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LIC must decide: More open space or the loss of 30 parking spaces

Vernon Mall

Dec. 29, 2014 By Christian Murray

The Department of City Planning has put forward a plan that would extend the Vernon Mall beyond 51st Avenue toward Borden Avenue.

The new public space, however, would result in the loss of about 30 parking spaces—with many of these spaces currently being used by NYPD employees.

Penny Lee, who works for the Dept. of City Planning, told community board 2 members last month that the public space would replace the “unsightly strip” where cars are currently parked. She said the new public space would complement the current mall, which has trees and benches. Furthermore, it is across Jackson Avenue from a children’s playground.

Lee said that she had been discussing the concept with a colleague for years. “This has been an issue on our agenda for some time, particularly as development has occurred around this intersection.”

Several board members were hesitant about the plan. While they appreciated the concept of additional public space, they were concerned that the lost parking spaces could hurt local businesses.

“Parking is a big issue,” said Sheila Lewandowski, a Long Island City resident and board member. “It is very important … for the local businesses.”

Meanwhile, Al Volpe, another board member, was very opposed to the plan. “You are going to kill the businesses down there,” he said. For instance, Volpe claimed that the majority of Manetta’s customers drive to the restaurant–and the loss of the parking spaces would devastate its business.

Other board members expressed concern that parking is already tight and that it is only going to get worse as the community grows. Furthermore, if NYPD personnel can’t use these spaces they will just take up other spots in the neighborhood.

However, Joe Conley, who was chairman of the Community Board 2 at the time, said that City Planning would look to find alternative parking in the neighborhood to make up for the loss.

Lee said that the Department of Transportation is also looking into programs—such as Park Smart– that might help alleviate some of the parking issues. That program aims to reduce the amount of time someone parks at a spot– by charging a much higher rate the longer a motorist parks.

Nevertheless, the decision as to whether to proceed with the City Planning’s concept comes down to one question, one board member said. Do people want more public space or do they want parking.

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r185, they changed the parking meters from 8 hours to two hours a year or two ago. I t used to be used by commuters but was changed to help the businesses nearby. Despite what a lot of people say parking is useful in that spot. many people who live and don’t live in the neighborhood, myself included can use that space when we are heading out of the neighborhood on our way to the LIE to stop and get food from the local establishments near the parking. It really is not a great spot to make a “park” who wants to sit amidst car exhaust?


Aren’t those long term parking spaces with muni-meters for several hours? If so, it’s not local business shoppers using them.


I say this…how about getting rid of Vernon Mall and make more parking spaces. Since I’ve been here I’ve never seen anyone sit down at Vernon Mall that may look like a resident of L.I.C. The only people I see sitting there at all hours of the day are the bums from that shelter on Borden Ave. It doesn’t matter what season of the year it is They are there all the time taking up space, getting drunk, and being loud and obnoxious to everyone that passes by. This is a lot to think about for all CB2 but guaranteed that extending the Vernon Mall would just bring more people from the homeless shelter to take up all the park benches.


I also agree with ro and sc.

And what’s with the 2 homeless guys begging in front of the Army/Navy store practically every weeknight?!


agreed – all for donating to those less fortunate, but prefer to do it in manhattan than in my backyard. Keep giving in our hood and they’ll tell two (homeless) friends, who will tell two other (homeless) friends, and so on… #Faberge


CB2: Get rid of the mall! We want to help local businesses!

Local Businesses: Great! Can we open up our outdoor spaces now?

CB2: NO! :shakesangryfistandthrowsacat:


If CB2’s objective is to help local businesses it should first focus on improving the curb appeal of this area. We can add 100 more parking spaces but if this area looks the way it currently does it will do nothing for the surrounding businesses. My impression is that most of these parking spaces currently cater to commuters and not so much to patrons. Therefore, increasing parking fees for long term parkers makes a lot of sense. If you incentives short term parking there will be more turnover and that is what business owners benefit from.

What the city should really do is blow out the mall and have Vernon Blvd run through it. Then widen the sidewalks on both sides and create a series of public and private (outdoor restaurant seating) spaces on both sides. This make this area pedestrian friendly and reinvigorates this part of Vernon. This will get rid of the mall that is currently a “no man’s land” and give the surrounding properties a vested interest in keeping the widened sidewalks clean and appealing. There is no reason why this area with such great access to mas transit should be so desolate and under utilized.

Anonymous visitor

Agree. I don’t understand why “extending the mall” is the only other possible option for the current parking. Get creative and rethink that ugly, wasted area. There are many possibilities for doing something attractive and that makes better use of the space for the benefit of residents and businesses.

51st Street Resident

Manetta’s will not be affected much, if any. I used to work there. Their lunch crowd are 95% locals (business & residents) who walk to the restaurant. During dinner hours, parking opens up and meters aren’t required after 7PM. But why put a “Public Space” adjacent to the Midtown Tunnel, surrounded closely by traffic in 4 directions? Do we want children playing on that narrow strip of land, in poor air quality with constant traffic? Recipe for failure.

