The East Bronx Traffic Coalition is going public!
After a year of meeting in private, the consortium of civic groups concerned about increased traffic on major arterial roads caused in part by large new retail development, will hold a public forum to demonstrate what they have learned and invite the community to offer feedback.
The town-hall style meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, June 23 at Providence Rest, located at 3304 Waterbury Avenue.
Residents concerned about local traffic issues are urged to come and view about 45 minutes worth of presentations on local traffic hot spots and offer their feedback.
“This is about promoting awareness and activating people who care about the issue of traffic,” said John Doyle, an activist with the group.
The coalition is concerning itself primarily with the highways in the 45th Precinct.
The area the precinct serves has seen much growth over the past couple of years with the opening of the Mall at Bay Plaza, the Throggs Neck Shopping Center, Trump Links, as well as a new 911 Call Center and the expansion of the Hutchinson Metro Center.
The coalition is necessary because a more holistic approach to congestion, which has been building for years, can affect multiple communities at once, said Doyle.
“The whole purpose is to engage your neighbors as to what is happening in your neighborhood,” he said. “This is taking it a step further.”
Robert Barbarelli, who represents the Throggs Neck Home Owners on the coalition, said that since the members of the group are not traffic engineers, they welcome input from the community and elected officials.
The group has already met with Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and Councilman James Vacca, and representatives from Senator Jeff Klein’s office are regulars at its meetings. The town hall is another chapter for the group in terms of engaging the public.
“The public will be able to tell us about any problems they are experiencing and give us their ideas,” said Barbarelli.
Barbarelli believes that the group played a role in a decision by Senator Klein and state and city officials to appropriate $1 million for traffic study of ramps directly into the Hutchinson Metro Center off the Hutchinson River Parkway.
“There is a lot of red tape involved, but if you stick with it and are patient you really can accomplish some things with the elected officials,” said Barbarelli.
Other areas the group is looking at are the area around the Unionport Bridge and the site of the former Whitestone Multiplex Cinema that was to have been Paragon Outlets under a scuttled plan put forth by developers.
Mary Jane Musano, another coalition member representing the Waterbury LaSalle Community Association, said she sees the meeting as a precursor to an official public hearing once ideas have been properly cataloged and reviewed.
The entire community is affected, so all should attend, she added.
“Whether you take mass transit or drive a car, you should know what is happening because it is going to affect you,” said Musano.
At stake are larger issues, like the long-term viability of the area’s middle class population, she said.
“You need means to keep your middle class here,” she said. “If you have a city only of rich and poor people, that is going to affect the tax base.”
Good transit options and roads are one way of keeping the area an attractive place to live, she indicated.