Pelham Bay’s parking squeeze has reached a fever pitch.
Businesses near the Buhre Avenue No.6 train station — where the MTA started seven months of construction on July 5 — are seething over lost parking spaces in a shopping strip already starved for spots even before the work started.
“I could literally go around the block 20 times without finding a spot,” said John Marxuach, store manager at Florsheim Shoes on Westchester Avenue.
The city closed down the Buhre Avenue and Zerega Avenue stations on both sides until February 2015 as part of a $109-million renewal project.
Yonkers Contracting is repairing the mezzanines, renovating windscreens, installing a pigeon-deterrent system, and fixing up the platform stairs.
Until the work is finished, local businesses will have to grit and bear the loss of precious parking — but they are not happy about it.
Contractors are using the space on Westchester Avenue between Pilgrim and Hobart Avenues to hold equipment. They’ve also set up so-called “staging stations” on adjacent streets.
That’s my spot!
Most of the spots lost are necessary sacrifices, admitted local business owners, and eventually will lead to an improved station.
But other spots, they charge, are unfairly being swiped.
A tan car that Marxuach said was owned by one of the workers, for example, has been parking in front of his Florsheim Shoes store since the construction started.
“Whatever parking is left, the contractors are taking it,” the shoe salesman seethed.
There’s also a staging area at the corner of Buhre and Westchester Avenues which has ticked off the local supermarket, making deliveries more difficult.
“I do not understand why they need to be here,” said Muhamed Kaid, a manager at Pruzzo’s.
The owner of a local liquor store on Westchester Avenue, gesturing at the construction equipment across the street, questioned whether the workers were using the space as efficiently as possible.
“If you need the space, you need the space,” said Al Neira, owner of Lehigh Wines and Liquors. “But if you don’t need it, don’t take it!”
Both Neira and Kaid said that the local police have not helped the situation, giving out tickets to shoppers who double-park for a couple minutes to grab groceries.
“They are going around, giving tickets to everyone they see,” said Kaid.
Leaders at Community Board 10 say one idea that could alleviate the parking squeeze would be to turn free parking spaces on residential Pilgrim Avenue a block away into one-hour spots, claiming that any new spaces would help the businesses that say they are already suffering a loss of revenue due to the parking woes.
“The store is usually packed this time of day,” said Kaid when a reporter stopped by his supermarket just after noon on Tuesday, July 8. “Right now, it’s not.”
Commuters feel it, too
Local business aren’t the only ones affected by the work. Commuters who normally take the Buhre Avenue subway now can take the Bx8 or Bx24 bus to Middletown Road and connect with a free MetroCard transfers.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority says it is running added bus service between the Castle Hill Avenue and Buhre Avenue stations during morning and evening rush hours.