Jan. 10, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
A town hall aimed for January where the city would present an updated redesign for Skillman and 43rd Avenues to the public is now postponed indefinitely in light of new demands for traffic calming measures by P.S. 11.
Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said demands made yesterday by P.S. 11’s entrance on 54th Street and Skillman Avenue for a traffic light and cross walks have changed the nature of the Department of Transportation’s redesign proposal for the two avenues, first pitched in November.
“We can’t entertain any redesign of Skillman and 43rd Avenues until they install these traffic calming measures at P.S.11 and until they make P.S.11 safe,” Van Bramer said.
The DOT has been working on an updated redesign for the two avenues since December, after their initial plans, which called for the installation of protected bike lanes through the two avenues and the removal of 158 parking spots, saw heavy community opposition to it.
But on the brink of a town hall, scheduled for Dec. 19 by Van Bramer and Community Board 2, and meant for the DOT to present an updated proposal to the community, the agency went to P.S. 11 for an emergency meeting on their plans for the two avenues.
Outraged parents at the Dec. 18 meeting spoke to the DOT’s original plans to remove a car lane in front of the school and the bike lane that children would have to cross through every day. They also demanded stop lights, cross walks, and other traffic calming measures near the school’s intersection.
By that afternoon, the town hall was called off.
“The meeting did not go well,” Van Bramer said. “The DOT went to the meeting at the school and told the parents that they weren’t going to get those traffic calming measures.”
Van Bramer said there are no plans to reschedule the town hall until he hears back from the DOT on the safety demands made by parents and teachers.
“Parents and teachers of P.S. 11 are bringing up very valid concerns, very reasonable concerns about the original plan and also about these additional traffic calming measures,” he said.
He added that “the ball is in the DOT’s court.”
A spokesperson for the DOT said the agency has been undergoing an extensive review since December of both 54th and 55th Street along Skillman Avenue for a signal or all-way stop sign.
The DOT added that it is working with Van Bramer’s office and the community board to select a new date for a public meeting on the intersections and on the avenues redesign project in general.