March 25, 2013 By Bill Parry
The battle over alternate side of the street parking is getting dirty.
Members of the Long Island City group that opposes alternate side of the street parking (for street cleaning) paid a surprise visit to the office of the leading advocate for the measure.
Doreen Dwyer, a Hunters Point resident who wants the measure quashed, said that property owners are keeping the streets clean and that there is no need for street cleaning. She said it is people like Dr. Moitri Savard, the leader calling for street cleaning, who are contributing to the mess.
Savard began circulating a petition last year calling for alternate side parking to facilitate proper cleaning of the streets in Hunters Point.
Savard’s movement was spurred on by Super Storm Sandy, when garbage blocked the drains in the streets, leading to severe flooding. She said that the Department of Sanitation could not clean the area since cars were parked over the drains.
Community leaders have been receptive to Savard’s plan, with the Sanitation Department even detailing the streets and hours of cleanup.
When Savard, whose petition has generated hundreds of signatures for the measure, spoke at a town meeting in January she made herself vulnerable to criticism from a significant portion of the local population: longtime residents. Many of these residents were not aware of her efforts until that meeting.
Dwyer and her group were caught off guard then, but they have been proactive since, arguing that property owners are keeping the neighborhood clean, and that alternate side parking would lead to pollution. They have put together an opposing petition with hundreds of signatures.
On Friday, Dwyer and a small mob of community activists came to Savard’s medical practice at 5-31 50th Avenue armed with rakes and brooms. Dwyer wanted to make a point to Savard that she should clean up outside her own office, thereby avoiding the need for street cleaning.
Dwyer claimed that the street in front of Savard’s Queenswest Health and Wellness facility is one of the filthiest in the neighborhood. She said the neighborhood is generally clean, citing city statistics that rate the area in the 92nd percentile for cleanliness.
“Check out this mess,” said Dwyer. “Look at all the leaves: that proves it hasn’t been tended to in months – leaves don’t grow during the winter.”
After 20 minutes of work, the group of 10 individuals had filled four bags of garbage. “This is the way we’ve cleaned the streets for decades, without asking anyone to move their car,” Dwyer said.
Savard was nonplussed by Dwyer’s surprise cleanup.
“I heard they did a great job,” Savard said, although she was not in her office to witness the cleanup.
Dwyer said that city law requires residents and business owners to clean the streets in front of their property, including 18 inches in front of the curb.
Savard, however, said it’s the landlord’s responsibility.
Savard, who leads LIC-ECO, a community organization dedicated to cleaner streets and a healthier environment, said she understands why some residents don’t want alternate side of the street parking. “Nobody wants the hassle of finding new spaces to park their cars,” she said.
Many long time residents talk about the old days when there were 5,000 residents in the area, said Savard, a LIC resident for seven years. “Now there are 10,000 residents, and in a couple of years there will be 20,000,” Savard said, adding “That’s a lot more cars and we need a system in place.”
Dwyer’s group maintains that alternate side of the street parking is not the answer.
Nigel Rollings, a Hunters Point resident for 33 years who participated in the cleanup, said, “The last thing we need is a huge dictation from the City of having to scramble for parking spaces.”
Diane Hendry, who was cleaning with Dwyer, said that alternate side parking would lead to cars circling around the neighborhood waiting for parking spaces, which would result in noise and pollution.
One member of Dwyer’s group, who didn’t want to use her name, suggested that Savard doesn’t understand the parking situation because she has her own private parking space.
Savard responded that the private parking space is necessary because she has two young children. “That’s not to say I’m not affected by parking. We experience the same problems when guests come to visit.”
The LIC-ECO group is planning “LIC Cleanup!” for May 11th, when local leaders will join in to clean 48th Ave. between 5th St. and Vernon Blvd.
“Hopefully they’ll (Dwyer’s group) come and join us,” Savard said.
The comment section was closed for a number of hours due to a glitch in the system. It has been fixed. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Comments are closed.