New Muni-Meters irk Ridge residents

July 29, 2016 Anna Spivak
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Area residents ticked off at the sight of new parking meters installed along portions of Third and Fourth Avenues in the past several weeks are not giving the addition the green light.

The new meters have appeared along Third Avenue between 96th Street and Marine Avenue, and on the south side of Fourth Avenue between Marine and 99th. Since streets in the area are crammed with cars from even the earliest hours on some mornings, Bay Ridge residents maintain that they struggle to park as it is.

“This area of Brooklyn already suffers from the lack of parking. Sometimes you spend [an] hour or more looking for it,” said local resident Andrei Gridnev, who started a petition to protest the meters. “With the introduction of parking meters there is going to be even less parking available for the people living in the area.”

The petition asks the city to “either remove [the] new parking meters immediately (since the residents had no chance to voice their opinion about them),” or “if parking meters are not to be removed then public officials should provide explanation behind adding them as well as provide immediate alternative free parking solutions.”

According to Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann, however, community input is not required to install parking meters, only that the blocks in question meet Department of Transportation (DOT) criteria.

“[With the] installation of new Muni-Meters, a block would be eligible a majority of the time [if] it’s in a commercial district,” Beckmann explained. “I believe with the new Muni-Meters that were installed along Third Avenue – like most of the district where they’re on Fourth Avenue and Fort Hamilton Parkway – the intentions and the goals are to encourage customer parking [for those] that use the commercial strip.”

Beckmann also mentioned that a lot of the time the requests to have Muni-Meters put in come from the merchants themselves. “Many merchants have requested [this] in the past,” she said. “Most likely the request for Muni- Meters comes directly from merchants.

Indeed, she added, she had checked the locations to see if they would qualify under city guidelines. “We (the community board) got notified (by DOT) and I looked to see if [the areas] are in the commercial district,” Beckmann said. “On Third Avenue, we have that very large supermarket at 96th Street. There’s a lot more traffic at that intersection now and I looked at it yesterday. There might be some area to request for review; there are two residential houses right there, which is kind of unique, but I think that the remainder meets the criteria of commercial.”

Councilmember Vincent Gentile, because of concern over the installation of these meters, has signed on to legislation drafted and introduced by Councilmember Rafael Salamanca from the Bronx, “Intro 1234, a bill,” he said, “that would require notification by the Department of Transportation to the impacted councilmember and community board, and allow their input before any installation of Muni-Meters takes place.”

In this case, however, it turns out that DOT had in fact sent out notices, though they came in two stages. “My call for an immediate moratorium on the installation and operation of additional parking meters nearby residential blocks without notice and input from the community board and local officials was in response to public outcry in my district in regard to newly installed Muni-Meters in an area where they had not existed,” Gentile explained. “This morning I spoke with Brooklyn DOT Commissioner Keith Bray and DOT had in fact emailed our office two notices about the prospective installation of Muni-Meters in this area: one in March of this year and one in May.”

However, said Gentile, “The full scope of the new meter plan wasn’t evident unless the two communiqués from three months apart were put together. We agreed that there should be more efficient means of communication from all parties regarding the roll-out of Muni-Meters so that the information does not get lost in the shuffle.  Accordingly, we will continue to work together on this issue.”

To view the petition, click here.

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