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Efforts begin to push merchandise off Lydig Avenue

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Pelham Parkway residents are sick and tired of stores that put out merchandise on the sidewalk, making it difficult and often dangerous for people to walk by. Now, with the help of Community Board 11, they hope to do something about it.

The goal is to enact a policy called “Zero Tolerance,” which would make it illegal for anyone to have any kind of items — even produce — out the sidewalk. As it is, there is a distance limit that stores are supposed to follow, keeping their goods a given number of feet away from the curb, but many break the rule.

For example, there is a law against hanging anything from the canopy, but many businesses do this anyway. As far as the street goes, Community Board 11 recently did a walk through with agents from the Department of Buildings and the Department of Sanitation. A number of citations and fines were handed out, but merchants do not seem to mind paying them, and continue to display their wares.

Zero Tolerance would make it so that stores cannot display any racks out on the sidewalk at all. The request would cover stores on White Plains Road between Pelham Parkway South and Marin Place, and Lyidg Avenue from White Plans Road to Matthews Avenue.

“You can’t even walk on the sidewalk,” complains Edith Blitzer, president of the Pelham Parkway South Neighborhood Association. Blitzer and the PPSNA were the ones to first bring this to the attention of Community Board 11, and now, all involved are optimistic. The PPSNA has made sidewalk crowding one of their biggest causes for months now, and at their May 19 meeting at 7pm at Bronx House, they’ll continue their efforts to promote sidewalk safety with a presentation by NYPD officer Troy Doiley on “How Not To Get Mugged.”

Zero Tolerance, meanwhile, may prove to be be a complicated process. “The board approved it already, and now we’re going to send a letter to consumer affairs,” says John Fratta, district manager of CB11. “The residents want this done so badly, and even the BID [Business Improvement District] approved it. But we arent sure of the process here. This is brand new for us, so we’re trying to figure out what we need to do to get this done.”

Indeed, Larry Prospect, executive director of the Pelham Parkway BID, confirmed that Zero Tolernace would be “a wonderful thing for our businesses.” Local businessowners all seem to have fingers crossed that it will work.

“This just makes sense,” says Fratta. “If you’ve got a store, sell whatever you’re selling inside the store. You own your store, but you don’t own the sidewalk.”

One issue here is that the merchants themselves just want to do what’s best for their businesses, and during a hard economic period they believe they can make more money when their goods are right out on the sidewalk for people to see. Those who wish to enact Zero Tolerance recognize this struggle, and do sympathize. “We don’t want to hurt the businesses, but we have to make them respect the community,” says Fratta. “We’re hoping we do it the right way and accomplish this.”

Clearly, local pedestrians and shopper are hoping so as well.

Reach Daniel Roberts at (718) 742-3383 or droberts@cnglocal.com

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