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Garden will expand parking, but cause some problems in the short term

More parking is coming to the New York Botanical Garden, but it could mean some traveling problems for residents.

For several months, the NYBG has been excavating the foundation for the Peter Jay Sharp Building, a seven-floor parking garage that will accommodate up to 825 cars.

When construction is complete in spring 2012, garden officials hope the facility will be a boom for the NYBG and a benefit for those living in the area. However, in the meantime construction will force some road closures on Botanical Square and Webster Avenue, and the temporary loss of up to 35 parking spaces.

“Some people are upset about it,” said Fernando Tirado, district manager of Community Board 7. “But we will be monitoring the progress of construction.”

The facility is being built adjacent to the Metro-North Botanical Garden station on the west side of the tracks.

According to garden officials, excavation began this summer and so far traffic has been largely unaffected. But starting this month, and most likely lasting until May, there will be temporary road closures at Botanical Square and about 25 spaces will be eliminated in the area. The parking lane along Webster Avenue will be closed for a pedestrian walkway between Webster and Botanical Square North and South during the same time period.

Starting in June an additional 10 parking spaces will be eliminated because of the work. This should only last one month, NYBG officials said.

The site itself will be secured during non-work hours, and project planners have worked with EMS, NYPD and FDNY officials to ensure that there is proper access for all emergency vehicles.

Because attendance at the garden has continued to grow, officials purchased the land and designed the project over the past several years. With its easy access to the Metro North Station, officials expect the facility will not only increase the number of car commuters, it will also provide easier access for intermodal transportation. Area residents will also be able to park in the garage with new Garden membership packages, so commuters will be able to ‘park and ride’ from the facility.

“The new parking facility was designed to accommodate the Garden’s growing audience,” Melinda Manning, spokeswoman for the garden, said. “The new parking facility will not only be beautiful, but will offer a year-round covered and secured space that is connected directly to the Metro-North platform at a market rate.”

Currently parking is a problem in the area, Tirado said. While it may be a headache during construction, he is hopeful in the end it will ease the congestion problems in the long run. “We’re hoping that will be a side benefit,” he said. “A lot of people do park on the side streets. Let’s say the garden runs out of space, that takes away space for businesses and residents. Hope is that will free up parking for residents and people in general.”

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