Merchant uproar over bus bulbs installations in east Bronx

(l-r) Kenneth Kearns, CB 10 district manager; Sebastian Perez, owner, Sebastian’s Barber Shop; Raul Roman, employee at W. C. Convenience Store; Eduardo Gonzalez, owner, Estellita Poblana Restaurant; Mohammed Nagi, owner, W. C. Convenience Store and Bob Bieder, owner, Westchester Square Plumbing Supply.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

Zerega merchants joined Community Board 10 to call on the city to provide sanitation services for the newly installed bus bulbs.

The bulbs, currently being placed within CB 10 at several IRT train stops along Westchester Avenue, have been the cause of concern for nearby merchants who may be held responsible for cleaning the expanded sidewalks.

The merchants are also concerned that the lost parking spaces will impact business.

Bus bulbs are sidewalk build-outs at corners that seamlessly connect the existing sidewalk from the curb line to bus stops situated in the street next to el pillars. They are designed to increase pedestrian safety.

Merchants near Zerega and Westchester avenues, where two bus bulbs have been installed recently, held a press conference on Tuesday, February 23 to call on the city to remove the bulbs.

Kenneth Kearns, CB 10 district manger, joined them, and expressed the board’s own ideas about mitigating the effects of the bus bulbs.

CB 10 would like to form a ‘memorandum of understanding’ with the city to protect the merchants from being responsible for snow and litter removal from the bulbs, said Kearns.

Kearns said the board wants yellow stripping and new signage for the bulbs, as well as better lighting and additional waste receptacles.

The bulbs are already here, Kearns said, but they have the potential of hurting the merchants.

Mohammed Nagi, owner of W. Convenience Store at 2381 Westchester Avenue, located in front of one of the new bulbs, said that it was costing him business.

“For us, there are less costumers who can stop by and get what they need,” said Nagi of his driving customers, adding “There is litter everywhere and now there is more for us to clean up.”

The sidewalk area in front of the store that he will now be responsible for cleaning has more than doubled, Nagi said.

Bob Bieder, of Westchester Square Plumbing Supply and the Bronx Merchant Coalition, said that he does not believe that the city has the manpower to clean the bus bulbs, and that the merchants will ultimately bear the burden.

“A memorandum of understanding would only work if the city had the manpower to make it happen, and the community board had the power to enforce it,” said Bieder.

Bieder said that he feels that the city burned CB 10, because NYC Department of Transportation made a presentation to the board in 2012 on bus bulbs and the board voted against them. The city installed them anyway, he said.

A DOT spokeswoman said that the agency had to balance the loss of parking with public safety concerns.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
A new bus bulb at Westchester and Zerega avenues.
Photo by Silvio Pacifico

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