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Two-hour Parking on Bell Awaits DOT Approval

Bayside BID believes move will increase sales on the strip.

Despite majority approval by the Bayside Village Business Improvement District and Community Board 11, the city's Department of Transportation has not made a move to raise the time limit on Bell Boulevard muni-meters from one to two hours.

"We want to meet with the BID, but they haven't had a meeting," said Peter Goslett, a spokesman for the DOT.

However, BID President James Riso said that the group has had recent meetings.

"This is the first I am hearing of this," said Riso. "No one from DOT ever contacted me."  

After a flurry of calls Riso stated that DOT representatives are scheduled to attend the next BID meeting on Tuesday.

"The opinion of a majority of our business members is that they want the two-hour limit," said Riso, adding, "We sent a letter of support to the Community Board."

At a poorly-attended meeting of the 50-member board on Monday, September 7, the proposal to recommend extending the time-limit passed, 24-6, after a heated discussion.

The letter from the BID was forwarded to the DOT along with the board's advisory on September 13, according to CB11 District Manager Susan Seinfeld.

Support is not unanimous, however.  Gary Chang at the 7-Eleven on Bell Boulevard and 41stAvenue didn't like the idea at all. "We need turnover and two-hour meters will be bad for us. I would like half-hour meters."

Across the boulevard, Herbert Cheng at Golden Liquors pointed to the nearby Municipal parking lot at 41st Avenue and 214th Place. "There's plenty of three-hour parking there," he insisted. "Two hours hurts us and only helps the bars and restaurants."

Opponents say that extending the time will harm some businesses by reducing turnover and make it easier for people who work along Bell Boulevard to feed the meters. They say that the parking extension benefits restaurants at the expense of other businesses.

Riso dismissed those claims. "People who feed the meters are going to do that whether there are one or two-hour limits. The issue is that we want to promote Bayside Village as a shopping destination, instead of Bay Terrace or Roosevelt Field, where you don't have to worry about parking."

"People want to be able to go from store to store," Riso said, adding, "They aren't taking the time to browse for a gift, look at shoes or visit the Travel Agency when they have to run back to where their car is parked."

He also called the city to task for what he called "overaggressive" parking enforcement by Traffic Enforcement Agents. "You see them walking up and down the Boulevard checking the time remaining. They circle back to wait around cars whose time is ready to expire."

"Bell Boulevard merchants have a tough enough time with Department of Sanitation cops writing tickets for dirty sidewalks, the high rents and high taxes," Riso said. "Parking tickets drive customers away, sometimes permanently."

"The system is set up that people have no choice but to fail and get charged with a penalty," said the activist known as 'Jimmy Justice,' who made his name as a vigilante by filming NYPD engage in traffic violations like illegal parks.

"The city just has to lighten up a little bit," he said, adding, "They're not going to, because they're in it to win it. They're in it for money."

From Justice's view, the DOT isn't concerned with how an extension would affect neighborhood businesses, but with raising revenue. 

With the holiday shopping season here, BID officials are hoping for speedy action by the DOT. 

Claudia Cruz November 12, 2010 at 03:58 PM
Great to see you writing again Victor! Let's meet up on Bell when I'm back in the city!

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