Bay Ridge

Opinions & observations: Looking back at those who ‘built’ Bay Ridge, we ‘Focus’ on volunteer Anthony Ceretti

February 11, 2022 Chuck Otey
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Under cover of pandemic, scheme is set to create 31 new ‘loading zones’ here

Hundreds and more Bay Ridge vehicle owners who spend a good deal of their waking time searching for a safe parking spot two or three times a week may find this hard to believe, but it has been reported that the city’s transportation honchos will be adding a bunch of new loading zones to Bay Ridge streets in the coming weeks. This is supposedly to deter double parking by providing temporary drop-off areas, but it comes at the cost of coveted parking spaces. 

The reports of this facile innovation have spread far and wide with uniform disapproval.

What hasn’t been reported in full yet is the outright rage expressed already here by so many disbelieving residents. And what was totally ignored is that the increasing number of hours spent by polluting combustion-driven vehicles operated by irate owners will endanger our already disintegrating air quality. 

Foisting such an ill-conceived space invasion on a community where local businesses — the heart of Bay Ridge — are striving to just stay alive shows that certain planners haven’t got a clue how to handle their responsibilities!

Why this sudden change?  

“The growth of e-commerce deliveries on residential streets and for-hire vehicle trips throughout the city have changed the way New Yorkers use our curbs,” according to the Department of Transportation’s website.

The site adds, “As demands on the City’s limited amount of curb space continues to grow, trucks, delivery vehicles and personal vehicles need safe ways to access the curbs while not blocking traffic, including on bus routes or in bike lanes.”

Step back a moment; Can we blame this harebrained scheme on the pandemic, which has clouded men’s minds? Very likely. 

The City says that these “dedicated spaces for temporary idling will count toward a law enacted by the City Council in November 2021 directing the DOT to install 500 neighborhood loading zones on residential streets across the city.” Reportedly, more than 140 such spaces are already in place. 

Dean Rasinya sees quandary for drivers

Capturing the prevailing anti-space sentiment was former Community Board 10 President Dean Rasinya, who cited the patent incongruity of the problematic program. 

“Passenger vehicles can’t park there; you have to expeditiously — and that is the key word, expeditiously — load or unload,” he told another Brooklyn paper. “Which basically means you can’t leave your car, you can’t park there, walk into the doctor’s office to drop somebody off and come out again.”

These zones have already stirred anger in Park Slope and, to date, nary a resident or car owner has gone public in their support. 

And where do we think the DOT went to test the pulse of New Yorkers regarding this radical innovation? They did, during one of the worst pandemic sieges, receive some kind of support from Board 10 to explore the concept. But (no surprise) the DOT “opened up an online suggestion portal (from) which they received a total of 86 suggestions from the community!”

The story goes that DOT officials met with Board 10’s Traffic and Transportation Committee in January, proposing 31 locations focused around “narrow streets, roads with bike lanes and heavily populated residential blocks.” Their claim: The zones, which reportedly don’t require CB10 approval, would prevent double parking, and therefore congestion.

Leader Vellucci: ‘More spaces for us not to go into!’

Board 10’s Traffic and Transportation Chair Anthony Marino apparently endorsed the scheme, telling one reporter that “all 31 of these sites are going to be implemented as of February.” 

When it goes into full effect, he will have a lot of explaining to do.

Shockingly, perhaps since the research was done during the pandemic crisis, there was little reported vocal opposition. But one well-known community leader, Barbara Vellucci, spoke for thousands of drivers when she said — with appropriate irony — “I look at this and I say, ‘Okay…more places not to park and who is going to make these trucks that are making deliveries go to those spaces, especially Amazon trucks? They’re in private cars now; they just stop wherever. And I just think it’s going to be more spaces for us not to go into, and it’s not going to do anything for the deliveries; they’re not going to pay attention to it.”

Looking back at those who ‘built’ Bay Ridge, we ‘Focus’ on volunteer Anthony Ceretti

For many today, “activism” means logging onto Facebook, Twitter or any of the dozens of other emotional outlets and venting pro or con regarding the topic of the day or hour. Or maybe it’s signing an e-petition for a favorite cause. At the risk of sounding passe, we recall that not too long ago, before the internet invasion, “activists” were true community leaders. Starting this week we will begin to “Focus” on some of those who actually left the comfort of their homes to go out and take part in a community clean-up or attend a Bay Ridge Community Council meeting and volunteer to help organize the legendary Halloween Window Painting Contest, which has been a tradition here since 1954. This column is a chance to single out the individuals who “got their hands dirty” in clean-ups or by washing the colorful remains of some exuberant youthful art off a Fifth Avenue store window. Without further ado: Our first “builder” is Anthony Ceretti, a former vice president of the Merchants of Third Avenue. He is shown above some 20-plus years ago (atop truck) taking part in a 1990s clean-up with then-Parks Commissioner Julius Spiegel and then-Community Board 10 District Manager Mary Sempepos

Anthony Ceretti, now in private life, stands near a Shepherd’s Street Lamp on Fifth Avenue in a photo taken just a few years back. As a member of the Bay Ridge Development Corp., Ceretti identified a state program that would fund the cost and installation of the iconic lamps and, working with the BRDC “ironed out the details” (his words) to help bring their installation through to completion. Ceretti did receive a lot of help from then-Fifth Avenue Board of Trade President Marty Golden, who would later represent his community in City Hall and the State Senate, as well as others like Basil Capetanakis, Zoe Koutsoupakis, Jim Clark, Sandy Vallas, Dan Texeira and Pat Condren.  

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