Residents commented on the plans for the reconstruction of the north side of Pelham Parkway at a public hearing hosted by Community Board 11 on June 16.
Representatives from city agencies including parks, transportation, and the Mayor’s Office for Persons with Disabilities were on hand to hear concerns.
The plans encompass Pelham Parkway’s westbound main roadway and the Pelham Parkway North service road, and will address the road’s deficiencies, including pavement deterioration as well as motorist safety regarding trees along the mainline, which will be protected with a guiderail.
The project will also upgrade the aging water mains and sewers under the roadway, install a dedicated bus service lane, and install American Disability Act Accessible sidewalks.
Smaller improvements such as upgraded street lighting and new traffic signs are also included.
A major concern of residents at the meeting was the loss of parking on Pelham Parkway North.
Plans will add a sidewalk on the south side of Pelham Parkway North between White Plains and Williamsbridge Road to make the parking there accessible. Because the road will be narrowed slightly, ‘no standing’ zones must be added at several intersections in order to allow for the turning radius of a fire truck. Several more parking spots will be lost due to the creation of sidewalk ‘bump-outs’ to protect existing trees.
An estimated 31 parking spaces will be removed, with 10 spaces at five intersections converted to handicap accessible spaces. The need for those 10 spaces was also questioned by attendees and community board members.
At the hearing, the community board said a task force would be looking into the proposed removal of about 26 trees for reasons of disease or sidewalk installation.
During the reconstruction of the south side of Pelham Parkway, completed in 2013, the Pelham Parkway Preservation Alliance formed to fight tree removal.
Attendees questioned why the stretch of the project between Eastchester Road and Stillwell Avenue was only being resurfaced and did not include replacing the sidewalk, and requested that drainage on the same stretch of the service road be addressed.
Certain sections of the project were not highlighted during the presentation, such as the portion of the project between Boston Road and Bronx Park East, where the impact of the project is unclear.
The closure of an unnamed street, cutting from the service road in front of the Institute of Special Education to the mainline, was also not addressed until pointed out on the renderings, and the board expects to fight the parks department on that point.
At the hearing, community members also aired their lingering frustration over issues that arose from the reconstruction of Pelham Parkway South.
A representative from the Department of Design and Construction, Howard Pollack, acknowledged that distrust was generated by lack of communication during the first phase.
“We’re hoping this process is going to be different than last time,” said Pollack.
The public hearing was successful in providing an opportunity for local residents to respond to the plans, said Board 11 assistant district manager John Fratta, who has been working on the project since 1986.
“I think we heard loud and clear from the community,” said Fratta.
Over the summer, the board will push the agencies for answers and they hope to hold another public hearing before the board votes on the project this fall.
“There’s going to be a lot more discussion before the board signs off on this,” said Fratta.