The city is planning to complete the demolition and replacement of a vital public garage near Queens Borough Hall by 2016 as members of the community complain about traffic nightmares and a constant battle for parking while they wait.
The city’s abrupt decision to close an essential parking garage in a congested area was described as irresponsible and unfair by local politicians back in September. City officials said the decision was made because of impending dangers from the building’s crumbling structure.
While the Department of Transportation attempts to hasten a usually long process, residents and commuters are stuck with heavy traffic and a lack of parking.
The decision to close the 500-space parking garage triggered a slew of community problems, including increased traffic from drivers looking for an extremely limited supply of parking spaces on the streets.
According to city documents, a new garage is set to be completed in 2017 under an “expedited process.” But, according to a transportation spokesman, the new building will actually be ready by 2016.
But residents and local politicians are pushing the city to make a more immediate move as the months continue to drag on with no relief for commuters in sight.
“Parking is vital to the area. And right now we don’t have it and that puts us at a major disadvantage,“ said Lisa Gomes, Community Board 9’s acting district manager. At a recent budget hearing with Borough President Katz, Gomes said completing a new garage is a top priority for the area.
The Department of Transportation is set to demolish the old garage later this year under the “expedited process.”
But, according to a spokesman for Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, the city doesn’t plan on completing a new garage until 2017.
“We just can’t have this problem go on for too long. We will continue to be dealing with this issue. And we want to expedite this situation in any way possible. It’s a major priority,” Gomes said. “A lot of people come to this area for Queens Borough Hall and there’s absolutely no parking.”
And for many commuters in the area the problem started in 2009. Long before the city officially closed the whole garage, 350 spots were off limits after the city first discovered the safety problems in the structure.
In the meantime, the city has attempted to relieve parking by suspending alternate side parking and replacing parallel parking with angle parking on some streets — which allows more cars to fit on a block. Even with these temporary solutions, the parking situation is nightmarish, Gomes said.
“Each weekday, hundreds of vehicles with no parking alternative will spend hours searching for nonexistent parking spaces, clogging local streets and inconveniencing our local residents,” Katz and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown wrote to Mayor Bill de Blasio in a Sept. 18 note.