Halfway down 82nd Street between Atlantic Avenue and 91st Avenue in Woodhaven there is a narrow roadway between two houses that a passerby may mistake as a driveway. Except this small road doesn’t lead to a garage; rather it travels between two houses into an expansive lot with three homes. Welcome to Clemente Court.
“It’s a nice [place] to live,” resident Ahmed Bhuiyan said. “No problems at all, except,” he trails off. There is a laundry list of items that makes living on Clemente Court difficult.
In 2009, Bhuiyan’s son fell and hurt his leg. Emergency operators did not recognize the address of the house, and Bhuiyan had to give a house number on 82nd Street and carry his son there.
Sanitation workers don’t enter Clemente Court, so residents have to haul their garbage to 82nd Street.
There are no workers to plow the area, and the court doesn’t have a fire hydrant.
These problems occur because Clemente Court is an unmapped street—not owned by the city. City workers don’t enter these private streets to maintain the area, but they also can’t enforce any traffic rules so parking is never an issue.
Bhuiyan said he could deal with having to walk garbage to 82nd Street and even being responsible for shoveling his entire property during snowstorms. But one issue he can’t stand is that simply driving to and from his home is sometimes impossible.
When cars park too close to the driveway leading to Clemente Court, it makes making the turn off or onto narrow 82nd Street “impossible” Bhuiyan said. He said there have been times when he has walked or taken a cab because he could not take his car out of Clemente Court.
“I’m trapped. No way to get out of this,” Bhuiyan said. “I should be able to take my car in and out anytime.”
Bhuiyan contacted Councilman Eric Ulrich’s office, and staff member Arlene Brown has been working with various city agencies to mitigate the problems.
“They are being neglected by the city,” Brown said.
Proposed solutions include placing a fire hydrant near the driveway so residents could no longer park there, or making the opposite side of the street a no parking zone to allow for wider turns.
Brown has been working with Borough President Helen Marshall’s office and has notified the Department of City Planning. She has also contacted 911, NYPD, FDNY and EMS to alert them of the existence of the street. Brown said she was particularly worried about fires because the nearest hydrant is 68 feet away.
“The residents of Clemente Court have been trying to get their street officially recognized by the city for years. It’s hard to imagine living on a block without fire protection, and where emergency vehicles get lost on a regular basis,” said Ulrich (R-Ozone Park). “These problems have resulted in major headaches for the residents, and my office is doing everything we can to help make life a little bit easier moving forward.”
An FDNY spokesperson, however, said that local units are aware of the location and have the proper tools needed to fight any fires on Clemente Court. FDNY also noted that Queens dispatchers have information about Clemente Court and local companies have done on-site drills to prepare for any emergencies.
For Bhuiyan, these issues were not what he had in mind when he moved in. He said he would move if he could.
“I was not thinking of this type of trouble when I bought the house,” Bhuiyan said.
by Eric Yun