The week before Christmas, Lillian Sheridan’s husband and son were clipped by a car at the corner of 79th Street and Penelope Av- enue. Fed up with the dangerous intersection, Sheridan is pushing for an all-way stop sign there.
“The people treat [Penelope Avenue] like NASCAR,” said parent Beth McArdle.
Sheridan and McArdle brought their concerns to the Community Board 5 meeting last Wednesday. Sheridan has also started an online petition at ipetitions.com/petition/stopsignat49/ which has already garnered 91 signatures.
Many of the comments on the petition noted that something must be done before a fatal tragedy occurs.
“Cars speed down that road to make the light on 80th Street, and they don’t have a care in the world when it comes to the children,” Sheridan said. According to Sheridan and McArdle, the problem has intensified since P.S. 49 has expanded to include grades six through eight two years ago.
McArdle noted that no new safety studies or implementa- tions were conducted after the expansion, and the problem would become worse as more students are admitted since the school is not yet at capacity.
Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) has been a big supporter of improving safety at the inter- section. In September 2009, she sent a letter to the city Department of Transportation (DOT) after complaints from residents about safety on Penelope Avenue and 79th Street. On January 10, 2011, she sent another request to the DOT after learning about Sheridan’s incident.
She urged the DOT to study safety at the area, “especially during school arrival and dismissal times,” and implement a traffic light or stop sign in the area.
Queens DOT representative Nathan Gray reported that the department is looking into the request. Some problems, such as cars making illegal turns, can be mitigated by police enforcement, and he has reached out to the 104th Precinct, he said. It is up to the school to decide if there should be a crossing guard at that location, and the DOT is studying if other safety measures such as a stop sign or traffic light should be installed.
Ridgewood Street Fair Stirs Debate
Seven street fairs were approved by Community Board 5, but it wasn’t without debate. The board initially presented the seven street fairs as one vote, but after some dissent, amended the proposal and held a vote for each fair. At issue was a street fair run by the Federazione Italo-Americana di Brooklyn and Queens in Ridgewood. It is scheduled to shut down Fresh Pond Road between Woodbine Street and Menahan Street for four days from September 8 through September 11.
Several Ridgewood residents on the board, including Paul Kerzner, president of the Ridgewood Local Development Corp., said shutting down Fresh Pond Road for four days is an “imposition” on residents. The residents also noted that Fresh Pond Road is one of Ridgewood’s few roads running north and south aside from Forest Avenue.
Other board members, including Bob Holden, argued that the festival should not run on September 11. As the 10th anniversary of the 2001 attacks, Holden said the 104th Precinct would be stretched thin at various commemorative events along with their normal duties. Holden argued the police would not have the time or the resources to watch over the fair.
Board Member Lucy Dolce, organizer of the fair, said, “Every penny goes back to the community.” She stressed the importance of the fair to help seniors and after school programs in the area.
Vincent Arcuri, chair of Community Board 5, also defended the fair and spoke about the Italian heritage it supports. He said the fair has been a staple in the community for 16 years.
The vote on that fair passed by slim margins, 19-16. The six other street fairs passed unanimously.
Community Board 5 will recommend allowing all seven street fairs; the city’s Community Affairs Unit will make a final decision in the coming weeks.
Final list of recommended street fairs within Community Board 5:
- Sunday, April 17, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Myrtle Avenue between Wyckoff Avenue and Fresh Pond Road sponsored by the Ridge- wood Local Development Corporation
- Sunday, May 22, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Metropolitan Avenue between 73rd Place and 79th Street sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Glendale
- Sunday, June 12, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Grand Avenue between 65th Street and 72nd Street sponsored by the Maspeth Chamber of Commerce, Maspeth Lions Club and Maspeth Kiwanis Club
- Sunday, August 7, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Myrtle Avenue between Forest Avenue and Fresh Pond Road sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Glendale
- Thursday, September 8 through Saturday, September 10, from 5:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Sunday, September 11, from 2 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on Fresh Pond Road between Woodbine Street and Menahan Street sponsored by the Federazione Italo-Americana di Brooklyn and Queens
- Sunday, September 18, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Myrtle Avenue between Wyckoff Avenue and Fresh Pond Road sponsored by the Myr- tle Avenue Business Improvement District
- Sunday, September 25, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Grand Avenue between 69th Street and 72nd Street sponsored by the Maspeth Lions Club and Boy Scouts of America