Community Board 10 wants tighter control over Dyker Christmas lights
Neighborhood leaders thinking ahead to holiday traffic
For most, July is way too early to start thinking about Christmas. But not for Dyker Heights officials and civic leaders, who are planning ahead to ensure that the holiday lights display that attracts thousands of tourists to the neighborhood doesn’t get out of hand this year.
Local officials are seeking tighter control over the extravaganza so that traffic can flow smoothly through the streets and residents don’t have major headaches dealing with the influx of visitors.
The holiday lights display stars homeowners living in the area of Dyker Heights that stretches from 11th to 14th avenues and between 82nd and 86th streets. The homeowners proudly mount enormous, eye-catching, colorful, imaginative holiday displays on their front lawns with thousands of twinkling lights, inflatable Santas, giant nutcrackers and sweet snowmen.
Every year, from early December to just after the New Year, Dyker Heights streets become clogged with tour buses, cars and pedestrians all eager to get a look at the famous Christmas displays.
Gearing up for the 2017 Christmas season, Community Board 10 and leaders of the Dyker Heights Civic Association are seeking stricter regulations for the monthlong happening.
At a recent community board meeting, Jaynemarie Capetakanis, chairperson of the board’s Traffic and Transportation Committee, said it might be necessary to obtain a special permit from the city’s Street Activity Permit Office (SAPO) to make the Dyker Heights Holiday Lights Display a “street event.”
“This would enable the community to get more restrictions on vending, more police presence, an agreement on the timing of the lights, prevent sound permits for DJs, enforce parking restrictions, create designated tour bus drop-off sites and ensure that all fundraising is disclosed,” Capetanakis wrote in a report to the community board.
Dyker Civic Association President Fran Vella Marrone told members of Capetanakis’ committee that changing the designation so that it is officially recognized as a street event would help make the holiday happening safe and fun for everyone, tourists and residents alike.
In order to gauge community response, the civic association mailed notices to residents and held two meetings this year, including one session in January that 50 residents attended. The mailing that was sent out contained a ballot that residents were invited to fill out and mail back. Notices were sent out to 530 residents. And 127 residents responded. Of the 127 residents, 125 said they were in favor of the holiday lights display becoming a street event, Capetanakis said.
Under city regulations, all applications for street events must come to the local community board for review. That would give Community Board 10 more of a say in how the holiday lights display unfolds.
The timeline for the street event permit would be from Dec. 1 to Jan. 3, according to Capetanakis.
The proposal to seek a street activity permit comes after a controversy that erupted over the holiday display during the 2016 holiday season.
Last year, in an effort to control traffic, the city prohibited parking on 86th Street to allow tour buses to park there. The restrictions, which banned parking on two blocks along 86th Street, were in effect on Thursdays through Sundays from 5 to 11 p.m. during the month of December.
But the effort was sharply criticized by local residents who complained about losing parking spaces for their cars.
Community Board 10 District Manager Josephine Beckmann told The New York Times that the parking restrictions were put in place in the interest of safety. In past years, according to Beckmann, the traffic situation reached dangerous levels due to the large tour buses navigating Dyker’s residential streets.
“It was gridlock. Residents in the viewing area were very concerned. And it wasn’t safe,” Beckmann told the Times.
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