Following a recent Department of Transportation (DOT) study, Community Board 5 sent a letter to residents living along 70th Street in Maspeth and Woodside, preparing them for conversion during the week of April 14.
“It’s hard to argue with them,” said CB5 district manager Gary Giordano. “If we thought we had a real good argument, we would have made it. We just couldn’t come up with reasons why it shouldn’t happen.”
While the board released a letter to community members that the city plans to convert the route over “Spring Recess from school” in order to avoid major traffic problems, a representative of the DOT there are still no official plans to change the street.
“While the agency found the proposal feasible and notified the boards, discussions are ongoing and there are no plans to implement this project at this time,” the DOT spokesperson said of the study, requested by, “CB2 and CB5 and other local stakeholders.”
Confused by phrasing in the letter that suggests the conversion is still just a possibility, and the proposal for a start date during the week of April 14, Maspeth resident Jackie Abramaitis said she plans to request a copy of the study from CB5.
“CB5 sent a letter to 70th Street residents that insults our intelligence by stating the block is in proposal state, yet further down the letter it states the dates this change will occur,” Abramaitis explained. “The residents had no knowledge of this proposal, nor who or why it was proposed.”
She added that any changes would only disrupt the current traffic flow in the neighborhood.
“I do not want our quality of life changed,” Abramaitis said. “We want the freedom to travel north or south.”
Roe Daraio, president of the Communities of Maspeth and Elmhurst Together (COMET), said she turned in numerous complaints from residents along the street to the board, however she is aware there are two sides to the argument.
“Someone told me some kids almost got hit by a car at I.S. 73, someone up by the school said they were tired of getting their mirrors taken off by cars and someone on my block said there was too much traffic,” Daraio said.
Ann Marie McGee, a resident of 70th Street, said she isn’t convinced the change would reduce any problems along the street.
“I’ve been here 33 years, and we can’t have it,” McGee said. “Even if we make it a one-way, people are still going to double-park and mirrors are going to get chipped.”
McGee suggested that without the southbound use of 70th Street, residents would then flood other residential roads, only causing more problems.
“The schools have been there for 100 years, and if you don’t like it there, park somewhere else on the weekdays,” she said. “What’s not broken, don’t fix it.”
Giordano added that the board did suggest that the city consider installing a traffic signal at 69th Street and 52nd Drive, however they have not heard back on their request.
“We were told people would be using 52nd Drive a lot more,” Giordano said.