“He tore up the road,” Grassia recalled of the vehicle that darted from the Pelham Bay Park parking lot, located just one and a half blocks away. “He was past my house in a split second. If someone stepped in front of that car, forget it, they’re dead.”
The dangerous incident was one of many Grassia said he’s seen along the strip in recent months. “The speeds they’re able to generate, it’s unbelievable,” he said about the numerous drag racers that dangerously use the street for evening entertainment. But that’s about to change.
Worried about the youth and the neighborhood’s elderly, who could easily fall victim to the street’s increasing vehicular popularity, approximately six months ago, Grassia collected signatures from area residents that also demanded change – his first step to a needed solution.
“I got almost 50 signatures right away,” he said, proud of his effort to vocalize the community concern.
To his great content, Grassia said he first received a reply letter from Senator Jeff Klein’s office at the end of April.
Promising to look into the situation, Klein stayed true to his word and requested a traffic intervention on Middletown Road from the Department of Transportation.
“Clearly speed bumps will slow the traffic down, stop the drag racing and make the community a lot safer,” he said.
Upon review of the site, the DOT agreed to install two speed humps between Stadium Avenue and McDonough Place along Middletown Road over the next six weeks.
Grassia, who’s lived on Middletown for 40 years, said they’re needed now more than ever. It gets so bad, he explained, that he leaves town to avoid the vehicular disasters that flood the road every weekend. “It’s chaotic,” he said.
In addition to the drastic weekend influx, Councilman Jimmy Vacca said it’s important to remember Pelham Bay Park’s close proximity.
“You can’t take chances with a park right here,” he said. “I think the speed humps are going to be a big improvement.”
Equally pleased with the DOT’s decision, Klein said he’s glad the neighborhood will receive assistance to help restore the neighborhood’s peace.
And as for the unwelcome drag racers, Klein said they’d surely stop, “unless they want to loose their chassis.”