By Molly Sugarman
Bureaucracy and the problems it creates were the main topics of discussion at the Community Board 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) respond in some fashion to the Community Board’s 39-month-old request for loading zones on Central Park West.
The loading zones were part of a list of long-approved safety projects that DOT has not addressed. For several of the projects, Yaruss said, the Community Board had done a lot of research — held hearings and conducted surveys — yet never gotten a response, not even a denial, from DOT.
More than three years ago, the board sent a list of very specific potential loading-zone locations that they had researched. “It’s not a massive budget,” Yaruss said at the time. “We are at a loss to understand why it is impossible to have at least a couple of [loading zones].”
“There are never two lanes on CPW,” Yaruss said. “Why is zero the right number of loading zones?” he asked Department of Transportation representative Colleen Chattergoon on Tuesday.
She promised to get back to him next month.
“You’ve been saying that for over three years,” Yaruss responded. “This is safety versus parking. Doesn’t safety count with the Department of Transportation?”
Chattergoon left the meeting with no further response.
Double parking by trucks on Columbus Avenue, another long-term concern of the committee, was also addressed at length. Double-parked delivery trucks on both sides of the street, as well as restaurant sheds, have reduced traffic to a single lane on Columbus much of the time, Yaruss said.
The consensus of the committee was that the community needs to weigh in on solutions to the congestion problem and whether restaurant sheds should be allowed before the Community Board acts.
This led to a discussion of community involvement in board decisions, which many felt was lacking.
The installation of an electric-vehicle charging station on W. 76th Street, for example, was not publicized enough to allow public input, according to Karen Arenson, a resident of West 76th Street, who spoke 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 as cars line up waiting for a charge. The block has an elementary school, a nursery school, a synagogue, and a chapel, Arenson said, which add to the traffic congestion. These problems should have been considered before the charging station was approved, she added.
Other committee members felt that the Community Board needs to improve its outreach. Arenson suggested that notices of agenda items be posted in local publications, such as the West Side Rag and others. William Ortiz, a member of the board, suggested they use social media.
Referring back to his frustration with DOT’s non-responsiveness, Yaruss said, “One of the ways to get people involved is to show we can get things done. Somehow, what we do doesn’t have the effect we want it to.”