Local officials and the FDNY are concerned that a Van Nest street is too narrow to turn emergency vehicles on to.
Mead Street between Unionport Road and Garfield Street is a relatively quiet street.
According to neighbors, the FDNY tried to enter the street from Unionport Road on Monday, April 4 to answer a call at 640 Mead Street, but were thwarted by parked cars.
The issue was addressed two nights later at the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance meeting. Louis Ciaramella, who has lived his whole life at 639 Mead Street, said that after several attempts, firefighters had to walk down the block to investigate the call.
Although there was no actual fire-related activity, Ciaramella realized that cars parked between 650 and 647 Mead Street near the corner of Unionport Road made it difficult for the trucks to enter the block.
“I heard the fire truck’s sirens getting closer and closer and then I realized the trucks couldn’t get down the street,” Ciaramella said. “Luckily, there wasn’t any actual danger that day. What are they supposed to do if there was an actual fire? Something has to get done about this.”
After the meeting, the subject was brought to the attention of Community Board 11 district manager Jeremy Warneke, Senator Jeff Klein and FDNY Battalion 20 Chief Dennis Munnelly.
Mead Street also runs between White Plains and Unionport roads which would allow an easier turn for fire trucks, but was closed off to traffic in 2009 after the New York City Department of Transportation believed it would ease traffic on White Plains Road.
The Van Nest community believes the best option would be for the DOT to ‘daylight’ the area between 650 and 647 Mead Street, or eliminate the parking spaces.
“As soon as this issue was brought to my attention, I asked the DOT to look into this particular intersection to provide an adequate turning radius for our emergency vehicles,” Klein said. “In life-threatening situations these vital seconds can make all the difference between a happy and tragic outcome.
CB 11, Senator Klein and the FDNY have sent letters to the DOT requesting that “No Parking,” or “No Standing” signs be placed between those addresses.
According to Monty Dean of the DOT, a study is being conducted and a final decision will be made within the next two weeks. Local residents hope that a resolution can be reached quickly.
“Some people were worried about losing parking spaces on the block but that’s just ridiculous,” Ciaramella said. “Would you rather lose parking spaces, or lives? I think it’s obvious as to what’s more important.”