Tag Archives: parking

Tennis Center parking plans not met with Love


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Phil Hertling

Officials and advocates are currently volleying parking plans at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Designs for new structures to relieve parking problems at the center will not breach the area allocated to the U.S. Open rented from the city, a Tennis Association representative said. But park advocates say that any new, permanent construction is too much.

Some became vocal about the recently-announced plans to revamp the center — expected to begin next fall — arguing that adding parking spaces to the plan would infringe on the green space of the borough’s largest park, and convert public space into commercial.

Daniel Zausner, managing director of the Tennis Center, said plans to expand on parking would not affect any additional areas of the park; rather, parking structures are expected to be built on the center’s existing lots.

“We’re taking our existing parking lots in that perimeter and building up,” Zausner said. “The most critical thing is we’re not impacting the spot in a footprint perspective.”

The two lots the center currently has, Zausner said, accommodate a little more than 300 spots. With one lot getting a two-tiered structure, and the other a three-tiered, the center will be able to park about 800 cars total. That is still a stretch for the thousands of people the center sees a day when the U.S. Open takes place, Zausner said.

Green space supporters, however, said even building a structure was too much. Geoffrey Croft, president of NYC Park Advocates, said the Tennis Center was still violating its rental agreement with the city.

“This isn’t a commercial area,” he said. “It’s public park and most certainly [parking garages] will encourage more cars to come in.”

Kim Ohanian, third vice chair of Community Board 7 and head of the board’s Parks Committee, said bringing more cars in would also have an environmental effect on the park.

Ohanian added that the Tennis Center needed to promote taking mass transit as opposed to driving when attending the U.S. Open.

The center had some 600 spots allocated at what is now World Ice Arena, but lost the site when ground broke on the project more than 10 years ago. Since then, the city did not compensate for parking, aside from city parking in Shea Stadium’s parking lot. When Citi Field was completed, however, the Mets took full control of the parking, Zausner said.

Parking just got more pleasant


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Newly approved legislation is providing drivers with peace of mind by curbing unfair parking fines.

Councilmember James Gennaro joined community leaders and residents to celebrate the passage of a law requiring any parking ticket to be cancelled upon the presentation of a valid muni-meter receipt no later than five minutes after the violation is issued. Under the current law, tickets cannot be cancelled once issued by a traffic enforcement agent, even if a driver shows a valid muni-meter receipt – forcing citizens to appeal the violation in court or pay the fine.

“This is a common-sense law,” said Gennaro, who sponsored the bill. “If you park your car at a metered spot and you walk to the muni-meter to pay for it, you’re playing by the rules. And if there’s a parking agent close by, or you’re elderly and walk slowly or there’s someone in front of you at the muni-meter terminal, you shouldn’t be penalized as if you were trying to cheat the system.”

The City Council initially passed the bill in January, but it was vetoed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg a month later. The mayor’s veto was ultimately overruled by the council on March 28 by a vote of 47 to 2. The law will officially take effect on September 24, allowing the city 180 days to change its parking scanners to be able to cancel violations immediately.

“This law is great news for small business owners in Queens and throughout the city,” said Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce. “When drivers are unfairly ticketed for parking on the street, small businesses suffer, too. The shoppers effectively blame the merchant – they don’t come back.”

Business owners echoed Friedman, emphasizing that parking tickets may deter patrons from returning to certain areas.

“It’s going to make a difference,” said Wendy Marsh, owner of Marsh Optical and former president of the Union Turnpike Merchants Association. “It’s enough that they get tickets all the time here anyway. People get tickets, they don’t want to shop here.”

Drivers have also expressed relief that they no longer have to fret about being hit with a ticket.

“I think it’s only reasonable to extend the five minutes to people. It was unfair that they previously didn’t do this,” said John Sotirakis, a resident of Bayside who frequently uses muni-meter parking spots on Bell Boulevard. “I was lucky that it never happened to me, but sometimes I’d have to stop and speak to a parking agent when they were lingering around so that they wouldn’t give me a ticket while I was going to the meter. This is much better now – there is less pressure.”

Short-term parking announced in Long Island City


| smosco@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Steve Mosco

Fed up with commuters using their neighborhood as a parking lot, residents and community leaders of Long Island City banded together with the Department of Transportation, (DOT) and announced the reduction of 12-hour parking meters.

The new meter regulation, which accounts for 39 spots where Vernon Boulevard meets Borden Avenue, one block from the No. 7 Train, will now only allow two-hour parking from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer said that this new parking rule will keep commuters from hogging the spots while they work in Manhattan.

“Long Island City is not a parking lot,” said Van Bramer. “It is a thriving community where thousands have come to live and where we are seeing many businesses open every month. For Long Island City residents and businesses this is a welcome announcement.”

Businesses along the thriving Vernon Boulevard made numerous overtures for DOT officials to review the neighborhood’s parking regulations, making the claim that long term parking was hurting business and a short term parking plan more suited the area.

