June 18, 2014 By Christian Murray
The FDNY, which aims to purchase a site next to Lou Lodati Park to store 100 spare and decommissioned vehicles, released data last Thursday that provided a window into how much vehicular traffic would come in and out of the proposed Sunnyside site.
The data was released just days after Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer announced his opposition to the FDNY’s proposal to use 39-34 43rd Street to store the vehicles. The councilman’s opposition will ultimately see the proposed plan thwarted.
However, Van Bramer and Community Board 2 (which approved the FDNY’s plan subject to multiple conditions) were not provided with the data by the FDNY at the time they made their respective decisions.
The FDNY, using data based on its existing Brooklyn site that currently houses the spare vehicles, stated that for the first 25 days of May, a total of 740 trips were made in and out of the site. The FDNY said that a “trip” denotes how many times a vehicle crosses the building’s threshold, meaning a round trip would be counted as two vehicle trips.
The 740 trips—from May 1-May 25– were broken down as follows:
102 tow truck trips (51 in and 51 out)
30 fire apparatus trips (pumpers, ladders, squads, rescues—15 in and 15 out)
608 other trips (suburbans, pickup trucks and vans—304 in and 304 out)
The FDNY’s data, however, does not take in account the other FDNY unit the fire department wants to relocate to the site. That unit, currently in Maspeth, stores and secures wrecked and decommissioned vehicles.
Van Bramer said the number of trips just based on the Brooklyn site alone was higher than he anticipated.
“The number of trips in and out is greater than I ever thought and reaffirms that this is wrong for our community and that it belongs in an industrial area,” Van Bramer said.
Van Bramer said the total trips could be over a 1,000 a month, well over 10,000 a year. “This is a lot of vehicles going in and out of a residential street,” he said, adding that the site would be like a gas station or fast food drive-through.
He also said that the estimate is only for one of two proposed facilities. He said he was unsure as to how much traffic the other unit would generate.
“I am strongly opposed to it and will continue to urge the administration to find a different site,” Van Bramer said.
He said even with the data there are so many unanswered questions—such as what time of the day or night are the trips made. “Are they at 3am when people are sleeping or around 2:30pm when kids are getting out of school?” Van Bramer said.
Meanwhile, Joe Conley, chairman of Community Board 2, also said that the data was incomplete and that he is seeking data for all of 2012.
“We have asked for a year’s worth,” Conley said, so the board can see whether the 25 day period the FDNY used is not an anomaly. He said the board would be in a better position to reevaluate its position at that point.
The proposal is undergoing the ULURP process and is currently going before the Queens Borough president for review. A spokesman for Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said that there will hearing on the plan on Thursday, June 26, at Queens Borough Hall on the matter, and that Katz would not comment until after that.
The plan, ultimately, needs to be approved by the city council. However, Van Bramer said he will block it.