Summertime is coming to City Island, and so is the annual traffic onslaught.
Or maybe not.
The City Island Civic Association’s traffic chairperson and the 45th Precinct’s commanding officer say that traffic this year during the busy season, when throngs of travellers to the island’s 30-plus seafood restaurants and other businesses clog City Island Avenue at busy times, may not be much as much of a concern because of planned traffic control measures similar to those in place for the past three years.
But some locals say that as good as the cops and traffic agents are, the amount of traffic, blaring car stereo systems, motorcycles speeding along City Island Avenue and some visitors hanging out in certain restaurant parking lots that don’t have valets until all hours of the night is enough to steal their laid-back island quality-of-life.
City Island gets a detail of traffic agents who are assigned there roughly from Memorial Day to Labor Day to handle busy traffic on weekends and other times. The agents are posted at the traffic circle at the approach to City Island, near and on the City Island Bridge, and at major intersections on City Island, said Paul Nani, CICA traffic chairperson.
“As we understand it, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, the plan is to have […] traffic agents on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, supported when possible by the 45th Precinct,” said Nani, adding that in the past few years, “this plan has been successful in keeping traffic moving on City Island Avenue and keeping the fire lane clear. It has worked very well.”
The island’s civic association is completely “satisfied” with the way the police and traffic agents have been handling traffic flow while assigned to the island, though Nani admitted that as great as the traffic is moving, the volume of traffic appears to have increased since he first moved there in the early 1980s.
The commanding officer of the 45th Precinct, Captain James McGeowan, said that the detail of police officers assigned to City Island from the precinct are from its school safety operations.
“We have applied for traffic agents to come in and work traffic, and because of the volume of people going out there, we put our own small detail out there,” said McGeowan.
“It really doesn’t affect the staffing anywhere else,” he said, such as at nearby Orchard Beach, which has a separate police detail.
Another police source said that the precinct’s conditions unit, which has at least seven officers assigned to it, can always be called in to deal with any surge of problems on City Island.
There are times when traffic on City Island in the summer, such as during Mothers Day in May , backs up the entire 1 1/2 mile stretch of City Island Avenue and beyond onto City Island Road off the island.
Despite the issues, Gerard “Skip” Giacco, president of the City Island Chamber of Commerce, which promotes local business, said: “Frankly, I don’t want to see less traffic.”
But some residents of the sea-side community say that with the summer traffic comes quality-of-life issues because of the island’s the less courteous and respectful visitors.
Life-long City Island resident Maureen Hraska, who lives near the southern end of the island on the water, said that she frequently loses hours sitting in traffic jams on City Island Avenue. She is often roused from her sleep because of noise that carries heavily on the water from some nearby restaurants and parking lots.
“It is extremely loud,” she said. “You have a lot of bass from car [stereos] on the avenue and certain parking lots of restaurants,” adding that there sometimes “water shows” alongside sea-side restaurants with speedboats that also can create a great deal of noise.
“Patrons have got to realize that people live here,” she added.
Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3393