you live in a public housing residence on 14th Street there is a good chance private, onsite parking is available for about $100 a month. Better yet for free on the non-terrorist side of the 14th Street power plant.

Some possible solutions
So here’s what our elected officials can do to get to work to help everyday conditions for all our residents:
1. Improve all 14 intersections surrounding our community free of “ponding” and designed to meet NYC/S and federal pedestrian design standards.

2. Identify and create permanent and robust intersection crosswalks at major crossings in our community. Once completed, no major deconstruction work is allowed unless in extreme emergencies. This can be accomplished by building adequately sized utility access conduits (mini-tunnels) for future needs under these crosswalks.
This would require an inter-department and public /private property coordination to establish future design and construction requirements and standards for access. Just think what we did in Times Square – we can do this here. Let’s start with 1st Ave. at 14th and 20th Street as a pilot.

3. Relocate all Citi Bike on street parking to city owned islands and wide sidewalk areas surrounding our community. That effort alone would regain about 30 to 40 permanent parking space for our community and improve drainage and intersection “ponding.” There are plenty of examples of this suggestion all around our community and city. (Hint, photos examples sent to our local officials).

4. Redesign and reopen hundreds of safe parking spaces along 14th and 15th Streets and still keep us safe from terrorists. An added benefit is pedestrian safety adjacent to our schools, parks, churches, and synagogues will be significantly improved and vehicular traffic reduced. Why? Because vehicles to and from the FDR Drive will have access to highway ramps that have been closed.

5. Contact our local electeds and Community Board 6 officers (some even live in our community) to act on your behalf to improve a few everyday community safety conditions.

William Oddo is a Stuyvesant Town resident and founder of Stuyvesant Town Quiet Oval.

Letters to the Editor, Apr. 24

A few options for adding more parking spots

To the Editor of Town & Village,

This community will lose approximately 60 spaces for six or more weeks because of a management infrastructure project. My question, along with many other residents is just where did management expect some 60 community resident parking vehicles go? Were some magical parking spaces to appear all of a sudden?

Why didn’t management first implement measures to mitigate this community impact? They seem to have enough “policing” resources to prevent parking, but not solve it.

So my suggestions below would maintain current parking supply and create additional permanent parking. This is what they could and should do or if they can implement something better:

1. Create dozens of temporary parking spaces along both sides all of other loop roads. These streets are in fact considerably wider than most local city streets with parking on both sides of the street. Well what do you know!

Specifically, building entrance drop off areas could be maintained, parking maneuvers can continue (or angle adjustments implemented), and safety parking restrictions maintained at non-tangent road sections (this has to do with safe vehicle site lines for pedestrians). Further, emergency vehicles could still travel through without blockage or restriction as other local streets without preventing necessary maneuvers. Thank you very much.

2. Install handicapped parking for all handicapped parkers including visitors and legitimate handicapped users. Management has replaced lost handicapped parking with more restricted NYC permit only handicapped signs below just about at all handicapped spaces, requiring a NYC residency.

May I remind management that the federal ADA Law (handicapped accessibility) is a civil rights law for all physically challenged citizens, not just NYC permit holders. Thus it requires handicapped parking for all citizens. If we need more ADA parking then so be it. Thank you, President Bush (the first).

3. Relocate all Citi Bikes on street parking to city owned islands surrounding our community and wide sidewalk area (cobblestone areas). This has been implemented at other locations throughout the city. That effort alone would regain about 30 to 40 permanent parking space for our community. East 14th, 20th and 23rd Streets all have traffic islands and wide cobblestone public sidewalk areas.

I have photo documented that these options exist and have sent them to our councilman to convince him of the need for more community parking. As they say, a squeaky wheel gets fixed. So neighbors, start contacting those responsible. In all fairness, his staff did reply with a city DOT standard (weak) excuse why it was difficult in our case. However, they seem to be unaware of already existing Citi Bike parking options at other city locations.

These are real, doable solutions that most could be installed immediately and others with just a bit more time deserve our councilman’s support. Once again though management isn’t seeking input from the community.

Respectfully submitted,

William Oddo, ST
Resident and
community activist

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