Park-raving mad residents protest Bensonhurst construction site

October 13, 2011 Denise Romano
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What do they want? Parking!

When do they want it? Now!

In an effort to bring attention to neighborhood concerns about areduction in the number of required parking spaces requested by thedeveloper of the under-construction Calko Medical Building on BayParkway at 60th Street, nearly a hundred Bensonhurst residentsprotested across the street from the construction site on Thursday,October 13.

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Originally, the nine-story multi-use medical facility was toprovide 248 parking spaces, as required by city zoning regulations.After applying for a variance, the developer, the Marcal Group, wasgranted a reduction to 206 spaces by the Boards of Standards andAppeals. Now, Marcal is requesting a further decrease to just over100 spaces. A meeting to determine the status will be held onTuesday, October 18.

It’s a ridiculous amount, said Anna Cali, who organized theprotest. They did parking studies to prove that this is enough butit was done on days where there were inaccurate readings. Thisneighborhood does not have enough parking already. We drive aroundfor 20 to 30 minutes looking for spots. This is a negative impacton the community and creates hardships for everyone.

Protesters marched up and down the block chanting, wavingAmerican flags and holding signs. Assemblymember William Colton andMonsignor David Cassato of St. Athanasius Church were also inattendance.

This is really a threat to our neighborhood, Colton said.There are three schools within a block of this building and it issmack in the middle of a residential area. This is a bad way forany institution to introduce themselves to a neighborhood. Wesimply cannot accept this and cannot allow this to happen.

Colton went onto say that he fears for the children in the area.We have to make out voices loud and clear, he said. Thesedecisions affect real families and real people.

Vivian Biondo-Lillo, who attended the protest holding a signthat gave a detailed layout of the surrounding blocks, owns a fourfamily home around the corner from the facility. We will havetenants moving out if they don’t fix this, she said. I love ourchurch, our neighborhood and our schools. They have to see the bigpicture.

Michael Wong came out to the protest with his daughters Amanda,seven, and Morgan, four. They held signs that said, My daddy can’tfind parking and My mommy can’t find parking.

Why should they take all of our street parking? Wong asked.This is going to affect our quality of life.

I live four blocks away from this monstrosity, added RebeccaGray, noting that she has been in Bensonhurst for over 30 years.There is no way we can survive with this. I am afraid for thechildren in the area – the entrance to the parking lot is rightacross the street from a school. I am so aggravated, you have noidea.

Contacted for comment, Mark Caller, chief executive of theMarcal Group, said, We recognize the community’s concern andcontinue to work on a reasonable compromise that works for bothsides. Previously, Caller had contended that the parking planbeing requested was adequate for the neighborhood and the center’sneeds, based on three parking studies commissioned by Marcal.


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