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Crowley Speaks Out Against DOT’s Skillman, 43rd Avenue Proposal Day Before CB2 Vote

39th Street and 43rd Avenue (DOT)

June 6, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez

Congressman Joseph Crowley has come out against the city’s plans for Skillman and 43rd Avenues, just one day before Community Board 2 is set to vote on the plan.

Crowley took to social media to bash the Department of Transportation’s proposal, stating that the plan, involving the installation of protected bike lanes and the elimination of roughly 120 parking spaces, would “upend the neighborhood.”

“I cannot support the proposal as it currently stands,” reads Crowley’s statement on Facebook. “The community is right – adding these bike lanes would have far too great of an economic cost and impact on our neighborhood.”

Crowley added that he is for expanding transportation options and supporting biking as an affordable and healthy option to get around, but that the project should not be approved without “major, fundamental changes.”

The congressman, who does not have the power to nix the city’s plan, said his office received over 2,200 petitions from constituents opposing the bike lanes.

The petitions came from Queens Streets, a relatively new group led by Patricia Dorfman, former executive director of the Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, and an outspoken critic of the plan. The group mainly advocates for a safety plan that does not involve a loss of parking spaces in the neighborhood.

Dorfman said the organization, made up of neighborhood groups and institutions like PS 11’s PTA, Queen of Angels Church, Sunnyside Reformed Church, Saint Sebastian Catholic Academy, and more, delivered a packet of letters they penned against the DOT’s proposal to Crowley’s office yesterday, and noted the collection of over 2,200 signatures in the seven months since the DOT released their initial plan.

“We had asked for their [Crowley’s] support, but I was surprised and gratified to hear it,” Dorfman said, adding that her group has been in touch with the congressman and other elected officials for months.

Gary O’Neill, owner of Aubergine Cafe on Skillman Avenue and a member of the Skillman Project, one of the groups backing Queens Streets, said Crowley’s announcement also came as a surprise, but could be expected after a meeting with his office months ago.

O’Neill said the 90-minute meeting, which included DOT officials and other neighborhood business owners, was meant as a chance to talk through concerns he and others in the neighborhood have raised. The business owners believe that their customers will struggle to find parking and shop elsewhere.

“He saw where we were coming from,” O’Neill said. “It was very productive for us. We came through clearly.”

O’Neill took issue with many of the DOT’s explanations during the meeting, including the agency’s belief that it would not hurt Sunnyside and Woodside businesses. The DOT based its argument on a study that found that businesses on Ninth Avenue in Manhattan were not affected by the installation of protected bike lanes there.

The DOT also argued the plan was necessary given the uptick in bike ridership it has recorded off the Queensboro Bridge.

“Just because it works on Ninth Avenue doesn’t mean it’s going to work on Skillman and 43rd Avenues,” he said. He added that the increased ridership off the bridge could be from people moving into Long Island City, which has seen a development boom since the early 2000s.

“It is like apples and oranges,” he said.

O’Neill insists that he is not against protected bike lanes and is in in favor of safer streets, but says the current plan is not the best one for the corridor.

Crowley’s statement comes two days after the Community Board 2’s transportation committee voted 5-2 in support of the plan, which came as a surprise to both supporters and opponents of the plan.

Today’s announcement also comes after Macartney Morris, chair of Transportation Alternatives’ Queens Activist Committee, tweeted yesterday to Crowley and his challenger for New York’s 14th Congressional District, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, asking for their stance on the DOT’s plan.

“Sad day for ‘cyclist’ Joe Crowley but not the first time he’s been out of touch with his district or the future,” Macartney tweeted in response to Crowley’s announcement. “We heard rumblings that he was whipping up opposition at #QueensCB2…”

Juan Restrepo, Queens Organizer for Transportation Alternatives, said the group is focusing on the transportation committee’s vote made on Monday.

“We’re operating based upon the transportation committee voting in favor of the project,” Restrepo said. “That’s what should matter to the community board.”

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who has not spoken for or against the proposal, reiterated that he wants to hear from the community before taking a stance.

“An opportunity for all viewpoints to be heard at Community Board 2, followed by a vote of the full board, is part of this community process. I’ll share more of my thinking on this following the vote tomorrow night.”

