Community Board 10 voted against some tweaks to the Vision Zero pedestrian safety improvements already implemented in the Westchester Square commercial corridor.
In a recent advisory vote, CB 10 opposed a NYC Department of Transportation mitigation that would have reversed the direction of Frisby Avenue for one blockbetween Benson Street and East Tremont Avenue.
The plan would also have made St. Raymond’s Avenue into a two-way street between Williamsbridge Road and East Tremont Avenue, with the loss of six parking spaces.
It is unclear as of press time if DOT will accept the community board’s recommendations.
The Westchester Square Business Improvement District is in favor of the proposed changes.
The vote, taken at the monthly CB 10 full board meeting on Thursday, January 19, would have sent more traffic from the commercial corridor onto residential streets, they argued.
The January 19 vote was 17 against, six in favor, with six abstentions, according to the board.
CB 10 member and Zerega resident Hannah Acampora, who voted not to support the changes, was also concerned about the loss of parking spots.
“When they sacrifice parking spots, [residents] are the ones that lose them, because [shoppers park on residential streets],” said Acampora.
Lisa Sorin, Westchester Square BID executive director, said that backups on Frisby Avenue approaching East Tremont Avenue have become commonplace, especially at peak times, perhaps because traffic is not permitted to make a left onto East Tremont Avenue.
“The cars are stuck, especially during school hours,” she said of traffic issues on Frisby Avenue, adding “It just piles up into this massive, congested blockage at that corner.”
The reversal of St. Raymond Avenue is necessary to stop vehicles from making illegal U-turns or cutting through parking lots, said Sorin.
It has become necessary not only because of the problematic turns, but also because Silver Street drivers cannot make a left turn to enter the Westchester Square business area, only a right turn is permitted, she said.
Another Zerega resident and CB 10 board member, Bob Bieder, voted in favor of the changes because he said he trusts that the BID knows what’s needed.
“I voted in favor of it because I have faith in the BID and the people who run the BID,” said Bieder. “They are there every day.”
Bieder said he believes that overall, the board members present voted against the two changes because they were concerned not only about increased traffic on residential blocks, but also because taking away parking anywhere is “very difficult” to support.
In a statement, a DOT spokeswoman said that the agency “was planning to meet with stakeholders to learn more about their concerns to readjust the plan.”
Starting in 2015, pedestrian islands were constructed in Westchester Square and changes in traffic patterns were implemented to make the commercial corridor more pedestrian friendly as part of the citywide Vision Zero initiative.