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More truck operations clog Zerega Avenue

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Castle Hill YMCA members in the know avoid Zerega Avenue, where buses rumble and semi-trucks sway. Zerega is home to three school bus depots, a bus training school, a FedEx Ground warehouse, three truck rental outfits and a city Department of Sanitation garage.

Now FedEx has leased the former site of a Home Depot at 635 Zerega, between Seward and Randall avenues, adding to its Castle Hill portfolio. Could more FedEx trucks mean more traffic?

Possibly, YMCA membership director Ortelio Bello said. Early in the morning and late in the afternoon, large vehicles jam the strip. Bello’s members, most of who drive or ride the bus, prefer Castle Hill Avenue.

With the exception of Zerega, Castle Hill is a residential neighborhood. It gained 200-some two family homes at Castle Hill and Norton avenues a decade ago.

“What about the people who just bought $400,000 homes down there?” Community Board 9 district manager Francisco Gonzalez said. “Will they not be able to commute?”

According to FedEx spokeswoman Allison Sobczak, there’s no cause for concern. From November 2008 to January of this year, FedEx used 635 Zerega Avenue to handle holiday overflow. Since January, the facility has sat empty.

“Eventually, we hope to open 635 Zerega full-time,” Sobczak said. “We’ll use it for overflow again starting in September.”

FedEx began its remodel of 635 Zerega last year, converting the nine-acre facility from hardware store to warehouse/trucking terminal. According to the Department of Buildings, Home Depot’s parking lot held 574 cars. FedEx’s lot will accommodate 200 cars and a fleet of trucks.

“What we’re really doing is splitting trucks between our two Zerega Avenue facilities,” Sobczak said. “There will be less traffic moving in and out of [635 Zerega] than when Home Depot was there.”

FedEx’s other Castle Hill facility is located at 901 Zerega.

“Our drivers follow the designated Department of Transportation truck routes,” Sobczak said.

Enrique Vega, the board’s current chair, has watched Zerega clog. “The trucks and buses line up,” Vega said. “Both sides of the Bruckner.”

FedEx was not required to conduct a traffic study, Sobczak said. Ciminello & Ciminello Realty Corporation bought 635 Zerega from Home Depot in 2008. FedEx’s lease runs through 2018.

“We thought FedEx would be a perfect match for the neighborhood,” Manny Ciminello said. “When the facility is up and running it will offer 200 jobs. FedEx is a great tenant.”

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