Vacca, City Island Civic urge change of heart on deer signs

This deer was struck by a motorist on City Island Road in early 2015.
Photo courtesy of the City Island Civic Association

After several accidents and years of advocacy, it appears that the city Department of Transportation is now seriously considering the installation of deer crossing signs in Pelham Bay Park.

According to City Island Civic Association board members, DOT has informed them that it may be dropping its opposition to deer signs and is reviewing Pelham Bay Park sign locations.

This comes on the heels of at least three accidents between motorists and deer this year on roads traversing the park, said John Doyle, CICA corresponding secretary.

There has been a history of advocacy by the civic group, as well as Senator Jeff Klein on behalf of the CICA, going back to at least 2007, he said.

Councilman James Vacca, who sits on the City Council’s transportation committee, wrote on Monday, November 16 to DOT urging the agency to install signs in and around the park after the implementation of deer corridor signs on Staten Island.

The councilman would like to see the deer signage program effected in several proposed locations, including Shore Road, City Island Road in the park; Middletown Road and Watt Avenue in Spencer Estate, and Park Drive, which borders Pelham, NY.

“Residents and motorists in this area have come into close proximity with the White Tailed deer, especially those who frequent City Island via Shore Road,” stated Vacca.

The councilman strongly chastised DOT in the letter because while they have agreed to install deer corridor signage on Staten Island, they have not yet agreed to permanent signs in his district, which contains the largest park in New York City.

The Parks Department conducted a wildlife study of Pelham Bay Park in December 2014 that concluded that the deer population in Pelham Bay Park has increased.

CICA board members said that DOT officials contacted their organization and seemed to indicate that they would be open to the possibility of at least some deer signs, especially temporary ones.

“This seems to be connected to everything that is going on Staten Island,” said Doyle of the apparent change of position by DOT. “This has been an issue of importance to the civic association for some time.”

He said that the CICA restarted the process when the new mayoral administration took office because they seemed sensitive to both animal rights and traffic safety issues.

He said that the CICA appreciates the de Blasio administration approaching the issue with a fresh perspective.

Barbara Dolensek, CICA vice president also lauded what she believes is an apparent change in the DOT’s stance on deer crossing signs in Pelham Bay Park, calling the ‘change of heart’ good for the community.

Signs in the area would especially help motorists in Pelham Bay Park who are not familiar with their surroundings, especially at night, added Doyle.

A spokeswoman for DOT confirmed that they have been in touch with local stakeholders in the Bronx and are in the process of reevaluating their criteria for signage and examining options.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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