51st Street Resident

It’s 38 parking spots – 19 on each side of the center parking aisle, not 30. Fact check people.


I don’t think we need more mall but having those parking spaces is a big boost for the nearby businesses. The existing mall, as currently configured, only attracts unruly drunks who yell at passerbys and make for unsightly use of the space. I say clean up the parking area, spruce up the mall, and call it a day. (Maybe better lighting in the mall to discourage loitering?) Then properly patrol and maintain the area.


Funny how the drunks are on the Mall between the Precinct and the cops’ cars. I guess they are off the clock going to and from the two…

Anonymous visitor

i tend to agree with those who think:
1. the existing mall doesnt get used and should/could look a lot better. maybe some more grass…better lighting and nicer benches. nobody uses it, and it doesnt even look nice.
2. the 30 parking spaces that would be occupied by the extension would seem to hurt local business more than it would improve the community. what i would suggest is maybe cleaning up the parking thats already there. New curbs, new(clear) striping of parking space, maybe put some new asphalt down — clean some of the weeds that are growing all over the place. and then invest money in the mall thats already there.


So, Manetta’s can illegally convert spots on 11th street for their own parking, by painting the curb yellow in front of their restaurant and placing cones out their when not in use by their customers, and they want to also control public parking 4 blocks away? Try parking where they have illegally converted the spots and see how the disgruntled NIMBYs who run that place react.


How about Manetta’s illegally converting parking in front of their restaurant to their own? You know, the yellow part of the curb on 11th st. that they painted, which is always blocked by cones unless their customers are using them. Try to take one and the old disgruntled NIMBY will come out and shoo you away, even though the parking doesn’t belong to them. Now they want to control parking that’s 4 blocks away? F-them.


You should call 311 on that. There was a business owner on another block in LIC who did the same thing, and the DOT actually came out, gave him a warning and now the curb is gray again…


Is not about the parking space. If that’s the case Manhattan would be bankrupt. Make the neighborhood nice and people will come. Simple as that.


The mall as it is is a waate of space which is rarely used, now you want to make two of them? Plus we have more open park space in this neighborhood than nearly any other neighborhood in NYC. There’s already the preexisting mall plus the other park next to 51st servicing this area – why does anyone need more?


Not to mention – there are acres and acres and acres of park all along the river – a scant two blocks away. And the commenter who said everybody takes public transit – and drivers don’t matter? You’re a snob – who doesn’t get what running a business requires.

Plus, there are 1,000’s of tenants who live in all the Center Boulevard high rises who own cars – and chose to move here because it was the only way to make car ownership affordable (compared to living in Manhattan, and yes, lots of couples with kids made that choice).

It’s virtually impossible to load your family into the car and then do something as simple as stop at the deli or the bagel store or even the drug store to pick something up on your way to someplace else – because you can’t get a parking space.

And before you get snobbier and tell me to move to Jersey or Long Island – don’t. Because I have the same right to put down roots and live here that all the couples and the singles and the roommates do. Plus I would bet you that my family will live here longer, and patronize the local businesses in the neighborhood much longer – than you will.

LIC is so short of parking now it hurts every business in LIC. We actually need more parking – not less!


Actually I was gonna suggest Texas which has plenty of roads and parking spots for you to have fun. Like it or not, it is just a matter of time, get used to the idea. Looking forward!


With hundreds of new condos being built up blocks away from Manetta’s, can’t believe community members still use such excuses that 30 parking spots will kill local business… Things have changed around here and the majority of people use public transportation. Progressive cities understand that you can not favor the interest of a few to the detriment of the majority and if you want to come around driving then it is ok to be challenged to park.

Local Resident

Sadly this idea is terrible for several reasons:
1. Is Penny Lee a resident? Does she realize she’s only giving the homeless drunks more space? They are the only people who use the so called “Vernon Mall”
2. There is a huge parking shortage, why take away spaces for nothing.
3. This idea only hurts businesses, like the Bagel store, who rely on parking.

Why not fix the parking issue? Raising parking rates serves nobody. Take Borden Ave and 48th Ave and turn the parallel parking into 60 degree parking. It adds space, costs very little, and keeps people from parking wrong and wasting valuable feet.

Find solutions to issues without wasting the tax payers money!!!!


The Bagel store is for sale.. which proves parking did not help while a more appealing environment might have…


The future of the neighborhood businesses is the thousands living on the waterfront, not the people who driven in and need to park. If the businesses cannot appeal to the former and rely on the latter, they should close and let new businesses more in sync with the community come in. How much business would be created if the restaurants along the mall were allowed to put outdoor cafe-style seating there (or, God forbid, allowed to use their backyards for seating)?


No brainer but …Let the local Bussiness and nearby residents decide.

Parking is really bad already….. losing 30 spaces yikes then when TV and movie crews take up 10 blocks for only 5 trucks day after day ….

Anonymous visitor

extend the mall and lose the parking! this area of the street has garbage and rogue trees growing in it: a ditched tire has been there over 2 years! clean up our neighborhood.


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