Merchants along Fordham Road warned the New York City Department of Transportation to restore daytime metered parking on the shopping thoroughfare Wednesday, October 29 at a Town Hall Meeting.
In response, DOT officials agreed to re-evaluate the economic impact of the Bronx 12 Select Bus Service – a new route intended to relieve congestion. Since July, Fordham Road’s inside lanes have been reserved for Bx12 Select buses. The Bronx Library Center hosted Wednesday’s meeting.
According to one Fordham Road carpet retailer, at least 12 stores have closed. Norman Efron of Imperial Linoleum and Carpet at 361 E. Fordham Road stated that the SBS lanes, which replaced daytime metered parking in front of his shop, have forced driving customers to Yonkers, Mount Vernon and elsewhere. Other merchants vowed to march on Manhattan, citing layoffs and a slump in business.
A car stereo storeowner, Frank Rodriguez, also spoke at the meeting, sponsored by the Fordham Hill Owners Corporation, the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition and Councilman Joel Rivera.
“I’ve seen my customers ticketed and towed,” Rodriguez said. “No one comes to shop on Fordham Road any more. We’re being destroyed.”
Some merchants and community members wonder whether DOT has purposefully adopted a divide and conquer strategy, introducing additional metered parking near Fordham Road on the side streets.
“Residents shouldn’t have to be inconvenienced by Fordham Road,” said Community Board 6 district manager Ivine Galarza. “We oppose these meters.”
Joseph Barr, DOT’s director for Transit Development, maintained that the meters installed on Fordham Road’s side streets have been well used. Barr argued that tens of thousands of people ride Bx12 Select buses every day, and called the new meters a sensible alternative to Fordham Road parking.
But according to Galarza and others, traffic between 10am and 4pm on some stretches of Fordham Road isn’t bad.
“These merchants located outside the main corridor should not be thrown out with the bathwater,” Pilgrim-Hunter said.
Ignacio Perez, who runs a restaurant on W. Fordham Road, testified before the October 29 meeting and asked the DOT to take immediate action.
“I used to have 12 families working in my restaurant,” Perez said. “Now I have six. If things stay the same, I’ll go out of business in six to eight months.”
The merchants challenged Barr and Bronx DOT representative Keith Kalb to arrange a face-to-face meeting with transportation leadership.