“Long Island City is not just a commuter stop on the way to Manhattan,” said Sheila Lewandowski, executive director of The Chocolate Factory, a theater in L.I.C. “A lot of people come here to eat and to shop – these new regulations will help ensure that when people park here, they are spending their money here.”

Mike Del Rey, owner of Bricktown Bagels on Vernon Boulevard for five years, said that parking has been a constant headache for him and his customers since opening in the neighborhood. He said that these new rules will enable bagel buyers to run in and get a quick breakfast.

“L.I.C. needed this,” he said. “I’ve only been here for five years, and I’m sure we needed this long before then.”

Maura McCarthy, Queens Borough Commissioner of the DOT, said that the new regulations will be studied and reviewed, and more changes could be on the way.

“Adjusting meter regulations can go a long way toward increasing parking options for Long Island City residents, visitors and businesses,” she said. “We are glad to work closely with local elected officials to make parking easier.”

Van Bramer also announced short-term metered parking was being added and parking regulations were adjusted along Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside, making parking more accessible for motorists, especially to customers of local businesses lining the corridor.

No ticket while getting your ticket


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

New legislation is aiming to please drivers by “parking” many of their muni-meter tickets.

The City Council recently passed a bill that will spare commuters the stress of receiving a parking ticket while retrieving their muni-meter receipt. Prior to the bill, if a driver presented a valid receipt to a traffic enforcement agent, there was no way for the agent to revoke the ticket.

The legislation, which was introduced by Councilmember James Gennaro, requires a ticket to be cancelled if a valid receipt is shown no later than five minutes after the issuance of the violation. The canceled ticket would read, “Valid muni-meter receipt shown, ticket canceled,” and would include the number printed on the muni-meter receipt — sparing drivers the inconvenience of appealing the ticket by appearing in court.

“New York City drivers feel enough anxiety every day already without having to worry about getting a ticket while they’re walking to the muni-meter,” Gennaro said. “By ensuring that premature violations are canceled if a receipt is shown within five minutes of the ticket being written, my bill will bring a little peace of mind to residents who are trying to do the right thing and pay for their parking.”

The bill was co-sponsored by Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., who also supported approved legislation declaring the presentation of a valid muni-meter receipt as a viable defense for the failure to display the voucher on a dashboard.

“It’s absurd to think that they could place a muni-meter a half block from where you’ve parked, force you to walk to obtain a receipt, and then ticket you as you’re returning to your car — but it happens,” Vallone said. “Once again, we had to write legislation to combat something that should never have been occurring in the first place.”

Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, praised the bill for the positive effects it will have on small businesses.

“Allowing a ticket to be canceled upon the showing of a valid receipt no later than five minutes after the issuance of the ticket is both fair and reasonable,” Friedman said in a letter to Gennaro. “Before the introduction of this law, even people attempting to comply with the law were penalized. Small business owners have enough to contend with in today’s economy. Scaring consumers from metered spots certainly didn’t help.”

Drivers shared feelings of frustration that the legislation was not in place from the start, while also expressing relief for no longer being at risk of receiving an unjustified ticket.

“It has been a horror because I have received a couple tickets while I was walking to the meter,” said Antonietta Mandione, a Bayside resident. “I tried to fight them in court and I never won. I always had to pay the ticket, and it wasn’t fair. If it is raining or snowing someone could slip, and I have to drag my kids with me and run back to my car. The parking agents are fast in giving out tickets. This new law will save us a lot of time in running to the meter. It is going to be a big improvement because we won’t have to kill ourselves to get back to the car. The city [didn’t have this law from the beginning] because it wants to collect more money from us.”

New parking regulations to help businesses


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

Commuters utilizing the muni-meter lots on Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside are having their parking plans curbed by the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer joined DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and other local elected officials on September 29 to announce that 60 muni-meter parking spaces on Queens Boulevard and 40th Street underneath the No. 7 train will be converted to a four-hour maximum time limit next month.

In addition, the weekday “No Standing 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.” regulation on the north curb of westbound Queens Boulevard from 48th Street to 32nd Place will be removed, and two-hour muni-meter regulations will be installed. Street cleaning will also be in effect daily between 7:30 and 8 a.m.

Community leaders hope that the adjusted parking regulations, which begin on October 31, will make the area more accessible to motorists, particularly those looking to visit the neighborhood’s businesses. Among the intended benefits is the prevention of commuters leaving their cars in the lots prior to using the train to travel to their jobs in Manhattan.
“We live here, we shop here and we want to support our local neighborhood,” said Van Bramer. “We also want to make sure that there is sufficient turnover to allow more people to access the services on Queens Boulevard. If we limit so much parking to commuters who are coming very early, getting off the 7 train after work, getting in their cars and heading back east, then that is not benefitting our neighborhood.”

Before making the alterations, the DOT evaluated the traffic conditions on Queens Boulevard during the morning peak hours, and determined that the changes would create a better balance between short and long-term parking availability in the area.

“Sunnyside is more than a stop along the No. 7 train, it’s a destination for shoppers that local retailers depend on,” said Sadik-Khan. “By expanding short-term parking, we’re balancing the needs of commuters while providing access that will help boost the local economy.”
Stores in the area are excited about the potential surge in business that could come from having their shops more accessible to customers.