The implementation of the plan, however, will ultimately be determined by Mayor de Blasio.

Queens Streets Letters by Queens Post on Scribd

email the author: [email protected]

42 Comments

Greg

Thanks to Joe Crowley for putting the safety of his constituents behind parking. If someone dies, the blood is on your hands Joe.
Thanks to the local religious institutions who spoke out against the plan. Apparently, the whole child molesting, misogyny, and gay bashing thing isn’t taking up all of your time after all.
Our supposed community leaders have now revealed themselves for who they truly are, a clannish bunch of provincial thugs and bullies.




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Sunnyside Resident

WE NEED BIKE LANES

anyone opposed to the bike lanes is being very very selfish. it is NOT safe riding on these streets. save lives for a few parking spots. its a no brainer. how dare these businesses put their bottom line (which will not be affected like they claim) ahead of the safety of their customers! Its a disgrace.

vote YES on bike lanes




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Resident

Sunnyside Reformed Church has a very small no parking area. And it is right behind the bus stop. It’s generally used for dropping off elderly parishioners or unloading items for events. (The pastor doesn’t own a car btw.)




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Dietmar Detering

I think there is plenty of parking in Sunnyside. What there is not enough of is FREE parking. Even the metered spots seem to be too cheap most of the time, in particular during street-cleaning times in the surrounding area. If you want to shop and come by car, double-parking is often the only remaining option. Every time there is not enough of something that’s free, you need to put a price on it that aligns demand a supply. (This is not rocket science.) Until this is done, we will keep arguing over lack of parking, no matter how little space we give up for bicyclists and pedestrian safety.




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Dietmar Detering

Thank you to Sunnyside Post for showing us all these letters in opposition to the proposed redesign of 43rd and Skillman Avenues. Is anyone else wondering why the Sunnyside Reformed Church and Queens of Angels are so concerned about the lack of parking when they themselves have generous “NO PARKING ANYTIME” zones in front of them? Further, as members of the clergy, they also get clergy parking placards, allowing them to park there anytime, no problem. Attention: Four hours maximum (according to this article: https://www.nytimes.com/1996/08/01/nyregion/no-parking-no-problem-for-the-clergy.html) Perhaps it’s time for the petitioning churches to ask DOT to remove the No Parking signs and return any placards they might have received if they are so concerned for all of us?




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Gardens Watcher

DD, Carbie Barbie, etc.:

The vote was 25-7 AGAINST this ill-conceived plan tonight. Did ANYONE consider the local fire department’s concerns?? Why weren’t they consulted? That alone is enough to warrant ditching Skillman as an optional route.




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Carbie Barbie

Yup, big vote against it and no mistake.

But, for what it’s worth, I think the DOT has a history of overruling the Community Boards and just doing it anyway.

Did FDNY come out against it? I hadn’t seen that.




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In the majority.

He could have sided with all the thousands of bikers he represents! Oh, wait, hundreds, or at least scores. Yea, scores.




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learn basic statistics

460,000 people make cycling trips in NYC every day. Which is about 38330 scores, so I guess you’re not a COMPLETE idiot.




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tyson white

Is there actually a case study where a bike lane had the effect of “upending the neighborhood”?




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I grew here, you flew here

This is a weak attempt at a loaded question but I’ll entertain it. A: No, not yet. Studying the economical effects that will result from this will take years.




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Peter Beadle

Nope.

This claim gets made every single time one of these projects is proposed, immediately followed by “but this isn’t XYZ” when its pointed out that a similar design has worked, and hasn’t destroyed businesses in X, Y and Z. Its a broken record at this point. And I guarantee that if ever DOT does propose reducing driving lanes or parking and installing bike lanes on Queens Blvd and/or Northern Blvd in Sunnyside – which absolutely should be done – there will be a whole new coalition of folks insisting that it would destroy local businesses. As inevitable as May flowers after April showers.




