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DOT Re-opens Mead After FDNY Incident

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Local residents and the FDNY are at ease after the Department of Transportation reopened access to a Van Nest street.

Normally a quiet street, Mead Street between Unionport Road and Garfield Street became a hot topic after firetrucks had a difficult time entering the block from Unionport Road to answer a call at 640 Mead Street on Monday, April 4.

Two nights later at a Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance meeting, residents expressed their concern. Firefighters were forced to walk to the house after several failed attempts to turn the truck into the street.

“Luckily, there wasn’t any actual danger that day,” said 639 Mead Street resident Louis Ciaramella after the meeting. “What are they supposed to do if there was an actual fire? Something has to get done about this.”

After a request by Community Board 11, Senator Jeff Klein and FDNY Battalion 20 Chief Dennis Munnelly, the Department of Transportation daylighted the area between 650 and 647 Mead Streets on Saturday, May 28, eliminating street parking to widen the narrow street..

The solution to the problem was not received well by the block’s residents. Community Board 11 ultimately requested that Mead Street between White Plains and Unionport roads be reopened,. The street had been closed-off to traffic since October 2010 to prepare for the possible expansion of Van Nest Playground.

On Friday, June 17, the DOT reopened the closed portion of Mead Street, but also daylighted the street, removing parking spaces to ensure a safe turn for firetrucks.

“This is certainly great news for the Van Nest community, and I thank Connie Moran of the DOT for her understand­ing,” CB 11 district manager Jeremy Warneke said. “The reopening of this section of Mead Street ensures that the FDNY will be able to easily access the street during an emergency.”

When the small section of the street closed last fall, the DOT installed barriers to prevent cars from turning onto the street from White Plains Road, as well as “Do Not Enter” signs. Parking on the street, however, was still permitted.

According to Dom Castore, chairperson of CB 11, the request to reopen the street was deemed necessary by residents until the city Department of Parks and Recreation is completely ready to explore the expansion of the park.

Funds needed to pay for the renovations of Van Nest Playground have been secured and designs are expected to be approved this August. Construction on the park can begin as early as spring 2013, but until then, Mead Street next to the park will remain opened.

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