For at least the rest of the month, concerned residents can rest a little easier on a proposed street change that has raised concerns.
Following intense public pressure, Community Board 9 voted Tuesday to postpone a scheduled vote that would have changed two Woodhaven streets.
According to Ed Wendell, president of the Woodhaven Residents Block Association, residents were surprised when a notice was sent out by Community Board 9 late last month stating that they had scheduled a vote on two street changes in Woodhaven for Tuesday’s Jan. 10 meeting.
The street changes would have created a conversion of 89th Avenue from a Two Operation to a One-Way Eastbound operation between Woodhaven Boulevard and 97th Street, as well as change 84th Street from a One-Way Northbound to a One-Way Southbound from Liberty Avenue.
Wendell, who opposed the street changes, said that the changes would create a traffic problem that would impact residents by reducing the number of ways to get into Woodhaven from three—Woodhaven Avenue, 84th Street and 76th Street—into only one,Woodhaven Avenue.
While the WRBA had been aware of the proposal—originally presented by the Department of Transportation (DOT)—in meetings last year with elected officials, the association was informed that they were going to be kept in the loop regarding the proposed street changes.
“We offered alternate ideas, and we were told that nothing would be decided upon yet,” Wendell said. “We were told that before there was any movement, that a survey would happen, and there would be public feedback on it. None of that happened.
”That, Wendell said, was why he was surprised when the community board issued a letter last week announcing they were to vote on the street change.
“Sending a letter is not public feedback,” he said.
From there, WRBA utilized their Facebook page in order to mobilize a coalition to show up at the meeting opposing the street change. In an interview on Radio Free Woodhaven last week, Assemblyman Mike Miller said that he had asked Community Board 9 to postpone the street changes while planning to meet next week with DOT officials.
On Monday afternoon, word had gotten out that Community Board 9 had opted to table their vote.
Still, residents from the effected streets at the meeting voiced their concerns over the street changes and how the proposed changes would affect them.
Diane Yodice, who lives on 84th Street and 91st Avenue, said that the incoming traffic would take away commuters’ direct line into Woodhaven, which would create a heavy traffic flow problem affecting residents and local schools—and would likely prevent her doing her local shopping.
“I love Woodhaven and I love Ozone Park…and I like to spend my money in Ozone Park, but if they’re not going to let me come home…then I’ll have to stay on my side of the street,” she said.
Lisa Scheppke, who lives on 95th Avenue, said that the street change would create a serious traffic problem which would create an inconvenience to her on commutes home.
“If I take a train home, I would have to go 17 blocks out of my way,” she told the board.
Alex Glatt, who lives on 88th Street and has been a resident of Woodhaven for more than 20 years, was particularly concerned that he found out about the vote on street changes via the internet without any prior discussion from the board.
“A lot of us here would not be here right now if it wasn’t for finding out on the internet,” he said, adding that the manner in which the board had handled the matter was “insidious.”
Regarding the notification of residents about the street changes,Andrea Crawford, chairperson of Community Board 9, told the audience that there had been previous discussions on the matter in August and there were several public meetings prior to that.
On whether residents would be able to successfully have their concerns heard regarding the street changes before a final decision is made, Wendell said after the hearing that he was optimistic.
“All we’re asking for is a fair chance to be heard,” he said. There will be a public hearing regarding the proposed street changes at St. Elizabeth’ School in Ozone Park on Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m.
By Jean-Paul Salamanca