Posted on April 13, 2022 at 5:14 p.m. by West Side Rag
By Molly Sugarman
Bureaucracy and the problems it creates were the main topics of discussion at the Community Council 7 transportation committee meeting on Tuesday, April 12.
Co-Chair Howard Yaruss reiterated the request he made last month that the Department of Transportation (DOT) somehow respond to the Community Board’s 39-month request for loading areas on Central Park West.
The loading zones were on a list of long-approved safety projects that the DOT did not address. For several of the projects, Yaruss said, the Community Board had done a lot of research — held hearings and conducted investigations — but never got a response, not even a denial, from the DOT.
More than three years ago, the council sent out a list of very specific potential loading bay locations they had researched. “It’s not a huge budget,” Yaruss said at the time. “We are unable to understand why it is impossible to have at least a few [loading zones].”
“There are never two lanes on CPW,” Yaruss said. “Why is zero the correct number of loading zones? he asked Colleen Chattergoon, representative of the Ministry of Transport, on Tuesday.
She promised to come back to him next month.
“You’ve been saying that for over three years,” Yaruss replied. “It’s safety versus parking. Doesn’t safety matter with the Department of Transport?”
Chattergoon left the meeting with no further response.
The double parking of trucks on Columbus Avenue, another longstanding concern of the committee, was also discussed at length. Double-parked delivery trucks on both sides of the street, as well as restaurant sheds, reduced traffic to one lane on Columbus most of the time, Yaruss said.
The consensus of the committee was that the community needed to weigh in on solutions to the congestion problem and whether restaurant sheds should be permitted before the community council acted.
This led to a discussion about community involvement in board decisions, which many felt was lacking.
The installation of an electric vehicle charging station on W. 76th Street, for example, did not receive enough publicity to allow public participation, according to Karen Arenson, a resident of West 76th Street, who addressed to the committee. The local block association was not notified, Arenson said, nor were residents of nearby buildings.
As a result, safety issues have arisen when cars queue while waiting for a load. The block has a primary school, preschool, synagogue and chapel, Arenson said, adding to traffic congestion. These issues should have been considered before the charging station was approved, she added.
Other committee members felt that the Community Council needed to improve its reach. Arenson suggested that notices of agenda items be posted in local publications, such as the West Side Rag and others. Board member William Ortiz suggested they use social media.
Referring to his frustration with the DOT’s non-responsiveness, Yaruss said, “One of the ways to get people involved is to show that we can get things done. Somehow, what we do doesn’t have the effect we want it to have.