“The people who park here for 12 hours are the people who go to the city,” said Giovanni Brione, manager of Oasis Pizzeria, which is located across from a parking lot. “They shop and eat in the city, come back here and then go back to the island. If we have more space available for parking, then more people will come here to shop. Many times people don’t want to come around here because there is no parking. This change will help the businesses.”
Despite claims that the adjustments were requested and are heralded by Sunnyside residents, some believe the changes are less about improving parking flow and more about increasing cash flow to the city.

“I can’t believe the city is doing this,” said Adrian Ionas, a resident of Sunnyside. “This is not going to be an improvement for the people parking here. The city is just looking to make more money.”

New parking regulations to help businesses


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

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Commuters utilizing the muni-meter lots on Queens Boulevard in Sunnyside are having their parking plans curbed by the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer joined DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and other local elected officials on September 29 to announce that 60 muni-meter parking spaces on Queens Boulevard and 40th Street underneath the No. 7 train will be converted to a four-hour maximum time limit next month.

In addition, the weekday “No Standing 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.” regulation on the north curb of westbound Queens Boulevard from 48th Street to 32nd Place will be removed, and two-hour muni-meter regulations will be installed. Street cleaning will also be in effect daily between 7:30 and 8 a.m.

Community leaders hope that the adjusted parking regulations, which begin on October 31, will make the area more accessible to motorists, particularly those looking to visit the neighborhood’s businesses. Among the intended benefits is the prevention of commuters leaving their cars in the lots prior to using the train to travel to their jobs in Manhattan.

“We live here, we shop here and we want to support our local neighborhood,” said Van Bramer. “We also want to make sure that there is sufficient turnover to allow more people to access the services on Queens Boulevard. If we limit so much parking to commuters who are coming very early, getting off the 7 train after work, getting in their cars and heading back east, then that is not benefitting our neighborhood.”

Before making the alterations, the DOT evaluated the traffic conditions on Queens Boulevard during the morning peak hours, and determined that the changes would create a better balance between short and long-term parking availability in the area.

“Sunnyside is more than a stop along the No. 7 train, it’s a destination for shoppers that local retailers depend on,” said Sadik-Khan. “By expanding short-term parking, we’re balancing the needs of commuters while providing access that will help boost the local economy.”

Stores in the area are excited about the potential surge in business that could come from having their shops more accessible to customers.

“The people who park here for 12 hours are the people who go to the city,” said Giovanni Brione, manager of Oasis Pizzeria, which is located across from a parking lot. “They shop and eat in the city, come back here and then go back to the island. If we have more space available for parking, then more people will come here to shop. Many times people don’t want to come around here because there is no parking. This change will help the businesses.”

Despite claims that the adjustments were requested and are heralded by Sunnyside residents, some believe the changes are less about improving parking flow and more about increasing cash flow to the city.

“I can’t believe the city is doing this,” said Adrian Ionas, a resident of Sunnyside. “This is not going to be an improvement for the people parking here. The city is just looking to make more money.”

Incensed by parking meter increase


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Queens drivers are reaching deeper into their pockets — more often — to park around the borough

“I have to constantly feed the meter, when I can barely feed myself in this economy,” said Theresa Bulgosi as she shopped along Vernon Boulevard.

City motorists now get only 15 minutes for a quarter — $1 for an hour. The rates were raised as part of the city’s budget plan. The timing adjustments began in Queens this summer as new muni-meters were installed.

“The city increased the prices and lowered the time. I think that’s an outrage. I know they’re desperate for money but just cut off the welfare. A quarter was for 20 minutes, now it’s for 15 minutes. It makes a difference when you’re constantly parking,” said Grace Lorini, in front of Banana Republic on Austin Street in Forest Hills.

Many areas of Queens were already outfitted with muni-meters, but the city plans to replace all single space meters with muni-meters throughout the borough by June of next year.

The installation of muni-meters began in Forest Hills — parts of 71st Drive, 73rd Place, 80th and Selfridge Streets — and Middle Village — on Metropolitan Avenue from 69th Street to 74th Avenue – on Saturday, October 1.

Store owner Judy Zhu from Valuclean Cleaners on Bell Boulevard pays about four dollars a day in the muni-meters, which only lasts four hours, but that doesn’t stop her from getting tickets.

“In the past two weeks, I got three tickets. I went inside the cleaners to get change for the car and when I returned I already got a ticket for $35,” said Zhu.

Janet Akilov agreed and said, “It’s too expensive now and it makes me rush while shopping or eating,” while waiting for her muni-meter receipt to print in front of Kabul Kabob Restaurant on Main Street, Flushing.

Though drivers are incensed by increased rates, some see the advantages muni-meters provide – such as providing more parking spaces and accepting credit/debit cards.

“It’s nice not to have to carry around a pocketful of quarters around anymore just for meters,” said Thom Lee, a LaGuardia Community College student.

For those still partial to the single space meters, a request for proposal was issued for a vendor to sell the meters as memorabilia.