April 8, 2013 By Christian Murray
The red-hot debate as to whether Long Island City should introduce alternate side parking is close to reaching a boiling point– and community leaders are now calling on its supporters and detractors for restraint.
The call comes in response to a provocative cleanup held by a group that opposes alternate side parking outside the 50th Avenue office of Dr. Moitri Savard, a leading supporter of the measure that would make way for Dept. of Sanitation street sweepers.
The detractors held the cleanup as a means to undermine Savard’s argument for street sweepers—claiming that if business owners– like Savard — cleaned in front of their stores/clinics there would be no need for the sweepers or alternate side of the street parking.
Savard, however, insists the street outside her medical office is kept clean.
The group’s ambush led community leaders to call for civility.
“This [issue] has divided the neighborhood,” said Joe Conley, chairman of community board 2. “We need to get back to talking… we are all looking for a solution.”
Conley said that each side needs to communicate with one another. He said that everyone agrees that the streets need to be cleaned and it’s just a matter of how best to do it.
The controversy began in January, when many residents discovered that the Dept. of Sanitation had presented a proposal calling for alternate side of the street parking—between 45th and Borden Avenues (west of Jackson Street) to enable street cleaning.
Furthermore, the plan was well developed. For instance, the Dept. of Sanitation had put forward a street cleaning timetable, which stated what days of the week residents would have to move their cars (click here for previous story). A group quickly formed against the plan.
But at times, the debate has been heated.
Savard, a community board member, said “reasonable minds can disagree [on how to clean the streets]…but the methods of expressing disagreement should be respectful and thoughtful.” She said the group that assembled outside her office were “attempting to embarrass me…accusing me of contributing to the problem.”
She said that her neighbors and patients were very disturbed by the group’s actions and asked for the group to stay away from her clinic and residence.
However, the issue doesn’t appear as if it will die down anytime soon. Conley, at recent meetings, has said there is no deadline for a decision on the plan. Therefore, nobody knows when the issue will be settled.
Doreen Dwyer, who orchestrated the cleanup outside Savard’s office, attended the Community Board 2 meeting on Thursday and remains firmly opposed to it. She said that if existing rules were enforced—where businesses are required to clean 18 inches into the street—there would be no need for street cleaning.
Dwyer, since January, has put together a petition against alternate street cleaning, gathering hundreds of signatures. Meanwhile, Savard’s group, too, has a gathered a similar number of signatures.
Many of the supporters of alternate side parking have been calling for the measure for years–claiming the streets continue to be filled with litter, waste and unsightly garbage. They claim that the garbage blocked the drains during Super Storm Sandy leading to flooding problems.
Others call for a compromise. Street cleaning once per month might be the best solution, one speaker suggested.