Protest against sidewalk

Maria Greene, pictured, stands in front of her home on Pelham Parkway South on Thursday, March 29 with a sign protesting the narrowing of the street. Many homeowners along Pelham Parkway South have affixed signs to the front of their homes which raise concerns about safety and other matters.
Photo by Laura Stone

Residents along Pelham Parkway South are kicking up some dust over a four-foot narrowing of the service road as a reconstruction project there adds a new sidewalk on the northern side of the roadway.

A petition signed by over 300 residents is calling for a change in plans for the $30 million Pelham Parkway reconstruction project as it relates to the installation of a four foot of sidewalk on the service road on the side of the street closer to the parkway, said Maria Stevens. She and her husband, orthodontist Dr. David Stevens, operate their business along the service road at 1228 Pelham Parkway South.

Residents are expressing concerns over the sidewalk installation along Pelham Parkway South between Jacobi Hospital and Williamsbridge Road, and, more specifically, along Pelham Parkway South between Wilson and Yates avenues, according to the petition.

“The four-foot-wide sidewalk, which is being built on the side of Pelham Parkway South further away from the homes, is almost entirely intruding into the road, narrowing this service road to only 26 feet,” Dr. Stevens said in a letter to Community Board 11. “This four-foot narrowing is drastic and unsafe.”

Because of the widened sidewalks on the “home side” of the street, and the installation of a sidewalk where it did not before exist on the “parkway side,” there is now concern that parking will be eliminated on one side of the service road, through a process called daylighting, Dr. Stevens siad. Daylighting is necessary for large trucks, including fire trucks and emergency vehicles, to make turns onto Pelham Parkway South, said past Community Board 11 district manager John Fratta, who is still working for the board and handling the $30 million Pelham Parkway Reconstruction project. CB 11 was told that it was necessary to widen the sidewalks during the reconstruction because, as a federally funded project, it must adhere to federal standards, which require a sidewalk on a street where there is parking, Fratta said. In addition, the Americans with Disabilities Act requires that all sidewalks be a certain width, Fratta said.

“This issue caught us by surprise,” Fratta said. The Department of Design and Construction is still saying that the street is wide enough to have parking on both sides.”

Many are still baffled as to why construction didn’t use a roughly two-foot grassy space adjacent to the service roadway, said resident Leonora Lulaj.

Enlarged sidewalks are not really needed, because there are no bus stops along the service road on the far side of the street, and visitors from Jacobi walk on the side of the street where there are homes, Lulaj stated.

To include the two-foot area of grass, alienation of parking would have been necessary, which would have to be replaced, and that would require approval of the state legislature, Fratta said.

Fratta said, that the catch basins are already installed in anticipation of the sidewalk curb being there. The curb will direct water to the basins.

Senator Jeff Klein in a letter to the DDC asked if it was possible to rethink the configuration.

A public hearing will be held at Monday, April 9, 7 p.m. in Jacobi Hospital’s nurses residence, building 4, second floor conference room.

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