Nearly all of the homeowners on the blocks around the park have paved over their front yard to make way for additional parking, however is typically not enough with one or more floors rented out, many times illegally in an effort to pay rising property costs.
Matthew Crafa has lived on 75th Place for several years. He says he has three cars and his upstairs tenant has two, and they are not the only ones with significantly more cars than parking spaces.
“You can’t put a car in the garage like you used to because cars and SUVs are much bigger than when they were when these houses were built,” Crafa said. “Even if you can get it in the garage, you probably wouldn’t be able to get out of your car.”
Crafa estimates there are about three to four times the number of cars on the block than back when the houses were first built.
He said if he gets home late at night after a hockey game, he often walks four or five blocks back to his house after finding a spot.
“My hydrant is blocked every night and they end up sometimes just blocking my driveway,” he said. “They would rather pay the ticket than walk the cold four blocks.”
Crafa stood before Community Board 5 meeting at Christ the King High School last week and asked if the board would support the use of spots around the park for night parking.
Currently, they are off limits from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
CB5 chair Vincent Arcuri said they were originally removed years ago to crack down on drug dealers and crime in the area.
“There were two parking lots on Juniper South and Juniper North, and overnight it would be filled with drug addicts and beer drinkers in the picnic areas,” Arcuri said. “They were starting fires and wrecking the park.”
In addition to cutting back on crime, Arcuri said they kept the parking off limits because garbage would also collect along the park when people parked there for long periods of time.
“The question is now that that era is gone, do we still have to worry about drug dealers and crime?” Arcuri said, noting that the board was set to begin discussions about easing parking restrictions at its Transportation Committee hearing on Tuesday of this week.
Mary Hopkins used to live in the neighborhood several years ago, however whenever she comes back to visit friends she says she often parks about four blocks away.
“The general consensus is yes, they should open it up,” Hopkins said. “It was a very nice place to live, you just can’t park.”