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I grew here, you flew here

Peter, so you’re saying that if it doesn’t effect businesses in Manhattan then it won’t effect businesses in Queens? I fully disagree with that blanket theory. People don’t frequently drive into manhattan to eat & shop. But a lot of people drive to different parts of Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island to do so. Sunnyside doesn’t have corporate buildings that employ thousands of people to patronize the businesses. Through speaking with the businesses on Skillman, it’s my understanding that driving customers are a part of what pays into their overheads. Its absurd to think that every outer borough neighborhood in NYC would see the same effects from a loss of parking.




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Eric Barthels

Comments have a lot more credibility when posted on the Sunnyside post facebook page, which is far more likely to not have algorhythm warrior spoofs hiding their names behind their handle.




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El loco

i’m for the bike lanes but in a regressive city like nyc which has rejected congestion pricing this will lose also. It’s a matter of a well organized and financed vocal few who will influence this decision as always. Congressman Crowley is a waste. Put into office by the Queens Democratic machine.




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Carbie Barbie

Pre-Primary-Pandering

On an issue he has no control over, if I’m not mistaken.

As someone said before, where was he for the last year as these plans were being debated?




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John O'Reilly

If you think Joe Crowley, who is the Chair of the Democratic Party in Queens County, which is an obvious conflict of interest with his holding elected office, has no power or control over this decision, I have bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell to you.




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Carbie Barbie

Fair enough, but isn’t this a city matter that he doesn’t personally have a vote on?

Seems his comments are just to provide cover though he expects the lane changes to be approved.




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Gardens Watcher

At least Crowley is speaking out before the vote. I wish JVB would do the same. I mean how many more logical letters do you need? Maybe LIC Concerned Resident should try and find a parking space in the Gardens — day or night. Good luck pal.




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sunnysider

maybe you should try to ride your bike down skillman and not be terrified for your life




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Marie J

Typical Politics to say one thing for popularity after it was decided because you are up for reelection on 3 weeks. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN FOR THE PAST YEAR? TYPICAL POLITICIAN THINKING SUNNYSIDE RESIDENTS CAN BE FOOLED. Sad!




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Sally G

THANK YOU. Wish Crowley would speak at the meeting. Our current councilman, wanna be Queens Borough President, has forgotten to serve the residents who voted for him.




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Concerned Citizen

The whole thing is ridiculous. There are not enough bikes that travels either of these roads to warrant taking away all the much needed parking spaces. The teaches at P.S. 11 and P.S. 150 have a hard enough time parking. When trucks will have to double park along these streets the back up of traffic will be horrendous. Most bike go up and down Roosevelt Avenue anyway.




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Born here, but moving ASAP.

Thank you, Congressman Crowley. We need a defender against these fevered few.




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Jared

The story omits the fact that Crowley’s challenger supports the bike lanes




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I acually live in Sunnyside

Alexandria Ocasio- Corte has been weak in presenting any stance. We need strong politicians like Crowley who have the guts to voice their opinion.




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Sunnysider

His office is in Jackson Heights, he’s been there and in DC. Follow him on FB, he’s been very active.




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Carbie Barbie

First I’ve heard from him on the parking/bike lanes issue. I may have missed it, but I don’t recall him touching this.




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Equal Responsibility

He was born in Woodside and is a Congressman, so he is in Washington a lot. He knows what he is talking about.




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LIC RESIDENT CONCERNED

Of course he’s speaking out now at the 11th hour. He’s running for reelection, this is free publicity for him and many sunnyside garden residents on the other of the boulevard opposed the bike lanes. So what better way for Joe to blow smoke than to make a so called stand against bike lanes. Such a phony!!!




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A Woodsider

Have not been a fan of Joe for years! His father was a politician, but at least his fought for his constituents. Joe, not so much. What politician now a days just wants to stay in office? Look at Jimmy! When bicycle riders have to register, pay insurance, and have visible identification on their bikes, THAN they can DEMAND bike lanes. Bike lane issues should be put to a vote just as other community issues are put to a vote. Share the roads, share the responsibilities!




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Gardens Watcher

Hey Woodsider, I think you’re onto something. I agree bike riders should follow the rules AND responsibilities of the road. So register your bike, have visible ID on that bike, and pay insurance. And yes, you too can get an EZ Pass! Game changer.




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